- Mets Acquire Alex Torres
- Red Sox Acquire Sandy Leon; Christian Vazquez Placed On 60-Day DL
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- Mike Pelfrey Walks Back Trade Comments
- Mariners Prospect Victor Sanchez Dies
- Mets, Lucas Duda Discussing Extension
- Nate Schierholtz Opts Out Of Deal With Rangers
- Cubs Release Felix Doubront
- Rangers Acquire Sam Freeman From Cardinals
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Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Rumors
Here’s the latest out of the game’s eastern divisions:
- Phillies hurler Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will have a chance to start next spring, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “The plan for him is to try to get him to the point where he’s a starter again and to put him in the mix for us next year,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said it remains to be seen whether he’ll earn a role. “I don’t know, but we have starter deficiencies and we have holes there and we’d like to put him in a position where he can at least compete for a spot,” Amaro explained.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies announced a significant front office change: assistant GM Marti Wolever, who ran the team’s amateur scouting efforts, will not be back next year. As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, Philadelphia has had some positives but also some notable negatives in converting drafted players into big league production. Of course, some of the young players that Wolever brought in were ultimately dealt away before they were able to contribute for the Phils. More front office turnover could well be coming, says Zolecki.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco says that the club has flexibility due to its array of young arms, as Matt Ehalt of the The Record reports. “We’ll look at it and decide if we feel we can move one or more starters in a deal to fill out other areas on the team that are not as deep,” said Ricco. “It’s not a bad situation to be in. As you look around the league and see the injuries to pitchers, it’s a reminder of how many guys you do need.”
- While he remains undecided on his future, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda left the impression that he could be leaning away from playing in the big leagues next year. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, Kuroda spoke like someone who will need to be convinced to return: “Right now, I cannot imagine what the answer is going to be,” he said. “I’m just relieved I was able to finish the season without getting hurt. If — and this is a big if — there are such talks, then I’d have to ask myself and think deeply whether I’d be able to produce.” Soon to be 40, Kuroda has not been quite as excellent as he was over his first two years in New York, but has nevertheless been plenty productive with 199 frames of 3.71 ERA baseball.
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda may or may not fully blossom into a star, but his breakout year has at least forestalled any need for the club to go out and find a new first baseman, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Here’s more from the NL East:
- Both the Angels and Royals have considered attempting to deal for Mets righty Bartolo Colon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter links). At present, however, neither possible suitor is in strong pursuit, with dollars being a major deterrent and the sides not necessarily seeing eye to eye on a return.
- The Phillies will likely give Miguel Gonzalez a September call-up, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gonzalez has thrived recently in the upper minors in a relief role, but that transition away from the rotation means that Philadelphia will need to act quickly to reap any value from the 28-year-old’s three-year, $12MM pact.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton says that he is still not certain that he wants to commit to a long-term deal with Miami, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. While the club now features a fairly interesting, younger roster with some future promise, Stanton noted that “five months doesn’t change five years.”
- The Braves have shut down reliever Jonny Venters after he came up with a sore elbow when he tried to increase his velocity, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. The southpaw, who had been attempting to return from his second Tommy John procedure, earned $1.625MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility (the same figure as his first) after missing all of 2013. A non-tender certainly appears to be a reasonably likely scenario after the year.
Dismissed Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens set off some controversy today when he told Michael Kay of ESPNNewYork.com (audio link) that, if Mets GM Sandy Alderson “could do everything he wants to do, they would have a winner here,” and suggested that the club’s ownership needs to “let the purse strings loose.” Of course, it is worth noting that Hudgens added that he has no personal information as to how the front office is run. For his part, Alderson said that payroll was not the problem in New York, as Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.
Here’s more from the Mets and the rest of the NL East:
- The Mets received good news on top prospect arm Noah Syndergaard, whose MRI results were negative. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets, Alderson said that Syndergaard is “essentially fine.” Certainly, a prolonged absence for Syndergaard would have dealt another tough blow to the club’s timeline for putting a competitive MLB club on the field.
- Darin Ruf started in place of Ryan Howard against a lefty today for the Phillies, which could potentially be the beginning of a platoon, reports Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard has struggled mightily against same-handed pitchers over the course of the season, with a 41.7% strikeout rate and 73 wRC+. When asked if Ruf might keep seeing time against lefties, manager Ryne Sandberg responded: “Yeah, if it happens to work. It’s an opportunity to have a lineup like that, and if it produces that becomes an opportunity … to possible get some consistency with the offense against right-handed and left-handed pitching.” Howard, of course, is earning $25MM this year and is still promised an additional $60MM over 2015-17.
- Meanwhile, Phillies‘ international signee Miguel Gonzalez has experienced a case of dead arm and will be checked out by the team’s top physician, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez, 27, had been working on a rehab assignment at High-A, where he had allowed seven earned runs (on three strikeouts and nine walks) over 9 1/3 innings. “Hopefully, it’s nothing serious,” commented GM Ruben Amaro Jr. As Gelb implies, it looks increasingly unlikely that the club will get any major league production out of Gonzalez this year.
- The Marlins are hoping to avoid losing another pitcher to season-ending elbow surgery, as reliever Carter Capps will shut down and rehab an undisclosed elbow injury, reports Craig Davis of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. “He’ll be down for an extended period of time and start building back up, and see where we’re at,” said manager Mike Redmond. Capps, a hard-throwing 23-year-old righty, came to Miami in the Logan Morrison trade, and had tossed 12 innings of 3.00 ERA ball with an impressive 11.25 K/9 against just 2.25 BB/9. The injury situation is all the more difficult in light of the fact that the Fish surprisingly remain right in the thick of things in the NL East.
The Phillies currently sit at four games under .500. While that leaves them just 4.5 games back in the NL East heading into the day’s action, the team is carrying a -34 run differential (third-worst in baseball) and falls among the bottom five clubs in the game in hitting, pitching, and defense by measure of fWAR. Here are a few notes out of Philadelphia:
- The club received some bad news on the injury front today. Righty Jonathan Pettibone, who was expected to be an important part of the rotation mix this year and in the future, has been placed on the minor league DL and will visit Dr. James Andrews to explore the possibility of surgery on his ailing right shoulder, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. After entering 2013 rated fourth by Baseball America among the organization’s prospects, Pettibone delivered 18 solid starts of 4.04 ERA ball. But he was shut down with shoulder troubles, and managed only two MLB starts this year (allowing nine earned in just nine innings).
- In more positive news, international free agent signee Miguel Gonzalez has begun working through the low minors and is throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. “His control was a little off, but it sounds like he’s healthy,” said manager Ryne Sandberg. “He must be healthy if he’s throwing that hard. Now it’s just about getting his games in.”
- The Phillies’ bullpen was an area that many thought could have used additional help, and the club has paid the price for failing to make any moves. Zolecki writes that the club’s talent evaluators believed they had the necessary pieces in place. “Looking back doesn’t do us all that much good,” said Amaro. “What we have to do is find either internal solutions to improve or just hope that the guys start to do their thing.”
- One tantalizing option for relief help — young fireballer Ken Giles — will not be aggressively promoted, Amaro said, while also indicating that the same holds true for top prospect Maikel Franco. “We’re not going to force them because some other guys aren’t performing,” said Amaro. “They can’t be saviors for us. They might be able to help us at some point, but when they’re ready, when they have forced our hand to do it, they’ll come.”
- The cost to acquire center fielder Ben Revere still looks low in retrospect, argues Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com, with Vance Worley falling apart and Trevor May still not quite matching results to his talent for the Twins. (I would push back somewhat on the characterization of May, who is a fairly valuable asset that could have been an important piece this year in Philly. Baseball America ranked him 8th in a deep group of Minnesota prospects, and he has 10.5 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 in his first seven starts at the Triple-A level.) But while the deal seems okay in terms of value, says Seidman, that does not mean that it delivered a starter to Philadelphia. With middling defense, non-existent power, and lagging on-base numbers, Seidman argues that Revere is entering his prime years playing like a late-career Juan Pierre. Needless to say, the club would face yet more questions if Revere is not the answer in center for the next several years.
- GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that some of the club’s difficulties to start the year can be attributed to “part of the growing pains you have with young players,” Revere among them, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Though that comment strikes an unmistakably ironic chord for the veteran-laden Phils, Zolecki points out that the team’s aging, big-dollar stars are actually playing quite well on the whole, while its younger assets are scuffling. That is indeed the case — as the team’s fWAR hitter and pitcher leaderboards show, the team has thus far received a positive net contribution from just one player who has yet to turn 30 (Jake Diekman). It appears that the warning in my review of the Phillies’ offseason could be coming to pass; as I wrote then, even if the team gets production from all of its elder statesmen, the rest of the roster may not be good enough to support a legitimate post-season run. It is not as if injuries are to blame. With Darin Ruf returning from injury, there is little argument that the Philles are at “full strength” in terms of available personnel, notes Justin Klugh of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez threw three innings in an extended Spring Training appearance and ramped his fastball up to 95 mph, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury: “This was the first time we’ve seen [95 mph] since we signed him. He was really bringing it. It’s a good sign. He’s progressing.” Amaro said the plan for his team is to keep Gonzalez in the rotation, though many scouts do feel he is eventually ticketed for bullpen work. Here are some additional links on the Phillies and the rest of the division…
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at the Phillies‘ biggest two flaws: their weakness outside the No. 3 through 6 spots in the lineup and a bullpen that lacks power arms. As Murphy points out, the No. 7 through 2 hitters in last night’s game entered with a combined five extra-base hits in 217 plate appearances, and only four of the bullpen’s arms are strikeout pitchers. Though the team is currently 15-15, one injury could significantly dampen the club’s outlook.
- If Kyle Kendrick can continue his current pace — a 3.58 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 52.7 percent ground-ball rate — he could do quite well for himself in free agency next winter, writes CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman. Seidman notes that while Kendrick wouldn’t be in the top two tiers of free agent starters, he could be one of the better third-tier options available. He looks at contracts such as the ones signed by Scott Feldman and Phil Hughes in noting that Kendrick would fetch a multi-year contract worth something similar to this season’s $7.675MM value.
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wouldn’t comment on specifics regarding his second base dilemma when asked by Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan of MLB.com. However, the MLB.com duo reports that some Braves players have privately voiced the opinion that Tyler Pastornicky could be a productive replacement, and Bowman and Morgan add that there’s a chance the team could promote the hot-hitting Tommy La Stella from Triple-A as well. That move, however, could require the Braves to think long and hard about the possibility of biting the bullet on the remaining two years of Uggla’s contract.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke with a veteran scout and asked about the Mets‘ top young arms — namely Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero — to see if they could help the team’s floundering bullpen. The scout pegged deGrom as more of the relief type than Montero: “That’s the one who seems like he has a better chance. As a starter, I see him throw 94, touch 95. The he settles in around 92-92. If you bring him in for an inning, he could just blow it out.”
Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez has a torn UCL and may require Tommy John surgery, Hernandez's agent Jason Hoffman tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Hernandez is getting a second opinion but if the original diagnosis is confirmed, the right-hander will miss the entire 2014 season. Since coming to Arizona in December 2010 as part of the Mark Reynolds trade, Hernandez has posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.17 K/BB and 10.8 K/9, though he struggled a bit last season due to an inflated home run rate. Losing Hernandez would further hurt the Arizona pitching staff, which also lost Patrick Corbin to an UCL tear earlier this month.
Here are some more notes about pitchers whose roster status is in question…
- Francisco Cordero has been told by the Red Sox that he isn't making the Opening Day roster, so the veteran reliever is now deciding whether to go to Triple-A Pawtucket or leave for another team, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. While Cordero doesn't officially have an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Sox, the two sides have an agreement that Cordero would be released if he finds a job elsewhere.
- Colby Lewis can opt out of his minor league deal with the Rangers on April 10, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Lewis was brought back on a minors contract after missing the entire 2013 season recovering from hip-resurfacing surgery, and the Rangers have been easing him back into action during Spring Training.
- If the Phillies are in need of another 40-man roster spot, GM Ruben Amaro said that Miguel Alfred Gonzalez could end up on the 60-day DL, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Gonzalez was officially placed on the 15-day DL (backdated to March 21) today due to tendinitis in his right shoulder.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark doesn't expect the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be reopened before its 2016 expiration to address issues with the qualifying offer system, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "It’s very difficult to open up a CBA," said Clark. "Suffice it to say, if there are issues during the course of any agreement, we continue to have discussions that may not require the CBA be to opened up, making sure that whatever the concerns are, whatever the issues are, and if they can be discussed in some more formal fashion, so be it, but more often than not, come 2016 when we have an opportunity to sit down is when we’ll do so." Last night, Aaron Steen asked MLBTR readers about the qualifying offer and nearly 47% want to tweak the QO while 25% want to eliminate it entirely.
In National League news and notes on Oscar Sunday:
- With the ink barely dry on Homer Bailey's six-year, $105MM contract extension, the Reds will be in the same situation with starters Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto next year. Owner Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay the team wants to retain all three. "We’re going to try to sign all these guys," Castellini said. "Whether we can or not, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball."
- Castellini also told Fay he is not pleased with the media's coverage of the Reds' offseason because it has had an adverse affect on the team's revenues. "That season-ticket number is the most important number we can generate," said Castellini. "We knew we wanted to sign Homer. We knew we were going to make some other commitments. It’s not that we didn’t look. It gets written in such a way – 'Well, the Reds aren’t doing anything' – that really does affect people buying season tickets." Castellini provided Fay with details of the club's revenue generated through ticket sales, sponsorships, and the national TV contract adding neither he nor any of the other principal owners or investors have ever taken money out of the franchise.
- Last month, the Braves gave Jason Heyward a two-year, $13.3MM contract. In two years, the perfect storm of baseball's economics, Heyward's age, and actions taken by the Braves will set the 24-year-old up for a huge payday on a likely barren free agent market, according to Mike Petriello of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece (subscription required).
- With mixed reviews to date, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his Spring Training debut yesterday. Phillies GM Ruban Amaro Jr. was upbeat about what he saw, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. "He probably threw better with his stuff as far as his velocity and breaking ball since he's been in camp," Amaro said. "I was encouraged that his stuff was better than it had been in his sides. And hopefully it will continue to progress in a positive way." Pitching coach Bob McClure added (as quoted by Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Inquirer), "I saw a very competitive (guy), and that is what I was really hoping for. And he might be one of those guys that’s not the best practice player, but you put him in a game and he competes." Reports surfaced last week Gonzalez could open the season in the minors.
- Solid pitching will be key to any improvement the Rockies hope to make this season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick focuses on young starters Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler while the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck examines the Rockies' adherence to pitch counts to protect their starting rotation and the corresponding reliance on their bullpen, which could be called upon to record 10 or 11 outs every game.
Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote last night that Ike Davis concealed an oblique injury for much of the season prior to Aug. 31, when it worsened and sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Davis took exception to the story and addressed Puma and other reporters today, writes ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. He quotes the first baseman: "You made it look like an excuse. It’s an excuse. It shouldn’t have been a story anyway. … I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury. You always have injuries. And now it just looks bad."
More from the NL East…
- Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has indicated that the team is likely to pick up GM Sandy Alderson's option for the 2015 season, writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Alderson's contract expires after the season, and while some have mentioned his name as a possible replacement for retiring commissioner Bud Selig, David Wright thinks Alderson wants to stay with the Mets and complete the rebuild he's begun since taking over as GM. Said Wright: "Everybody is kind of concerned with how they are remembered. … he wants to be remembered for taking an organization that was struggling and slowly building it up with the system with some good trades and free-agent signings."
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines the psychology behind long-term deals for young players, noting that some believe extensions can relieve pressure, while others feel the extensions provide extra pressure, as players feel they must live up to that contract. O'Brien spoke with each of the five players the Braves have signed to multi-year deals in the past three weeks and got their takes on their new contracts.
- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond spoke with Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com and reflected on the decade he's spent with the organization. Desmond is appreciative of GM Mike Rizzo for declining trade offers when he was struggling and also appreciative of managers Davey Johnson and Jim Riggleman for playing him through those struggles.
- Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will make his debut for the Phillies on Thursday this week, giving the club a chance to evaluate the pitcher they signed for $12MM last August, writes CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Salisbury writes that Gonzalez has merely looked "so-so" to this point and could end up in the minors to open the season if he doesn't win the fifth starter's job.
Ben Wetzler, the fifth-round pick of the Phillies who elected to return to Oregon State rather than sign with the club, has been suspended for 11 games (one-fifth of his senior season). According to the NCAA press release announcing the suspension, the "student-athlete" Wetzler violated the NCAA's rules when he "sought help from an agent who attended meetings where Wetzler negotiated contract terms with the team." A report yesterday indicated that the Phillies reported Wetzler to the NCAA after he failed to sign with the club, even though Wetzler utilized an advisor (so far as has been reported) in the same manner as virtually all players weighing their first baseball contract against a college education. Oregon State official Steve Clark said today that "it is our understanding the Phillies reported it," tweets Aaron Fitt of Baseball America. The initial reaction around the game has suggested that the Phillies may face blowback from agents as they work to sign amateur talent in the future.
In other news out of Philadelphia …
- Initial reviews on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez have been middling, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Though the Cuban hurler ultimately signed for just three years and $12MM, he had originally agreed to a $48MM guarantee before the deal was reduced when issues arose with his physical. Salisbury writes that the team has not been impressed with Gonzalez, who has shown underwhelming stuff and "spotty" control. (David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News had more details on Gonzalez's struggles.) When asked for his reaction, manager Ryne Sandberg said that Gonzalez was "still a litle bit of a mystery" and explained that the club would be "using a lot of patience with him."
- Among the players garnering more favorable reviews to date is top third base prospect Maikel Franco, reports Salisbury. Sandberg offered glowing praise for his bat, and said that the 21-year-old looked strong in the field early on as well. Though Salisbury says that it remains unlikel that Franco breaks camp with the big club, Sandberg maintains that he will not hand the job to Cody Asche, who saw his first 50 MLB games last seasons.
- Reliever Mike Adams, who is set to earn a $7MM salary this season, has finally progressed to throwing on flat ground after undergoing shoulder surgery last summer. As Paul Hagen of MLB.com reports, the 35-year-old is expected to throw off of the mound on Thursday. With uncertainty still lingering over the bullpen, the club is surely hopeful that Adams can regain his form as a dependable, sometimes-dominant setup man.
The Braves have announced (via Twitter) that Hall of Famer Hank Aaron suffered a fall on the ice and underwent partial hip replacement surgery. The surgery was successful, and he should recover and return to his usual activities within two months. Here are a few notes from around the National League.
- The Mets added Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young this offseason, but those moves mostly simply replaced money that had come off their payroll, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes. Notably, Johan Santana (who made $25.5MM last year and had a $5.5MM buyout for 2014) is gone, as are John Buck ($6.5MM), Frank Francisco ($6.5MM) and Shaun Marcum ($4MM).
- The Mets were the only team to offer Colon a two-year deal this offseason, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets. Colon, 40, signed for two years and $20MM.
- The Phillies still aren't sure what they have in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Associated Press reports. The Cuban pitcher signed for $12MM in August, an amount that was drastically reduced from $48MM after the Phillies became concerned about Gonzalez's elbow. The Phillies watched Gonzalez pitch as spring training opened on Thursday. "He shows deception with his delivery, so that's something," says manager Ryne Sandberg. "I'll be anxious to see how he continues to look as he continues to build arm strength."
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin is excited about his team's pitching depth, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. One benefit of the Matt Garza deal is that it allows other pitchers more time to develop, Melvin notes.