Nate Schierholtz Rumors
With the Red Sox losing the division lead for the first time in two months, here's the latest from a hotly contested American League East ...
- The deal that brought Alfonso Soriano back to the Yankees was consummated over the objections of GM Brian Cashman, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "I would say we are in a desperate time," said Cashman. "Ownership wants to go for it. I didn't want to give up a young arm." The club dealt young righty Corey Black (and took on salary) to add the 37-year-old Soriano. MLBTR's Steve Adams rounded up the reactions to the deal yesterday.
- Cashman's latest overruling continues a trend, Sherman further reports in the same piece. Most recently, Cashman reportedly preferred signing catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Nate Schierholtz this last offseason. Instead, ownership pushed a two-year, $13MM deal with Ichiro Suzuki. While the Yanks could have Martin and Schierholtz playing right now on one-year deals, says Sherman, the team instead has an aging Ichiro-Soriano combination set to earn $11.5MM next season.
- The Red Sox must add talent, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, or risk dropping back in a tight AL East race. Silverman opines that the club should call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts to provide much-needed pop from the left side of the infield. Meanwhile, with Clay Buchholz still not on a clear timetable and with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez choosing the Phillies over the Sox, Silverman says that Boston should also make a deal for a starter.
- Should Boston make a move to bolster its rotation, one player who could be dealt is third baseman Will Middlebrooks. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports that Middlebrooks, who is trying to work his way back to the form he showed in his 2012 rookie campaign, has heard the rumors for the first time in his recollection. "I'm just trying to keep my nose out of it," Middlebrooks said. The 24-year-old indicated that he remains content in the Red Sox organization in spite of his struggles this year: "I have a good opportunity here. I don't need to get traded to have a good opportunity."
- Looking at Boston's recent history, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal suggests that the team could look to pick up a somewhat under-the-radar player that can contribute not just this season, but in the future. MacPherson notes that the Sox added catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2010), shortstop Mike Aviles (2011), and reliever Craig Breslow (2012) when the price proved right and the deal met the club's multi-year needs. This season, with Saltalamacchia nearing free agency and backup David Ross injured, the team could look to deal for a backstop with future control even as it gives playing time to prospect Ryan Lavarnway. MacPherson suggests the Padres' Nick Hundley as a possibility, while noting that San Diego could be hesitant to move him.
Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report that Corey Black would he headed from the Yankees to the Cubs in this morning's Alfonso Soriano trade. Here's more from Sherman (all Twitter links) on a plethora of topics as the trade deadline continues to draw nearer...
- The Braves were already interested in Bud Norris prior to Tim Hudson's season-ending injury, and that loss has only intensified their pursuit, Sherman reports. Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Braves were in active pursuit of Norris.
- The Nationals are focusing their efforts on starting pitching with Taylor Jordan on an innings limit and concerns surrounding Ross Detwiler's injuries, according to Sherman.
- Sherman tweets that the Rangers and Pirates regularly check in with the Marlins in regard to Giancarlo Stanton but are turned away each time. The decision comes straight from ownership, as Jeffrey Loria does not want to see Stanton traded.
- The Cubs' plan this summer was to jump the starting pitching market early, before Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana were ready to be traded. Following their early trades of Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, the focus shifted to moving as much of Alfonso Soriano's contract as possible. With those goals accomplished, the Cubs will move bullpen pieces and are "definitely" listening to offers for right fielder Nate Schierholtz, Sherman reports.
6:58am: Chicago right fielders Nate Schierholtz and Alex Rios top the Pirates' wish list, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago. The Bucs "have been watching Schierholtz for more than a month," notes Levine.
Right field is an obvious need for the 60-39 Pirates, who have been using Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, and Garrett Jones there and have gotten an aggregate .228/.291/.360 line. Schierholtz, 29, signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Cubs in December after being non-tendered by the Phillies. At .277/.334/.521 with a career-high five RBIs last night, he's having an excellent campaign. Arbitration eligibility for 2014 is a big plus, though for some GMs Schierholtz has yet to shake the reputation of a platoon bat given his continued lack of playing time and struggles against left-handed pitching.
Levine quotes Cubs president Theo Epstein saying, "I think it is fair to say we have some players who can help other clubs. That would especially be true for players who are not under contract control next season." As you might expect, that's an indication that the team is more inclined to move its impending free agents, such as closer Kevin Gregg, as opposed to someone like Schierholtz.
The Pirates' interest in Rios has been previously noted. He's on the radar of the Rangers, Royals, and Red Sox as well.
Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs is on the Yankees' radar as a possible trade target, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. If any deal were to take place, though, it might not happen in July, since the $25MM remaining on Soriano's contract means he's sure to pass through waivers in August. Soriano has a full no-trade clause, but says he will consider a trade to a contending team. Wittenmyer writes that the Yankees view another Cubs outfielder, Nate Schierholtz, as more of a platoon type.
- The Nationals shouldn't be buyers at the trade deadline, the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell writes. The Nats are now 48-50, and are now seven games back of the Braves in the NL East, as well as seven games back of the Reds for the second Wild Card. Boswell points out that their chance of making the playoffs is less than 20 percent, and for a team in that position, the value of a rental player like Matt Garza or Ervin Santana is questionable. Boswell argues that even if the Nats acquire a player who is also under contract for 2014, like Jake Peavy or Yovani Gallardo, they need to do so mostly because those players can help next year, not because they can help down the stretch this season.
- The Angels are now ten games back of the Athletics in the AL West, and it looks like they should sell at the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. (Note that Morosi isn't predicting the Angels will sell, only saying that they should.) If the Angels were to sell, Erick Aybar and Scott Downs are two players they could trade, Morosi writes. Aybar is in the first year of a four-year, $35MM deal, and he's hitting .287/.305/.388 as the Angels' starting shortstop. Downs, who is in the last year of a three-year, $15MM contract, has a 1.32 ERA, albeit with a more pedestrian 6.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
- The Dodgers have heavily scouted Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez recently, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports. Milwaukee also has two other veteran relievers in Mike Gonzalez and John Axford, and Knobler notes that the Tigers and Red Sox have also been scouting the Brewers. Still, the Brewers might opt not to trade any of their relievers before the deadline.
- The Yankees have signed left-handed pitcher Artur Strzalka, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues notes (via Baseball America's Matt Eddy). Strzalka is the first born-and-raised Polish player ever to sign with a Major League team. As Axisa notes, one likely purpose of this signing is to help the Yankees establish themselves as bidders for talent in a new part of the world.
With today's earlier notes on the division and several relevant bullets from our most recent post, the National League Central continues to be busy. We've also seen another trade deadline hotspot develop in the NL East. Let's look at the latest:
- With Matt Garza taking the hill for the Cubs tonight, ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets that it is looking increasingly likely that it will be his last time doing so. Olney writes that Chicago is making progress in trade talks with at least two teams, and could be in position to complete a trade over the All-Star break.
- Another piece of Cubs trade bait, outfielder Nate Schierholtz, is expected to get a few days off for general wear and tear. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link), the ambiguous reasoning for the time off has led some scouts to suggest that Chicago could be shelving Schierholtz in anticipation of a trade.
- One team that could be in on the Cubs' outfielder is the division-rival Pirates, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With Pittsburgh failing to receive adequate production from the right field position, Biertempfel says that multiple sources tell him that the team is looking closely at both Schierholtz and White Sox outfielder Alex Rios.
- Everyone's favorite buying/selling fence-straddlers, the Phillies, have suffered a major blow to the team's 2013 chances with the team reporting that center fielder Ben Revere has suffered a broken foot. (Twitter links.) While the full severity is not yet known, Revere is set to see a specialist on Monday and a relatively prolonged absence seems inevitable. With some already wondering whether Ryan Howard's knee surgery could drive the Phils to sell, the loss of Revere -- who had emerged as a major contributor over the last few months -- can only increase that likelihood. MLBTR's Aaron Steen took a look at the Phils' decision-making process last night, before Revere came up hurt.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz is in the midst of a career season in Chicago, and as with every Cubs veteran playing well, he easily could be dealt before the end of the month. The Cubs have already traded his platoon-mate, Scott Hairston, to the Nationals, and the Cubs figure to at least explore the possibility of trading Schierholtz as well.
As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently noted, the Cubs control Schierholtz's rights through 2014 -- the Phillies non-tendered him following the 2012 season with two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so he still has a year of team control left after this year. Schierholtz is also only making $2.25MM in 2012, so his price in arbitration won't be exorbitant. That means the Cubs don't need to trade him. But it also makes Schierholtz a very attractive trade target right now, particularly in a season in which he's hitting .275/.330/.510.
Also, David DeJesus is currently on the disabled list, and the Cubs control DeJesus' services for 2014 as well. That means DeJesus isn't likely to be traded, and knowing he's likely to stick around may make the Cubs more inclined to deal their other lefty-hitting veteran outfielder.
Schierholtz doesn't really play center field, but he provides reasonably strong defense in a corner. He isn't a typical 30-homer masher, but he does have some power. He doesn't steal many bases, but he's an average, or maybe slightly-above-average baserunner. Dave Cameron at FanGraphs correctly labels Schierholtz a tweener. Schierholtz doesn't have enough of any one skill to be a slugger, or an archetypal leadoff man. The flipside, though, is that there isn't much he does badly, and as a result, he can help both defensively and offensively, particularly when he's platooned. (He has just 31 plate appearances against lefties this year.)
The Cubs should be able to get a solid prospect return for Schierholtz, both because he's playing very well and because his salary won't be an obstacle. The Pirates (whose fans Schierholtz might remind of Nate McLouth, and not just because of his first name) would be an obvious fit. Travis Snider has played horribly in an extended audition in right, and while Jose Tabata has played well recently in Snider's place, Tabata and Schierholtz would fit together nicely in a platoon. The Rangers might also be a possibility, although they would likely prefer a right-handed hitter. Contenders with more stable outfields also might show interest in Schierholtz, since he would be very useful as a fourth outfielder.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new article discussing All-Stars, some of the game's top young hitters and a plethora of hot stove info. Here are some highlights...
- Rival executives around the league are critical of the Mariners for rushing their top prospects, but Rosenthal notes that Nick Franklin has been more than up to the challenge, and Brad Miller earned his promotion with his minor league performance. Regarding the struggling Mike Zunino, GM Jack Zduriencik told Rosenthal: "We planned all along to get Mike to Seattle at some point in July ... He wasn't expected to be a big contributor offensively if it was now, July, September ... but he has held his own, and what he is receiving now will set him up for 2014 and beyond."
- Multiple scouts have questioned the work ethic of the Brewers' players, with one telling Rosenthal "there's a lot of quit on that team." Rosenthal writes that it isn't manager Ron Roenicke's fault that Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez have been injured, but the negative reports could be an "ominous sign" for Roenicke. Rosenthal tweets a correction, noting that Roenicke is signed through 2014, not through 2013 as he initially reported.
- The Yankees aren't planning a fire sale, but if they did, they'd have some of the most attractive trade chips in the game. The Yankees could part with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, however, and Rosenthal adds Curtis Granderson's name to the mix, assuming the injured outfielder gets healthy in time.
- The Rays aren't looking to add a starting pitcher with both David Price and Alex Cobb likely to return in the near future. If the Rays make any moves at all, they'll be for impact players regardless of position.
- The Cubs are "all but certain" to trade pending free agents Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg and Scott Feldman, but they're not in a rush to deal Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, both of whom are controlled beyond 2013.
Let's have a look at a few notes on National League players who seem likely to figure in how the trade deadline market plays out:
- With his return to big league action, Phillies' second baseman Chase Utley quickly drew a flock of top scouts, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury noted the attendance at last night's game of scouts from the Yankees and Giants.
- Giants center fielder Angel Pagan could be headed for surgery on his injured left hamstring, report MLB.com's Chris Haft and Andrew Owens. According to manager Bruce Bochy, there is "no question [surgery] is an option." Today, we learned that an operation to repair the tear in his hammy would likely keep Pagan out for six weeks or so. (Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, on Twitter.) As ESPN.com's Jim Bowden explained recently (on Insider), Pagan's injury could force San Francisco onto the market for an outfielder.
- The Cubs' Matt Garza continues to build his value on the trade and free agent markets after going eight strong innings last night against the Astros. As ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla noted last night, the length and quality of Garza's recent outings promise to enhance his candidacy as one of the best available arms.
- Meanwhile, with reports that the Cubs are prepared to sell players, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron took a look at the value of Chicago outfielder Nate Schierholtz. Noting that Schierholtz comes with an additional year of control and has undervalued but nevertheless highly useful skills, Cameron says that he could appeal to a wide variety of teams.
We're just under six weeks away from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At this point, many teams are still attempting to determine whether or not they're buyers or sellers, and the addition of a second Wild Card in each league has made that a longer process than it was in the past. However, ESPN's Buster Olney has spoken to rival evaluators who have said that the Cubs are "open for business" and ready to sell (ESPN Insider required and recommended).
The Cubs are 13 games below .500 and 17 games out of first place in the National League Central as of this morning, so their stance is a clear one. Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus (when healthy), Alfonso Soriano, James Russell and Matt Garza are the names that figure to be on the trading block as the Cubs field calls, writes Olney. His piece also includes much more info on potential matches for the Cubs and which divisions may be the first to become active on the trade front.
My take on the Cubs' situation: Being the first team to sell pieces has its advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the Cubs will have more teams to work with at this juncture. Early in the trading season, with so few teams ready to declare themselves sellers, buyers will have few other places to turn. Trading for a player like Garza or Feldman right now would give the acquiring team an extra few starts from the pitcher they're trading precious prospects for. Acquiring a position player in late June as opposed to late July could mean an extra 20 to 30 games out of that player.
On the flipside of the coin, teams may not be as desperate right now as they would be in the final hours leading up to the deadline. Oftentimes, big deals go down with just hours or minutes to go before the trade deadline, as teams have decided that one final push is worth the risk. Recent examples of July 31 blockbusters include both Hunter Pence trades, the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and the White Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy. Each of these deals included high-profile prospects being exchanged for star-caliber players, though obviously not all of them worked out.
Injuries can also occur in the next month that would make buyers out of teams who are currently not looking. Conversely, one of the Cubs' trade chips could incur an injury, which would leave president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer one less piece to work with.
Selling pieces early takes away some of the "desperation" leverage from the Cubs, but it also will likely increase their number of suitors, creating more competition for their players. Epstein and Hoyer will have to determine how to walk that line over the next several weeks as they look to build toward the future.
On this date in 1896, the National League forbids players from deliberately soiling baseballs (and thus enabling the legend of future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry)‚ declares "a ball cutting the corners of the home plate‚ and being the requisite height‚ must be called a strike" and empowers umpires to eject players. Here's the latest news and notes from this century's National League:
- The Cubs don't anticipate the Yankees inquiring about Alfonso Soriano in the wake of Curtis Granderson's broken right forearm, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote such a deal could make sense for the Yankees.
- Nate Schierholtz explained to reporters, including the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, why he signed with the Cubs when he reportedly had offers from contending teams like the Yankees. "There were a lot of factors that played into it," the outfielder said. "I think this team is young and we have a very good chance to win quick. I really believe in this team."
- Right-hander Julio Teheran would have to struggle mightily to lose the fifth spot in the Braves' starting rotation, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith charted recently, the Braves could maintain team control over Teheran through 2019 by waiting until late-June to recall him. The Braves could also prevent Teheran from earning Super Two status by keeping him in the minors until mid-August.
- The Phillies have ten outfielders in camp and manager Charlie Manuel says a roster decision on at least four of them will need to be made about two-thirds of the way through Spring Training, reports David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News.
- Todd Helton told Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown he understands his career is coming to an end. "I realize I'm never going to be sitting here in this moment again," the 39-year-old Rockie said. "There are many factors in this. My family. What it's like to be away from home. I love everything about this, but the travel."