Michael Pineda Rumors
6:06pm: The Mariners have moved closer to a trade that would net them a "young impact hitter," reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. A source calls the trade "significant" and says Brandon League is not part of the deal (both links via Twitter).
Here's the latest news and notes out of the AL West...
- The Angels have reached their payroll limit and any further moves will have to come via the trade market, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Dipoto says the club would need "a fairly compelling reason" to trade either Kendrys Morales or Mark Trumbo, but "there are scenarios you could envision."
- Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that the Angels' signing of infielder Jorge Cantu isn't a sign that the Halos have new concerns about the health of either Morales or Trumbo.
- Josh Hamilton's hard-nosed style of play (and subsequent injuries) will make it hard for the outfielder to earn top dollar either in free agency or from an extension with the Rangers, writes MLB.com's Lyle Spencer.
- The Mariners recently turned down inquiries about Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda from Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. This doesn't really represent a failed attempt for Anthopoulos since, as Rosenthal explains, the Toronto GM "routinely asks about the best players on every team. He almost always is told no."
- The Mariners have addressed most of their offseason wish list, notes MLB.com's Greg Johns, except their biggest need: an impact bat. Johns says there has been no indication that the biggest name the M's have been connected to this winter, Prince Fielder, has any interest in coming to Seattle.
- Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle finds it "astounding" that Billy Beane is remaining with the Athletics through this latest rebuilding period, but the A's GM isn't just looking ahead to the club's potential move to San Jose. "I'm too competitive to 'punt' anything," Beane said. "It's not part of my DNA. I've got an emotional investment in this team, and if we're playing in Oakland, then let's make the best of the situation. I don't leave for clear skies as soon as I start seeing the clouds. I keep thinking something will get better."
Here are some late night links as Thursday turns into Friday...
- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports spoke to rival executives who believe the only three Mariners off limits in trade talks are Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, and Dustin Ackley. Impending free agents like Adam Kennedy, Jack Wilson, and Jamey Wright are certainly on the block, but pitchers Jason Vargas, Brandon League, and Doug Fister would be the most interesting trade candidates.
- The Blue Jays scouted Kevin Slowey's minor league rehab start on Wednesday night, tweets Morosi. They've had interest in him since Spring Training.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki says the Phillies are unlikely to add both a reliever and a right-handed bat before the trade deadline. Healthy returns from Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras could be all the bullpen help they need.
It appears that the Diamondbacks will be among the most aggressive teams on the trade market this summer. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has an update on another team preparing to make deals and other notes from around the league...
- The Marlins will also be among the most aggressive teams on the trade market, Olney reports. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said this week that he believes in his team’s prospects and doesn’t see glaring holes on the Marlins.
- Olney points out that talent evaluators love high schooler Dylan Bundy and suggests the right-hander will be selected early on in Monday’s draft.
- It’s a reasonable guess that Daisuke Matsuzaka’s Red Sox career is over, according to Olney. The Red Sox probably didn’t get their money’s worth on their $103MM investment, but it's not like Matsuzaka's career numbers are bad (4.25 ERA, 622 2/3 innings, 8.2 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 10.4 WAR). The right-hander will undergo Tommy John surgery.
- As Olney pointed out yesterday, the Mariners will have to monitor Michael Pineda’s workload this summer. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says they’ll watch Pineda’s pitch count and innings count with a common-sense approach, rather than a “hard and fast rule.”
Mariners rookie Michael Pineda is a big reason that Seattle is in the middle of the AL West race, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney looks ahead to a dilemma the M's could face later in the summer. Here are the details and Olney's notes from around the Major Leagues...
- The 22-year-old Pineda has thrown 70 1/3 innings this year and has never thrown as many as 140 frames in any pro season. If Seattle limits Pineda's innings total this year, they'll either have to shut him down early or limit him to 25 innings or so per month from here on.
- Some rival executives wonder when the 17-37 Twins will give up on the season and start considering trades. More aggressive general managers than Bill Smith (think Kenny Williams) might already have started making changes, but the Twins have typically been conservative at the trade deadline. Jason Kubel (who may be headed for the DL), Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young are among the players the Twins could consider moving.
- The A's have lost ten consecutive games against New York (dating back to 2010) and Olney says "Oakland's best young players have to get over the emotional hurdle of playing the Yankees."
Here’s some welcome news for those of us who enjoy trades: executives tell ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that trade talk has started between teams. At this point, GMs are checking in with one another about possible needs and real trade talk probably won’t begin for another month. Here’s the latest from Olney:
- Royals GM Dayton Moore says first base prospect Eric Hosmer accelerated his own timetable by hitting .439/.525/.582 at Triple-A. Instead of keeping Hosmer in the minors for another month or so to prevent him from going to arbitration four times, the Royals called him up as soon as he appeared to be ready.
- ”Right now, he helps us put the best team on the field that we can," Moore told Olney.
- The Royals had expected to call Hosmer up after about 250 minor league plate appearances, but he’s in the majors after 118 trips to the plate for Omaha.
- Michael Pineda’s strong pitching is convincing scouts and executives that the Mariners should hold onto Felix Hernandez and look to contend before King Felix’s contract expires after the 2014 season.
Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.
Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.
The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues.
None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.
On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).
That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.
The Red Sox should complete a seven-year extension worth $154MM or so with Adrian Gonzalez at some point in the next ten days, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reminds us. On a lighter note, Olney points out that Boston appears to be functioning despite a winless week for the Red Sox. Here are the rest of Olney’s rumors.
- Starlin Castro has “made the adjustment” to the big leagues and is no longer phased to be playing at the highest level, Cubs GM Jim Hendry says.
- Another young shortstop, Alcides Escobar of the Royals, may be the best defensive shortstop in the American League, according to at least one scout.
- Angels fans may not like hearing it, but one evaluator says that in sending Mike Napoli elsewhere they “traded a player who would've given them similar production to what they'll get out of Vernon Wells , except it'll cost them about $75 million more."
- Instead of delaying Michael Pineda’s service time and/or arbitration, the Mariners called him up to start the season in Seattle. "He earned the right to be on the club," GM Jack Zduriencik said. "We actually talked about calling him up last September."
Some links pertaining to the Mariners and their newest acquisition..
- The newly acquired Aaron Laffey will have a shot to compete for both a rotation and bullpen job, GM Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. Jack Z also told Baker that Laffey has a minor league option left, meaning that he can be bumped down to Triple-A in favor of a non-roster player.
- The M's won't have to cut or release anyone to make room for Laffey on the 40-man roster, as they have placed right-hander Shawn Kelley on the 60-day disabled list, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com (via Twitter). Kelley is on the mend from from partial Tommy John surgery and isn't expected back until June.
- A fun fact from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian: Following the Laffey deal, the Indians now have five players who were traded for Cliff Lee. Infielder Matt Lawson was involved in trade that sent Lee from Seattle to Texas last July.
- Larry Stone of The Seattle Times writes that the potential Super Two status of second baseman Dustin Ackley and pitcher Michael Pineda will likely impact when they are called-up to the bigs.
On this day in 1957, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley announced that his team could play as many as 10 exhibition games in California in 1958. It ended up being a bit of a lengthier stay, as the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles following the 1957 season. Just like O'Malley, we're looking to the west coast (or at least the western divisions) for these news items...
- If the Dodgers aren't satisifed with their Jay Gibbons/Tony Gwynn Jr./Marcus Thames platoon in left field, ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill lists some of the left fielders that could be available in a trade. Of the five players on Churchill's list, only Carlos Quentin would seem to be an everyday option, but if he's playing well enough to attract the Dodgers' attention, it's unlikely the White Sox would want to move him anyway.
- Ryan Ludwick tells Dan Hayes of the North County Times that the two months that followed his trade to the Padres last season were the "worst two months of my big league career." Ludwick hit just .211/.301/.330 in 239 plate appearances in San Diego last year and admitted he struggled with the pressure of trying to take the Padres to the postseason.
- The Mariners are likely to keep Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda in the minors until at least June, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Both players "have areas of their games that could use further AAA development," but Baker also figures the Mariners want to avoid having either of their prospects qualify for Super Two status.
- Angels right-hander Rich Thompson seemed to turn a corner last season, but since the Australian is out of options, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon says the Halos could lose Thompson unless he makes the team.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has acquired six players (Henry Blanco, Geoff Blum, Russell Branyan, Sean Burroughs, Xavier Nady and Brian Sweeney) this offseason that played for the Padres when Towers was that club's general manager, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com. "These are character guys, veterans that I knew would have a strong presence in our clubhouse," Towers said. "I knew what their intangibles are, which I thought was important....When you have history with individuals, you know what they're about as well."
- The Rangers have invited Yhency Brazoban to their Major League Spring Training camp, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Brazoban signed a minor league deal with Texas in December that didn't include an invite to the team's big league camp.