MLBTR Polls Rumors
Mariners catcher Jesus Montero will be sent to Triple-A Tacoma today, reports Ryan Divish of The News Tribune. Catcher Jesus Sucre will be selected to join the big league club, and it appears Montero won't do much catching at Triple-A.
It was a blockbuster challenge trade of two extremely promising and valuable young players. Montero had 18 excellent big league games for the Yankees under his belt when he was sent to the Mariners in January 2012. The principal player coming to New York in the deal was soon-to-be 23-year-old righty Michael Pineda, who had averaged nearly 95 miles per hour on his fastball as a rookie, made the All-Star team, and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Young players of this caliber are rarely traded. Things went south quickly for Pineda, as decreased velocity in his second Spring Training start was a harbinger of a shoulder injury that would lead to surgery in May 2012. What's more, Pineda was arrested for a DUI in August of that year. Pineda continues to work his way back from the surgery, with the expectation of making his Yankee debut this year. Whether Pineda's rookie campaign was the high point in his career is anybody's guess.
Montero's first full season in 2012 was disappointing. Known almost entirely for his offensive prowess, he posted a .260/.298/.386 line in 553 plate appearances. Montero caught in 56 games, serving as DH in 78. In a full-time catching role this year, he did even less with the bat. As "a man without a position," as Divish puts it, the bar for Montero to become a regular designated hitter in the Majors is quite high. Oh, and the reported connection to Biogenesis doesn't help.
There were a couple of additional players in the Montero-Pineda swap. The Mariners acquired righty Hector Noesi, who hasn't impressed in 120 1/3 big league innings so far. The Yankees added prospect Jose Campos, rated their fifth-best by Baseball America prior to the season. Campos made only five starts last year in low A ball, missing most of the season due to a bone bruise or a small fracture in his elbow. The injury has Campos on an innings limit in the 85-90 range this year.
One year and four months after the exciting Montero-Pineda swap, the players involved in the trade are a mess across the board, which leads to today's poll: which pair of players do you prefer moving forward?
The Orioles made headlines last night by announcing the promotion of Kevin Gausman to the Majors. Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, reached Double-A as a 22-year-old and posted a 3.11 ERA with a 49-to-5 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings there. With that promotion, Gausman becomes the first member of last year's first round to make it to the Majors. Among 2012 first-rounders, only four other players have even reached the Double-A level to this point.
Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners at No. 3 overall, has reached Triple-A, but the catcher is hitting just .220/.290/.496 through 33 games in Tacoma. Given the Mariners' need for offense, however, he could be a hot streak away. Promoting him would allow the Mariners to use Jesus Montero at DH, but that only adds to a roster crunch of corner OF/1B/DH types in Seattle.
Right-hander Michael Wacha, the No. 19 overall selection by the Cardinals, has also reached Triple-A. He's posted a 2.05 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 52 2/3 innings for the Memphis Redbirds to open the season, and the Cardinals have some injury problems in their rotation with Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook on the shelf. For now, they've gone with John Gast and Tyler Lyons over Wacha.
Marcus Stroman's 50-game suspension for a positive stimulant has finished, and the Blue Jays right-hander made a strong debut at Double-A with five scoreless innings in a start. Many pegged the Duke product to be the quickest first rounder to reach the Majors last year, and Baseball America's Ben Badler wrote Sunday that it "shouldn't take him long" before he's big league ready.
James Ramsey, the Cardinals' other selection (No. 23), is the only other player from the first round to reach Double-A or higher thus far. As an outfielder, he has an uphill battle to reach the Major Leagues given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran and top prospect Oscar Taveras within the Cardinals organization. He's a huge long shot, but he's advanced further than most college players from the first round already.
Let's open this up to a poll...
Last summer, the biggest names traded were Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Ichiro Suzuki, Wandy Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ, Jeremy Guthrie, Brett Myers, Kurt Suzuki, Joe Blanton, Brandon League, Marco Scutaro, Stephen Drew, Joe Saunders, Edward Mujica, and Chris Johnson.
As always, the vast majority of trades will take place in July and August. Perhaps we'll see a handful of All-Stars dealt, and surely a slew of solid veterans (often in contract years) and decent prospects. With over two months remaining until the trade deadline, several of the more interesting speculative trade candidates, such as Chase Headley, David Price, Giancarlo Stanton, and Cliff Lee, appear unlikely. Weigh in with today's poll - check all the names you expect to be traded this summer. You can click here to view the results.
Let's start the weekend up with a poll. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted recently, two young stars (Adam Jones and Miguel Montero) signed significant extensions during May of 2012. While there have not been significant rumblings about any similar deals recently, the Jones and Montero deals both sprung up with relatively little advance buzz: Jones said he was not aware of any talks with the Orioles just a month before his six-year, $85.5MM deal was inked. And the build up to Montero's five-year, $60MM extension consisted largely of the Diamondbacks' acknowledgement that the team was open to in-season negotiations.
Jones had one year of arbitration eligibility remaining when he signed, while Montero would have become a free agent at the end of the year. Both were relatively young (26 and 28, respectively) and fairly well established as above-average players at premium defensive positions. And each had been with their teams for all or virtually all of their big league careers.
With those deals in mind, let's take a look at some generally comparable position players who could be positioned for similar deals. We will not include Robinson Cano, as he is at a different level of performance and contract extension, along with being somewhat older. Anyhow, we already asked MLBTR readers what they think about the likelihood of a Cano extension. Likewise, we'll leave out Chase Headley, given his recent comments. (Also, MLBTR readers just weighed in on a possible Headley extension, with the majority believing a trade was more likely than an extension.)
The Nationals' Ian Desmond, 27, has continued to build off of his emergence last year. He sports a .296/.311/.530 line, although he has also registered seven early errors. The shortstop has spent his entire career in the former-Expos organization, and is poised to hit the open market in 2016. We know the Nats are open to negotiating an extension with Desmond, and the Elvis Andrus signing provides a relevant (albeit imperfect) point of reference.
Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters is another obvious candidate. He will turn 27 later this month, and is looking at free agency in 2016. Ongoing negotiations between Wieters and the O's are seemingly at a simmer, but could pick up at any time. While Wieters is off to a bit of a slow start, slashing just .224/.297/.388 to date, he also probably had less to prove this season than Desmond.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, 29, is similarly situated to Montero. He has played his entire career in Boston, but is set to become a free agent after the season. While the center fielder has not returned to his MVP-level 2011 season, when he exploded for 32 home runs, he has bounced back from his injury-shortened 2012. Thus far, his batting line (.286/.338/.405) and league-leading steal totals (11) are right in line with his strong 2008-2009 seasons. While both player and team appear interested in discussing an extension, Ellsbury's representation by Scott Boras -- and the possibility that he could significantly raise his value with an injury-free 2013 -- could make a deal unlikely.
Jason Heyward of the Braves is two years from free agency at just 23 years old, but as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes notes, the cost-conscious Braves could look to extend him. Heyward is currently on the DL after undergoing an appendectomy, and has had a poor start to the year. Nevertheless, he has established himself as few big leaguers have at his age.
Austin Jackson, the Tigers' center fielder, is a young 26 and still two years from free agency. He is also a client of Scott Boras. But his strong early track record could make him a target for Detroit to try and lock up early. With so many big-money free agent deals on the books, it could make sense for the Tigers to try and save on Jackson by guaranteeing him money in advance. Jackson is off to another good start, putting up a .293/.356/.407 line to go with five steals.
Third baseman Chase Headley has become the face of the Padres franchise following a breakout 2012 season that saw him finish fifth in the NL MVP voting. Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 homers in his age-28 season, leading to a great deal of extension rumors.
Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler -- part of the team's new ownership group -- told reporters yesterday that the team was preparing to make a franchise-record offer to Headley. Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to mention that fact to Headley, leading to a puzzled reaction and a reiteration from their star third baseman that he doesn't want to discuss an extension during the season.
While that may be true, it's certainly possible that the allure of $75MM or more would change Headley's stance on negotiatons. There's also the possibility, as noted by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, that Headley's reluctance toward a midseason extension increases the likelihood that he will be traded.
For what it's worth, Headley had great things to say about San Diego and added that he hopes extension talks can be revisited after the season. Whatever the outcome, it stands to reason that the Padres will have resolved the situation by Opening Day 2014. If he's reluctant to discuss an extension this season, it's even less likely that he'd want to do so in his contract year. And, if the Padres elect to trade Headley, he will need to be with his new team for the entire 2014 season to qualify for draft pick compensation.
The job of a Major League general manager is an extremely demanding one. Player acquisitions are complicated, from trading with other teams to negotiating with agents. Beyond working with the rest of the baseball operations staff on transactions and contract issues, the GM must communicate with scouts, coaches, medical staff, and the media, and prepare for the draft. Our question today: who's the best? Please note that while some of these people do not technically have the title of GM, they seem to be the team's closest approximation.
The Rangers and Cardinals have not discussed the possibility of trading top shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar for top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. A trade of the two teams' No. 1 prospects would make a great deal of sense in terms of those teams' needs, but it would be tough to pull off. "The Cardinals need a shortstop. The Rangers need an outfielder. The answer is there for both for years to come," one American League official tells Goold. "You just can’t do it. You can’t be the guy who is wrong if one works out and becomes a star as expected and the other doesn’t. Then you’re the new Brock-for-Broglio guy."
Nonetheless, it's a tantalizing trade idea. Deals centered around two highly-touted youngsters happen very rarely, but they're exciting when they do. The Rays' trade of Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie to Minnesota for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan is one of the few recent examples. In any case, it doesn't sound like the Profar-for-Taveras deal is in the offing. "[T]he reality is we have just gotten to the point we wanted with our farm system — with more elite talent back and set to contribute to the major-league club," says Cardinals GM John Mozeliak. "I’m not in the mood to start breaking it up."
Should this deal happen, though? In Profar, the Cardinals would get a long-term answer at shortstop, where they're currently starting Pete Kozma. Meanwhile, the Rangers would acquire a premium hitting prospect at a position that isn't shortstop, where they have Elvis Andrus signed to a long-term deal.
Profar and Taveras are too valuable for positional need to be the most important variable when considering a trade. After all, an injury easily could clear a spot for either player in his current organization, and positional logjams tend to resolve themselves over time. The Cardinals could deal an outfielder, or lose one to injury. The Rangers could eventually move Ian Kinsler to first. Before trading Profar or Taveras, you would need to be confident the other was the better player. Taveras has had the better hitting numbers, but Profar is younger and plays the tougher defensive position. Scouts love both of them, comparing Profar to Barry Larkin and Taveras to Vladimir Guerrero.
Let's consider the deal from the Rangers' perspective. If you were Rangers GM Jon Daniels, would you trade Profar for Oscar Taveras?
The Nationals have promoted third baseman Anthony Rendon and moved Ryan Zimmerman to the disabled list, the Washington Times' Amanda Comak reports. Rendon was fairly widely considered the top talent in the 2011 amateur draft, but he fell to the Nats at No. 6 due to concerns about his health. Those concerns have proven to be well-founded, as injuries have limited Rendon to fewer than 200 minor-league at bats since being drafted. Still, only four 2011 first-round draft picks (Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, Jose Fernandez and Jackie Bradley, Jr.) beat Rendon to the majors.
With Rendon's promotion in mind, which top-ten pick from the 2011 draft do you think will have the most success in the majors? (The Marlins took Fernandez with the No. 14 overall pick, so he isn't an option here.) The 2011 top ten has so far been a mixed bag, combining some stellar performances with plenty of questions.
1. Gerrit Cole, Pirates. Cole has stayed healthy with the Bucs, and is now in Triple-A Indianapolis after pitching 132 innings at three levels in 2012, striking out around a batter per inning. His minor-league numbers have been good but not overwhelming, although his 100-MPH fastball and plus slider give him plenty of upside.
2. Danny Hultzen, Mariners. Hultzen struggled at the Triple-A level in 2012, with 7.95 BB/9 in 48 2/3 innings, but he seems to have taken a step forward in 2013 (albeit in a small sample, as is the case for all 2013 performances mentioned here), walking just six in 22 2/3 innings so far. Hultzen appears to be on track to become a rotation mainstay in Seattle, although he probably still lacks the ceiling of Cole, Bundy or Archie Bradley.
3. Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks. Bauer shot through the minor leagues soon after being drafted, but the Diamondbacks quickly gave up on him, shipping him to Cleveland in the Shin-Soo Choo trade and grumbling about his attitude. Bauer had one wobbly start for the Indians this year, but has pitched well so far for Triple-A Columbus.
4. Dylan Bundy, Orioles. Bundy made it all the way to the big leagues as a 19-year-old in 2012, after a stunning pro debut that included a ridiculous 40:2 K:BB ratio at Class A Delmarva and a strong performance for Double-A Bowie. He has yet to pitch in 2013, however, after being shut down in March with elbow and forearm tightness.
5. Bubba Starling, Royals. The first hitter chosen in the 2011 draft was raw when selected, and the Royals have moved slowly with Starling, sending him to short-season Burlington in 2012. He hit .275/.371/.485 there, but he's off to a slow start in 2013 for Class A Lexington, hitting .143/.213/.250 so far.
6. Anthony Rendon, Nationals.
7. Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks. Bradley posted good strikeout numbers in Class A South Bend as a 19-year-old in 2012, but walked 5.56 BB/9 in 136 innings there. In his first three 2013 starts with Class A+ Visalia, he's shown improved control, and the results thus far have been spectacular, with 27 whiffs and six walks in his first 17 innings.
8. Francisco Lindor, Indians. The young shortstop hit well for an 18-year-old last season at Class A Lake County, batting .257/.352/.355, and also earned praise for his defense. He's off to a great start so far at Class A+ Carolina, hitting .348/.423/.522 in his first 46 at bats.
9. Javier Baez, Cubs. Baez was terrific in 2012 for Class A Peoria, but struggled a bit in Class A+ Daytona and hasn't hit much so far this year after the Cubs sent him back there.That's not necessarily a warning sign for a very young shortstop who has mostly won glowing reviews for his work in the Cubs system so far, however.
10. Cory Spangenberg, Padres. Spangenberg is the only 2011 top-ten pick who doesn't yet have a strong, age-appropriate pro performance to his credit. He hit very well in short-season Eugene after being drafted, but that's to be expected from a college hitter selected in the first round. Since then, the second baseman has struggled at the plate, mostly at Class A+ Lake Elsinore.
The market for free agent hitters seems more concrete, given the fact that Robinson Cano's contract expires at the end of this season. However, many fans -- including more than 78 percent of MLBTR readers who responded to Jeff Todd's poll -- believe that the Yankees and Cano will agree to an extension prior to season's end.
In that instance, the free agent class shapes up much, much differently. Jacoby Ellsbury currently ranks second on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, but health is always a factor for Ellsbury, who missed more than 200 games from 2010-12. Other names on the current edition of that list include Shin-Soo Choo, Hunter Pence, Brian McCann and Chase Utley.
Beyond that, a look at the class as a whole features some intriguing hitters, including Corey Hart, Justin Morneau, Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz, to name a few.
Any one of these hitters could turn in a monster season and significantly boost his stock. Who's going to top the list?
With Adam Wainwright off the market due to a long-term extension, starting pitching will not be a strength of the 2013-14 free agent class. Big names like Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, and Tim Lincecum have struggled in the early going, while Matt Garza has yet to make his season debut. There's an opening for a surprise candidate to end up being the most popular free agent starter. Make your pick in our latest poll.