Michael Cuddyer Rumors

NL Notes: Hellweg, Cuddyer, Cubs, Espinosa

Fireballing Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg, 25, has been diagnosed with a torn UCL and is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Hellweg, the club’s 7th overall prospect in the eyes of MLB.com, has been working at Triple-A after briefly reaching the bigs last year with Milwaukee. He put up a 6.75 ERA in 30 2/3 big league frames in 2013, but had a 3.14 mark in 131 2/3 minor league innings (albeit with 6.4 K/9 against 5.7 BB/9).

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Michael Cuddyer and the Rockies are in no rush to consider a new deal, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Cuddyer, 35, is set to complete his three-year, $31.5MM deal this season, and says he hopes to play two or three more seasons. But he is planning to finish out his contract and consider his options down the line.
  • The Cubs plan to take the best player available with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Though the team is stocked with well-regarded field prospects, and somewhat less flush with young arms, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says they will “take the best player, regardless of position,” explaining that he will look to make “the best investment, the best bet on that player’s career.” The team is hopeful of building pitching depth from this year’s amateur pool, even if that does not come through the first choice. “There’s tremendous depth in this class,” said Epstein. “It’s more depth than elite, per se. But we should be coming out with a good pitching haul when it’s said and done.”
  • Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is in the midst of a bounce-back campaign, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. After struggling mightily last year, and reportedly drawing significant trade interest from teams looking to take a chance on a turnaround for the 26-year-old switch-hitter, Espinosa is off to a .273/.333/.455 start through his first 59 plate appearances. He has taken over as the regular at second, with Anthony Rendon shifting to third while Ryan Zimmerman is on the DL. Espinosa’s rough 2013 was not without its benefits for the Nats, as his demotion allowed the team to pause his service clock: with just 2.113 years entering this season, Espinosa will not be eligible for free agency until 2018.

AL West Notes: Athletics, Rangers, Astros

After a look at the AL East earlier this morning, let's turn our attention out west …

  • While the Athletics are looking to buttress their 4-game division lead by buying at the deadline, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that the club is finding supply to be limited. "Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year," says GM Billy Beane. Second base and starting pitching are the needs atop Oakland's wish list, team sources tell Hickey. In spite of the rotation's solid performance to date, Hickey says a trade could allow the team to utilize Brett Anderson in a bullpen role when he returns from injury. Citing Beane's apparent willingness to take on some relatively significant salary obligations, Hickey lists Jake Peavy (White Sox), Edinson Volquez (Padres), Bud Norris (Astros), and Kyle Lohse (Brewers) as potential targets.
  • After adding starter Matt Garza, the Rangers are looking at dealing for an outfielder, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Currently, says Heyman, Alex Rios of the White Sox is the most likely candidate for Texas. Heyman further notes, however, that the club could look to wait out the market in the hopes that players like Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, or the Giants' Hunter Pence become available, with Pence being the most likely among those to change hands. Texas has also considered Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Marlon Byrd of the Mets, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, though Heyman notes that those options would rank below Rios in terms of impact. 
  • The Astros' Mark Appel is the highest-rated player from the recent amateur draft on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's updated Top 100 prospects list. As Mayo explains in his overview of the changes to the list, the top overall choice leads a group of eight recently-drafted players to crack the top 100. Houston is tied with the Red Sox with the most total players to make Mayo's list, with eight apiece. In terms of a simple weighting metric that Mayo calls "Prospect Points," the 'Stros have the most overall prospect value in baseball in high-end prospects, followed closely by the Twins. Though the Astros passed on top overall prospect Byron Buxton in last year's draft, its strategy enabled it to land the players currently checking in at number nine (Carlos Correa) and number sixty-five (Lance McCullers) instead.

Rockies Don’t Want Rentals; Won’t Trade Cuddyer

5:13pm: Renck also tweets that when asked about the possibility of trading Michael Cuddyer, Monfort replied, "No way. Not happening." Cuddyer is in the second year of a three-year, $31.5MM pact with Colorado and has enjoyed a monster season. To this point, he's hitting .330/.391/.568 with 16 homers. That production led to his second All-Star berth and first Home Run Derby, where he narrowly missed the finals.

3:27pm: The third-place Rockies have cooled off after a red-hot start to the season, but they're still just 4.5 games out of first place in the NL West and 7.5 games out of a Wild Card position. However, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that owner Dick Monfort said in a letter to season-ticket holders that the team will not surrender top prospects for a pitcher it is simply renting for a few months (All Twitter links).

The Rockies have been connected to a pair of prominent rentals thus far — Matt Garza and Jesse Crain. However, if Monfort's statement holds true, Garza certainly won't be joining the Rockies, as he would likely require a package of elite prospects. As a reliever who is currently on the disabled list, Crain's value is currently lower, so it's conceivable that the Rockies could land him without surrendering their "top" prospects. That, of course, is my own speculation, as opposed to a comment from Monfort himself.

There are still numerous pitchers with multiple years of control that the Rockies could pursue. For more info on that, check out Tim Dierkes' recent look at the trade market for starting pitching and my analysis of the market for right-handed relievers.



Bowden’s Latest: Garza, Rox, Rios, Morneau, Perkins

The trade deadline is just two weeks away, and with the All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio writes that the market will pick up rapidly beginning Friday. Here are some highlights from the highly informative article penned by the former GM of the Reds, Expos and Nationals (ESPN Insider required and recommended)…

  • Bowden hears there's an 80 percent chance that Matt Garza will be traded before his next scheduled start (Monday or Tuesday of next week). The Rangers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks are still involved, He describes the D-backs as "dark horses," adding that their odds in the Garza sweepstakes would increase if they were willing to part with left-hander David Holmberg.
  • The Rockies could also be interested in Garza, but they're not clear-cut buyers right now, and the prospective cost is prohibitive to them. If they were to sell, Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle could be had. Michael Cuddyer could be moved, but only if Colorado is "blown away."
  • The White Sox have been "extremely disappointed" with offers for Alex Rios thus far. Bowden feels that offers will improve as the deadline draws closer.
  • The Justin Morneau era in Minnesota is coming to an end, and the Twins are prepared to trade the former MVP, according to Bowden. The Rays, Pirates and Yankees are said by Bowden to be possible destinations for Morneau.
  • The Cardinals, Reds, Dodgers and Braves have all inquired on Twins closer Glen Perkins and been turned away. Those four teams are all monitoring the health of Jesse Crain as well.
  • The Yankees are trying to use Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and catching prospect J.R. Murphy to acquire a bat but have had no luck thus far. None of those players figure to interest the Twins in regards to Morneau, Bowden adds, given the impending free agency of Hughes and Chamberlain and the presence of Joe Mauer behind the plate for the Twins.

Rosenthal On DeJesus, Encarnacion, Rangers, Braves

Here's the latest from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

  • The Cubs aren't necessarily planning to trade David DeJesus, who they have signed through 2014, but they'll listen to offers. DeJesus could be a trade candidate in August, after he recovers from a shoulder injury.
  • While the Rangers' 2011 decision to trade Chris Davis for Koji Uehara has recently received plenty of attention, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics also have a what-could-have-been in their recent history as well. The A's claimed Edwin Encarnacion from the Blue Jays in November 2010, then non-tendered him, and he ended up back with the Jays. Since then, he's hit 84 home runs.
  • The Rangers might be interested in Michael Cuddyer if the Rockies wished to trade him, Rosenthal notes. The Rangers are reportedly on the lookout for a righty hitter, and Cuddyer would fit the bill.
  • The Braves aren't looking for a top starter, Rosenthal writes, but they'd like to augment their bullpen.

Rockies Do Not Plan To Trade Michael Cuddyer

Earlier this offseason we heard the Rockies were open to trading position players for pitching help, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter) the team is not planning to move Michael Cuddyer. Morosi says the Mariners inquired about his availability at one point this winter.

Cuddyer, 33, hit .260/.317/.489 with 16 homers in 394 plate appearances for Colorado last season, the first on his three-year, $31.5MM contract. He missed nearly two months total with oblique problems and is owed $21M over the next two seasons. Cuddyer does offer some versatility because he can play the two corner outfield positions and first base, which surely appealed to Seattle.


Rockies Links: Correia, Karstens, Cuddyer

Troy Renck of the Denver Post shared some Rockies items on his Twitter feed earlier today, here are the hot stove-related tweets…

  • The Rockies kept an "ongoing dialogue" with Kevin Correia's representatives but didn't come close to the two-year, $10MM deal that Correia signed with the Twins earlier today.
  • The Rockies have a "mild interest" in right-hander Jeff Karstens, who was non-tendered by the Pirates last month.  Karstens posted a 3.97 ERA and 4.4 K/BB ratio in 90 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh in 2012, though he spent significant time on the DL and was projected to earn $3.8MM through arbitration according to MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
  • From that same tweet, Renck feels that if the Rockies make a big move for pitching, it will be through a trade and not the free agent market.
  • Michael Cuddyer hasn't drawn much trade interest, though Renck says the Rockies aren't particularly interested in dealing him anyway.

Rockies Notes: Cuddyer, Francis, Fowler

Some early-morning Rockies news, courtesy of the Denver Post's Troy Renck (Twitter links)…

  • A trade is still the more likely means for Colorado to acquire starting pitching help, according to Renck. Teams are calling about Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer. Renck notes that the two years and $21MM remaining on Cuddyer's contract may be appealing to teams, given the inflated prices we've seen in this year's free agent market.
  • The one-year deal signed by Jeff Francis last night will pay the southpaw somewhere north of $750K salary that he earned in 2012.
  • Renck also writes that the team included Alex White in this week's Wilton Lopez trade because they no longer viewed White as a starter.
  • Within that same piece, Renck reports that in trade talks prior to the Winter Meetings, the Rockies asked for Mike Minor and one of Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado in exchange for Fowler. Needless to say, the price on Colorado's center fielder remains high.

Rockies Unlikely To Trade Dexter Fowler

"Signs point to Dexter Fowler staying in Colorado," writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, citing both the Rockies' large asking price for the outfielder and potential trade partners' concerns about Fowler's ability to hit outside of Coors Field (Twitter links).  Fowler has a career .882 OPS at home and just a .698 OPS on the road over his five-year career, and he put up an even larger set of splits (.984 OPS home/.720 OPS road) in 2012 when he posted a career-best .300/.389/.474 slash line for the Rockies.

A rival executive tells Crasnick that the Rockies are asking for a "sky high" return for Fowler, who is projected to get a raise to $4MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility by MLBTR's Matt Swartz. The Braves were interested in Fowler but balked at giving up two top prospects, according to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler.  Fowler would have been Atlanta's leadoff hitter, as the Braves are still looking for a table-setter since they intend to use the newly-signed B.J. Upton in the middle of the lineup.

The Rockies want a similarly large trade package in exchange for Michael Cuddyer, Knobler reports.  Cuddyer is seven years older than Fowler but comes with cost-certainty (two years and $21MM remaining on his contract) and is more proven as a hitter outside of Colorado.


Rockies Interested In Correia, Francis

As they attempt to bolster a rotation that ranked among the worst in MLB this past season, the Rockies have expressed interest in numerous free agent starting pitchers, including right-hander Kevin Correia and left-hander Jeff Francis, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. The Rockies aim to acquire a reliable arm capable of providing steady innings within a relatively young and inexperienced rotation.

Correia, 32, spent last season with the Pirates, mostly as a member of the Pittsburgh rotation. He posted a 4.21 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 171 innings. Correia, an All-Star in 2011, recently completed a two-year, $8MM contract with the Pirates. When I discussed the Rockies’ search for pitching last week, I suggested Correia would be worth considering.

Francis started 24 games for the Rockies in 2012, leading the team with 113 innings pitched. The 31-year-old posted a 5.58 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, but he has had success at Coors Field in the past. He has indicated a desire to return to Colorado, Renck reports.

The Rockies have also been getting calls on Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer, though they aren’t looking to trade either outfielder. The Braves have called about Fowler, an Atlanta native, according to Renck.