Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Rumors

NL Notes: Aaron, Mets, Colon, Phillies, Brewers

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 Gonzalezthe 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. 

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gonzalez, Kimbrel

There isn't much optimism about the Phillies, but their roster has the talent to contend if it can stay healthy, Bob Ford of the Inquirer writes. Their season will turn on Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, all core players in their thirties. "I don't believe all of a sudden that these guys are so old that they've lost all of their bat speed, their quickness, and their abilities," says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Here's more on the NL East.

  • Amaro will be the Phillies employee who faces the heaviest scrutiny this spring, but after that is Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, writes Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. "If I knew more what Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was, I would feel better about it," says Amaro, referring to the Phillies' starting pitching. "We think he has the potential to be that guy. It's not a slam dunk. We haven't seen him pitch. In some ways, we have to get lucky on that one." Gonzalez and the Phillies initially agreed on a deal worth a minimum of $48MM, but the team ended up signing him for $12MM instead after concerns about Gonzalez's elbow scuttled the original deal.
  • The Braves' signings of Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward to extensions likely mean less money on hand to sign Craig Kimbrel. That might be justified given the decline in Kimbrel's deceptiveness last season, Alec Dopp of BaseballAnalytics.org writes. While Kimbrel was still dominant in 2013, his K:BB ratio took a big step backward, and batters made significantly more contact against him. His release point varied more in 2013, Dopp argues, which made it easier for batters to identify his pitches.

East Links: Jeter, Drew, CarGo, Gonzalez, Lester

Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be forced to play the bad guy role again as the club considers how they'll address Derek Jeter given the captain's age and durability issues, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Three scouts and three executives polled by Harper each said they believe Cashman will acquire an everyday shortstop this offseason, as they don't believe Jeter will be able to handle the position and the Yankees don't have acceptable alternatives. "He’ll be a 40-year old shortstop who already had limited range," one executive said, noting Jeter's injured ankle. "If you’re the GM, it’s your responsibility to make the tough decision for the good of the ballclub.” Here's more notes from around the majors' eastern divisions…

  • The majority of the six baseball people who Harper spoke with suggested shortstop Stephen Drew as a potential free agent acquisition for the Yankees. While Drew has posted a solid .249/.331/.436 line this season and would be a good fit for Yankee Stadium, signing with the Yanks would place him in a delicate situation. "Would Drew — or anyone else — want to sign on as the guy pushing an unwilling Jeter into a role where he would DH mostly and play short only occasionally?" Harper asks.
  • The Mets covet the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, and one executive familiar with the Rockies' thinking tells Harper they're likely to listen to offers for the star outfielder. However, a trade appears unlikely, as the Rockies want young position players and aren't interested in what the Mets can offer in that regard. Colorado may also consider offers for Troy Tulowitzki, Harper says.
  • CC Sabathia's 4.90 ERA would be the second-worst mark in Yankees history by a pitcher to surpass the 200 inning threshold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. “I have always been bend-but-don’t-break, and I have broken a lot this year,” Sabathia commented. Sherman says Sabathia has adjusted his delivery in order to better stay on top of the ball so that his fastball does not cut toward the middle of the plate. 
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson is on track to become the first GM in club history to post increasing loss totals in each of his first three seasons from the team he inherited, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The team clinched its fifth consecutive losing season in dropping today's game with the Marlins.
  • The Phillies have no plans for recent Cuban acquisition Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to pitch competitively this season, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer says. The team sees Gonzalez sliding into the third slot of their 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee"We just want to see where he's at," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We want to get him assimilated into our organization and be ready to go for spring training."
  • The Red Sox have yet to broach the subject of Jon Lester's next contract, GM Ben Cherington revealed in an interview with WEEI.com. "We just feel like those issues are better left for after we’re done playing, which hopefully is several weeks from now," Cherington said. We recently heard that the Sox are "all but certain" to pick up their $13MM option on Lester for next year.

Phillies Sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

More than a month after the Phillies reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the team has officially announced that they have signed him to a drastically reduced three-year, $12MM contract with a vesting option for a fourth season.

Gonzalez's contract covers the 2014-16 seasons and also contains an undisclosed signing bonus and performance incentives. He has been placed directly on the 40-man roster, with John Lannan being transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a space. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered the following statement regarding the signing:

“We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with Miguel. He is someone our scouts have followed for several years and in our most recent observations of him he showed tremendous stuff.  We are hopeful he will pitch out of our starting rotation for 2014 and beyond.”

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that the initial contract broke down due to concerns regarding Gonzalez's right elbow. The Phillies have now secured Gonzalez at a bargain rate compared to where the initial bidding began. A few weeks after that initial report, rumors began to circulate that the agreement was in jeopardy. Passan's tweet confirms what was speculated in those reports — elbow problems did indeed impact negotiations. Elbow troubles aren't exactly new for Gonzalez, as he'd previously had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.

Gonzalez drew heavy interest from a number of big league teams, but the Red Sox and Dodgers were said to have been two of the other teams very interested in signing him. Ben Badler of Baseball America offered a scouting report on Gonzalez prior to his initial agreement (subscription required), noting that he features a fastball, splitter, changeup and curveball in his four-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, and his splitter and changeup are slightly above-average pitches, according to Badler. Badler also notes that Gonzalez's curve is his weakest offering. Badler adds that while some scouts see him as a No. 3 starter, others see him as a middle reliever because they don't believe his stuff will hold up when facing MLB hitters multiple times in an outing.

With Gonzalez in the fold, the Phillies will now presumably be looking at a top three of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Gonzalez for the foreseeable future, with other candidates such as Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Tyler Cloyd as candidates for the remaining spots. Kyle Kendrick projects as their fourth starter in 2014 but is a free agent after that year.

Rosenthal On Gonzalez, Peavy, DeJesus, Lohse

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports released his latest Full Count video today. Let's take a look:

  • Discussing the Phillies' ongoing negotiations with Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Rosenthal notes that that delays of this kind typically develop after a team finds a problem with a player's physical. If there is cause for concern, the Phillies could incorporate protective language into the contract or sign Gonzalez to a smaller deal than the six-year, $48MM pact that was reported last month.
  • Recent Red Sox acquisition Jake Peavy told Rosenthal that he was prepared to move money around in his contract to facilitate a trade from the White Sox to the Cardinals, or any other team that asked him to do so. However, the Cardinals never made an offer for Peavy.
  • Rival executives suggest to Rosenthal that the Nationals' waiver claim of David DeJesus may have been a mistake. The quality of prospect that the Nats obtain from the Rays for DeJesus could hint at the impetus behind the deal, Rosenthal says.
  • The Braves were the team that claimed Kyle Lohse after the Brewers placed him on waivers earlier this month, and hoped to use him as a replacement for the injured Tim Hudson. However, the Brewers opted not to try to work out a deal. They may attempt to move him in the offseason, however, as the two years and $22MM remaining on his deal could be attractive in the weak free agent market.

NL Notes: Mets, Manuel, Wilson, Choo, Abreu

The Pirates' failure to sign Mark Appel with the eighth overall selection in the 2012 draft created a ripple effect where the Mets passed on free agent Michael Bourn and eventually gave playing time to rookie Juan Lagares, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As compensation for not coming to terms with Appel, the Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick in this past June's draft, knocking the Mets' choice (11th) out of the protected Top Ten. This was an important considersation for the Mets in deciding to not bid on Bourn, explains Sherman, who cites this as a pefect example of "sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make." Here's news from other NL teams who aren't neccessarily going to follow that old adage:

  • Ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (via Bowden on Twitter) he wants to continue managing and is open to all opportunities, including the Nationals
  • In that same interview (also from a Bowden tweet), Manuel says the Phillies' plan is to "reload," not "rebuild," needing regular players to fill holes, including adding a starter, and redoing the bullpen. 
  • Speaking of the Phillies, little has changed with the radio silence regarding their agreement with Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, who reported earlier this month the two sides have hit a snag in finalizing their six-year, $48MM deal.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, they will have a better idea at the end of today when Brian Wilson will be activated. GM Ned Colletti was a guest of Bowden and Duquette on MLB Network Radio and said the call should be made in "another day or two" (as quoted by Gurnick's colleague, Andrew Simon). Colletti also explained he signed Wilson because he only cost money, not prospects, and there's a familiarity with him from his days as the Giants' closer. "We think it's a very low-risk, high-reward situation," said Colletti. "He wanted to be here. He has a home in L.A. Rivalry and all that aside — we all know what that's all about — he wanted to restart his career and we're going to give him that opportunity here in the near future."
  • Four years and $60MM is the guess as to the asking price of Reds centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo in free agency this winter, tweets the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. Choo placed fifth in MLBTR's most recent 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • The Pirates have scouted Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu in three recent international tournaments and will be on hand for his expected September showcase, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We like him," GM Neal Huntington said. "It will be interesting to see where the bidding goes." That bidding could exceed $60MM.

Phillies’ Agreement With Gonzalez In Jeopardy

Last month, the Phillies and Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez reportedly reached an agreement on a six-year, $48MM contract that contained an $11MM option for a seventh season. However, Philadelphia has yet to announce that a deal has been finalized, and MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that the deal may not end up going through at all.

The two sides have "hit a snag" in recent weeks, writes Zolecki, which would explain the silence from the Phillies (a previous report had indicated they were simply waiting for Gonzalez to get visa approval before making an announcement). GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would not comment on the situation when asked by Zolecki prior to last night's game against the Cubs.

After the agreement was announced, reports surfaced that some clubs had been wary of problems in Gonzalez's elbow. Zolecki reports that Gonzalez has had bone spurs removed within the past two years but is said to have recovered from that procedure. If the agreement were to fall through, it would drastically change the Phillies' outlook for 2014 and perhaps even 2013, as he was expected to be in the Majors next season and possibly even this year.

The Phillies have appeared to be more active on the international market than in recent years between the Gonzalez agreement and their signing of German outfield prospect Julsan Kamara. They are also said to be the favorites to sign Dominican third baseman Luis Encarnacion this Friday when he turns 16. Baseball America ranked Encarnacion as the No. 4 international free agent in this year's class, while MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez ranked him 12th.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gonzalez, Braves, Nationals

Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:

  • The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
  • Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
  • There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls.
  • Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect. 

Reactions To Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Signing

We learned yesterday that the Phillies have inked Cuban starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal that includes $48MM in guaranteed money. To start the weekend, we'll take a look at some preliminary reactions to the deal:

  • Gonzalez is a high-risk signing in more ways than one, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. (Twitter links.) Olney says that other teams saw "elbow questions" with Gonzalez to go along with his long layoff from pitching (in addition to the regular uncertainties with international signings). The perception around the league, according to Olney (more Twitter links), is that the Phillies must have seen this information more positively than most. 
  • On the topic of Gonzalez's risk-reward profile, one baseball executive told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez (Twitter link) that, while the price tag was steep, the deal was understandable. Sanchez's source summed things up: "sometimes, you have to take a risk."
  • The Phillies did not sign Gonzalez to help the team compete this year, though there is some possibility he will throw in the big leagues in 2013, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Instead, says Rosenthal, the move signals the club's intentions to "restructure" the roster around a deep starting rotation.
  • The Gonzalez signing represents both a new direction and a continued commitment for the Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro Jr., explains MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Guaranteeing $48MM to an international player is, on the one hand, a stark departure for an organization that had never spent more than $1.2MM on any international prospect. Indeed, after Amaro's comments a month ago describing the risks of international splashes, it seemed the team would continue to stay its hand. But Amaro has also insisted repeatedly that he has every intention of delivering a contender this year and in the immediate future, and adding Gonzalez certainly appears designed to serve that end.
  • For the Phils to have placed this large a bet on an international talent, says Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, well-respected international scouting director Sal Agostinelli must have had his "fingerprints … all over this signing." Many of the questions surrounding Gonzalez revolve around whether or not his splitter or slider are capable of delivering strikeouts, writes Gelb, making a scouting assessment critical in valuing the hurler.
  • You can count fellow Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras among those who believe in Gonzalez, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Contreras, who has been strong in his short tenure with the top Red Sox affiliate since his recent signing, says that Gonzalez possesses the "mentality for the big leagues."

Phillies To Sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

The Phillies have reached agreement with Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez on a six-year deal, $48MM deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports. With bonuses, Gonzalez's contract could be worth as much as $59MM. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported that Gonzalez's contract includes a vesting option for 2019, and Passan noted that the vesting option is worth $11MM.

Passan notes that, with the option, Gonzalez's deal would be bigger than the $56MM the Rangers gave Yu Darvish, and the guaranteed portion is already much more than the $42MM Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers. The Red Sox were the other main contender for Gonzalez, who is represented by Jaime Torres.

Yesterday, it looked likely that Gonzalez would be making a decision soon, so the timing of the signing wasn't a surprise. Gonzalez fled Cuba this year, first to El Salvador and then to Mexico. Since he is over 23 and has played more than three seasons in a Cuban professional league, he is not subject to the international bonus pool system that limits bonuses that can be given to Dominican and Venezuelan players.

Gonzalez throws a mid-90s fastball, along with a curveball, splitter and changeup. In a scouting report for Baseball America, Ben Badler notes that Gonzalez's curveball is his weakest pitch and that his splitter and changeup are just "a tick above average." Scouts who like Gonzalez rate him as about a No. 3 starter in the big leagues, Badler says, while others think he might be a back-of-the-rotation starter or low-leverage reliever.

Badler says, however, that scouts mostly agree Gonzalez is a Major League talent. The 26-year-old is also fairly widely perceived as being big-league ready, or close to it, despite having not pitched much in the past two years after being suspended from the Cuban national team for trying to defect. Passan also notes that one factor in the Phillies' decision to sign Gonzalez is that they will soon be negotiating a new TV deal — they're getting a big-league pitcher, and they'll have plenty of money with which to pay him.

Beyond that, it isn't yet absolutely clear how Gonzalez fits into the Phillies' long-term plans, although, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, the Phillies' additional starting pitching depth might allow them to deal another starter, possibly Cliff Lee.