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Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.
- The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
- Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.
- The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
- The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.
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Several players were outrighted off of 40-man rosters today to clear space for players who needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft:
- The Astros outrighted righty Anthony Bass, the club announced. Bass, 27, has seen his ERA rise over each of the last four years, and he suffered in 2014 from a sudden inability to miss bats.
- Right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus was outrighted by the Nationals, also per the club. Mattheus has elected free agency. Though he has been effective in long stretches at times in D.C., Mattheus never regained his place in the bullpen after breaking his hand last May. The 31-year-old, out-of-options righty should certainly find a club willing to give him a chance to earn a job out of camp.
- The Mets announced that Jeff Walters has been removed from the 40-man. A 27-year-old right-hander, Walters has yet to see MLB action. He struggled mightily in 2014, his first attempt at Triple-A, and ultimately was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery.
- The Pirates announced that infielder Brent Morel has been outrighted. Morel has seen relatively scant MLB time since a run with the White Sox in 2011. Last year, at Triple-A, he slashed .271/.335/.375 over 376 plate appearances.
To say it’s been an eventful few days in the NL East would be a colossal understatement, as the Marlins have reportedly finalized a record-setting 13-year deal with Giancarlo Stanton and the Braves have traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals. While those transactions are rightfully dominating the headlines, here are a few more notes from around the division…
- With Heyward now in St. Louis, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that a trade of Justin Upton can’t be ruled out. Nightengale lists the Mariners as a strong suitor for Upton, should the Braves decide to market him. Upton recently dropped the Mariners from his no-trade list.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria tells Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald that he plans to surround Stanton with an improved lineup and can afford to go out and add a bat to hit behind him this offseason.
- The Nationals have hired veteran scout Terry Wetzel as a special assistant to GM Mike Rizzo, reports MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby. Wetzel has 32 years of experience, including 17 seasons with the Royals and the past 15 seasons with the Rockies. He was named scout of the year once within each of those organizations.
- The Mets, to this point, have had very few inquiries on pitchers Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). All three are said to be potentially available this winter, and I’d imagine that interest will pick up to an extent, particularly at the Winter Meetings.
Right-handers Esmerling Vasquez and Miguel Mejia have signed with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, MLBTR has learned. The 31-year-old Vasquez last appeared in the Majors with the Twins in 2012. He has a lifetime 4.86 ERA in 168 2/3 MLB innings. Mejia, meanwhile, has spent the past two seasons pitching in Taiwan’s top professional league and was with the Lamigo Monkeys last season.
More minor moves from around the league…
- First baseman Brandon Allen has re-signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted yesterday. The 28-year-old Allen, once considered a Top 100 prospect, hit .266/.368/.434 with the Mets at the Triple-A level last season.
- The Brewers announced today that they’ve acquired outfielder Kyle Wren — the son of former Braves GM Frank Wren — from Atlanta in exchange for righty Zach Quintana. (W.G. Ramirez was the first to report Quintana’s trade earlier this week, on Twitter.) The 23-year-old Wren hit .290/.350/.360 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season, while Quintana struggled to a 5.70 ERA in 85 1/3 innings with Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate. He was a third-round pick by the Brewers as recently as 2012, however.
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has several minor league deals to report (All Twitter links). The Athletics have inked catcher Carson Blair and lefty Rudy Owens; the Marlins have signed righty Ryan Reid, lefty Pat Urckfitz and center fielder Kenny Wilson; and the Braves have signed right-hander Victor Mateo and lefty Francisco Rondon.
Both the Yankees and Mets are interested in free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The possibility of Drew going to either New York squad as a free agent was a prolonged saga that never came to fruition last offseason (though Drew did eventually end up a Yankee via trade). However, as Sherman points out, it could be different this time around, as Drew may have to settle for a one-year deal. (I’d personally wager that Drew can top the $4MM guarantee suggested by Sherman, but I agree with his point in a general sense.) Both teams are in the process of trying to determine whether his 2014 swoon was due to a late start to the season or if it was the beginning of a stark decline in his offensive skills.
Here’s more on the Mets and Yankees…
- Also within Sherman’s piece, he notes that neither team is currently interested in Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani. The 33-year-old Toritani recently hired Scott Boras as his agent and is said to be weighing a jump to the Major Leagues, but only if it means regular playing time. An absolute iron man in 11 seasons with Japan’s Hanshin Tigers, Toritani hasn’t missed a single inning at shortstop over the past 10 seasons (1,444 games), hitting .285/.372/.412 in that time.
- Mets prospect Matt Reynolds spoke with Adam Rubin of ESPN New York about the strides he’s made on both ends of the game in the past year. The shortstop said he felt playing at Triple-A Las Vegas helped improve his defense immensely, because the infield is so fast there. “Vegas’ infield is one of the fastest infields I’ve ever played on,” said Reynolds. “…You’re playing in the middle of the summer with 115-degree weather and the infield is rock solid. …it taught me to get ready early and to use my hands.” GM Sandy Alderson said Reynolds will return to Vegas to open next season.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that his top priority is finding a starting shortstop, writes NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty. Cashman adds that he feels the Yankees’ payroll will be “high” and “impressive” this year, stating that ownership has always had an “impressive commitment” to the fanbase and he hopes to use that support to improve the roster.
- In a second piece from Kuty, Cashman talks about the trade of Francisco Cervelli for Justin Wilson. Surprisingly, Cashman notes that he discussed this exact swap with Pirates GM Neal Huntington two years ago, but the sides didn’t follow through on the deal at that time. Cashman wouldn’t commit to John Ryan Murphy as the backup to Brian McCann just yet, mentioning Austin Romine‘s name as well.
Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says he has hired Ed Lewis to take charge of the team’s analytical department, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports on Twitter. Lewis is an old friend of La Russa’s who does stock market analytical work, the head D’backs baseball man tells Costa. The question whether and how the Arizona ballclub would incorporate analytics into its operations has been a topic of interest since even before La Russa’s hiring, and it will be interesting to see what this latest front office addition means for the team’s intentions.
Here are a few more stray notes from the National League:
- The Mets do not have any near-term intentions to approach second baseman Daniel Murphy about a contract extension, GM Sandy Alderson tells ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. At the same time, the team is “reluctant” to deal him away at present, said Alderson. That could change, of course, if the club adds a new shortstop or otherwise adds offense, per the report.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says that deciding whether to deal stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez is “not just a casual type of process” for the club, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports. Calling them “marquee” players, Bridich said it could be that other teams will not be willing to give up a haul that meets that lofty standard given both players’ injury issues. “We may or may not find out in the coming weeks,” he said. “Nothing of substance has taken place, so here we are.”
- The Cardinals have “payroll muscle” at their disposal, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Though the team has no intentions of spending its money just to put it to use, Mozeliak says it will do so in the right circumstances: “You’re definitely right in the assessment that we do have resources. If adding a year or adding a higher [average salary] means a deal, yes, we’re capable of doing that as long as it stays within the parameters of being rational.”
- Deciding to deal a high-performing veteran is a difficult decision in many circumstances, none more so than for a team that intends to contend. That is the strategic choice facing the Nationals, who have several top players entering their final year of team control. As I noted about ten days ago in my offseason outlook for the Nats, the concept of a trade (most likely involving Zimmermann) has to at least be entertained, particularly if a young middle infielder was part of the return, and GM Mike Rizzo sounds willing to consider anything. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post argues, quite validly, that this is not the time to be viewing the pitcher as an asset to be optimally leveraged, but rather an opportunity to push for the present (comfortable with the knowledge that a qualifying offer would still be available). Drew Fairservice of Fangraphs, meanwhile, proposes that the Nats should move the righty as a means not only of setting up for the future but also possibly addressing present needs (namely, second base).
For those who need further convincing that the Marlins are serious about extending Giancarlo Stanton, president of baseball operations Michael Hill told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (Twitter link), that teams aren’t even bothering to call and ask about Stanton’s availability anymore. Joel Sherman of the New York Post expands on that quote from Hill, noting that there are some indications that the team is willing to break its policy of not giving out no-trade clauses in order to lock up Stanton. Hill wouldn’t directly state that the team is willing to give Stanton a no-trade clause, but that could certainly be inferred from his comments: “It’s been an organizational policy, but you are talking about a star talent. You look at the marketplace and what other stars have gotten. It will be a topic of discussion.”
More from the NL East…
- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn’t envision an extension for Jason Heyward this offseason (Twitter links). That’s not due to a lack of interest on Atlanta’s behalf, but rather due to Heyward’s proximity to free agency. With Heyward set to hit the open market next winter, Hart said that his assumption is it’s “probably the wrong time,” though he said the team could still try to sign Heyward as a free agent.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged to James Wagner of the Washington Post that he’s been in contact with Asdrubal Cabrera‘s agent as the team looks at all options on the second base market (Twitter link).
- Wagner also tweets that the Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann aren’t engaged in any form of extension talks at the moment. The ace righty is slated to hit the open market next winter after pocketing a $16.5MM salary in 2015.
- Marc Carig of Newsday provides a breakdown of where the Mets are in their pursuit of a shortstop. The Mets aren’t big on the idea of multi-year deals for either Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera, and looking to the trade market has been difficult thus far. Arizona’s asking price on Didi Gregorius is high — GM Dave Stewart said the return would need to be “earth-shattering” in terms of controllable pitching — and the Cubs haven’t given indication they’ll part with Starlin Castro. The Mets are concerned about Alexei Ramirez‘s declining range, and while they briefly floated the idea of pursuing Jimmy Rollins, that notion went nowhere when they learned that Rollins wouldn’t waive his no-trade rights to go there. A trade for Troy Tulowitzki is considered an extreme long shot, he adds.
- Matthew Cerrone of SNY.tv’s Metsblog has some highlights (and the audio) from the Mets‘ conference call announcing Michael Cuddyer‘s signing today. Within, he notes that GM Sandy Alderson admitted to being caught off guard by the Rockies’ qualifying offer, but they ultimately decided that they’d prefer to sacrifice a draft pick rather than sacrifice a current minor league prospect in a trade for an outfielder. That makes some sense, considering they figure to do so in order to acquire a shortstop at some point.
- The Phillies are willing to trade anyone, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but they may have to wait until the free agent market pans out a bit further before seeing some big deals come to fruition. If they’re able to find a taker for Ryan Howard, it may not come until big bats like Victor Martinez, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera are off the market. The same could be said regarding Cole Hamels in relation to Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester; GM Ruben Amaro Jr. might find teams more willing to part with a significant prospect package when there are no longer ace-caliber alternatives in free agency.
Today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Mets announced that they’ve signed outfielder Alex Castellanos to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Castellanos, 28, has bounced around to many clubs on waivers over the past 18 months due to his strong Triple-A numbers. He’s a career .286/.372/.497 hitter at the Triple-A level, though he’s batted just .171/.186/.390 in 43 big league plate appearances.
- The Cardinals have signed third baseman Scott Moore and right-handers Marcus Hatley and Miguel Socolovich to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training, per the team’s transactions page. The 26-year-old Hatley has spent his whole career with the Cubs and has big strikeout numbers in Triple-A but a career ERA around 5.00 at that level. Moore, 30, has 152 games of MLB experience but hasn’t been in the Majors since 2012 with Houston. He hit .238/.326/.397 with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate last year. Socolovich, 28, saw big league action with the Cubs and Orioles in 2012 and spent last year in the Mets’ system, posting a 3.64 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings of relief at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Not only does new D’Backs GM Dave Stewart have Kevin Towers’ previous job, but the executive tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he’s actually living in Towers’ old house (Twitter link). That anecdote has little to do with the Diamondbacks’ future, however, so here are some more pertinent links…
- The Diamondbacks will definitely tender Cliff Pennington a contract, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). Stewart considers Pennington to be a valuable piece and won’t let him go to save salary. Pennington projects to earn $3.3MM in 2015 and is coming off a .254/.340/.350 batting line with his typically solid defense.
- The Diamondbacks remain interested in Chad Billingsley, Magruder tweets. Billingsley didn’t pitch in 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon that he suffered while rehabbing from 2013 Tommy John surgery. The interest is hardly surprising, as Billingsley is a former client of Stewart’s from his agency days. Billingsley has since signed on with Octagon’s Steve Hilliard, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted last week.
- Stewart went on-record with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News to say that if the D’Backs are to move either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it would be to acquire controllable, young pitching (All Twitter links). The Diamondbacks don’t have any interest in names like Jon Niese, Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon, Stewart stated.
The Mets jumped the free agent market yesterday in a surprising way, signing right fielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21MM deal that requires the forfeiture of their #15 overall pick in the 2015 draft. As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote, it was a surprising series of events: Cuddyer wasn’t expected to receive a qualifying offer, then he was expected to accept it once the Rockies made it, and the Mets weren’t expected to be interested in him after the draft pick cost was attached. More on the signing:
- Cuddyer said on a conference call with Mets beat writers today that he would have accepted the Rockies’ qualifying offer had he not been signed by the Mets.
- Sullivan suggests a conservative estimate values the Mets’ lost pick around $10-15MM, and feels the team is “slightly overpaying” overall for Cuddyer. Personally, I think the Mets valued the pick lower than $10-15MM, as that estimate seems to assume the Mets’ pick would have become one of the game’s 100 best prospects. If we instead apply Dave Cameron’s 3x valuation of a draft’s slot value, we might get $7.5MM in value, which MLBTR’s Jeff Todd suggested to me yesterday. Jeff further noted the Mets might have reasons to devalue that estimate. I also think we were low in estimating Cuddyer’s QO-free market value at two years and $22MM back in mid-October, and his real market value could easily have been two years and $28MM or three years and $36MM. Clearly the Mets valued the lost pick into their offer one way or another.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News doesn’t even want to hear an argument that the Mets should not have sacrificed the pick for Cuddyer, saying, “Nothing in baseball is more romanticized, fetishized and overvalued than draft picks and prospects.” Martino feels the Cuddyer signing signaled the right mindset for the Mets.
- The Mets initially balked at giving up the pick to sign Cuddyer, writes Marc Carig of Newsday, but GM Sandy Alderson changed his mind. According to assistant GM John Ricco, “I think this is a message that we’re going to be aggressive. And right out of the box, we had a guy we liked and we went out and got him.” The Mets had no interest in offering multiple years to other free agent candidates, says Carig.
- New Rockies GM Jeff Bridich comes out smelling like roses, snagging a supplemental draft pick most didn’t expect he could get. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post has quotes from Bridich, who said, “The way that we looked at it was that if we had Cuddy come back on a one-year deal with us, and had he just purely accepted the offer, that was fine. We tried to engage on multiyear talks from the get-go. Even before the (qualifying) offer was made. When the qualifying offer was made, we said, ‘OK, if there is anything to talk about a multiyear offer, let us know. We are ready to engage.’ That doesn’t guarantee it would happen, but we were ready.” It seems Bridich did a better job of reading Cuddyer’s market than the media did.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post likes the signing for the Mets in a 55-45 way. He explains, “He was the outfielder with flaws the Mets knew they could get and there is an upside that makes this a huge gamble probably worth taking. The Mets did not have to touch their pitching surplus to land Cuddyer. They got this done on Nov. 10. They have their stockpile and all winter to address shortstop.”
- Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News has quotes from Ricco regarding Cuddyer’s recent spotty health record. Said Ricco, “He took a physical today. We’ve looked at all the injuries and there was nothing there that we’re too concerned about. And the age is the age. Certainly there’s risk associated with any signing. And we believe in the player and think he’s going to be a real good fit for us.”