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The Nationals are crossing their fingers after All-Star starter Jordan Zimmermann left today’s start with a right arm issue. Initial indications were positive, as the club said that Zimmermann was experiencing a biceps cramp and that hopes are it is not a serious issue, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington reports on Twitter.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- The Mets have not fielded much interest lately in second baseman Daniel Murphy, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. A club official also told Puma that trade talks have generally been rather quiet.
- Having “hit rock bottom,” it is time for the Phillies to deal, opines ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link). Olney posits that pitchers Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon could hold appeal to larger-payroll clubs, outfielder Marlon Byrd would draw interest given the dearth of available power bats, Chase Utley would be a good match for the Athletics or Giants. The market is shaping up well for Philly, Olney says, with the recent spate of significant injuries.
- While some have suggested that Phillies lefty Cole Hamels could be had by the Yankees, in part by a willingness to take on his substantial salary, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that is highly unlikely. The Phillies would only deal Hamels if one of the pieces coming back (among others) was a solid, young starter that could slot right into the rotation, says Murphy, and that is something New York cannot offer.
The Mets have officially announced the signing of first-round pick Michael Conforto (Twitter link). The Scott Boras client had previously been reported to have agreed to terms at a $2.97MM bonus (per MLB.com’s Jim Callis), but reports over the past few weeks indicated that the two sides were hung up on a few non-financial details.
All of that is worked out now, and Conforto can get a start on his professional career. An outfielder out of Oregon State, he was widely considered to be one of the best bats in the draft. Conforto ranked as the No. 8 prospect in this draft by ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America while Jonathan Mayo and Callis of MLB.com ranked him 17th.
Conforto batted a whopping .345/.504/.547 with seven homers, 16 doubles and a pair of triples in 59 games for Oregon State in 2014 — his junior season. Law praised Conforto’s power to his pull side, also noting that he works counts well and is able to hit the ball to the opposite field. Law expressed concerns about Conforto’s defense, however, questioning his range and his throwing arm in left field. BA offered a bit of a different take, writing that he improved his previously fringy defense and is now adequate, and their scouting report projected him as a 20-25 homer hitter down the road. MLB.com shared some of the defensive concerns and worried that he might swing and miss too much, however that scouting report also projected him to hit 25-plus homers with regularity at his peak.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Yankees have officially placed right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list with what they’ve termed right elbow inflammation for the time being. The Rookie of the Year/Cy Young contender has been arguably the most valuable player on the Yankees this season, and an extended absence would seriously dampen the Yankees’ postseason hopes. Currently, the team sits four games out of first in the AL East and three and a half games out of the running for a Wild Card spot, despite having spent most of the season without CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda.
Here’s more on the Yankees and the Mets…
- The Yankees’ entire season is hanging in balance as the team waits to learn the severity of Tanaka’s injury, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In the event of a serious injury to Tanaka, he opines, the Yankees will have to give serious consideration to selling off at the deadline. Sherman discusses the trickle-down effect that such an injury would have on the team, noting that Yankee starters have recorded just 33 outs after the seventh inning this season — and 25 of those have come from Tanaka. His absence would further strain an overworked bullpen, and the team lacks enough quality internal rotation options to survive such a blow.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News gets the sense that the Mets are likely to move Bartolo Colon this summer but may hold on to the rest of their regulars. The team wants to contend in 2015, he says, and they feel they have the pitching depth to make up for the loss of Colon. Others, such as Daniel Murphy, would not be so easily replaced. Additionally, trading Colon would free up $10MM in payroll for next season, which could be reallocated to fill other needs.
- New Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy told reporters, including Dan Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal, that he doesn’t feel that he’s having a bad year, but rather, a confusing year. McCarthy, who has a 5.01 ERA, explains that he’s well-versed in sabermetrics and knows that based on career-bests in strikeout rate, ground-ball rate and average fastball velocity, he’s doing things right. “I know there’s been mistake pitches here and there that get hurt, but that’s to be expected,” said McCarthy. “It’s the other things happening, where I leave a game and feel like I’ve done everything I needed to and the results are terrible. That’s where I’ve been kind of confused.” Barbarisi’s piece also looks at how McCarthy re-invented himself after delving into sabermetrics while recovering from a shoulder injury in 2010.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson maintains that the club is still assessing what course it will take at the trade deadline, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. “Look, let’s see where we are at the end of this week,” said Alderson. “We’re always willing to listen. We may be thinking in terms of the second half of this season. We may be thinking more in terms of next season.” Alderson continued to note that, even if the team sells, it may not be willing to settle for lower-level talent: “We’ve made a lot of deals in recent years where we’ve gotten prospects who are a good ways away. I don’t think we’re thinking that way these days, although sometimes that’s the value in a return.”
Here’s the latest out of New York and the rest of the National League East:
- After talking with people familiar with Alderson’s thinking, David Lennon of Newsday gets the sense that the Mets‘ GM isn’t necessarily committed to the idea of trading Daniel Murphy. Lennon does note that the team is eager to get another look at Wilmer Flores, who is playing second base at Triple-A Las Vegas these days.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. took to the air to defend the capabilities of several of the team’s veterans in a radio interview (audio link) with Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic. “If you want to talk about declining, that happens,” said Amaro. “But that doesn’t mean they aren’t producing in some way shape or form and Chase [Utley] is one of those guys.” Nevertheless, Amaro acknowledged that several of the team’s long-term deals have not worked out as hoped: “Unfortunately these guys are human beings and they aren’t living up to what we expected and we’re trying to do something about that right now.” Going forward, the team is in a “fluid situation,” said the Philly GM. “I talk to [team owner] David [Montgomery] and our group all the time about what our direction is,” he said.
- The Braves are prioritizing the acquisition of a “lockdown-type left-hander” for the bullpen, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O’Brien argues that the club should make a push to add Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, noting his outstanding 14.7 K/9 mark and domination of opposing left-handed hitters. The 29-year-old has indeed been outstanding, with a 2.41 ERA through 33 2/3 frames thus far in his walk year.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
- James Russell‘s name was “heard very often” as a trade possibility this weekend, Peter Gammons tweets. With Chicago in seller mode, Russell’s 2.22 ERA would definitely attract teams looking for a left-handed bullpen arm, though his 4.45 xFIP suggests he has been greatly helped by a .209 BABIP and an 82.6% strand rate this year. Russell has also posted reverse splits this season by pitching much better against right-handed hitters, as opposed to his usual dominance over left-handed batters. Russell, 28, is pitching on a one-year, $1.775MM contract and is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. The southpaw also drew a lot of interest during last year’s trade deadline and was close to being dealt to the Braves.
- A member of the Mets organization described Starlin Castro as “a perfect match” for their club, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. Addison Russell‘s acquisition makes the Cubs even deeper at shortstop and Castro seems like a logical trade candidate, while Harper feels the Mets have the young pitchers necessary to swing a deal. Harper suggests Zack Wheeler and a minor league leaguer could interest the Cubs, though the Mets would balk at moving Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, or top prospect Noah Syndergaard.
- Newsday’s David Lennon, however, doesn’t see the Mets rushing to acquire any major pieces this month, let alone for Castro. In regards to the Cubs shortstop, the Mets would have issues taking on Castro’s contract and one New York official brought up Castro’s somewhat low on-base percentages as a cause for concern.
- The Cubs’ focus on amassing position player depth in their minor league system stands contrary to the Cardinals’ long-standing strategy of developing as many young pitchers as possible, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.
Cubs executive Jason McLeod sees flashes of Troy Glaus in top prospect Kris Bryant, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. “Definitely 40-home run power,” says McLeod. “There’ll be some strikeouts, but he has a great eye at the plate. He’ll take his share of walks and work the count.” Bryant, last year’s second overall draft pick, continues to dominate after having been promoted to Triple-A Iowa, hitting .364/.432/.773 in 74 plate appearances there. Here’s more from Cafardo.
- One reason Addison Russell made sense for the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal, Cafardo suggests, is that Russell is unlikely to stick at shortstop, meaning that he won’t be blocked by Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez.
- The Twins‘ best trade chips could include Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales, Cafardo writes. Willingham could make sense for the Red Sox or Royals.
- Some NL teams could show interest in starter Jake Peavy if the Red Sox are willing to eat some of the remainder of his 2014 salary.
- Daniel Murphy could make sense for the Giants if the Mets decide to deal him. AL East teams could have interest in Bartolo Colon, and the Mets might be able to get at least some talent in return if they elect to trade him. The Mets are trying to decide if they can make enough noise in the second half to keep players like Murphy and Colon, Cafardo writes.
For weeks now, the baseball world has been waiting for the Cubs to line up trades for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Last night, Theo Epstein & Co. killed two birds with one stone and packaged both together in a deal with the A’s. In return for two of the most talked about pitchers on the trade block, the Cubs received top prospect Addison Russell, outfield prospect Billy McKinney, and pitcher Dan Straily. Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the blockbuster deal.
- MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes (on Twitter) says the Cubs are taking an interesting approach by stockpiling top position player prospects and putting off acquiring pitching. Dierkes can see Straily providing Travis Wood-like value for the Cubs since teams pay big money for innings from a No. 4 type (link). Meanwhile, the deal makes the rest of the trade season kind of anticlimactic for Cub fans after their two best trade chips were moved on the Fourth of July (link).
- Before pulling the trigger on the deal with the Cubs, the A’s discussed a swap involving Russell with the Rays for David Price, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. However, nothing ever materialized on that front.
- The Yankees exchanged proposals with the Cubs on both Samardzija and Hammel, but could not compete with Russell’s inclusion, tweets FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
- In a separate tweet, Rosenthal reports the A’s don’t intend to flip Hammel because they will need him to win the AL West.
- ESPN’s Keith Law writes in an Insider piece (subscription required) the A’s and Cubs both significantly impacted their franchise, albeit with different timelines in mind.
- The early word is the Cubs are not looking to make any moves from their shortstop stockpile as the Mets have nothing brewing with Chicago and the Yankees have checked but to no avail, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links).
- Moneyball isn’t about on-base percentage or any one statistic, it’s about exploiting what is over- or under-valued and prospects are over-valued at present, writes Sherman. However, he notes (link) Javier Baez and Russell are big guys who might not stay at shortstop, so Starlin Castro may still be the Cubs’ long-term guy.
- The A’s may have made themselves the favorites for 2014, but the Cubs ultimately may have won the deal, writes CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “He’s Barry Larkin with power,” one rival baseball executive said of Russell.
- The loss of Russell, in particular, could end up haunting the A’s, whose current shortstop Jed Lowrie is a free agent after this season, but GM Billy Beane has never been afraid to take an unconventional route, writes Rosenthal.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle echoes Rosenthal and adds the trade may point towards an extension for Lowrie and this wouldn’t be a bad time to do it.
- The trade demonstrates Beane’s burning desire to win now and now could be his only window for winning a World Series, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee.
- Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com calls this trade fascinating because of the guts it took to swing such a deal between two men (Epstein and Beane) who defy convention for the way the game of baseball changes.
- The Cubs signed Hammel to a one-year, $6MM deal in late January and in July he has netted them one of the five best prospects in baseball, notes Passan (via Twitter).
- Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (via Twitter) is usually against trading great young talent, but likes the trade for the A’s since present wins have so much value to them right now. Of course, he likes the swap from the Cubs‘ perspective, too.
- Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes the trade is a win-win for both the A’s and Cubs, but the real winner could be the Rays, who just saw two of the top available starting pitchers dealt while only one contender benefited increasing the demand for Price.
- Addison Russell (Twitter link) is excited to be joining forces with Kris Bryant.
- Billy McKinney called the A’s an “amazing and classy organization” and is “excited to start and (sic) new chapter in the Cubs organization” (Twitter links).
- Dan Straily also tweeted his appreciation of the A’s organization, but is looking forward to beginning the next chapter of his career with the Cubs (Twitter links).
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
- There isn’t any reason for the Mets to fire GM Sandy Alderson or manager Terry Collins since such moves would only prolong the club’s rebuilding process, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post opines. While the Mets are on pace for another losing, the team is in good shape for the future with young talent on the rise and Chris Young‘s contract seems to be the only true mistake on the current roster.
- Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler could be a trade target for teams looking to add rotation help, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Detwiler “could start for most” teams, as Heyman notes, and the southpaw has had trouble finding a spot in Washington’s deep rotation despite some good career numbers. Detwiler currently has a 4.00 ERA, 1.29 K/BB rate and 5.5 K/9 in 36 relief innings for the Nats, and he’s had control issues, as his 4.3 BB/9 is markedly up from his 2.6 BB/9 over the previous three seasons.
- Brad Penny and Marlins GM Dan Jennings talk to Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post about Penny’s minor league comeback attempt and why Miami brought Penny back to his original franchise.
- The impending trade of minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros to the Braves is taking an unusually long time to complete for a move outside the 40-man roster, which makes MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo think Robinson could be part of a larger transaction between the two clubs. Cotillo makes it clear that he is just speculating, however.
The Mets will listen to offers for Bartolo Colon and could even start openly shopping the veteran right-hander, team sources tell Mike Puma of the New York Post. There is no indication a deal would happen soon, however, as the team could wait until after the July 31st deadline since GM Sandy Alderson “has no pressure” to trade Colon. (Puma points out that Alderson waited until late August 2013 to make the Marlon Byrd trade with the Pirates).
Colon turned 41 years old in May and his late-career renaissance is still going strong. The veteran has posted a 3.88 ERA and a 5.27 K/BB over 106 2/3 IP as a Met, with 79 strikeouts and a league-low 1.3 walks per nine innings. Those numbers do carry some heavy ballpark splits, as Colon has a 2.11 ERA in six Citi Field starts and a 5.06 ERA in 10 road starts.
Despite Colon’s age, the two-year, $20MM contract he signed with New York last winter is considered to be “relatively friendly,” an AL executive tells Puma. Colon is owed roughly $4.4MM for the remainder of this season and is owed $11MM for 2015.
Moving Colon would line the Mets up for a full-scale pitching youth movement in 2015. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee would be the most experienced members of a projected rotation that would also include a returning Matt Harvey and the likes of Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, while prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard could also be candidates to win jobs. In this situation you could also expect the Mets to sign at least one veteran arm for depth purposes during the offseason, a la their addition of Daisuke Matsuzaka last winter.
Also from Puma’s piece, he notes that the Mets are “reluctant” to trade Niese, which fits with Alderson’s recent statements about Niese’s availability (or lack thereof). Niese, for his part, tells Puma that he wants to remain with the Mets.
Daniel Murphy‘s name has been featured frequently pages of MLBTradeRumors in recent weeks, but it sounds like he probably won’t be changing uniforms in the next few days. Mets assistant GM John Ricco told Tim Rohan of the New York Times that the club hasn’t had any recent talks on the second baseman.
“We haven’t specifically talked about Dan recently,” Ricco said. “He is one of the more valuable guys we have. He leads the league in hits. He’s settled in as one of the best second basemen in the game, certainly offensively, and is a leader on our team.”
When asked if the Mets were worried about the perception if they traded Murphy, Ricco said, “It depends what the return is,” which Rohan takes to mean that a deal would be better received if they got more immediate help rather than prospects who are a few years away. The 29-year-old is enjoying his best season to date, hitting .300/.351/.421 with seven homers through 83 games.
Ricco also indicated that the Mets have yet to decide if they’ll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. However, comments from GM Sandy Alderson yesterday seemed to indicate that a sell off could be close as he said the next 10-12 days will be vital to that assessment. If they do sell, however, Alderson says that they’re not likely to move left-hander Jon Niese.
Of course, the Mets could instead lock up their second baseman for the long haul. Our own Steve Adams recently looked at what a new deal for Murphy might look like.