MLBTR Polls Rumors

Poll: The Best In-Season Waiver Claim

With the regular season coming to a close, we can see with MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker that there were dozens of waiver claims made this season. While many of the players involved in these transactions didn’t crack a big league roster or didn’t stick following their claim, a handful provided legitimate value to their new clubs. Let’s take a look at some of the better pulls…

  • Sam Fuld (Claimed by Twins from A’s on April 20): Fuld was acquired by the Twins simply because they needed depth in center field, but he provided quite a bit more than depth. Fuld batted a very solid .274/.370/.354 in 195 PA with the Twins and provided value both on the bases and in the outfield. He was traded back to Oakland on July 31, netting the Twins Tommy Milone. The 27-year-old Milone has struggled so far in Minnesota, but the team gained four years of control of a potential back-end starter in the deal.
  • Hector Noesi (Claimed by White Sox from Rangers on April 25): Few expected Noesi to hold down a rotation spot in Chicago for the whole season, but he’s done just that. The 27-year-old, who was a castoff from the Mariners after struggling to a 6.13 ERA in parts of three seasons, made just three appearances with the Rangers before being DFAed there also. In Chicago, he’s turned in a 4.39 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 37.7 percent ground-ball rate in 160 innings. He may not be an elite arm or even a long-term piece, but he’s provided some stability and soaked up innings, and there’s value to that for any club. Noesi is controlled through 2017 if the Sox are so inclined.
  • Moises Sierra (Claimed by White Sox from Blue Jays on May 3): Chicago’s outfield depth took a hit with the injury to Avisail Garcia, and Sierra has helped fill some of the void in a part-time role. He hasn’t been an elite bat, but he’s provided above-average offense with a .280/.316/.423 and also played solid defense in right field. He’s yet to reach arbitration eligibility, and he remains under control through 2019, so he could serve as a bench piece in future seasons.
  • Esmil Rogers (Claimed by Yankees from Blue Jays on July 31): Rogers’ struggles in Toronto were long bemoaned by Blue Jays fans, particularly because he was acquired in a deal that sent Yan Gomes to the Indians. The Yankees claimed him with little fanfare, but he’s given them five solid innings in a spot start and 19 2/3 innings of solid relief. The end result is a 3.28 ERA and a strong 22-to-8 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 frames for the Yankees. While he might not be a long-term piece (he’s a non-tender candidate after earning $1.85MM this year), he did provide a positive contribution to a Yankee pitching staff that was still hoping to make a run at the time of his acquisition.
  • Jordan Schafer (Claimed by Twins from Braves on Aug. 3): Once a top Braves prospect, Schafer’s second tenure with the club that drafted him didn’t go all that well, but the Twins again claimed him in need of outfield depth. Schafer has faredwell in Minnesota, slashing .285/.345/.362 with 15 steals in 20 attempts. He can be controlled through 2016 if the Twins wish to retain him as a fourth outfielder, which seems likely, as he earned a modest $1.09MM in 2014.
  • Matt Thornton (Claimed by Nationals from Yankees on Aug. 5): Thornton pitched well in the Bronx after signing a two-year, $7MM deal with the Yankees, but his salary made him expendable to the Bombers, who let him go to the Nats on this waiver claim. The veteran lefty has rattled off 11 1/3 scoreless innings over 18 appearances with the Nats and is controlled through next season at $3.5MM.
  • Jerome Williams (Claimed by the Phillies from the Rangers on Aug. 10): Williams struggled mightily with both Texas clubs after finding success as a swingman with the Angels from 2011-13, but he rediscovered himself in Philadelphia. He’s given the Phillies eight starts and 51 1/3 innings of 2.45 ERA ball with 6.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 45.7 percent ground-ball rate. With the Phillies toiling at the bottom of the NL East and Williams set to hit free agency at season’s end, the overall benefit may seem trivial, but he’s provided stable innings for the Phils and rebuilt some of the stock that his struggles in Houston and Arlington tarnished.
  • John Axford (Claimed by Pirates from Indians on Aug. 14): Axford’s bid to reestablish himself with the Indians fell short, as he quickly lost the closer’s gig and walked 30 batters in 43 2/3 innings with Cleveland. The Bucs claimed him in hopes of lowering that walk rate, and they’ve succeeded. Axford has given the playoff-bound Bucs 10 2/3 innings of a 1.69 ERA in relief, and perhaps more importantly, he’s turned in a tidy 12-to-4 K/BB ratio in that time. He appears to have manager Clint Hurdle’s trust, as he’s worked the seventh inning three times, the eighth inning six times and the ninth inning three times in his 12 appearances as a Pirate. They’ll have the option to retain him via arbitration this offseason, though a raise on his $4.5MM salary may be too steep.

While these waiver claims vary in nature — some provide a long-term bench piece while others have provided short-term boosts — each has been of some benefit to their current club. That brings me to the question…

Poll: Who Will Sign Yasmany Tomas?

It’s an exceptionally quiet night on the transaction front, so let’s turn our attention to a poll. Tomorrow is Yasmani Tomas day with the Cuban slugger scheduled to workout at the Giants Dominican complex in front of about two dozen clubs. Even though tomorrow is a landmark date in Tomas’ move toward the majors, it is really just the beginning of the process. Like with fellow countryman Rusney Castillo, I assume Tomas will conduct private workouts with the most interested teams in the next few weeks. It’s also worth noting that Tomas has not yet been declared a free agent by major league baseball.

We heard last Sunday that Tomas could command as much as $100MM in a bidding war. While we can assume that every team with some modicum of interest will be represented at the showcase, we’ve seen eight teams directly tied to Tomas. The Yankees and Phillies are popular speculative destinations. Hall of Fame journalist and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons mentioned five clubs as front runners, including the Phillies, Rangers, Tigers, Padres, and Giants. The Red Sox and Mets have also been tied to Tomas here at MLBTR. 

So my question is this: who do you think will sign Tomas? I’ve removed a few teams from the poll below based on payroll or other constraints (i.e. the Rays). If the team you think will sign him is not represented, you should vote for “other.”

Poll: Will Pablo Sandoval Be Back With The Giants?

Pablo Sandoval is playing out his age-27 season as one of the game’s better third basemen. Barring a last-minute run at an extension, he will enter the open market as one of the most desirable position players available. Though he doesn’t provide as much value at the plate as he did in the earlier part of his career, and is a below-average baserunner, Sandoval has produced consistently at a well-above-average rate with the bat and the glove. (And did I mention that he just turned 28 a little over a month ago?) Of course, he comes with questions of conditioning, though Sandoval reported in good shape this spring and has seemingly carried that positive vibe through the season. He should have a number of suitors awaiting him if he tests the market.

With a seller’s market awaiting him, it is hard to see Sandoval taking any sort of discount to re-up with San Francisco. But the club kept Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum off the market with late-breaking extensions last year, and GM Brian Sabean has recently given expression to the club’s oft-noted penchant for retaining its own players. (Of course, he also noted that difficult decisions will need to be made, and added that payroll will be an issue.) Sandoval is a highly marketable player for a large-market team that lacks an obvious replacement. He has spent his entire career with the Giants, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the Giants will look to make a run at him (whether through an extension or via free agency).

So, the question is simple: will Sandoval be back in San Francisco next year, or will he find a new home?

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Poll: Orioles’ Qualifying Offers

It’s been a quiet day on the transactional front, so a poll seems in order. Looking ahead at free agency, one of the more interesting situations involves the Orioles’ crop of pending free agents. The club has several key pieces of the lineup set to reach the open market: Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, and J.J. Hardy. But the question remains whether some or all will receive qualifying offers.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams took a look at Markakis as a possible free agent back in May, noting that the 30-year-old’s hot start could lead to a significant turnaround in value. While he has not maintained that pace, Markakis has put up a .278/.339/.387 slash that constitutes better-than league-average production. Defensive metrics are not in love with his glove, but credit him with improvements over recent seasons. Also aiding Markakis as he looks ahead to a new deal is the fact that the upcoming free agent market appears rather thin in the corner outfield, especially in younger options. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently suggested, the club could pay him a $2MM buyout on his $17.5MM mutual option but still make him the QO.

Cruz, meanwhile, has done nothing but rake since joining the O’s on a one-year, $8MM pact. That deal cost the club a compensation pick, but looks like a bargain in hindsight. Cruz leads the league with 39 long balls and has slashed a robust .262/.331/.532 triple-slash in 596 plate appearances. But looking forward, he is 34 years old and is a limited defensive player (though he has rated out as an approximately average corner outfielder in limited action this year). On the other hand, even if Baltimore would rather not pay Cruz $15MM next year, might the qualifying offer be worth it? Having missed his chance to cash in on a multi-year deal last year, Cruz could well be motivated to take another crack at a player’s market. And if he does take the offer, that seems an attractive-enough rate for a single season commitment.

Then there is Hardy, who is quite an interesting player in his own right. The shortstop continues to create immense value with the glove while delivering league-average offense. Though his power numbers have taken a big step back this year, Hardy has managed to compensate with a higher batting average and on-base percentage. (Though he has ridden a career-high .332 BABIP, Hardy has also raised his line-drive percentage this year.) All said, the 32-year-old is almost certainly the best shortstop on the upcoming market, if one views Hanley Ramirez as a third baseman at this point. Just look at these current season, three-year, and five-year comparisons to fellow soon-to-be free agents Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Stephen Drew. It still seems somewhat hard to imagine that Baltimore will let him reach the open market without restriction, especially given that the long-anticipated move of Manny Machado to shortstop could once again be delayed (and would, in any event, simply open a hole at the hot corner).

So, which players are likely to receive a qualifying offer from the O’s? (Select all that apply.)

Poll: Most Impactful August Acquisition

Though trades completed after the expiration of the non-waiver period generally lack the marquee appeal of their predecessors, August swaps can have wide-ranging impact — as the blockbuster of 2012 amply illustrates. This year, most of the heavy lifting was done during July, but that doesn’t mean that the more recent set of trades (and straight waiver claims) will go without meaning.

So, MLBTR readers: which of the following dozen players will, in your opinion, be the most impactful addition for their new club? (Players listed in alphabetical order by last name, randomized in poll; links go to the relevant transaction.)

Gordon Beckham, INF, Angels — Beckham has not hit well this year — or, really, for much of his career — but is just 27 and can play around the diamond.

Jonathan Broxton, RP, Brewers — One of the game’s most effective set-up men this year, Broxton will be Milwaukee’s for 2015 as well, at a $9MM price tag.

Kevin Correia, SP, Dodgers – Injury flare-ups created a need for innings, but Los Angeles decided to add at the back of the rotation rather than giving up top youngsters.

Alejandro De Aza, OF, Orioles – Though he has had a down year, De Aza appears to be a solid reserve piece and comes with control for next year (though he is a possible non-tender).

Adam Dunn, DH, Athletics — Dunn can still mash, especially against righties, and his bat will be nice to have handy in a now-likely play-in game.

Roberto Hernandez, SP, Dodgers — See above re Correia.

Kelly Johnson, INF, Orioles — With Manny Machado down for the year and second base still a weakness, Johnson is an obvious fit.

Josh Outman, RP, Yankees — Apparently missing Thornton somewhat, New York added the lefty-killer and will have the chance to control him for 2015.

Geovany Soto, C, Athletics — Catcher didn’t seem likely to become a need for Oakland, but Soto could be a good get to plug a late-arising hole.

Matt Thornton, RP, Nationals — Thornton represented the lefty specialist that Washington wanted, and he has been lights out since being nabbed.

Jacob Turner, SP, Cubs — The only non-contender acquisition on this list came about when the Marlins tired of waiting for the 23-year-old’s promise, and his lack of options required an ill-timed DFA.

Josh Willingham, OF, Royals — After a quiet non-waiver deadline, Kansas City made its move to add the still-productive veteran hitter.

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Poll: Where Will Rusney Castillo Sign?

We’ve heard a lot of reports recently on Cuban outfielder/infielder Rusney Castillo, who drew most every team in baseball to a showcase before embarking on a series of individual workouts. It remains to be seen, of course, just how good Castillo will be at the major league level. But scouting reports have ranged from solid to fairly glowing (being compared to Ron Gant, for example, is not faint praise).

Rumor has it that, having shown some big tools in his showcase, Castillo could land as much as $50MM in a six-year deal. On top of his ability, Castillo’s appeal lies in the fact that he is expected to be ready for an MLB roster spot virtually right out of the gate and that teams can acquire prime years without sacrificing draft compensation or young talent. That is hardly unprecedented — just this winter, the same was true of Jose Abreu — but Castillo holds special intrigue since he could have near-immediate impact on a postseason race. (Of course, as Joel Sherman recently noted, quick visa work will be necessary to make that possible.)

For those reasons, there is no shortage of plausible landing spots for Castillo. Looking back through the MLBTR archives, 11 teams have been connected with him in some manner beyond simply attending the showcase. (The Orioles and Twins were also said to have interest, but not at his expected price tag.) Ben Badler provides a breakdown of some of the possible fits here. So, will Castillo sign with one of those clubs, or will a mystery team emerge?

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Poll: Was Manfred The Right Choice?

Major League Baseball owners yesterday elected MLB COO Rob Manfred as the successor to Bud Selig and next commissioner of baseball. While Manfred’s vote technically passed unanimously, there was a pronounced split for much of the day. Reportedly, 22 of the 30 teams were in favor of Manfred for much of the day, but it took quite some time for a 23rd team — said by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports to be the Nationals — to give Manfred the final vote he required. At that point, the remaining seven teams altered their vote as “an olive branch for posterity” (to use the words of the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin), knowing that their preferred candidate had no chance to win anyhow.

That preferred candidate was Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, although Werner wasn’t the only other finalist to give a presentation to owners yesterday. Joining Werner and Manfred was MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan, though he appeared to be the first of the three to withdraw from consideration.

All three had their merits. Manfred has resided over labor negotiations and can boast 19 years of peace between MLB and the MLBPA, and he also has worked tirelessly to implement the current drug testing system in addition to spearheading last year’s Biogenesis investigation. Werner, whose background was in television before jumping to the baseball world, was believed by his supporters to possess the necessary knowledge to bolster MLB’s television ratings and revitalize interest in baseball among the youth of the United States and Canada. Brosnan’s business acumen was his strongest selling point, though he looked to be a distant third place behind his competitors not long after the announcement of the three finalists. (Of course, all three had their flaws as well, and MLBTR readers can get a brief rundown of each candidate in this piece from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.)

Prior to the announcement of the three finalists, other candidates for the position had included Giants president Larry Baer, Disney chief executive Bob Iger, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman and former Yale University president Richard C. Levin.

Manfred has long been rumored to be the preferred successor of retiring commissioner Bud Selig, and in the end, the seemingly likeliest option wound up getting the nod. Manfred will become just the 10th commissioner of the league and presumably will hold this post for a considerable amount of time. Should baseball fans be happy about the outcome of the election? Let’s find out how the MLBTR universe feels…

Poll: Phillies’ August Trade Activity

Players will change hands in August, but the path to a deal is trickier. Last year, the names moved included established big leaguers like Alex Rios, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, David DeJesus, Kurt Suzuki, Michael Morse, and John Axford.

The Phillies have fielded a good bit of criticism from those (myself included) who feel that the team has lacked a strategy for divesting themselves of some aging veterans and beginning to move the club forward. But, it is equally clear that the team should have ample opportunity to put together deals over the coming month. Though the players available to be brought back in return could potentially be somewhat limited by the August trade rules, that is less of a barrier for the younger talent that Philly will likely pursue. And perhaps the team will find itself with a bit more leverage relative to the rest of the market since it still holds all its chips (and since injuries or other developments can always intervene to increase need).

Philadelphia has reportedly already sought waivers on essentially all of the veterans that it could consider dealing. It seems likely that most will clear waivers completely, and even those that might not (e.g., Cole Hamels) could be claimed by teams that would be interested in realistically discussing a trade. Even after his injury took Cliff Lee out of the running, the club has plenty of pieces that would be great adds for contenders — if they can navigate the tricky vesting clauses, buyouts, and no-trade provisions that lie within many players’ contracts.

I thought it would be interesting to gauge the sentiment of MLBTR readers as to how active embattled Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will be in the weeks to come. Will he surprise everyone and aggressively move several players? Or continue to hold onto his veterans unless he is overwhelmed by an offer?

Your options for filling out the poll (honor system applies!):

1) Select “No Player Will Be Traded”

              — OR –

2) Select One Or More Player(s) Who You Think Are Likely To Be Traded

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Poll: Best Trade Deadline Buy

This just had to happen. Yesterday’s deals not only changed the context for earlier summer trades, but reshaped rosters around the game. For purposes of this poll, let’s focus on the teams that were looking to upgrade their current MLB roster.

Here are the moves that contenders made yesterday, by team:

So, which of these teams made the wisest addition(s) yesterday, given team need and the price they paid?

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Poll: Which All-Stars Will Be Traded?

In what’s becoming a bit of a tradition on these slow Saturday nights, let’s take a break from the inaction to consider which All-Stars might find themselves in a new home between now and the end of August. I see no reason to restrict our attention to only the non-waiver trade deadline. We’ve already seen one All-Star – former Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija – traded.

For this exercise, I’ve included most players from the basement teams. I’ve left out a few like Yu Darvish, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo since they seem to be part of their club’s long term plans. We’re left with a nine player list. Please select all candidates you believe will be dealt or pick the “none” option if you think everyone will stay put.

David Price – TAM: The Rays top starter has been the elephant in the room since the previous trade deadline. Now may be the best time for the Rays to deal Price – his value will diminish as he approaches free agency. The 28-year-old is club controlled through 2015.  Given the price paid by the Athletics for Samardzija, the Rays will want a top prospect like Addison Russell included in any deal.

Tampa Bay is still trying to claw their way back into the AL East (10.5 games out of first) and Wild Card race. They also figure to contend next season, so they could opt to hang onto their star. For his part, Price is trying to firewall his teammates from the rumors.

Kurt Suzuki – MIN: With few catchers on the trade block, Suzuki should receive plenty of attention. The 30-year-old backstop has never drawn rave reviews on his defense. He’s a bit undersized for a catcher, and it’s been hypothesized that his short stature affects his ability to frame pitches. Per StatCorner’s Catcher Report Suzuki has ranked last defensively (many catchers have been worse on a per innings basis).

It’s Suzuki’s bat that has brought him to the Midsummer Classic. Suzuki performed decently at the plate over his first three major league seasons before sliding into obscurity over four seasons. He signed a one-year, $2.75MM deal with the Twins for the 2014. The Cardinals and Orioles are liable to be most interested since both teams have lost their star backstop but don’t need a replacement beyond the 2014 season.

Adrian Beltre – TEX: Rangers manager Ron Washington told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports that Beltre was absolutely not available. Considering the star third baseman is 35 years old, the Rangers may want to rethink that position. It comes down to a basic question, will Texas rebuild or retool for a 2015 run? If competing in 2015 is seen as a long shot, then the club should maximize their return on Beltre. He’s signed through 2015 with a voidable option for 2016 based on plate appearances.

Alexei Ramirez – CWS: Ramirez has provided adequate offense and defense at the hardest position on the diamond since coming over to the White Sox from Cuba. The 32-year-old is signed through 2015 with a $10MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2016. Several contenders could use middle infield help, including the Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers, Athletics, Mariners, Reds, and Giants.

Koji Uehara – BOS: The latest rumor has the Red Sox hoping to retain Uehara through 2015. He’s only signed through the end of this season, so that would require a one year extension – potentially via a qualifying offer. If the club instead decides to cash in on the Japanese veteran, they’ll need to wade into a well-supplied reliever market. It could be hard to get enough of a return to make a trade worthwhile. However, Uehara would be the top closer available, which could push a team like the Tigers to focus their attention.

Chase Utley – PHI: The fringe hall of famer has temporarily put concerns about his knee to rest. His power is definitely in decline, but he remains a useful hitter with a 122 wRC+. Ever since 2005, he’s quietly been one of the best defensive second baseman per Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). The 35-year-old  has full no-trade protection, and he’s hinted he would use it to remain with the Phillies. As such, our speculation could be moot.

Troy Tulowitzki – COL: Tulo could find himself a frequent guest of the MLBTR pages over the next couple weeks. The 29-year-old MVP candidate is signed through 2020. He’s guaranteed roughly $124MM including a $4MM buyout on the 2021 season ($15MM club option). According to Jon Heyman, he gave his “subtle blessing” for a trade. In public comments, he’s also played up his desire to play on a winning team without coming right out to say he would welcome a trade. For his part, Rockies owner Dick Monfort would like to keep Tulowitzki.

Miguel Montero – ARI: The Diamondbacks are expected to deal a lot of pieces over the trade season, but Montero probably won’t be one of them. Montero, who turned 31 three days ago, has bounced back from a disappointing 2013 season. He’s signed through 2017 for roughly $44MM.

Montero has turned in a solid offensive season as the club’s regular cleanup hitter, although he remains impotent against left-handed pitching. The same defensive metrics that rank Suzuki worst in baseball consider Montero to be the best, which could make him a potential long term solution for a team like the Blue Jays.

Daniel Murphy – NYM: The Mets have reportedly held no fresh negotiations involving Murphy. The 29-year-old second baseman is club controlled through 2015. While he hits for a high batting average, he doesn’t reach base enough to be an ideal top of the order batter, nor does he feature the power of a prototypical RBI man. His offensive profile, coupled with tepid reviews of his defense could account for the lack of related trade rumors. He’s posted 2.7 fWAR this season, so he’s valuable even if it comes in an atypical package.

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