Mike Trout Rumors
After missing two years due to elbow injuries, righty Ben Sheets made a triumphant comeback start today as a member of the Braves, tossing six scoreless innings against the Mets for the win. Should Sheets manage a dozen decent starts for the Braves, the minor league signing will stand as a shrewd under-the-radar move by GM Frank Wren. Today's shrewd, under-the-radar links:
- "I feel like myself. That's one thing I can say I never felt like in Oakland," Sheets told reporters today including Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sheets signed a one-year, $10MM contract with the A's prior to the 2010 season despite missing all of '09.
- "It's just as necessary for the Yankees to have young players with a few years of control as it is for the Twins or the A's," GM Billy Beane explained to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times yesterday. The A's GM has been trading away players further from free agency lately, but this year Beane's club is surprisingly in the mix for a wild card spot.
- Scouts from the Yankees, Blue Jays, Braves, Mets, Reds, Padres and Nationals have attended recent Francisco Liriano starts, report Phil Mackey and Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, though some of those clubs may have had other interests. Slugger Josh Willingham would require a lopsided offer and seems likely to stay put, as we've heard before. Willingham is signed through 2014 and is interested in staying with the Twins beyond his current contract.
- Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer had Mike Trout second on his board for the 2009 draft, after only Stephen Strasburg, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. The Angels had two consecutive picks at 24 and 25, with the Yankees at 29, and Oppenheimer thought he might get Trout once the Halos took another high school outfielder in Randal Grichuk at 24. Of course, Angels scouting director Eddie Bane took Trout at 25. Trout told Harper he's motivated by all the teams that passed on him.
- The Diamondbacks signed Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler. BA says Alcantara draws praise for his defense, and the D'Backs had been favored to sign him. BA ranked Alcantara 18th overall in the July 2nd class.
It’s still a little early for struggling teams to acknowledge to fans that it’s time to start looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. As a result the trade market remains relatively quiet. Here are some of Olney’s notes on team needs and possible deals:
- The Red Sox are now focused on adding starting pitching.
- The Athletics are ready to talk trades now, so Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour and Bartolo Colon are available.
- General managers are impressed by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, just like everyone else. One GM told Olney Trout’s faster than Rickey Henderson. "He just rockets around the bases; you don't find players that skilled," the GM said. “They're all tooled-up, and they know how to play," another GM said in reference to the pair of young stars.
- Rival executives view Justin Morneau as a tremendously risky trade target because of his $14MM salary and history with concussions (Twitter link).
- Olney had more details on the trade market last night.
If Kendrys Morales returns from his left ankle injury by Spring Training, Angels manager Mike Scioscia will have seven players competing for five spots. Morales, Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Mike Trout would have to share playing time in the outfield and at first and DH.
The issue could resolve itself or disappear completely in a number of ways. The Angels' new GM could make an unexpected trade. Trumbo could transition to third base. Someone could get hurt. Or, if all seven players are healthy, the Angels could consider demoting Trout.
The Angels called Trout up from Double-A before he turned 20, which suggests they aren't about to let service time considerations dominate their decision making. Still, it wouldn't be hard to argue that Trout could use more minor league seasoning. He was Baseball America's minor league player of the year, but he struggled to hit MLB pitching, posting a .220/.281/.390 line in 135 plate appearances with the Angels.
Trout picked up 83 days of service time in 2011, which means he's 89 days short of the 172-days required for a full year. If the Angels allow Trout to pick up 89 days of service time next year, he'll have a full year of service and be on track for free agency after 2017.
If the Angels want to keep Trout under their control for an extra year, they could option him to the minor leagues for the season's first three months. In doing so, they'd ensure that Trout doesn't pick up more than 88 days of service in 2011. Combine 85 or so days next year with the 83 days he picked up in '11 and he'll still fall short of a full year of service next offseason and remain under the Angels' control through 2018.
It's probably academic, as the Angels showed they're willing to call on Trout if they believe he can make their team better, even if it means risking an earlier free agent departure. Trout's development and the team's roster composition will likely outweigh service time considerations for the Angels in 2012.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
On this date in 1998, Ken Griffey Jr. reached the 50-homer plateau for the second consecutive season. No one in the AL West will reach 50 homers this year - Nelson Cruz of the Rangers leads the division with 28. Here are today's AL West links...
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times tells the story of right-hander Steve Delabar, who was substitute teaching not long ago and has now joined the Mariners' big league pitching staff.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner would like to see the Mariners play Kyle Seager at third on a daily basis. Alex Liddi, another option, appears to need more Triple-A seasoning despite the 30 minor league homers he hit this year.
- Mike Trout is Baseball America's minor league player of the year and B.A.’s J.J. Cooper explains that the Angels outfielder stood out as a big league prospect when he was just 16 years old. Click through for old scouting reports on Trout, who’s still just 20.
It was on this day in 1907 that Walter Johnson made his Major League debut with the Washington Senators. The Big Train retired after 21 seasons in Washington with 417 career wins, 3509 career strikeouts and a case as possibly the greatest pitcher of all time.
Some notes from around the majors....
- The Marlins were quiet at the trade deadline since the club wants to keep its core intact for the move into their new Miami ballpark in 2012, writes CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler.
- The recently-DFA'ed Jack Cust visited some ex-teammates in the Athletics' clubhouse today but he told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the A's weren't one of a few teams that had shown some interest in him.
- Steve Slowsinski of Fangraphs gives kudos to the Rockies' front office for taking a risk with the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, but "really dislikes the trade from a philosophical point of view." Slowinski feels Colorado could have at least gotten one of Cleveland's top position player prospects (Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall) back in the deal.
- Bobby Abreu's $9MM option for 2012 vested on Sunday night and the veteran slugger tells MLB.com's Jordan Garretson that he's happy to remain with the Angels for the rest of his career.
- From that same piece, Mike Scioscia explained the team's decision to send Mike Trout back to Double-A Arkansas rather than Triple-A Salt Lake City as partially due to the fact that Arkansas is headed for the postseason. "We really feel strongly that in a player's development it's important to experience the playoffs. In Mike's case, he's a guy that's leading a team to the playoffs," Scioscia said.
It’s common for teams to time the debut of a top prospect carefully in order to delay his free agency or prevent him from going to arbitration an extra time. But such precise timing isn’t always possible, especially for short-handed teams in the middle of a pennant race.
The Angels, who trail the Rangers by one game in the American League West, lost no time in calling up top prospect Mike Trout to replace injured center fielder Peter Bourjos and the move doesn’t appear to have anything to do with service time.
Trout, 19, entered the season as baseball’s second-best prospect (behind only Bryce Harper), according to Baseball America. So far this year, the 2009 first round pick has solidified his place as one of the game's elite prospects. He has a .324/.415/.534 line with nine homers and 28 stolen bases in his first season at Double-A.
There’s definitely a chance that Trout returns to the minors this season (he could be demoted when Bourjos’ hamstring heals), or later on in his pro career, like so many other prospects. But let’s take a look at what lies ahead for the 19-year-old if he never returns to the minors. It’s admittedly a lot to ask of a player who was in high school a couple years ago, but Trout is no ordinary prospect.
He can pick up as many as 83 days of service time this year, which would put him on track for arbitration eligibility after the 2014 season and free agency after the 2017 season (it’s the same timetable that he would have been on if the Angels had called him up this September or added him to their Opening Day roster in 2012). In other words, there’s a chance Trout will hit free agency just a few months after his 26th birthday.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Happy birthday to Rangers manager Ron Washington, who turns 59 years old today. Let's celebrate by taking a look at some items from Washington's division...
- Daric Barton admits that he has been thinking about his multiyear contract negotiations with the Athletics, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's always in the back of your mind," Barton said. "It's not something you like to think about, but realistically, it happens." We heard about these negotiations last month, with MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noting that Barton's walk-heavy production could make him a bargain for the A's if they choose to go to arbitration with the first baseman.
- The Angels are integrating young players into their lineup while still remaining competitive in the AL West, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- Mike Trout is having a nice season at Double-A Arkansas, but ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill predicts Trout will only reach the majors in 2011 if the Angels want to give him a few token at-bats in September. Churchill speculates that Trout might skip Triple-A altogether and potentially make the Angels out of Spring Training next year, or at least be in the majors by May 2012 (or after next year's Super Two cutoff date).
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports profiles Mariners right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who made his improbable Major League debut this season after spending five years away from the sport.
The Rockies, who are about to start a series with the defending World Champions, have baseball's best record so far this year. GM Dan O'Dowd told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the team's resilience has contributed to its fast start. “We’re a confident, persistent club,” O’Dowd said. Troy Tulowitzki's hot streak hasn't hurt, either. Here are the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:
- One scout who has followed the Tigers this year predicts that they'll be looking for pitching help later this season. At some point minor leaguers Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner could help the Tigers, who are 12th in the AL with 77 runs allowed.
- A rival official says Mets GM Sandy Alderson will not offer Jose Reyes $100MM to stay in New York. It appears likely that Reyes will be on the trading block this summer, so MLBTR's Steve Adams recently outlined some possible destinations for him.
- Scouts are high on Angels prospect Mike Trout, praising his baserunning instincts, speed and power.
- Jason Marquis is a potential trade candidate, according to Rosenthal. The Nationals' right-hander has a 3.26 ERA in three starts so far this season.
- The White Sox don't plan to look outside of the organization for bullpen help at this point, despite their issues holding leads late in games.
Here's a potpourri of news items as we head into the weekend...
- Chipper Jones talks to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince about his recovery from knee surgery and his future in baseball. Jones was thinking of retirement last summer before, as Castrovince writes, "he started to hit like Chipper Jones again....And where the knee injury might have been the straw that broke the camel's back in June, in August, it served as a motivating factor to keep going."
- Laynce Nix has the been the subject of trade rumors, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Nix has a .251/.293/.445 career slash line against right-handed pitching and the Astros are reportedly in the market for a left-handed bench bat. Nix is currently in the Nationals' Spring Training camp on a minor league contract.
- Star prospect Mike Trout is turning heads at the Angels' Spring Training camp, reports MLB.com's Lyle Spencer.
- The Rockies will look internally to replace the injured Aaron Cook, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Already suffering from shoulder inflammation, Cook will be out until at least May due to a broken finger on his throwing hand.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times looks at the Rangers' offseason and how the team had a more-than-adequate "plan B" (Adrian Beltre) in mind when they failed to re-sign Cliff Lee.
- Jake Odorizzi might end up being the most important piece of the trade package the Royals received for Zack Greinke, says MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge has brought a number of former Indians coaches and players with him to Seattle, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Brandon Wood has struggled this spring, while Mark Trumbo has had a big camp for the Angels. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com thinks Trumbo's emergence means that the out-of-options Wood's "days in an Angels uniform appear to be numbered."
- It was almost a year ago that Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland underwent life-threatening brain surgery. Today, MLB.com's Evan Drellich writes that "doctors have already been amazed at the speed of his recovery" as Westmoreland is trying hard to regain both his basic motor skills and his baseball abilities.
- The Angels will start top prospect Mike Trout at Double-A. GM Tony Reagins says it's "unlikely" that Trout makes the majors this year. The 19-year-old hit .341/.428/.490 with 56 stolen bases last year in his first full season as a pro.
- Reagins did not offer to meet Jered Weaver at the midpoint before the sides went to an arbitration hearing yesterday. The Angels' decision paid off when they beat the Scott Boras client and saved themselves over $1.4MM.
- Arbitration hearings can be uncomfortable for teams and players alike, but Reagins points out that some players are still open to extensions after going to arbitration with their clubs. Corey Hart of the Brewers is one player who agreed to an extension soon after going to arbitration (though he won his hearing with Milwaukee).
- The Angels are not in discussions with any free agent leadoff hitters, Reagins said. The Angels were interested in Scott Podsednik earlier in the winter.