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Phil Hughes of the Twins has capped off one of the game’s best turnarounds by topping 200 innings on the year after today’s outing. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes on Twitter, Hughes picked up a $250K bonus after passing the 195 IP threshold. Needless to say, Minnesota is thrilled that it not only landed Hughes, who just turned 28, but that it did so on a three-year deal that promises him just $24MM in total. As Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register observes (Twitter link), Hughes has struck out 181 batters while issuing a mere 16 walks this year, meaning that he owns an absurd 11.3 K/BB ratio. That is a historically significant mark, and one that would surely have made the righty one of the offseason’s most interesting free agents had he elected to take a one-year pillow contract last year.
- You can count the Yankees among the teams taking a hard look at Yasmani Tomas, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Of course, they will be far from the only team doing so. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez provides an interesting look at the much-hyped young slugger, who is preparing for an important showcase on Sunday. “It was really difficult to leave Cuba,” said Tomas (translation from Spanish via Sanchez). “It is for all of us who do it. But it’s difficult there with the way the security is and how they control the players. I made an important decision to fulfill my dream and see if I was at the level of major league players. Here I am, and now I go forward.”
- Rangers hurler Colby Lewis says that he was told “maybe” when he asked club GM Jon Daniels about the possibility of a return next year, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star -Telegram reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old righty has only a 5.12 ERA over 158 1/3 innings this year, but then again he had been out since July of 2012 with various injury issues. Lewis owns a 4.33 FIP and has notched 7.0 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 on the season, making him a potentially appealing option for teams looking for a solid innings-eater.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins will be shut down for the rest of the year but ultimately received good news on his left arm, GM Terry Ryan told reporters including Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Perkins will use a strength and conditioning program to deal with a forearm strain and nerve irritation, and is expected to be at full strength for the spring.
- The Orioles are nearing finalization of a deal with Cuban hurler Lazaro Leyva, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Leyva has reportedly agreed to terms on a $725K deal to join the Baltimore organization.
In his latest Insider-only blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney runs down a list of pending free agents that are candidates to receive qualifying offers. Olney spoke with several executives from around the league and is of the mind that James Shields, Max Scherzer, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Russell Martin, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy, Victor Martinez, Ervin Santana, David Robertson and Hanley Ramirez will receive qualifying offers, which should fall between $15MM and $15.5MM.
Here are a few more notes from Olney’s piece…
- The Giants intend to give Sandoval a QO with the assumption that he will reject the offer and test the open market. San Francisco appears willing to offer him just three years, says Olney, and even going to four years might be too much of a stretch. Such a commitment seems much too light to land Sandoval, who, at 28 years old, will be one of the youngest free agents on the market.
- It looks like the Dodgers and Ramirez could be moving in separate directions, as rival evaluators anticipate the team will extend a qualifying offer with the expectation that Ramirez signs elsewhere.
- The value of Martin on a one-year deal, even north of $15MM, makes a QO for the Pirates “an easy call,” one rival GM said to Olney. Some may wonder whether or not Francisco Liriano is a QO candidate, but executives polled by Olney feel that his injury history and lack of innings present too much risk for the Bucs to extend such an offer. I’m inclined to agree; while Martin is a lock to turn down the QO, Liriano would have more hesitancy, and a $15MM salary would represent nearly 21 percent of the Pirates’ Opening Day payroll from 2014.
- Some evaluators think that Cruz will again find himself with a more limited market than he expects due to his age, 2013 PED suspension and the fact that his OBP and defense are less impressive than his power totals.
- Many rival executives feel there’s simply no way that the Tigers will let Martinez get away. Olney’s right in noting that a QO is “an easy call” for V-Mart, who currently sports a hefty .333/.401/.567 with a career-high 31 homers.
- Olney also feels that a QO for Robertson is an easy call. While he notes that teams don’t pay $15MM for closers anymore, one evaluator said to him: “…with any other team, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But it’s the Yankees, and they can do it.” On a somewhat related note, Olney adds that Koji Uehara‘s late-season swoon may be a blessing of sorts for the Red Sox, who can now approach him with an offer much lower than a QO would have been. I noted in yesterday’s MLBTR chat that I’d be more hesitant to give Robertson a QO, but the Yankees could certainly afford to run the risk.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Francisco Liriano | Hanley Ramirez | J.J. Hardy | James Shields | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | Los Angeles Dodgers | Max Scherzer | Nelson Cruz | New York Yankees | Pablo Sandoval | Pittsburgh Pirates | Russell Martin | San Francisco Giants | Victor Martinez
In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN, Buster Olney expressed doubt that the Orioles would re-sign Nelson Cruz this winter. The O’s are more likely to let Cruz go and pick up an extra draft pick (via the qualifying offer) since Cruz’s big season may have made him too expensive for Baltimore. If the team looks for a right-handed bat to replace Cruz, Olney opines that the Braves’ Evan Gattis, rumored to be a trade candidate, would be a perfect fit as the Orioles’ new designated hitter.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Olney, Yankees GM Brian Cashman originally passed on the idea of signing Chris Young when the team’s statistical analysts recommended that the Yankees pick up the recently-released Met. Cashman’s change of heart paid off, as Young has a whopping 1.266 OPS in his short stint (29 PA) as a Yankee and three homers, including a walkoff to beat the Rays last Thursday.
- Rookie right-hander Shane Greene‘s emergence has been a boon for the Yankees‘ injury-riddled rotation, and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post details the unlikely story of how Greene originally caught the eyes of team scouts. Greene, a 15th-round draft pick in 2009, has a 3.56 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 2.92 K/BB rate over 68 1/3 IP this season.
- Dustin Pedroia‘s contract extension was considered to be very team-friendly when it was signed last year, but ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes wonders if the Red Sox were too quick to extend Pedroia given how recurring injuries caused his performance to drop off in 2014. The Sox already had Pedroia locked up through 2014 (with a team option for 2015) on a prior contract before tearing that deal up for his new extension that runs through the 2021 season.
- The Rays‘ planned payroll cut might not be all that drastic, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, as the team still plans to contend next season. Any payroll saved “will be the product of trades and tough choices.” For instance, Topkin thinks Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Joyce could be trade candidates, as both players will get raises in arbitration this winter.
- Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams compiled more news from around the AL East.
Infielder Nick Franklin, part of the haul that the Rays acquired in the David Price trade, will be recalled to join the club today, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Once ranked as one of the game’s top 50 prospects by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, Franklin struggled for much of his time at Triple-A with the Rays, hitting just .210/.288/.290. As Topkin points out, Franklin did hit .424 with a pair of homers in nine playoff games that aren’t included in that stat line, and he of course had an excellent first half as a rookie with the Mariners in 2013, hitting .268/.337/.451 in 169 plate appearances.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- The Red Sox could follow the same method they did with Andrew Miller and the one the Royals/Rays employed with Wade Davis by moving some of their current young starting options to the bullpen, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. MacPherson notes that Brandon Workman already looks like a future reliever and speculates that some or all of Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo and Rubby De La Rosa could end up in the bullpen eventually as well. MacPherson also spoke with Miller about the transition from the rotation to the bullpen.
- Masahiro Tanaka will throw 60 pitches — including some splitters — in a simulated game today, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. If Tanaka pitches well, he could re-join the Yankees‘ rotation and make a couple of starts before season’s end. While that may be too little, too late for the Yankees’ playoff hopes, a few healthy starts from Tanaka would give the Yankees some peace of mind heading into 2015.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at Jake Peavy‘s effect on the Giants this season. “He brings a lot of intensity, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of veteran leadership, he brings a lot of guts,” Hunter Pence said last week. “He’s been a big charge to this run we’ve made. That energy is exciting to be around. It’s a different dugout when he’s in it.” More from today’s column..
- John Boggs, the agent for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, told Cafardo he will sit down with his client and put together a new 20-team no-trade list by November 1. Boggs says the Red Sox were on Hamels’s 2014 no-trade list and the Phillies would have to have asked permission to deal him to Boston. “It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have accepted it,” Boggs said. “We are still deliberating on what teams will be on that list for 2015.”
- After a one-year pillow offer, Nelson Cruz appears to have riches awaiting for him this winter. The Orioles will make him the $15MM+ qualifying offer, but he’ll be in demand as one of the few right-handed power hitters out there. The Yankees can be expected to have interest and the Rangers could look to bring him back.
- Manager Buck Showalter has talked with J.J. Hardy about how much the Orioles want him to re-sign, but they may not offer the most money. Showalter said the team would make him a fair offer, but he tried to appeal to how much Hardy has enjoyed playing in Baltimore.
- Showalter is a realist when it comes to the Orioles‘ financial limitations, but he feels he can still come up with good players going the minor league free agent route. The Orioles did it with journeyman first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who has had an excellent season. Showalter feels that he can do it again with 28-32 year old hitters that are just starting to figure it out.
- One team’s international scout tells Cafardo that Yasmani Tomas could command as much as $100MM. The scout said Tomas has gotten himself in shape and if he performs well at his showcase later in the month, the money will get “really high.”
- One American League evaluator thinks it’s possible for the Phillies to move Ryan Howard to the American League, where he could be a full-time DH. “He’s not a lost cause,” said the evaluator. “He’s knocked in 92 runs for a bad team, so there’s obviously something still there. He could help an American League team as a DH.” However, that would require the Phillies to eat a good portion of the $60MM left on his contract.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the 2014 season, reports Jake Kring-Schreifels of MLB.com. While nobody should be surprised by the comments, the Yankees do face an uphill battle. They currently trail the second Wild Card by 4.5 games with 15 left to play. More daunting than the deficit in the standings is the sheer number of teams in the race – the Yankees will have to leapfrog four teams to reach the Wild Card game. As Cashman says, “we’ve just got to win games.”
- Of course, with a need to win every game possible, many will be watching the progress of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, writes Kring-Schreifels. Tanaka is currently rehabbing from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament – an injury that often requires Tommy John surgery. According to Cashman, “we’re trying to finish off his rehab in a proper way, guided by the experts on the medical staff.” If the club isn’t able to get him back in time to help for the 2014 season, they’ll continue his rehab into the offseason. The goal is to determine if he can reach full health without the time intensive surgery.
- The retirement of Senior VP of Operations Mark Newman presents an opportunity to improve the farm system, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Under Newman, the Yankees failed to draft any star players since 1996. Madden notes that the Yankees could benefit from better scouting personnel while wondering if Cashman is the right man to oversee a pivot.
Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton is already home from the hospital and is not expected to require major surgery, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Preliminary testing has not shown concussion symptoms, though Stanton will be closely monitored going forward. Needless to say, it is great to hear that things are looking up so soon after his frightening injury.
Here are a few more stray notes from around the game:
- Underlying the suspension of Orioles slugger Chris Davis is the fact that Adderall addiction is a significant problem, especially among athletes, writes ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Davis has already tested positive for a stimulant and knew that he would receive additional testing, yet still was caught. Of course, as Stark does note, it is not known whether Davis himself has such a problem. It is worth bearing in mind, also, that Davis has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD in the past, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Rosenthal says that it remains unclear why Davis no longer sought to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption as he had at some points in the past.
- If the Yankees decide to make significant free agent additions this year, the player to target is Victor Martinez, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman acknowledges that the DH slot may be an attractive place to stash one of the team’s current veterans, but argues that Martinez is a rare offensive force who has demonstrated his ability to thrive against virtually all types of pitchers and pitches.
- Giants righty Jake Peavy has continued to adapt and modify his repertoire as he has aged, as Eno Sarris of Fangraphs explores. The veteran hurler will hit free agency for the first time in his career at age 33. (He has already signed three separate contract extensions and been traded three times.) It is well worth your time to check out Peavy’s thoughts and grips, as well as relevant statistics on his pitch mix.
1:04pm: Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News hears that Steinbrenner plans to hold an organizational meeting immediately after the season ends, and a perform a “total evaluation” of the player development system, which could result in “complete overhaul.” It’s possible that Oppenheimer, Denbo and other Newman associates are not retained, according to Feinsand.
Unlike King, Feinsand hears that Newman’s replacement will come from outside the organization, as Yankees decision-makers feel that a new direction and new ideas are necessary.
8:35am: Yankees vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, who has been in charge of the club’s minor league system for the past 15 years, is set to retire, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. However, there appears to be a bit more to the story, as King hears that with Newman’s contract up at the end of the season, he likely would not have been retained had he not gone the retirement route.
As King notes, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has expressed in the past year that he would look at all aspects of his team, including the player development and amateur scouting departments. The Yankees’ minor league system has drawn some flak for a number of years, and King also hears that director of player development Pat Roessler could be on his way out as well.
Of course, part of the reason for the Yankees’ lack of homegrown position players has been the team’s repeated forfeitures of high draft picks in order to sign free agents. While the Yankees had three first-round picks in 2013 (Ian Clarkin, Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo), the club has surrendered picks to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Rafael Soriano and Mark Teixeira in the past six years. The team also failed to sign Gerrit Cole, now with the Pirates, out of high school when selecting him 28th overall back in 2008. This is likely among the reasons that despite the lack of impact from the minor league system (on the hitting side, at least), King hears that vice president and director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer’s job is believed to be safe.
The replacements for Newman and Roessler appear to be in place already as well. Former Royals manager and Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman is being touted as Newman’s successor. Hillman has served as a minor league manager in the Yankees’ organization in the past as well and recently returned as a special assistant. Former Yankees hitting coach Gary Denbo, who worked with Hillman when Hillman managed in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, is likely to replace Roessler.
All of this news comes just days after reports indicated that the Yankees would likely retain general manager Brian Cashman, whose contract also expires at season’s end.
Highly-regarded Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez is proving that his stuff plays at the MLB level, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. His upper-90s fastball is generating swings and misses along with plenty of groundballs, and he’s also found success with his curve. As Nicholson-Smith notes, Sanchez has shown that the two-pitch combo can make him a force out of the pen, but the next step will be for him to incorporate his change as he looks to establish himself as a big league starter in the future. Sanchez is currently rated the game’s 37th-best overall prospect by MLB.com.
Here’s more from the east:
- The Rays expect their payroll to drop below this season’s franchise record of over $80MM, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. Overall spending is “clearly going to be lower,” said owner Stuart Sternberg. That is hardly surprising, especially given that the team will not be paying David Price a big arbitration raise and has Heath Bell coming off the books. On the other hand, it would seem to indicate that Tampa does not expect to add significant salary via free agency or trade, as the team will be paying raises to players like James Loney and Grant Balfour (whose free agent deals were backloaded) as well as arbitration-eligibles such as Matt Joyce, Jeremy Hellickson, Jake McGee, Desmond Jennings, and the recently-acquired Drew Smyly.
- Since going to the Rays in the Price trade, Smyly has increased his strikeout rate and improved his effectiveness against righties by elevating his fastball, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports originally explored and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs further explains with the aid of many interesting statistics and GIFs. As Sullivan writes — and as Fangraphs has been discussing more generally of late — there is an increasing movement among some teams (including Tampa) and some pitchers to pursue the use of high heat as batters have adjusted to lower pitching.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he expects Cliff Lee to deliver significant on-field value next year, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Lee is on track in his rehab plan, which currently means continued rest. As Gelb notes, Lee’s situation will likely not begin to clarify until he begins throwing this fall and begins to ramp up for the spring.
- The Mets have issued a statement denying the allegations of former executive Leigh Castergine, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports. “We have received and reviewed the complaint,” the statement reads. “The claims are without merit. Our organization maintains strong policies against any and all forms of discrimination.” In a rather scathing assessment, meanwhile, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports argues that MLB should investigate immediately and act firmly in the wake of Castergine’s troubling allegations. As Passan notes, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon — whose alleged statements and actions form the basis for much of the lawsuit — not only occupies a key position with the team, but also sits on the boards of MLB Enterprises and MLB Network.
In a piece for Sports on Earth, MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranks the top dozen players from this year’s crop of rookies by their anticipated future production. In spite of his questionable elbow situation, Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees leads the way, with shortstop Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox occupying the second slot.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is “probably likely” to sit out the remainder of the year and could be headed for another hand procedure, manager John Farrell said today in an appearance on WEEI (Twitter link). News of the increasing difficulty with Pedroia’s left hand and wrist emerged last night, with MLB.com’s Quinn Roberts among those reporting that a surgical option was on the table. “Surgery is one of [the options],” said Pedroia. “I could rest or continue to play or surgery. There’s three things we could do. We’ll come up with a plan the best we can that’s best for the team.” It is incumbent upon the team to act decisively to resolve Pedroia’s impairments, writes WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, especially since he is already entering the tail end of typical peak years of production. The star 31-year-old is mired in his worst season at the plate since becoming a regular (.278/.337/.376). On the other hand, he is still an elite defensive player and has racked up over 4 wins above replacement. Pedroia is owed $97.5MM (some of it deferred) over the next seven seasons under the extension he signed just over a year ago.
- Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera once again presents quite an interesting free agent case, as Mike Petriello of Fangraphs explores. Heading into his age-30 season, Cabrera is very well-placed in the upcoming free agent market, and Petriello thinks that a three or four-year deal makes sense in spite of Cabrera’s baggage. Some clubs will be willing to forgive his previous PED issues, and Petriello notes that a qualifying offer may not be a major impediment if teams with a protected first-round pick — he suggests the Phillies, White Sox, Astros, and Padres, and potentially the Reds and Mets — make a run at Cabrera. Ultimately, his value could settle somewhere in the range of three years and ~$40MM up to Curtis Granderson‘s four-year, $60MM deal.
- The Yankees are not far off from facing yet another round of questions with regard to embattled third baseman Alex Rodriguez, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Though simply cutting him loose surely has some appeal, given the uncertainty of his ability to perform (to say nothing of off-field considerations), Sherman notes that doing so would prevent any chance of recovering some portion of the remaining $61MM owed Rodriguez if his hip issues ultimately trigger an insurance payout. Sherman argues that the club should have Rodriguez report for training in October, ready to learn first base. The Yankees could then begin to see what he has left to offer, opening the possibility of using him on either side of the diamond and recouping what value there is left to be had from his ill-fated contract.