- Mets Acquire Addison Reed From Diamondbacks
- Mets Claim Marc Rzepczynski On Revocable Waivers, In Talks With Padres
- Brewers Pull Back K-Rod After Waiver Claim
- Denard Span To Undergo Season-Ending Hip Surgery
- Mariners Fire GM Jack Zduriencik
- MLB Wins Collusion Case Versus Barry Bonds
- Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney, Designate Brian Schlitter
- Chris Perez Retires
- Hanley Ramirez To Play First Base For Red Sox In 2016
- Austin Jackson Clears Waivers, Generating Interest
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- Quick Hits: Scully, Harang, Profar, Kirby
- Mets Acquire Addison Reed From Diamondbacks
- Orioles Still Searching For August Additions
- Mets Claim Marc Rzepczynski On Revocable Waivers, In Talks With Padres
- Rosenthal’s Latest: Farrell, GM Changes, Wright, Dodgers
- Brewers Pull Back K-Rod After Waiver Claim
- AL Notes: Blue Jays, Mariners, Gordon
- Padres Pull Kimbrel Back From Waivers
- Blue Jays Designate Ty Kelly For Assignment
- Quick Hits: Francona, Price, Flores
- Front Office Notes: Zduriencik, Dipoto, Anthopoulos
- Week In Review: 8/22/15 – 8/28/15
- AL East Notes: Buchholz, Red Sox Front Office, Hanley, Shapiro, Tolleson
- Front Office Notes: Brewers, Reds, Levine, Mariners
- Blue Jays Claim Danny Dorn
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- Red Sox manager John Farrell, who is battling lymphoma, has completed the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. He’s visiting the Sox each day they’re at Fenway and holding video chats with interim manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff when the team is away. New Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has not said whether Farrell will return next season, however, regardless of his health.
- Following what’s been a tumultuous month in many team front offices, the Phillies and Reds could be among the next teams to make GM changes, Rosenthal says. There could be up to ten manager changes as well.
- Rosenthal also interviews Mets third baseman David Wright, who recently returned to the lineup after missing almost four months due to a hamstring injury and an ongoing back issue. Wright discusses what it’s like to deal with a lingering condition. Some days are better than others, he says, and a player needs to be honest, because if he tries to play on a bad day, he’ll be hurting his team.
- The Dodgers‘ massive $300MM payroll may be a one shot deal. They’re paying a large chunk of change for players who aren’t even on the roster like Matt Kemp, but they were able to acquire additional talent by doing so. This year, they’re paying a 40 percent tax on overages beyond the roughly $189MM soft cap. Next season, the penalty will increase to 50 percent. However, prospects like Corey Seager and Julio Urias are expected to be on hand to reduce the luxury burden.
- Marlins manager Dan Jennings is a potential candidate for the Mariners open GM job. He has past experience working for Seattle as a scout and crosschecker. Most teams allow their employees to interview for promotions with other clubs, but the situation is tricky with Jennings. He’s the Miami manager, but he’s also currently under contract as a GM. As such, it’s not clear if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would allow Jennings to interview.
- Sources have told Rosenthal that Padres ownership is “frustrated” with GM A.J. Preller. However, chairman Ron Fowler insists the only frustration is related to the club’s 2015 performance. He believes Preller will be the GM for a long time to come. Preller was originally hired to improve the farm system via the draft and international scouting. Obviously, the club used most of their minor league ammunition in a bold bid for contention this year, but the original plan remains intact.
- Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi hears that the Reds may wish to replace GM Walt Jocketty. His contract expires after the 2016 season. It’s Rosenthal’s opinion that owner Bob Castellini is unlikely to fire Jocketty outright. Instead, they may move him into a consultative role like the Brewers did with Doug Melvin. That would allow the club to then hire a new GM in time for 2016.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick looks at the future of the Phillies‘ front office, noting that industry insiders mention Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo and former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington as possible successors to Ruben Amaro Jr. in the event that president-to-be Andy MacPhail makes a change. Interim president Pat Gillick, who’s stepping down after the season, tells Crasnick that he’s not sure if he’ll remain with the club in some capacity. Though the Phillies are one of the worst clubs in baseball this season and have long been on the downswing, there’s hope in the future due to Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford and others, to say nothing of a favorable payroll and television deal. “That organization is a gold mine,” one rival exec opined to Crasnick. “Look at the ballpark. Look at the spring training facility. Look at the television deal. This is a goose that’s going to lay a golden egg. No wonder Andy MacPhail came out of retirement.”
Elsewhere in the NL East…
- Jonathan Papelbon has thrown just eight innings since being acquired by the Nationals a month ago, and James Wagner of the Washington Post spoke to the D.C. closer about how he handles long bouts of inactivity. “For me, it’s about mentally staying prepared,” said Papelbon. “Staying mentally focused on the task at hand and not losing sight of that even though you’re not pitching. It’s easy to get out of that mode.” Papelbon says he feels he’s adjusted well to his new team and that his lack of usage is part of the “ebb and flow” of a season, Wagner writes. However, plenty have been critical about manager Matt Williams’ bullpen usage and his reluctance to use his top relievers in anything other than traditional save/hold situations.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells the Post’s Thomas Boswell that August has been his “worst month ever.” Rizzo notes to Boswell that the Nats have a group of star players that combined for 28.5 wins above replacement in 2014 but are collectively negative in 2015. “That’s a swing of 29 wins,” said Rizzo, likely in reference to struggles from Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth (among others). Rizzo referenced that swing as a means of defending Williams, stating: “It’s injuries. It’s coming back without your timing and not hitting for a while. It is bad years [for good players]. It’s everything. Twenty-nine lost wins [in player production] — and that’s on the manager?”
- Within his piece, Boswell also notes that the Nationals are unlikely to pursue any top starting pitchers this winter and that Drew Storen wants a trade “that he’ll almost certainly get this winter.” Storen, of course, was reportedly unhappy to be displaced from his ninth-inning role by Papelbon in the midst of a strong season.
- Jose Fernandez‘s most recent bullpen session for the Marlins was described as a “wow” by manager Dan Jennings, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Jennings called mid-September a realistic return date for Fernandez, whom the Marlins previously feared might not pitch again in 2015.
- Mike Morse spoke to the Herald’s Barry Jackson about his disappointing tenure with the Marlins, expressing that he wishes he’d have gotten a longer leash to sort things out at the plate. “I came out really bad [but] I wish they would have given me more at-bats just to prove myself,” said Morse. “…When you sign as a free agent, you expect to play on that team those years and you expect to get at least some time to play. But I got this opportunity to come to an amazing ball club [Pittsburgh]. It’s a gift and a curse.” Morse said he was very appreciative that owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson took the time to personally call and inform him of his trade out of Miami, however. Morse is hitting a much-improved .310/.394/.379 with the Pirates, albeit in a minuscule sample of 33 plate appearances.
Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin will have surgery tomorrow to remove the hamate bone from his right hand, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Martin was optioned to Triple-A in early August due to severe struggles in the Majors but had batted .297/.372/.541 with a pair of homers in nine Triple-A contests. Per Wilson, he’ll be able to play defense again in two weeks’ time and could hit in four to six weeks. Martin most likely would’ve rejoined the Rangers’ active roster on Sept. 1, but it seems that his return to the active roster will be delayed.
A few more injury notes from around the game…
- Upon meeting with doctors, CC Sabathia learned that he won’t need surgery to repair his arthritic knee, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. Sabathia hopes he can return in early September, and the lefty tells King he’ll pitch with the Yankees in any capacity upon his return, as his main priority is helping the team win. “If that means pitching out of the bullpen, it is what it is,” said Sabathia. “I am not here to make that decision, that’s not for me to make.” Sabathia did add that he feels like he could start, if healthy. Manager Joe Girardi said yesterday that there was a chance Sabathia would be out for the season, but that now seems unlikely.
- The Giants‘ injury troubles continued today, as lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt landed on the 15-day disabled list due to a subluxed left knee sustained when playing with his children, per an Associated Press report. The 36-year-old Affeldt hasn’t been himself this season, struggling to a 5.46 ERA with 5.7 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings. His injury nonetheless thins out the bullpen for the Giants, who have turned to Triple-A right-hander Mike Broadway.
- Giancarlo Stanton believes he’s about 10 days away from returning to the lineup, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, meaning he’d tentatively come off the disabled list on Sept. 4. Stanton has been absent from the Marlins since breaking his hamate bone on June 26 and undergoing surgery two days later.
Ichiro Suzuki earned $400K in bonus money for reaching the 300-plate appearance threshold last week. As per the terms of Suzuki’s one-year, $2MM deal with the Marlins, Suzuki will earn an additional $400K for every 50 PA past 300, up to 600 plate appearances. Between Marcell Ozuna‘s demotion and injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, Suzuki has seen quite a bit more playing time than expected this season. With 332 PA after today’s action, Ichiro looks well on his way to adding at least another $800K to his 2015 salary, though he could lose some at-bats to younger outfielders once the rosters expand. Here’s more from around the league as we wrap up the weekend…
- The Marlins are considering lowering the walls and bringing in the fences at Marlins Park, team president David Samson tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The stadium has finished at or near the bottom of the Park Factor home run rankings since opening in 2012.
- The Reds placed Manny Parra on the DL today with bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder, the third time the southpaw has hit the DL this season. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) thought that Parra would be a good trade candidate for the Reds, but that’s now an impossibility with him on the DL until at least September 4th. Parra has been solid when healthy, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3-to-1 K/BB rate over 25 innings and pitching well against both left-handed and right-handed batters. He drew some trade interest prior to the July 31 deadline though that buzz was scuttled by an earlier DL stint.
- Joc Pederson has lost his job as the Dodgers‘ everyday center fielder, manager Don Mattingly told reporters (including ESPN’s Mark Saxon). Enrique Hernandez will take over in center for the time being. Pederson enjoyed a huge start to his rookie season but has been in a protracted slump since early June, hitting just .168/.328/.298 with six homers over his last 259 PA.
- In July of this year, Mike Morse went from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates. Morse admits that he was hoping for a return to the Giants, but he’s happy with how everything turned out, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. “If there was one place at the time I would have wanted to go, it was the Giants, not knowing that I’d get an opportunity here in Pittsburgh,” said Morse, who entered today with an .821 OPS over 25 PA as a Pirate. “Now that I see everything here, it’s awesome.”
- Ian Kinsler wasn’t thrilled at the time of the deal that sent him from the Rangers to the Tigers, but he now tells Katie Strang of ESPN.com that the change of scenery worked out for the best. “It’s a good place to be. There’s no hidden agenda,” Kinsler said. “The owner is all in, the [former] general manager, Dave Dombrowski, was all in. [Current] general manager Al [Avila] is the same way. There’s no difference between behind the scenes and in your face.”
Even though they’re likely to make the postseason, the Dodgers are one of the 10 most disappointing teams in baseball, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. From the mouth of one NL executive, “they have done the near impossible – they have a $300 million payroll and yet they haven’t gone all in for 2015.” Of course, they still have time to find a patch or two for their beleaguered bullpen. While they aren’t my vote for most disappointing, it’s fair to wonder why they’re only 1.5 games up on the Giants.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Of Sherman’s 10 disappointing teams, the Nationals, Tigers, and Red Sox are likely to receive the most attention. Boston struggled from day one. In retrospect, nobody was surprised by the shoddy pitching staff. However, the vaunted offense never arrived after March. The Nationals and Tigers are surprising candidates. Detroit is only four games out of the second Wild Card, but they packed up shop at the trade deadline by cashing in on Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, and Joakim Soria. The Nationals are viewed as the more likely of the two to reach the postseason, but they’re 4.5 games behind the Mets and 9.5 back from the Cubs. However, they do have better roster cohesion and only one team to leapfrog in the standings.
- The Marlins also appeared on Sherman’s list, and slugger Giancarlo Stanton expects to see “big changes” over the offseason, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Meanwhile, club president David Sampson mentioned a non-personnel change that could be coming for 2016. The fences may be lowered and moved in prior to next season. Miami is a tough park for home runs, but run scoring is roughly neutral. Closer walls could help Stanton and others bash even more home runs.
- The Astros and Dodgers are among the most forward thinking teams in the game, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers obviously have a much larger war chest, but money doesn’t solve every problem. Per Los Angeles president Andrew Friedman, “more resources help you, at least in theory, more in the free-agent market. You look back over time, and it’s very hard to invest wisely. So coming from the Rays, you were almost insulated from making those mistakes in the free-agent market.” Both clubs are emphasizing the value of young, cost controlled stars. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow also commented on the process of discovering marginal advantages over other teams and hoping to hide them for as long as possible. The article itself is well worth your time with excellent quotes from several executives.
If Padres GM A.J. Preller is the “rock star GM,” then Phillies GM Ruben Amaro may be the “pincushion GM,” writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Amaro has received plenty of criticism and scorn for signing veterans to prohibitive contracts that exacerbated the club’s current woes. It’s now widely believed that the Phillies will not renew his contract at the end of the season. However, Amaro does deserve some credit for leveraging his few assets as fully as possible. In addition to the return for Hamels, players acquired by trading Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, and Jimmy Rollins are now among the club’s top 20 prospects. The Phillies are also “battling” for the first overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft.
- For over a year, Cole Hamels has been a popular subject of our posts. Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was the first of the five prospects to make his debut with the Phillies, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. As you’re aware, the Phillies finally traded Hamels along with Jake Diekman at the July deadline for five Rangers prospects and injured veteran Matt Harrison. Among prospect afficionados, the names of Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, and Jake Thompson were recognizable. Eickhoff may have flown under the radar, but his debut was encouraging. Over six innings, he shut out the Marlins with five hits, five strikeouts, and one walk. Eickhoff’s command and stuff suggest he may successfully support the rotation for years to come. Now Phillies fans will hope the name brand prospects also live up to the hype.
- The Marlins are open to bringing Ichiro Suzuki back next season as he chases the 3,000 hit milestone, reports Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required). Ichiro, 41, was originally signed as a backup outfielder. With 111 games played, he’s appeared more often than any of the incumbent starters. He’s now 77 hits from the milestone. He won’t get there this season, but it could be within reach early next year. Given the publicity that comes with the achievement, other clubs may have interest in him.
Following Chase Utley‘s departure from the Phillies, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com pays tribute to one of the greatest and most beloved players in franchise history. Salisbury recalls the draft-day dilemma the Phillies faced, weighing the decision between Utley and Rocco Baldelli (though the Rays made the decision easier by selecting Baldelli nine picks before Utley). The selection reshaped the Phillies’ history, leading to the emergence of a player that Salisbury calls a “100 percent pure ballplayer” and whom Salisbury believes played through more pain and injury as a member of the Phillies than anyone in recent history. Meanwhile, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke to a number of Phillies players about their favorite Utley memories and what it meant to have him as a teammate.
More on the Phillies’ transition and the rest of their division…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that while the Phillies may have waited too long to begin their rebuilding process, they deserve credit for making their sixth trade in the past eight months that has bettered the organization. The Phillies did well to include more than $24MM in cash considerations to improve their returns (to say nothing of taking on the remaining $32MM of Matt Harrison‘s contract), and as Rosenthal points out, nine of their top 16 prospects at MLB.com have been acquired in the past year’s trades. One rival exec to whom Rosenthal spoke praised the Phillies for ultimately doing what needed to be done — “[they] sold everyone they could get value from.”
- Hector Olivera‘s debut with the Braves could come as soon as next Monday, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The infielder, acquired from the Dodgers in a 13-player trade last month, had his minor league rehab assignment moved up to Triple-A on Thursday. O’Brien spoke to Freddie Freeman about the acquisition of Olivera, and Freeman candidly admitted that it was tough, as a player, to see the team give up so many players to acquire a hitter who has never played a Major League game. However, Freeman also saw Olivera while the two were rehabbing together and did come away impressed with the infielder’s skills — particularly his power. As O’Brien notes, Olivera has defensive versatility, but the Braves plan to make him their everyday third baseman.
- Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is hopeful that he can return to the roster by early September, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Stanton says he’s still feeling weakness when turning over his wrist, but he has progressed to hitting 95 mph pitches in the batting cage on back-to-back pain-free days. Stanton has been on the shelf since June 26, when he broke his hamate bone upon being hit by a pitch. He underwent surgery two days later.
There’s been quite a bit of news on the injury front today, with Maikel Franco landing on the disabled list due to a fractured left wrist, and Michael Saunders being shut down for the season by the Blue Jays. That’s only the tip of the iceberg today, though, as a number of players have either been shut down or are heading for MRIs today. Here’s a look around the league…
- Twins right-hander Ryan Pressly has been shut down for the season after suffering a setback in his recovery from a lat strain, GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Pressly, a former Rule 5 pick by the Twins, was a bright spot in the ‘pen for Minnesota this season when healthy. In 27 2/3 innings, he notched a 2.93 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate to go along with a career-best 94.2 mph average fastball. He’ll accrue enough service time to clear two years of service but will fall shy of Super Two status.
- That’s not the only potential blow facing the Twins‘ bullpen, as the team announced after tonight’s loss that Glen Perkins will return to the Twin Cities to undergo an MRI on his ailing neck. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes, Perkins’ symptoms are similar to the ones he experienced late in 2014 when a nerve injury ended his season prematurely. La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that Perkins will receive a cortisone shot as well. The Twins, who have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball, can scarcely afford to lose their best reliever for an extended period of time. Perkins has followed up a 1.21 first-half ERA with an 8.10 mark since the All-Star break.
- Hunter Pence underwent an MRI on his left oblique, per Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area (all Twitter links). Pence will miss a least a few games, and the Giants hope to have his results in the near future. As Pavlovic points out, Pence appeared to suffer an injury in his final swing of last night’s game, as he clutched his side following the plate appearance.
- The Marlins announced that right-hander David Phelps is out for the season with a stress fracture in the radius of his right forearm. Injuries have caused the Fish to lean on Phelps perhaps more than they’d expected, but in 23 appearances (19 starts) he’s posted a 4.50 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 across 112 innings — just one shy of his career-high.
- Shane Greene has hit the minor league disabled list with the Tigers, per John Wagner of the Toledo Blade (Twitter link). Greene is getting checked out by team doctors after reportedly experiencing numbness in his fingers — a potential indicator of nerve damage, among other injuries.
- There’s continued bad news on the injury front for former Mariners top prospect Danny Hultzen, who will be shut down until Spring Training, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. As Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune points out (via Twitter), Hultzen will be out of minor league options next season, meaning the former No. 2 overall pick will need to either make the club or be exposed to waivers. Injuries have completely derailed Hultzen’s career thus far, as the Virginia product has thrown just 43 2/3 innings over the past three seasons combined.
The Marlins‘ top two extension priorities over the offseason are middle infielders Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. It remains to be seen whether Miami will be able to gain traction in talks with the pair, which it already controls through the 2018 campaign. But, per Frisaro, the club is more concerned with striking new deals with Gordon and/or Hechavarria than it is with acquiring any particular player on the open market. A deal with Jose Fernandez still seems unlikely, he writes, and the same holds true of Marcell Ozuna.
More from Miami and the rest of the NL East:
- While it remains unclear whether Fernandez will make it back to the Marlins this year, slugger Giancarlo Stanton appears to be on track to return to action at some point, as the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). Stanton began hitting yesterday, though his precise timetable remains unclear. The club will surely be cautious given its place in the standings and massive commitment to the 25-year-old.
- Nationals ownership is “unhappy” with the team’s performance this year, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It would be hard to imagine any other general reaction to a club that suddenly finds itself below the .500 mark despite a big payroll and high expectations, of course, and it’s not at all clear whether that sentiment will manifest itself in any modification in the decisionmaking structure. Rosenthal goes on to discuss the team’s front office situation, but it all seems to boil down to one key point: change is unlikely unless the Lerner family no longer wishes to place its trust in GM and president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo. (For what it’s worth, from my perspective, it seems difficult to blame him for the sudden fall-off of numerous key contributors, and the organization appears well-prepared for a coming offseason that will feature roster turnover at multiple key positions.)
- The insurance policy on Matt Harrison‘s contract — which was acquired by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal — could still pay out to Philadelphia, Rosenthal suggests, though there is plenty of uncertainty. As he notes, too, the Phils would need to use at least some of any savings to fill in innings that might otherwise be occupied by the veteran lefty.
- The future for the Phillies, of course, will depend less on freeing some extra cash than it will on the development of the team’s best young players. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News profiles one if the organization’s most important assets: 20-year-old shortstop J.P. Crawford.
- Braves reliever Chris Withrow, who was acquired along with Juan Uribe earlier this year, is progressing but likely won’t pitch this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Withrow is still working back from Tommy John and back surgeries. Meanwhile, another Atlanta upside grab — Rule 5 pick Daniel Winkler — is on track to take the bump in fall or winter league action, O’Brien adds on Twitter. Once activated from the DL, Winkler will need to stick on the active roster next year for the club to retain his rights.
A year ago, Marcell Ozuna was hitting .255/.312/421 with 16 homers on the season, and a strong finish to the 2014 campaign would boost those numbers to .269/.317/.455. Paired with above-average center field defense, that production made the then-23-year-old Ozuna look like a core piece in a dynamic young Marlins outfield that could be controlled for the next five seasons.
The 2015 season, though, hasn’t been kind to Ozuna. Through his first 79 contests this season, Ozuna batted .249/.301/.337, including a staggering 1-for-36 slump that saw him strike out 14 times in 37 plate appearances. At that point, the Marlins felt it best for Ozuna to collect himself in the minors and sent him to Triple-A.
Ozuna was excellent in his minor league stint — .317/.379/.558, five homers in 21 games — but he didn’t sound overly thrilled with the fairly lengthy nature of his stay. Ozuna recently returned from that 33-day stint at Triple-A and likened his demotion to a jail sentence. Previously, agent Scott Boras had accused the Marlins of holding Ozuna down in the minor leagues in order to limit his service time and prevent him from reaching arbitration. Additionally, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported early in the year that there was some frustration over a dip in Ozuna’s speed, leading some in the organization to question his conditioning.
Ozuna’s name crept up in trade rumors prior to the non-waiver deadline, with the Indians surfacing as one team with particular interest. And, just yesterday, Jackson reported that “at least one prominent Marlins person” is open to dangling Ozuna in trades this winter, though there are others in the front office who are more inclined to hang onto him.
Trading Ozuna would be selling low on a player that could certainly blossom into a premium talent, but that same upside would probably be enough to net the Marlins an enticing return. The Marlins are expected to seek two starting pitchers this winter, and for a team with a limited budget, using Ozuna as a trade chip could help to add a cost-controlled young arm to a rotation that will be fronted by a (hopefully) healthy Jose Fernandez.
Because he spent 33 days in the minor leagues this season, Ozuna will accrue 150 days of Major League service time, placing him at two years, 131 days of service. The early projection for Super Two eligibility this season was two years, 140 days, making it easy to see why Boras was upset with the demotion (though questioning the motives for the demotion and the length of stay in the minors would carry more weight if Ozuna hadn’t been playing so poorly prior to being sent down). Ozuna has a chance to be arbitration eligible this winter but could very well fall just shy, meaning any team that acquires him could get one season near the league minimum plus three arbitration years before Ozuna qualifies for free agency after the 2019 season.
The upside of those four years is significant; Ozuna was worth roughly four wins above replacement last season as a 23-year-old, and there hasn’t been an enormous change in his approach this season with the exception of a dip in power. Ozuna’s strikeout rate has actually improved, and his line-drive rate has increased while his walk rate has remained a steady, if unspectacular 6.4 percent. The loss of power is a concern, but if a team feels the decline to be mechanical in nature or feels that its hitting instructors can restore the lost pop, Ozuna could be a well above-average player for a team for at least the next four seasons.
Miami could conceivably trade him to address part of its need in the rotation and either continue using Christian Yelich in center field (perhaps with Derek Dietrich manning left field) or seek a different center field acquisition. The Indians still make sense as a team to revisit talks, while the Mariners, Giants, Brewers and Padres are just a few clubs that could have a need for a long-term center field option this winter (speculatively speaking, of course).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.