Nate Schierholtz Rumors

Nationals Sign Nate Schierholtz

The Nationals have inked outfielder Nate Schierholtz to a minor league deal, the club announced on Twitter. The left-handed-swinging 30-year-old was recently released by the Cubs, who will owe him the remainder of his $5MM salary — less whatever he earns in Washington (presumably, at the league-minimum rate).

Schierholtz has had a tough year thus far, posting a meager .192/.240/.300 line with six home runs over 341 plate appearances. But he entered the offseason coming off a string of solid production: his cumulative line over 2011-13 (1,134 plate appearances) stands at a fairly robust .261/.314/.442. He has posted large splits historically, with a lifetime .722 OPS against righties but a .650 mark against same-handed pitchers. Though his batting average and on-base numbers have been similar, much of his pop has come with the platoon advantage.

The move makes sense for a Nationals club that has dealt with some injuries to its outfielding corps. In particular, left-handed-hitting fourth outfielder Nate McLouth has struggled to work his way back from a right shoulder injury, and had largely been ineffective (.173/.280/.237) before going down. The team’s top young call-up options (including Michael Taylor, Steven Souza, Tyler Moore, Eury Perez, and Jeff Kobernus) are all right-handed bats, creating a solid opportunity for the veteran Schierholtz in D.C.

Somewhat ironically, the move comes approximately a year to the day that the Nats added another lefty bat who had spent his season with Chicago. In 2013, the club acquired David DeJesus through a waiver claim, only to flip him days later to the Rays through another August waiver deal. (Earlier that summer, those clubs matched up in another deal for an outfielder, with Scott Hairston heading to D.C.) Of course, the circumstances are quite different: last year at this time, a disappointing Nationals team was sitting at the extreme periphery of the postseason hunt, while the club now owns a six-game lead in the NL East.


Cubs Request Release Waivers On Nate Schierholtz

AUG. 13: The Cubs have placed Schierholtz on release waivers, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. He will officially be a free agent when he clears on Friday.

AUG. 6: The Cubs have designated outfielder Nate Schierholtz for assignment, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. With the move, roster space was created for Kyuji Fujikawa‘s activation from the 60-day DL.

Schierholtz, a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, was playing on a $5MM salary this season in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Unless Chicago can find a taker for all or part of that figure, they’ll be on the hook for most (if not all) of the money left owing.

The veteran of eight MLB campaigns had struggled to a .192/.240/.300 slash through 341 plate appearances this year, after posting a strong .251/.301/.470 line in 503 trips to bat in 2013. He had actually turned in three straight seasons with above-average OPS marks before hitting a wall this year.


Central Notes: Pirates, Ruggiano, Pirates, Bastardo

If the Pirates can’t land a reliever this week, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that the Bucs could move Edinson Volquez to the bullpen.  Volquez, who has hit 98 mph on the gun this season, has been trending down since April. More from the Central Divisions..



Cubs Notes: Epstein, Barney, Samardzija

The Cubs begin a series at Fenway Park tonight, getting back in action following a rare Sunday off-day.  The club played a doubleheader on Saturday in order to keep Sunday free for Chicago’s Pride Parade, which could’ve created a traffic jam in the Wrigleyville area had the Cubs been playing as originally scheduled.  MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat takes a look at the history of Sunday baseball, and passes along the historical note that the Cubs were off on a Sunday for the first time since 1932.

Here’s the latest from the north side of Chicago…

  • Theo Epstein denied rumors that he will leave the Cubs after his contract expires following the 2016 season, he tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.  While some speculate that Epstein has been upset at the lack of Major League resources he’s been given by the Cubs, he “insists he will be here as long as the Cubs want him,” Sullivan writes.
  • Two scouts aren’t impressed by Darwin Barney‘s bat, telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that while Barney is a good fielder, “if he can’t hit in the National League, what makes anyone think he can hit in the American League?”  Barney has only slashed .198/.243/.284 in 174 PA this season and could be non-tendered if he can’t improve at the plate.  Gonzales feels Barney’s time with the Cubs is probably nearing an end, though it could come via a trade if he can hit enough to get a look from another team.
  • Also from Gonzales’ reader mailbag piece, he expects the Cubs “to wait as long as possible” for the best offer before trading Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel.  He thinks Samardzija might even not be moved until the offseason if necessary, though this would lessen this trade value as a new team would only have him under contract for the 2015 season.
  • The Cubs haven’t gotten much production out of their veteran outfielders, and Gonzales expects maybe one (at most) of Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, Chris Coghlan or Ryan Kalish to be back next season and Chicago will look for more veteran upgrades.  Since Sweeney is owed $2MM for 2015 and the others are all on one-year or minor league contracts, I’d suspect Sweeney is the favorite to return, though $2MM isn’t so large an amount that the Cubs couldn’t eat it if necessary.

Cafardo’s Latest: Morales, D’Backs, Kemp

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column

  • Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger.  It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
  • The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes.  Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy.  “We’re meeting on it.  Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
  • The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded.  Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
  • The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job.  Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
  • Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
  • Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston.  “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo.  “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.”  This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
  • While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder.  Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
  • The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available.  Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
  • Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing.  “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
  • The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.

Tigers Monitoring Nate Schierholtz, Darwin Barney

Tigers executive Scott Reid is scouting Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz and infielder Darwin Barney, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. The Cubs would be looking for pitching in return. The Tigers have lost outfielder Andy Dirks and shortstop Jose Iglesias to serious injuries. Dirks was slated to form the left-handed side of a left-field platoon with Rajai Davis. The left-handed Scherholtz would seem to fit the bill as his replacement, even though he has mostly played right field in recent years.

Barney has played shortstop only sparingly since 2010, and the Tigers have no real need at second base, with Ian Kinsler in tow. Barney is a strong defensive second baseman, however, and he has played a bit of shortstop this spring with Starlin Castro dealing with a hamstring injury. Barney recently told the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales that he would be fine playing shortstop. "Shortstop is my natural position," he said. "I feel very comfortable over there. The past three years at second base I've still taken balls at short almost every day as part of my workout to stretch my arm out. So I don't look at it as a transition." Barney hit poorly in 2013, with a line of .208/.266/.303 in 555 plate appearances, but he produced enough value with his defense to be above replacement level.


Quick Hits: Choo, Turner, Mets, Lambo, Santana

The seven-year, $140MM offer that the Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo was only on the table for less than a day.  As MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes, New York offered Choo the contract and then pulled it back almost as quickly in order to instead sign Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45MM deal.  "In my opinion, it takes some time to make a decision, maybe at least a couple days," Choo said. "You want to learn a city and a team. They gave me 21 hours."  The Yankees' withdrawal could've been due to Beltran simply accepting his offer first, or perhaps because Scott Boras (Choo's agent), reportedly asked the Yankees to match the $153MM the Bombers gave to Jacoby Ellsbury.  Choo didn't end up doing too badly for himself at any rate, signing a seven-year, $130MM deal with the Rangers.

Here's some news from around the baseball world…

  • CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman lists 14 players who could traded during Spring Training.  Most of these names have popped up on the pages of MLBTR over the last few weeks, though one new name is Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner.  Heyman says there's "not a great chance" Miami would deal Turner but since the Marlins have a lot of good young pitchers, "folks on other teams speculate this could be the one arm the Marlins might move in that right deal" for offensive help.
  • Ike Davis' calf injury has not only set back the Mets' first base competition, but it has also ruined any possible chance of a trade showcase for Davis during Spring Training, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  The Brewers, Pirates and Orioles have all been connected to Davis in trade rumors during the offseason but obviously no move will be made any time soon, as Davis is currently in a walking boot and recently had an MRI on his right calf.
  • Speaking of the Pirates' first base search, the team could end up finding its left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez already on the roster in the form of Andrew Lambo, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  While maturity issues and a 50-game suspension reportedly relating to marijuana use have set back Lambo's career, he is still only 25 and has posted some strong power numbers in the minors.
  • "I just don't see what we have to lose," Indians manager Terry Francona says about Carlos Santana's attempted conversion to third base.  FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal recaps the reasons behind Santana's surprising decision to try the hot corner and how it could be a boon for the Tribe if Santana could handle the position.
  • Nate Schierholtz wants to remain with the Cubs but is cognizant of the fact that could be traded, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports.  The veteran outfielder said he hasn't spoken to Cubs management about staying beyond his current one-year contract.  Recent rumors put Schierholtz on the trading block thanks to Ryan Kalish's progress, not to mention the fact that Kalish is playing on a minor league deal while Schierholtz is owed $5MM this season.

Quick Hits: Schierholtz, Diaz, Smoak, McGrady

In an interesting piece for Sports Illustrated, Richard Deitsch posed a range questions to a group of five outstanding baseball writers — Jay Jaffe of SI.com, La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle — who represent different aspects of the baseball media sphere. Here are some more links from the day:

  • Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz could be had via trade, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The "progress" of Ryan Kalish makes that a possibility, says Morosi. Schierholtz is owed $5MM this year before qualifying for free agency. As Moroso mentions, the Tigers are a club that could hypothetically be interested in Schierholtz given the injury to Andy Dirks.
  • The Cardinals introduced new infielder Aledmys Diaz today, as the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald). Though the Cuban was brought in for a relatively meager $8MM guarantee over four years, Cards GM John Mozeliak says that the team is "very confident that [Diaz] can be an offensive middle infielder, especially a shortstop." Mozeliak said the club would exercise patience with its new addition, who has not played competitively for some time.
  • Though the Mariners' additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison over the offseason raised some questions about incumbent first baseman Justin Smoak, manager Lloyd McClendon says that Smoak will remain the starter, MLB.com's John Schlegel reports. It seemed more recently that things were headed in that direction, but McClendon's statements today would make a trade of Smoak a surprise at this point. "Will other guys play first? Yeah," McClendon said, "But Smoak is my first baseman."
  • The independent Suger Land Skeeters have invited former NBA star Tracy McGrady to their spring camp, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. At 34, McGrady is working to build up arm strength and develop an off-speed offering.

Cubs, Nate Schierholtz Avoid Arbitration

The Cubs and outfielder Nate Schierholtz have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact worth $5MM, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Schierholtz is represented by Damon Lapa and Scott Leventhal of All Bases Covered Sports Management.

Chicago picked Schierholtz up on an affordable one-year, $2.25MM contract last offseason after he was non-tendered by the Phillies (Philadelphia had acquired him in the Hunter Pence trade with San Francisco). The 29-year-old Schierholtz slashed .251/.301/.470 with career-bests in home runs (21), RBIs (68), runs (56) and plate appearances (503). As usual, most of his damage came against right-handed pitching, as can be seen in his .262/.300/.499 slash line against them. He received just 66 PAs against left-handers, clearly indicating his role as a platoon player.


Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard Drawing Interest

3:54pm: MLB.com's Bill Ladson spoke with a source who said that Storen is more likely to be dealt than Clippard. Rizzo told MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko that trade talk of Storen and Clippard is overblown, as he's yet to receive an actual offer (Twitter link).

11:08am: Talks between the Cubs and Nationals regarding Storen and Clippard are dead, according to Kilgore (on Twitter).

TUESDAY, 10:34am: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that both Storen and Clippard are generating interest on the trade market, with Clippard being the more popular name (Twitter link). GM Mike Rizzo would need to have his "socks knocked off" to move either reliever, however, according to Kilgore.

MONDAY, 4:28pm: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter links) hears from a source that the Nats would listen to offers on Storen, though any talks with the Cubs are in the very early stages at this point. Kilgore identifies Nate Schierholtz and James Russell as a couple possible fits for Washington if negotiations became more serious.

4:00pm: The Cubs are looking to the trade market in their search for relievers and have eyed both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen of the Nationals, among others, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter).

Clippard, 28, is controlled through the 2015 season and has a 2.73 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over the past five seasons. Storen, 26, may have fallen out of favor to an extent with the Nats in 2013 following a career-worst 4.52 ERA and a brief demotion to the minors. The former No. 10 overall pick owns a career 3.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 since being promoted in 2010, however.