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The White Sox announced today that they have signed first-round pick Carson Fulmer to a minor league contract with a $3,470,600 signing bonus. The announced bonus matches the full slot value of Fulmer’s No. 8 overall selection (slot value via Baseball America). A right-handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt, Fulmer was advised by and is now a client of Icon Sports Management.
Fulmer was one of the most interesting available players heading into the draft, with big-time stuff and a track record of excellence in major college ball, but also questions about whether he’ll be a big league starter in the long run. Having dominated the SEC with a 1.83 ERA and 13.1 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9, and featuring a sustainable, mid-90s heater with a very good curve and promising change, Fulmer is about as MLB-ready as drafted players come.
So what’s the downside? To an extent, it comes down to how you value near-term contributions versus long-term expectations, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs explained before the draft. Those prospect observers that attributed significant value to his near-big league readiness rated Fulmer as a top-ten prospect (McDaniel had him fifth, MLB.com ranked him 3rd, and Baseball America placed him sixth on its list).
But others, concerned with Fulmer’s high-effort delivery, relatively small stature, and lack of a consistent third pitch, put more weight on the idea that he has too great a chance of being relegated tot he pen in the long run. Keith Law of ESPN.com fell in the latter camp, placing Fulmer way down in the 43rd spot on his board.
Chicago, obviously, decided that Fulmer’s risky (but still high-ceiling) future outlook was worth taking on in order to add such an immediately impactful arm. With Fulmer now set to join an increasingly impressive stable of controllable starters — led by Chris Sale but also including Jose Quintana and last year’s third overall pick, Carlos Rodon — the White Sox rotation has quite a bit o potential. The team has now signed all of its choices from the first ten rounds.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Tigers will designate right-hander Joba Chamberlain for assignment, Kurt Mensching of SB Nation and the Detriot News first reported (on Twitter). Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News reports (via Twitter) that lefty Tom Gorzelanny will be designated for assignment as well. The Tigers have since announced the moves, adding that righties Jeff Ferrell and Drew VerHagen have been added to the roster in place of the departed veterans.
Chamberlain and Gorzelanny both came to the Tigers on one-year, $1MM contracts this offseason, and while each looked to be at least a reasonable low-cost roll of the dice at the time, neither has panned out as GM Dave Dombrowski and his staff have hoped.
The 29-year-old Chamberlain has posted a 4.09 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate in 22 innings with Detroit this season. Those numbers, on the surface, aren’t entirely unsightly, but Chamberlain has been plagued by the long ball in 2015. He’s yielded five homers in those 22 innings, resulting in an FIP mark of 5.49. (xFIP, which normalizes his homer-to-flyball rate, figures the 4.09 mark is more or less represented of Chamberlain’s talent level this year.) Chamberlain’s in the midst of a particularly poor stretch, having allowed nine runs (eight earned) in his past six innings — a span of eight appearances.
Gorzelanny’s struggles have been even more prolonged. The 32-year-old has totaled just 12 1/3 innings over his past 15 appearances, surrendering an alarming 15 runs, which translates to a 10.95 ERA in that stretch. Overall, he has a 6.75 ERA this season with 7.1 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 and a 36.7 percent ground-ball rate. While he’s proven capable of handling lefties in the past, same-handed hitters are batting .273/.380/.419 against Gorzelanny in 2015. Those numbers pale in comparison, though, to the batting line authored by opposing right-handed hitters: .382/.477/.600.
Both are owed $519K through the end of the season, and neither reliever appeared in enough games to see his incentives kick in. Chamberlain, somewhat notably, was five appearances shy of earning an additional $100K.
The Dodgers have designated right-hander Brandon League for assignment, the team announced. League, who is earning $7.5MM in 2015, has not pitched this season due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder. He had been on the 60-day disabled list.
League, 32, is in the final season of an ill-fated three-year, $22.5MM contract signed prior to the 2013 season. Widely panned from the moment it was signed, the contract looked dismal in year one, as League posted an ERA of 5.30 with a greatly diminished strikeout rate (4.6 K/9). The 2014 season proved to be a nice rebound for League, who worked to a 3.40 ERA with a slight increase in strikeouts (5.4 per nine) and a drastically improved ground-ball rate of 67.5 percent.
League earned that three-year deal (which was issued by the Dodgers’ former front office, headed by then-GM Ned Colletti) by posting a collective 3.38 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 59 saves and one of the game’s best ground-ball rates in 320 innings between the Blue Jays, Mariners and Dodgers from 2008-12.
By cutting bait on League, the Dodgers are now paying a combined $17MM to a pair of relievers — League and Brian Wilson — that will not throw a single pitch for the team in 2015. The Dodgers will have 10 days to trade, waive or release League, though in the event that he’s placed on waivers, he’ll assuredly go unclaimed due to his salary and health issues this season.
4:55pm: Correa’s lawyer, Nicholas Williams, offered the following statement to Goold when reached for comment:
“Mr. Correa denies any illegal conduct. The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros, and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to, or benefited from that roguish behavior.”
3:44pm: The Cardinals have fired scouting director Chris Correa for his role in the Cardinals’ breach of the Astros’ proprietary Ground Control computer network, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Lawyers for the Cardinals tell Goold that Correa had already been on an “imposed leave of absence.”
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, Correa, and Correa’s lawyers all declined to comment, but a source close to the investigation tells Goold that Correa has admitted to illegally accessing Ground Control. Correa, however, has said that his reason for accessing the network was only to attempt to verify that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow had taken proprietary information from the Cardinals with him to his new post in Houston. According to Goold’s source, Correa did not leak any data to the public and was not responsible for additional entries to the Astros’ network. The FBI is continuing its investigation into other members of the organization, and it seems likely that others are involved, if Correa has been determined to have accessed Ground Control only one time without leaking any of the data.
The firing of Correa reveals that the breach into the Astros’ computer network goes far higher up the chain of command in the Cardinals’ front office than many had originally believed. Correa was only recently promoted to scouting director back in December after previously serving as a qualitative analyst and director of baseball operations, as Baseball America’s John Manuel wrote at the time.
The Dodgers have agreed to a contract with right-hander Trevor Cahill, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (via Twitter). Presumably, it is of the minor league variety. The John Boggs client began the season with the Braves after coming over from the D-Backs in a late Spring Training trade but was designated for assignment and released after struggling in Atlanta.
Given the length of time that Cahill has been a relatively prominent name in baseball, it seems surprising that he’s still just 27 years of age, but the former Athletics/D-Backs hurler won’t turn 28 until next March. He’s earning a guaranteed $12MM this season in the final year of a four-year, $30MM contract signed with the A’s, but Arizona is on the hook for about $6.5MM of that sum, while Atlanta is responsible for $5.5MM of that sum plus the $300K buyout on his 2016 option. The Dodgers, then, would be responsible only for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum for any time he spends on their active roster. (The Braves, in turn, would be spared that minor portion of the obligation.)
Cahill was a highly effective mid-rotation starter with Oakland and Arizona from 2010-13, averaging 188 innings of 3.72 ERA ball per season to go along with 6.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and the league’s fifth-best ground-ball rate (57.3 percent). A line-drive to the hip shortened his 2013 campaign, though, and in 2014 he saw his control and ground-ball rates both trend in the wrong direction. The wheels quickly came off for Cahill, who has worked to a 5.98 ERA over his past 139 big league innings — a shockingly poor mark considering how recently he was viewed as a cost-controlled rotation asset.
The Dodgers’ interest isn’t entirely surprising, as the team is on the lookout for rotation reinforcements following season-ending injuries to both Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. L.A. will hope that Cahill can sharpen his control and again find the sinker that routinely racked up more grounders than almost any pitcher in the league, though the D-Backs and Braves have both had similar hopes in the past calendar year and ended up paying significant money to part ways with the right-hander.
The Blue Jays have acquired additional slot money from the Dodgers in a deal that will send Chase De Jong and Tim Locastro back to Los Angeles. Ben Badler of Baseball America first reported that Toronto was acquiring slot money, while ESPN.com’s Keith Law reported the remainder of the swap (via Twitter).
The Jays struck the deal in order to offset some of the $3.9MM that the team just promised to international signee Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The club entered the July 2 period with just $2,324,100 of total pool space, leaving a $1,575,900 gap.
According to Badler, the move will limit the extent to which the Blue Jays have exceeded their pool space, but won’t eliminate it entirely. By spending only 15% or less above the cap, the club can limit its signing limitations to just a single signing period. That, in turn, would require the the team end up with nearly $3.4MM in capacity.
Looking at the individual slots available to each team, the Dodgers’ largest single bonus value was $545,900. The team also possesses $368,700 and $249,000 spending allocations. It seems likely that all three of those are headed to Toronto, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that over $1MM will change hands.
It is worth remembering that the move will also cost the Dodgers money since L.A. has already blown well past its original allocation. Every dollar the team sends away will require it to pay an equivalent amount in overage fees.
In some regards, then, this looks to be another cash for prospects deal. In this case, however, Toronto was not looking just to avoid spending (though it did that as well), but also to avoid a lengthier international timeout.
As for the players involved, De Jong is a long, strike throwing righty. The 2012 second-round pick is repeating the Class A level after a rough year last year, but he’s still only 21 and has produced better results this year (3.13 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9). After being rated by Baseball America as the 11th-best Jays prospect in 2014, he dropped to 17th entering this season, but seems to be on the ascent at present and could still have some projection left, per BA.
Locastro, 22, is primarily a second baseman, though he’s also seen a bit of action at short and the corner outfield. He reached the Class A level this year, and has performed quite well. Over 289 turns at bat, Locastro owns a .310/.409/.421 slash with five home runs and a rather impressive thirty stolen bags (being caught eleven times along the way). He’s struck out just 25 times while picking up 21 walks.
The Astros have placed young outfielder George Springer on the 15-day DL with a fractured wrist, the club announced. Springer left last night’s ballgame after being hit by a pitch.
GM Jeff Luhnow indicated that it will be a minimum of six weeks before Springer can return “to playing baseball,” seemingly implying that was the best case scenario, as Jose De Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. Of course, even then, a rehab stint would seem to be likely. There was good news, however: the fracture will not require surgery and can be allowed to heal on its own, Luhnow tells MLB.com’s Chandler Rome (via Twitter).
All said, Springer appears to be down for a significant stretch. Houston will be anxious to get him back in action as soon as possible, but will surely take care with its burgeoning star to be sure that the freak injury does not turn into a more serious, longer-term problem.
Springer, 25, has emerged as one of the game’s most exciting young players for a resurgent Astros club. He has put up an excellent .264/.365/.457 slash with 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases over 324 plate appearances this season, showing that his rookie campaign was no fluke.
Houston will turn to its internal depth for the time being, at least, by bringing up Alex Presley from Triple-A. And there are other options for filling in the outfield void, including Jake Marisnick and Evan Gattis. (While he is a lumbering defender, putting Gattis in left and Marisnick or Colby Rasmus in center would free the team to put both Jon Singleton and Chris Carter into a lineup.)
Luhnow indicated that the team will consider all options for dealing with the loss of Springer (also via Rome, on Twitter). “We’re going to have to rely on the depth internally,” said Luhnow. “If not, we’ll have to look externally.” Whether or not the club considers an outside addition could well depend upon Springer’s prognosis, of course, though it stands to reason that pitching will remain Houston’s primary objective.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported earlier (on Twitter) that he expects Melvin to move into a role similar to that of recently-signed Phillies president Andy MacPhail. Per Haudricourt, that move could come at the end of this year, in time for Melvin to take up his new post for the 2016 campaign — presumably with a new GM serving underneath him.
All said, it appears that noting is imminent, with the organization apparently plotting a measured transition. Melvin has been in discussions with club owner Mark Attanasio for several weeks, says Heyman, about what a new front office structure might look like. Change “could happen” after the end of the current season, per the CBS Sports report.
Milwaukee has had rather a disappointing season and currently carries the league’s second-worst record. The team already dismissed manager Ron Roenicke earlier in the season. But Melvin has been in his post since way back in 2002, and it seems that he’s more likely to shift into a senior capacity than follow Roenicke out of the organization.
9:09pm: The Angels have officially announced that Dipoto has resigned as the team’s GM and that Stoneman will serve as the GM for the remainder of the season. The team also confirmed that Klentak and fellow assistant GM Scott Servais will remain with the team in their previous roles while assisting Stoneman.
5:54pm: The Angels will name senior advisor of baseball operations Bill Stoneman as their interim GM, following Jerry Dipoto’s sudden resignation, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links). Assistant GM Matt Klentak will act as Stoneman’s No. 2 in the new arrangement, per Gonzalez, who adds that a full search for a permanent replacement will begin in the offseason. Promoting Klentak is also an option, according to Gonzalez.
Stoneman, 71, has a lengthy track record in front offices, including within the Angels front office. He served as the team’s general manager from the 1999 through 2007 seasons prior to stepping down and ceding the role to Tony Reagins. Stoneman oversaw the construction of the Angels’ 2002 World Series roster and has been working in front offices dating back to 1984, when he was a member of the Expos’ front office. He, of course, is also the GM that initially hired manager Mike Scioscia, whose reported refusal to utilize data provided by the team’s analytics staff served as a catalyst for Dipoto’s decision to resign.
Stoneman and the young Klentak (34) will run point on the team’s baseball operations decisions as the trade deadline looms. While Klentak himself seems likely to be a consideration for the permanent GM’s chair, he’s also been speculatively mentioned as a candidate to join the Phillies’ front office in some capacity. Klentak has a strong relationship with new Phillies president Andy MacPhail, who gave him a prominent role in the Orioles’ front office back in 2008. Those looking to learn more about Klentak can check out an early episode of the MLBTR Podcast, where Klentak joined to discuss the Angels’ offseason goals with host Jeff Todd.
5:44pm: Kubatko says that GM Dan Duquette sounded confident that he’ll be able to trade Young, though a deal won’t be completed today (Twitter link).
5:20pm: The Orioles announced (Twitter link) that they have designated outfielder Delmon Young for assignment. A little more than an hour ago, manager Buck Showalter indicated to reporters that a move was coming soon in order to clear a spot on the roster for right-hander Tyler Wilson. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets that the O’s will try to trade Young, and GM Dan Duquette has spoken to execs in both the AL and the NL about him.
The 29-year-old Young is in the midst of his second season with the Orioles after signing a one-year, $2.25MM contract this offseason to return to Baltimore. However, after enjoying a nice run as a part-time player with the Orioles in 2014 when he batted .302/.337/.442 in 255 plate appearances, Young has struggled to a .270/.289/.339 batting line in 2015. Though he has a strong throwing arm, Young’s range is limited in the corner outfield spots. He is still owed $1.19MM through season’s end and would earn $125K bonuses for reaching 250 and 300 plate appearances, with another $100K kicking in for every 50 PAs beyond that point — up to 600 PAs.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported earlier today that the Orioles have been exploring trade possibilities for Young, and he again tweets that one NL club has shown some definite interest in Young. It’s not known at this time which team is showing the most interest, but from a speculative standpoint, I’d think that both the Giants and Pirates make some sense. San Francisco recently lost both Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki to the disabled list, and over in Pittsburgh, Gregory Polanco has looked overmatched by left-handed pitching all season. Young, for all of his flaws, is a weapon against lefties; he’s batted .302/.337/.461 in his career when holding the platoon advantage.