- White Sox To Promote Carlos Rodon
- Hamilton, Angels Discussing Resolution Of Dispute
- Introducing The New MLB Trade Rumors Mobile Site
- Cubs To Promote Kris Bryant
- Rays Sign J.P. Arencibia To Minor League Deal
- Yankees Interested In Braves’ Jose Peraza
- Diamondbacks Promote Yasmany Tomas
- Angels May Seek Contract Action Against Josh Hamilton
- Braves Release Carlos Quentin
- Indians Sign Jhoulys Chacin, Designate Shaun Marcum
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The White Sox will promote left-hander Carlos Rodon, the third overall selection in last year’s draft, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Rodon will join the team tomorrow and will initially pitch out of the bullpen, according to Rosenthal. The White Sox will need to create both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Rodon.
The 22-year-old is considered the White Sox’s best prospect and, overall, one of baseball’s top prospects. The former NC State lefty is ranked eighth by Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 12th by ESPN’s Keith Law, 15th by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and 41st by Baseball Prospectus. Rodon made a steady rise through the Chicago organization after signing for a franchise-record $6.582MM bonus compiling a line of 2.96 ERA, 14.1 K/9, and 4.8 BB/9 in nine games (six starts) across three levels. This year, Rodon has struck out 13 against four walks in his two starts (10 innings) for Triple-A Charlotte after a strong camp in which he posted 21 strikeouts versus five bases on balls in 17 2/3 innings of work.
MLB.com praises Rodon as the best college left-hander since David Price and credits him with a wipeout slider that explodes on hitters with two-plane break. Baseball America also ranks Rodon’s slider as his top pitch rating it 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale (20 the lowest, 80 the highest, and 50 considered average).
News of Rodon’s promotion comes two days after the crosstown Cubs officially elevated their own prospect phenom and fellow Scott Boras client, Kris Bryant. Unlike Bryant, however, there was no hue and cry over Rodon’s failure to make the Opening Day roster (and resulting service time implications) as the White Sox shipped him to Triple-A to work on his fastball and changeup command. Also like Bryant, Rodon is now on track for Super Two status (assuming he is not returned to Charlotte) and will be eligible for arbitration four times, instead of the standard three, while qualifying for free agency after the 2021 season. The timing of Rodon’s call up, though, may be more about the schedule than service time considerations. MLB.com’s Phil Rogers tweets the White Sox’s next seven games are against division foes Cleveland and Kansas City and both teams have impact left-handed bats.
Of course, even though Rodon will begin working out of the bullpen, one would imagine that his move into the rotation is inevitable. John Danks and Hector Noesi currently occupy the final two spots in Chicago’s rotation, and while Danks’ contract may keep him in the starting mix, Noesi has struggled early on and already had a start skipped. The 28-year-old Noesi has a shaky track record, to say the least, and it’s not hard to envision a spot opening for Rodon sooner rather than later.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Josh Hamilton and the Angels are in talks to resolve their dispute, although no agreement is close at this time, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). The Angels could trade Hamilton or buy out the rest of his deal for an amount less than the $83MM they currently owe him, although the union likely would disapprove of the latter option.
Rosenthal further notes (again via Twitter) that Sidney Ponson and Denny Neagle, former players whose teams felt they had personal-conduct issues, agreed to settlements for 75 to 90 percent of the remainders of their deals. Jason Bay also agreed to a buyout of his deal with the Mets following the 2012 season (although not for personal conduct-related reasons, and Bay still received the entire amount he was owed, only with some of it deferred).
MLB announced in early April that Hamilton would not be suspended for a self-reported relapse into drug use. Later reports indicated that the Angels would try to enforce provisions in Hamilton’s contract pertaining to the use of alcohol and drugs, although the union made a statement denying that the team had the right to do so. Such actions could only affect Hamilton’s 2016 and 2017 salaries, since his $23MM 2015 salary became guaranteed on Opening Day. Hamilton is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, although several Angels players recently met with him and say he’s ready to play, according to the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher.
Many of you read MLBTR on your cell phone these days. Those on mobile devices have noticed a change this week: the introduction of our new mobile website. Now, if you go to MLBTradeRumors.com on your mobile device, you will get a streamlined version of MLBTR that works much better on a phone. The new MLBTR mobile site loads more quickly, has fewer ads, and retains features such as a search box, the teams menu, social sharing buttons, and the ability to read and leave comments on posts.
Some of you have protested the change, saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We can debate whether the pinch-and-zoom non-mobile-friendly MLBTR experience was broken, but Google definitely thought it was, and will be docking all mobile-unfriendly sites in their search results starting Tuesday. So while we were planning to go mobile-friendly this year, the Google issue forced our hand to do it now.
Of course, we love our longtime mobile readers and respect the fact that some of you prefer the full text of the latest 15 posts to be available on the homepage. If that’s your preference, just scroll down to the bottom of the screen and hit the Desktop link, and you’ll get the old, familiar desktop version of MLBTR on your phone.
Another alternative is our free Trade Rumors app for iPhone and Android. The app allows for more customization than the mobile website. With the Trade Rumors app, you can set up notifications and feeds for any combination of players and teams from MLBTR, Hoops Rumors, and Pro Football Rumors.
The 23-year-old Bryant was the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft out of the University of San Diego and entered the season ranked as MLB’s No. 1 prospect according to both Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law. MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus ranked the third baseman second and fifth overall, respectively.
The timing of Bryant’s promotion isn’t exactly a surprise. Chicago generated some controversy by beginning Bryant in the Minor Leagues this season, but the move made sense for the team in the long term. By keeping Bryant in the Minors for the season’s first 12 days, he’ll fall one day shy of accumulating a full year of Major League service this season. While that means he will assuredly qualify as a Super Two player and be eligible for arbitration four times instead of the standard three, it also buys the team an additional year of club control. At the end of the 2020 season, Bryant will have five years, 171 days of Major League service time — assuming he is not optioned back to Triple-A at any point — leaving him a day shy of being eligible for free agency. In simpler terms, the Cubs opted to delay Bryant’s promotion by 12 days in order to extend their control over the phenom for an additional season.
Of course, the Cubs won’t acknowledge that as the reason for Bryant opening the year in Triple-A, nor should they. While the motives behind the decision are widely known, coming out and saying it would provide concrete fuel for a grievance from Bryant and agent Scott Boras. As MLBR’s Tim Dierkes noted earlier today, some teams have taken the plunge and allowed top prospects to break camp with the club, but it’s rarely, if ever, worth it for the team from a baseball standpoint. And there are plenty of other prospects who not-so-curiously open the year in Triple-A only to be promoted once enough time has passed to extend the team’s control by a year or to potentially prevent a player from reaching Super Two designation and entering arbitration an extra time.
While in some cases, the whole situation is mitigated by agreeing to a long-term contract that extends into a player’s free agent seasons, that was a highly unlikely outcome with the Boras-represented Bryant. Boras typically encourages his players to go year-to-year through the arbitration process and test free agency as early as possible. While there are a few notable exceptions, including Jered Weaver, Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez, the Cubs likely knew that their odds of controlling Bryant beyond the 2020 season without ponying up on a sizable free agent contract were slim. Boras outspokenly challenged the Cubs on their spring decision with Bryant, noting that it makes little sense for the team to claim it is trying to win while leaving a young player who could very well be one of the best on the team. In fact, in Boras’ mind, the question was not one of why Bryant may have to begin the season in the Minor Leagues, but rather one of why Bryant wasn’t promoted last September when rosters expanded.
From a statistical standpoint, it’s hard to say that Boras doesn’t have a case. Bryant annihilated Minor League pitching in 2014, hitting a ridiculous .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs in 138 games between Double-A and Triple-A. This spring, he batted .425/.477/1.175 with nine home runs in 40 at-bats. And to begin the year in Triple-A, Bryant hit .333/.379/.625 with a pair of homers in 29 plate appearances — and that was before going deep with a three-run homer tonight. The Cubs cited a need to work on his defense, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein accurately noted that he’s never had a prospect break camp out of Spring Training if it meant making his Major League debut on Opening Day. That reasoning appeared questionable at the time and looks transparent when juxtaposed with the convenient timing of his promotion, though the Cubs can point to the fact that both Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella are on the disabled list, creating a need at third base.
Bryant figures to step into an everyday role at third base or, potentially, in a corner outfield spot with the Cubs, hitting in the heart of their order. Few doubt that he’s ready to hit Major League pitching right now, and he adds to the Cubs’ growing young core. The Cubs are hoping that Bryant, along with the likes of Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Addison Russell, among others, will lead the team back to prominence and break a World Series Championship drought — the Billy Goat curse — that spans more than 100 years. The team spent aggressively this offseason to add Jon Lester to the top of a rapidly improving rotation that also features breakout star Jake Arrieta, and expectations are high already in 2015. Many are expecting the Cubs to make the playoffs this season, and Bryant would be a vital component of a playoff berth. In the unlikely event that the Cubs miss the playoffs by a single game, there will unquestionably be some second-guessing about the decision to hold Bryant in Triple-A to begin the year.
Whether or not one agrees with the Cubs’ tactics, they are not the first, nor will they be the last team to employ this method with a highly regarded prospect. There are clear long-term benefits from a baseball operations standpoint, and it’d be hard to justify having brought Bryant north with the team, in retrospect, at the end of the 2020 season if he were eligible for free agency entering his age-29 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rays have signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a Minor League contract, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The veteran Arencibia, a client of CAA Sports, will head to the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham, per Topkin.
The 29-year-old Arencibia was outrighted by the Rangers last winter and elected free agency rather than accepting an assignment to the Minors. He originally inked a Minors pact with the Orioles, but Baltimore cut him loose last week when he had previously been expected to join their Triple-A affiliate. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that Arencibia preferred not to head to Triple-A with Baltimore, as the O’s have a significant amount of catching depth already in their organization.
The same cannot necessarily be said of the Rays, who are currently relying on a tandem of Rene Rivera and Bobby Wilson behind the plate, with Curt Casali as the top option at the Triple-A level. Arencibia has more big league service time than any of those catching options, even Rivera, and will give Tampa a depth option with significant power but difficulty managing his strikeouts and getting on base.
Arencibia, once considered one of baseball’s top prospects, was the Blue Jays’ regular catcher from 2011-13, averaging 21 homers per season and 28 per 162 games played. However, his OBP dropped regularly in that stretch, bottoming out at an alarming .227 in 2013. Arencibia also saw his strikeout rate climb from 27.4 percent to 29 percent to 29.8 percent over that three-year stretch. He joined the Rangers last season and saw some time at first base but did little to pick up his offensive game.
From a defensive standpoint, Arencibia has been just a tick below average in controlling the running game (26 percent caught-stealing rate) and steadily improved his pitch framing. He graded above average in that latter skill in 2013 and average in 2014.
11:22am: A Braves official tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) that the prospect of the club trading Peraza is a “complete fabrication.”
8:26am: The Yankees have been scouting Braves second base prospect Jose Peraza, former Major League scout Jeff Wren (brother of ex-Atlanta GM Frank Wren) reports via Twitter. According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees have informed the Braves about their interest in Peraza, and King notes the Yankees are presumably interested in Peraza as a potential long-term answer at second.
Peraza, who turns 21 on April 30, was originally signed by the Braves for a $350K bonus out of Venezuela in 2010. He has steadily climbed through Atlanta’s farm system and broke out with a .339/.364/.441 performance over 499 plate appearances (304 at the high-A level, 195 at Double-A) in 2014. Speed is Peraza’s calling card, as he went 60-for-75 in stolen base attempts last season and is 178-for-220 in steals over his minor league career.
That big 2014 season earned Peraza a spot in several major top-100 prospect lists, albeit within a wide range. ESPN’s Keith Law had Peraza as high as #24 in his preseason rankings, while MLB.com had him 39th (and first among Braves prospects), Baseball America had him 54th and Baseball Prospectus ranked Peraza in the 92nd slot.
It’s worth noting that Peraza is a natural shortstop and only became a primary second baseman last year, as the Braves shifted him since Andrelton Simmons has the position locked down at the MLB level. The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook praised Peraza’s hands and quick release and believed “he should be able to remain” at either middle infield position as he develops.
With this in mind, it’s possible the Yankees could see Peraza as a potential answer at shortstop rather than second base. Both positions are rather up in the air for the club — Didi Gregorius has gotten off to a slow start both offensively and defensively, while veteran Stephen Drew is considered a placeholder for either Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela. Refsnyder, however, has had defensive problems while Pirela is recovering from a concussion, King notes.
King speculates that New York could offer a package of two prospects for Peraza, one of whom could be catcher Gary Sanchez. The Yankees seem set on John Ryan Murphy as their catcher of the future in anticipation of Brian McCann‘s eventual shift away from behind the plate, leaving Sanchez possibly expendable. Sanchez was himself a highly-ranked prospect prior to the 2014 season, which saw him post solid offensive numbers at Double-A, but his defensive prowess is a question mark and “his work ethic and maturity are concerns” according to the MLB.com scouting report.
As for the second minor leaguer in the deal, King doubts the Yankees would move Luis Severino, the club’s top pitching prospect. I agree with King — Severino and Peraza are roughly on the same level of value, so moving Severino and more would command a higher return than just Peraza.
That said, New York would certainly have to offer something significant to convince the Braves to part with Peraza whatsoever. Atlanta acquired a bit of young middle infield depth in the form of Jace Peterson this offseason, so it’s possible they could be more willing to move Peraza.
The Diamondbacks have called up recent Cuban signee Yasmany Tomas from Triple-A, the club announced. Tomas had opened the season in the upper minors despite inking a six-year, $68.5MM contract to join Arizona over the offseason.
Of course, Tomas is just 24 years of age and never really settled on a defensive position over the spring, making his early-season demotion more than understandable. While he did not do much with the 23 plate appearances he saw at the Triple-A level, Tomas also got over 70 plate appearances in the spring to prepare him for the season.
Tomas has shown largely the skillset that was expected: he has immense power, but may not reach base at a productive clip. He seems to be capable of hitting big league pitching, though precisely how well remains to be seen. Baseball America listed him as the game’s 57th overall prospect based largely on his bat, noting the possibility that he’ll strike out a lot, though BA is also fairly bullish on his ability to be an average player in other respects.
The real question, it would seem, is defense. An experimental effort to play him at third did not look very promising over the spring, and fellow youngster Jake Lamb has hit his way into playing time there. First base is a non-starter with Paul Goldschmidt installed. The likeliest scenario, then, is that Tomas will play in the corner outfield, though it remains to be seen how much time he’ll get there with Mark Trumbo, David Peralta, and Ender Inciarte all in the mix.
With the move, Tomas’s service clock will start in time for him to compile a full year of MLB service in 2015. Of course, that likely will not mean much to him. Tomas is under contract through at least 2018 and possibly through 2020, as his contract contains an opt-out clause after four seasons. It’s theoretically possible, then, that Tomas could end up in an arbitration scenario, though it does seem rather unlikely.
Regardless, the timing of the move seems odd, as the D-Backs have said that they would prefer Tomas see regular playing time in the upper minors before ascending. Though it is possible that he will see consistent action in the big leagues, that will send someone else to the bench — presumably Peralta or Inciarte.
For the Diamondbacks, the allure of a lineup including the right-handed power of Tomas, Trumbo and Goldschmidt is easy to understand, but that lineup would likely lead to a defensive alignment featuring Trumbo and Tomas manning the outfield corners. A.J. Pollock‘s defensive wizardry in center field notwithstanding, that outfield defense would likely serve as a significant hindrance to an already questionable pitching staff.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
APRIL 14: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Hamilton’s contract does indeed contain language that would allow the Angels to terminate or convert the deal if he is physically/mentally incapacitated due to alcohol and drugs (specifically, if he is less than “first-class condition”), though the clause is not unique to his deal. However, Hamilton and the union would still be able to argue that the JDA supersedes contractual clauses of this nature, so it remains unclear if the Angels would be able to take any form of action. If they were eventually able to attempt such action, they can only target Hamilton’s $30MM salaries in 2016 and 2017, as his 2015 salary of $23MM became fully guaranteed on Opening Day.
APRIL 10, 9:44pm: The union has issued a statement rejecting the idea that the Angels would have any basis to pursue Hamilton (h/t Ken Rosenthal):
“The MLBPA emphatically denies Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno’s assertions from earlier today that the Angels had requested and received the approval of the Union to insert language into Josh Hamilton’s contract that would supersede the provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and/or the Basic Agreement. To the contrary, the collectively bargained provisions of the JDA and the Basic Agreement supersede all other player contract provisions and explicitly prevent Clubs from exactly the type of action Mr. Moreno alluded to in his press comments today.”
7:38pm: Angels owner Arte Moreno told reporters today that his club may seek to enforce provisions of the team’s contract with Josh Hamilton relating to the use of alcohol or drugs, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report (Twitter links). Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports further details.
Hamilton was recently determined not to have violated his treatment program by an arbitrator, despite apparently admitting a relapse of some kind. (His early career was, of course, marred by numerous drug-related suspensions.) That led to a rather firm rebuke from the club.
The the precise language that the Angels might rely upon remains unknown, as does the remedy they could theoretically seek. “It’s not about money, nothing about money,” Moreno said. “In our contract, there’s language that he signed and that his agent approved that said he cannot drink and use drugs. So, we have specific language in the agreement. We have a couple other players who have the same language.” While the language may not be unique, Moreno did say that it was a point that the team specifically negotiated: “When we started talking to him, we went through his history. We felt it was important for us to have language in our agreement.”
Underlying the matter at this point is the fact that Hamilton not only has apparently relapsed, but that he is starting the year on the DL after two rough seasons to start his career with the Halos. The club owes Hamilton $83MM from this season through 2017 under his deal, and at this point would certainly welcome a chance to avoid some or all of that obligation (though Moreno says “it’s not about money”).
Moreno’s statements (coming on the back of the strong words from GM Jerry Dipoto) certainly seem to indicate that the team is serious about pursuing some action. Asked if he could say that Hamilton would again play in an Angels uniform, Moreno replied: “I will not say that.”
But one major issue with any attempt to pursue action under Hamilton’s contract is the collectively-bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (JDA). As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the prevailing wisdom holds that the JDA — which outlines punishment for PEDs and recreational drugs — precludes resort to contract terms to punish players for violating the league’s drug rules. There may be some arguments around the JDA’s bar on other means of enforcing violations of its terms, but they seem to face an uphill battle.
Atlanta acquired Quentin from the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel blockbuster and promptly designated him for assignment. The Braves’ agreement to acquire Quentin boiled down to little more than financial maneuvering; his inclusion in the trade was necessary to offset some of the salary headed to the Padres with the salaries of Kimbrel and, especially, Melvin Upton Jr. The Braves will pay the 32-year-old Quentin $8MM in 2015, minus the pro-rated portion of the league minimum for as long as he’s on a new team’s active roster.
Quentin was, at one point, an All-Star and even an MVP candidate with the White Sox — he finished fifth in the 2008 voting when he belted 36 home runs — but injuries have long plagued him and reduced his ability to produce even when healthy. Quentin has appeared in just 218 games over the past three seasons, primarily due to knee problems. Those issues have caused his defense, which was never his strong suit in the first place, to deteriorate to the point where he’s best-suited for an American League club that can give him some at-bats as a designated hitter.
Teams with a need for some right-handed pop off the bench or a part-time DH figure to be interested in Quentin despite his injuries. With the exception of last year, Quentin has long posted strong numbers at the plate. From 2008-13, he batted .260/.356/.503, averaging 35 homers per 162 games played. Unfortunately for the White Sox and Padres — the two teams for which he played during that stretch — Quentin averaged just 108 games per season in those six years.
The Indians have announced a series of transactions, including the signing of righty Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league deal. Fellow right-hander Shaun Marcum was designated for assignment, while backstop Brett Hayes will take his roster spot.
Chacin, 27, was cut loose by the Rockies this spring in something of a surprise move. He struggled with shoulder issues last year, and injuries are the main concern given his effectiveness when healthy. Overall, Chacin owns a 3.78 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 to go with a 48.2% groundball rate. He joins Ryan Webb as a recently-added veteran depth piece in the Cleveland system.
Of course, much of the same could have been said of Marcum, 33, who was quite a productive starter in his heyday but who has battled injuries in recent campaigns. He made one appearance for the Indians, allowing just one earned run in five innings of relief, but will presumably be left to look for a new opportunity.
As for Hayes, he is needed to fill in for the injured Yan Gomes. The veteran backup has never done much damage on offense but will provide a steady presence in reserve while Gomes is down. It remains to be seen how long his services will be needed at the big league level, as Cleveland is said to be weighing the possibility of making an addition to its catching corps.