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Reports over the weekend indicated that Dan Haren has informed the Marlins of his desire to pitch for another club, and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports looks at the situation a bit further. Morosi reports that Haren has begun a throwing program and has yet to inform the Marlins that he plans to retire if he’s not traded. While his West Coast preference is very well known, Haren will consider other clubs on a case-by-case basis if the Marlins are able to facilitate a trade elsewhere, he adds. As Morosi notes, the Marlins have little incentive to desperately shop Haren; the Dodgers included $10MM in the trade that Miami will be able to keep even in the event that Haren retires. In a poll conducted by MLBTR’s Brad Johnson, the majority of respondents expect Haren to retire.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Little has changed on the Mets‘ shortstop front, writes ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, who hears from team insiders that Wilmer Flores is still likely to have the Opening Day job. The Mets’ remaining offseason additions could simply come in the form of minor league deals for a few more lefty relievers as the club looks to find a complement to southpaw Josh Edgin. The last significant move could be to move a starter, with Dillon Gee being the most likely name to go. Rubin also notes that the Mets believe continued offseason agility training will help make Flores a passable defender at short. Flores hit .322/.365/.556 with six homers in 25 games (90 at-bats) in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason.
- The latest from Fangraphs’ Mike Petriello is an attempt to find a new home for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Petriello points to previous comments made by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on 97.5 The Fanatic in Phildelphia in which Amaro admits to having told Howard “it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him.” As Petriello notes, Howard has always been a better hitter to the opposite field — never more than in 2014. He concludes that three AL clubs whose parks favor power to left more than to right could conceivably fit him in as a DH: the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays. I’d personally wager that the Phillies may have to eat as much as $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Howard’s deal to move him.
- The Marlins like James Shields, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but they (unsurprisingly) aren’t comfortable paying him in the five-year, $110MM range. Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Shields is fielding offers in that neighborhood.
It’s been a little over two years since the Marlins and Blue Jays completed the mega-trade that sent $163.75MM in major league veterans north of the border for a bundle of prospect joy. The Marlins were roasted for the decision at the time, but it’s looking wiser by the day, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Not only did the move clear much needed payroll (since used on Giancarlo Stanton), it also accounts for a lot of the top talent in the organization. In addition to Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Justin Nicolino, the Fish netted seven more players using pieces traced to the original trade with the Jays.
- Brewers prospect Devin Williams is now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Williams was the Brewers second round pick in 2013, and Heyman adds he’s one of Milwaukee’s top 10 prospects. Williams, 19, pitched to a 4.48 ERA with 8.95 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9 in the rookie level Pioneer League.
- The White Sox are still looking into trading outfielder Dayan Viciedo, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Needs include bullpen and bench depth.
- The ongoing Max Scherzer saga could greatly affect the Tigers in 2015, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Per Beck, the Tigers are likely to let Scherzer walk if another club shows heavy interest. If he continues to float on the market as he is now, there will be increasing pressure to bring him back. Owner Mike Illich is known for his penchant to reward players who have performed well in Detroit.
- Left field is an obvious hole for the Rangers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The internal candidates are Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, and Jake Smolinski, but don’t be surprised if additional depth is added. The club is also expected to add a catcher to compete with Robinson Chirinos.
- Shortstop continues to be a glaring flaw on the Mets roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Last year, the club was unsuccessful upgrading over Ruben Tejada. This time, Wilmer Flores is the guy on the hot seat, with Tejada still in the picture too. My own take: unless the Mets can pinch Troy Tulowitzki, they’ll enter the season with Flores and Tejada. In the grand scheme of major league shortstops, neither projects to be terrible. Meanwhile, if they wanted Stephen Drew, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to acquire him over the last 14 months.
Earlier today, MLBTR posted the latest news and notes on the Nationals. Let’s now take a look at the other teams in the NL East:
- If A.J. Pierzynski‘s Spring Training looks like a continuation of his subpar 2014 season, he may not make the Braves‘ Opening Day roster, writes Fangraphs’ David Laurila in his latest Sunday Notes column. Pierzynski and the Braves agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal on Christmas Eve.
- The Phillies will spend considerably less on their starting pitching in 2015 and the rotation may actually be better, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com.
- With the Braves and Phillies prioritizing years beyond 2015, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman surveyed seven baseball executives representing all six MLB divisions whether the Marlins or the Mets will be the Nationals‘ primary challenger this season. A split decision of 4-3 favored the Marlins.
Contract length isn’t necessarily a guarantee of job security. Over the years, we’ve seen countless examples of teams who have made surprising management changes in the wake of an unexpected losing season (such as the Braves firing ex-general manager Frank Wren) or simply due to new candidates coming onto the market (such as the Cubs firing Rick Renteria when Joe Maddon became available). Similarly, some managers and GMs aren’t troubled by being a so-called “lame duck” entering their last year under contract. Some have unofficial handshake deals to continue on in their roles as long as they wish, or some actually prefer a one-year deal — i.e. former Tigers skipper Jim Leyland — if they aren’t sure how much longer they want to remain in baseball.
For other executives and bench bosses, however, an expiring contract can indicate that they’re under significant pressure to get results in their last year under contract. Here’s a list of managers and GMs who are believed to be entering the last year of their contracts in 2015. (I say “believed to be” since some clubs keep front office contract terms private, so there could be a few more GMs who are also entering their last guaranteed season, or perhaps some of the names on this list have already been quietly signed to extensions.) As always, a big tip of the cap to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for many of these details.
- Blue Jays: John Gibbons’ rolling contract will guarantee his 2015 team option on New Year’s Day, and also add another club option to his deal that covers the 2016 season. The relationship between Gibbons and GM Alex Anthopoulos is known to be a firm one, though with the Jays so clearly set on contending in 2015, a disappointing record could lead to some questions about Gibbons’ future with the team.
- Braves: Atlanta’s late-season collapse cost Wren his job, though manager Fredi Gonzalez retained his spot in the team’s dugout. This is an interesting situation to monitor given how the Braves’ trades of Justin Upton and Jason Heyward indicate that they’re at least partially rebuilding, though the additions of Shelby Miller and Nick Markakis hint that they intend to stay competitive. All indications are that the Braves plan to contend when they move into their new ballpark in 2017, so if the team will look to somewhat tread water until then, Gonzalez could be safe.
- Brewers: Doug Melvin has been Milwaukee’s general manager since September 2002, taking over a struggling franchise and helming them to two postseason appearances (in 2008 and 2011) during his tenure. Since that most recent playoff berth, the Brewers have posted two winning seasons sandwiched around a poor 2013 season for an overall 239-247 record. The club’s payroll cracked the $100MM threshold last year and projects to do the same in 2015, so the Crew will be expected to rebound from last season’s second-half struggles. Another middling record won’t cut it in the increasingly-competitive NL Central, so it’s possible Melvin could be on the hot seat if the Brewers aren’t in contention. That said, given Melvin’s history with the team, I’d guess he’ll receive a two- or three-year extension to give him a bit more time to get things on track.
- Mets: Terry Collins’ role in his first four seasons as the Mets’ manager has been to act as a teacher and mentor to the club’s young players as the Amazins have been rebuilding. All signs point to 2015, however, as the season when the Mets are looking to again become a factor in the playoff race. If the Mets get off to a slow start, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Collins fired in favor of a manager who can theoretically help the team take that next step.
- Nationals: Matt Williams is technically entering his walk year, though the Nats hold team options on the manager’s services for 2016 and 2017. Barring a total collapse in Washington next year, Williams isn’t going anywhere.
- Padres: Bud Black is the rare manager who has lasted in his position through both an ownership change and four different general managers. Though Black has only posted two winning records in his eight seasons as San Diego’s manager, he is still regarded by many as one of the game’s better skippers, and it’s indeed hard to fault Black given the Padres’ front office instability and sub-par rosters during his tenure. 2015 will be a different story, as new GM A.J. Preller has made several major acquisitions to help revamp the Padres’ lineup. Black has said he’s not worried about not having an extension in place, and while he probably has reason to feel secure given how long he’s lasted in San Diego already, another losing season could convince the new-look Padres to make a change on the bench.
- Phillies: The Jimmy Rollins trade indicates that the Phillies are finally embarking on a much-needed rebuild, and it appears that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will be the one to oversee it as he enters the last year of his contract. You’d think the Phils would’ve already made a change if they wanted a new face to usher in this new era for the team, though it’s worth noting that the Phillies’ upper management situation is also in flux as general owner David Montgomery is on leave while undergoing cancer treatments. (Former GM Pat Gillick is filling in for Montgomery in the interim.) It could be that Amaro’s future in Philadelphia won’t be addressed until his contract is actually up, or when Montgomery has recovered enough to resume his duties.
- Royals: Ned Yost could hardly have made a better argument for a new deal by leading Kansas City to within a game of a World Series title. Royals GM Dayton Moore hinted that Yost’s contract would be addressed later in the offseason, so it’s probably just a matter of time before Yost is extended beyond 2015.
- Tigers: Dave Dombrowski is entering the last year of his contract as Detroit’s general manager, president and CEO. Given his track record with the Tigers, it’s safe to assume that Dombrowski is one of those “has the job for as long as he wants” executives and he’ll get an extension sooner rather than later.
The original version of this post incorrectly indicated that Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings were heading into the final years of their contracts. In fact, both are already under contract through 2018. Hat tip to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
It was on this day in 1959 that the Braves signed a very notable 20-year-old outfielder out of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Rico Carty ended up playing in 829 games for the Braves from 1963 to 1972, and one wonders just how good Carty might’ve been had it not been for several injury setbacks. Despite all the injuries, Carty still produced a .299/369/.464 line and 204 homers over 15 Major League seasons, also playing for the Rangers, Cubs, A’s, Indians and Blue Jays during his career. Here’s the latest from the NL East…
- The Braves have discussed left-hander Luis Avilan with other teams recently, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (via Twitter). Avilan has a 2.56 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 1.81 K/BB rate and a 55.5% ground ball rate over 144 1/3 relief innings for Atlanta over the last three seasons. Advanced metrics indicate he was somewhat fortunate to post low ERA totals in 2012-13, and with more even peripherals in 2014, Avilan’s ERA ballooned to 4.57 last season. The 25-year-old Avilan is under team control through the 2018 campaign.
- It comes as no surprise that the Nationals are excited by right-handed pitching prospect A.J. Cole, as an opposing scout tells MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel that Washington has been declining his team’s trade inquiries about Cole for almost two full years. “They ain’t letting him go. They’re that high on him,” the scout said. Kerzel examines how the Nats might handle Cole’s development in 2015, as he could be kept in Triple-A or perhaps used in the Show as an electric bullpen option.
- Is the Mets‘ relatively quiet offseason a tactical decision, or does it represent a “lack of ingenuity by the front office or lack of financial resources by ownership,” Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders. The aggressive moves made by such teams as the Padres, Cubs and Marlins have overshadowed the Mets’ more modest transactions, though one AL West executive thinks the Amazins are “laying in the weeds waiting for hopeful January free-agent bargains.” A big-ticket addition like Troy Tulowitzki seems unlikely since, as the exec opines, “I don’t think they [the Mets] have the financial flexibility to pay for him even if they could get him.”
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post that he was comfortable trading Steven Souza to the Rays because top outfield prospect Michael A. Taylor is only about a half a year behind Souza in terms of development. Taylor’s development has taken on greater importance now that Souza is gone, Janes notes, as he’s now the most big-league ready of their outfield prospects. Director of player development Mark Scialabba tells Janes that the team was happy with Taylor’s progress in 2014 and believes he can help in the Majors in 2015, but he also acknowledged that Taylor’s plate discipline is a work in progress. Taylor’s development is of particular importance, in my mind, due to his ability to handle center field; Denard Span is a free agent in one year’s time, and the Nats may not be able to retain him, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard — each of whom is in their final year of team control.
More from the NL East…
- Though the Marlins have an exceptional young outfield in Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, the club is still on the lookout for a fourth outfielder, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ideally, Morosi notes, they’d acquire someone who can handle center field to back up Ozuna. The free agent market has little to offer in terms of center fielders who saw significant time in the Majors last year, though the trade market has some options. The Padres have a number of outfielders that can play center field (Will Venable, Abraham Almonte and Cameron Maybin), Oakland’s Craig Gentry is an excellent defender, and the Cardinals’ Peter Bourjos is elite with the glove as well. One buy-low option on the free agent market could be Franklin Gutierrez, though his health issues are significant and he didn’t take the field in 2014. All of those names are my own speculation.
- Dan Haren is said to be holding out hope that the Marlins will trade him to either the Angels or the Padres, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The veteran Haren, acquired in the trade that also sent Dee Gordon to Miami, has a very strong, well-known desire to be on the West coast near his wife and children in Los Angeles.
- Meeting the Rockies’ asking price for Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t make sense for the Mets given Tulo’s health concerns, writes Newsday’s David Lennon. The Rox are set on multiple pitching prospects in return and haven’t shown any indication that they’re willing to eat a significant amount of cash. Lennon assumes the Rockies would need to eat a similar a percentage of the contract as the Dodgers did when moving Matt Kemp, which would come out to roughly $36MM.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman feels that if the Braves do still move Evan Gattis in a trade, they’ll attempt to land a starting pitcher or outfielder that can step into the Majors in short order and has a good deal of team control remaining. Of course, Gattis himself fits the description of an outfield option with team control remaining, though it’s certainly possible the Braves would prefer a better defender with a different skill set. As Bowman notes, the Braves have made a conscious effort to infuse their system with more speed- and contact-oriented players. Bowman also touches on the Braves’ bullpen and the money they’ve saved this offseason in his latest Braves Inbox.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on Nathan Eovaldi, one of the newest members of the Yankees. Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia feels that the young pitcher has only scratched the surface of what he can do. “At the end of the year he figured out how to throw a new pitch that is really going to help him. He throws hard and all of his pitches are hard, so this new pitch will help that out because he’s got a fastball rotation with split action,” Salty said. More from today’s column..
- James Shields is asking for a contract close to the five years and $110MM remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands told Cafardo. The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.
- Many baseball execs feel that Max Scherzer will end up back with the Tigers. The executives Cafardo spoke with think that Scherzer will top Jon Lester‘s six-year, $155MM pact but fall well short of $200MM, unless option years are counted.
- When it comes to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, there seems no urgency on either side to visit a possible extension. Wieters’s return should be huge for the Orioles, but agent Scott Boras will likely not consider anything until the end of the season.
- Cafardo checked in with Mets officials regarding the recent Troy Tulowitzki rumors and none of them felt that there was anything to them.
- Agent Alan Nero tells Cafardo that he is having a lot of dialogue with teams about Asdrubal Cabrera but nothing has come together just yet. Cafardo suggests that Cabrera could take a one-year deal somewhere to re-establish his value.
- Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is the odd man out in San Diego with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in the fold. The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could be trade candidates for Quentin, who hasn’t played 100 games since 2011. He’d be a solid DH candidate and Seattle could also use him in right field from time to time. Of course, with an $8MM salary in 2015 and a $10MM option in 2016 that comes with a $3MM buyout, the Padres will have to eat some money to move him.
The Phillies could get involved in the bidding for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, but they would need to clear some payroll first, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. The Phillies, of course, recently traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, and they currently have Freddy Galvis atop their depth chart at shortstop, so there’s a clear opening for Cabrera if they feel he can handle the position defensively. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- Telling Casey McGehee he had been traded to the Giants was a difficult task for Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel writes. “Extremely difficult decision because he did mean so much on the field and in the clubhouse, a true pro in every sense in the word,” says Hill. The Marlins were able to deal McGehee for two young pitchers because they acquired Martin Prado from the Yankees to play third base.
- Speaking of the Martin Prado trade, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes that the Yankees have acquired an interesting project in Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has excellent velocity but hasn’t yet gotten great results, and Axisa (who cites Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris) wonders if Eovaldi might get better results by dropping his weak changeup and focusing on his fastball, slider and curveball. Axisa considers Garrett Jones more of a throw-in, but one who fits well with the Yankees given their veteran hitters’ struggles to stay healthy.
- The Mets‘ trade of reliever Gonzalez Germen to the Yankees on Friday was only the 16th transaction between the two clubs, the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron reports. It was also the only trade between the cross-town rivals in 10 years — in 2004, the Mets sent Mike Stanton to the Bronx for Felix Heredia.
GM Ruben Amaro says he’s told first baseman Ryan Howard the Phillies feel the team would be better off if he were elsewhere, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com writes (via Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic). “I told [Howard] that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him,” says Amaro. “With that said, if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.” Amaro notes that the Phillies are not willing to release Howard. A trade, obviously, will be tricky, given the $60MM remaining on Howard’s contract. Here’s more from the NL East.
- FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote Friday night that Trea Turner‘s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, is incensed that his client must remain with the Padres until June even though San Diego has agreed to trade him to the Nationals. Turner is stuck with the Padres for now because of a rule that a drafted player can’t be traded until a year after he signs his first contract. Rosenthal’s colleague Rob Neyer notes that Turner’s situation actually isn’t that unique, and players to be named later subject to the one-year rule have stayed in their original organizations until their trades can officially be completed, typically with few ill effects. (One example is 2013 draftee Blake Taylor, who stayed in the Pirates organization for two months after the Ike Davis deal earlier this year before eventually heading to the Mets.) One aspect of Turner’s situation that is unique, though, is that it’s widely known that he’s the player to be named. The one-year rule is in place because, for better or for worse, teams aren’t supposed to trade draft picks. If MLB were to allow Turner to head to the Nationals early just because his name had been leaked, the league would be getting close to simply allowing picks to be traded.
- It would be a mistake for the Mets to trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Newsday’s David Lennon writes. Tulowitzki is a superstar when healthy, but his injury issues are a major concern for a player with six years left on his contract. The Mets have reportedly talked with the Rockies about Tulowitzki, but a deal appears unlikely right now.
Discussing his wide-ranging moves since taking over as the Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman said today that he sees the club as a “highly functional baseball team, instead of a collection of talent.” As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports, Friedman says the club will remain “open-minded” about dealing away from its stock of outfielders.
- Looking ahead after the Jimmy Rollins trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team will continue to try to “get younger and more athletic,” as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. In addition to discussing various trade scenarios, the Phils have “had some dialogue with some free agents to try to increase some of our depth pitching-wise,” said Amaro. As for Chase Utley, though, Amaro said he has not had any discussions with Rollins’s long-time double-play partner about a change of scenery. “I haven’t had enough of a discussion with Chase,” said Amaro. “The only discussions I’ve had with Chase and his agent about any of that is that Chase wants to be in Philadelphia.” While Amaro did not close the door on a deal, neither did he indicate it was particularly likely. He concluded: “[Utley] has no desire to go anywhere. … [H]e wants to honor his contract and that’s how we have to perceive it.”
- The agent for reportedly soon-to-be Nationals shortstop prospect Trea Turner, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed his frustration with the fact that Turner will be required to stay in the Padres system for six months until he is technically eligible to be named as the PTBNL in the recent three-team swap, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Expressing concern with Turner playing in an organization that lacks a direct interest in his future well-being, Berry said that he “will vigorously pursue all available courses of action to remedy this situation,” up to and potentially including the filing of a grievance action.
- The Braves are still listening on Evan Gattis, but expect to deploy him in left field unless a big offer comes through the door, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
- The Mets did not place a bid on Jung-ho Kang, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today. That would, of course, appear to eliminate the Mets as the possible mystery team that has won the posting.
- The Phillies are taking a look at veteran middle infielder Rafael Furcal as he plays in the Venezuelan winter league, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Furcal signed last year with the Marlins, but was never really able to get healthy. He could potentially fill a hole for the Phils at short.