Newsstand Rumors

Frank Wren’s Job Possibly In Jeopardy

Nearing the end of a disappointing season, the Braves could fire GM Frank Wren, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, noting that the Braves’ collapse appears “sure to lead to some sort of significant change.” Manager Fredi Gonzalez’s job does not appear to be in danger at this time, Heyman adds.

These aren’t the first rumblings that the Braves’ front office might be in for a shakeup. Earlier this week, it emerged that the Braves might have either senior advisor John Hart or president John Schuerholz take an increased role in baseball operations. There have also been indications that, if Wren loses his job, the team might look to former Braves assistant GM and current Royals GM Dayton Moore, although Heyman suggests that’s unlikely. Earlier today, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wrote that the Braves could consider dismissing Wren and/or Gonzalez “within the next few days.”

If the Braves were to fire Wren, they would likely turn to assistant GM John Coppolella, who would take the job on an interim basis and be mentored by Hart. Bowman writes, however, that Hart enjoys working as an MLB Network analyst and would not be interested in taking a full-time role with the Braves.

It’s been a tough September for the Braves — they’re currently 4-14 for the month and have fallen three games below .500. After spending much of the year in playoff contention, they were mathematically eliminated from the race today. Over the course of the season, the Braves have struggled with a weak group of position players, getting little from hitters like B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla, Ryan Doumit and Tommy La Stella, the first two of whom Wren signed to expensive long-term deals. If the Braves were to dismiss Wren, he would be the third GM fired or reassigned this year, following Josh Byrnes of the Padres and Kevin Towers of the Diamondbacks.


Yankees Designate Chaz Roe For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they have designated pitcher Chaz Roe for assignment.  In a related move, Masahiro Tanaka has been reinstated from the 60-day disabled list to make his start today against the Blue Jays.

Roe, 27, was acquired by the Yankees from the Marlins on August 31st.  In his season at Triple-A New Orleans, Roe posted a 3.66 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief.  Prior to joining the Yanks, his only big-league experience came in 2013, when he pitched 22 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks, posting a 4.03 ERA with a respectable 9.7 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9.  Roe made three appearances for the Bombers this year.

As the DFA Tracker shows, Roe and Eury Perez are the only players currently in DFA limbo.


Bud Black To Return As Padres Manager

Despite some speculation to the contrary, Bud Black will return as the Padres’ manager next season, GM A.J. Preller tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com.

Like I said from the beginning, I viewed it as Buddy is our manager,” Preller said. “I had a chance to really enjoy the last month, to get to know him more on a day-to-day basis, getting to be around him and getting his thoughts on the team and his thoughts on baseball in general.”

When asked specifically if he looked forward to working with Black for an entire season, Preller told Bloom: “Yes, I’m looking forward to that for sure.”

The Padres exercised an option on Black’s contract for the 2014-15 seasons in November of 2012, so his deal is already in place for next year.  Preller cited the team’s energy and work ethic as the main factor in the team’s decision to keep Black.

While the Padres’ 73-81 record isn’t what they had hoped for, they have reason for optimism going forward.  Preller went on to tell Bloom that management is on board to make the Padres competitive again in the NL West.



Rosenthal On Scherzer, Braves, Melvin

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video on FOX Sports:

  • Gossip within baseball suggests that James Shields will likely go the Red Sox this offseason, with Jon Lester heading to the Cubs. That could leave a variety of teams competing for Max Scherzer, with agent Scott Boras “waiting it out,” as he often does to try to get teams to meet his price.
  • If the Braves decide to part ways with Frank Wren this offseason, they could promote assistant GM John Coppolella to the GM position and have senior advisor John Hart serve as Coppolella’s mentor. Rosenthal also suggests the possibility that the Braves could bring back Royals GM Dayton Moore. (We noted earlier today that the Braves could make front office changes this offseason.)
  • Fredi Gonzalez of the Braves and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers could be on the hot seat this offseason, but Bob Melvin of the Athletics likely will not be, Rosenthal says.

Braves Could Make Baseball Operations Changes

It appears the Braves are considering an expanded role for senior advisor John Hart within their front office. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the Braves could consider having Hart head their baseball operations department, while David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution clarifies that either Hart or John Schuerholz could have an expanded role in baseball operations, regardless of whether the Braves end up keeping or replacing current GM Frank Wren. Peter Gammons wrote earlier this week that the Braves could consider making Hart their president of baseball operations.

The Braves hired Hart in November for his current senior advisor role. Schuerholz is currently the team’s president. Both, of course, have distinguished track records as GMs. Hart presided over the Indians’ very successful run in the 1990s, and Schuerholz was his peer in Atlanta. (Hart also preceded Jon Daniels as the GM of the Rangers before serving as an advisor in Texas.)

The Braves have struggled down the stretch and are now 76-77, on the verge of missing a winning season for only the third time since 1990. They extended Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez in February, but there have since been indications of trouble within the organization. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported earlier this week that former minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace took a position with the Orioles in part because of disagreements with the Braves’ front office. Bowman also notes that it was Schuerholz, not Wren, who stepped in to stop pitching coach Roger McDowell from taking a job with the Phillies.


Blue Jays Will Make Qualifying Offer To Melky Cabrera

The Blue Jays are pleased with Melky Cabrera both on and off the field and will make him a qualifying offer following the season with the hope of retaining the switch-hitter on a multi-year deal, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. A qualifying offer, expected to fall in the $15MM range this winter, will be worth nearly as much as the two-year, $16MM pact Cabrera inked with the Blue Jays prior to the 2013 season.

As ESPN.com’s Buster Olney recently said (Insider link), issuing Cabrera a QO appears to be a “slam dunk” for Toronto. Though his season ended a bit prematurely due to a fractured pinkie finger suffered this month, Cabrera certainly put up some impressive numbers in his walk season. The 30-year-old hit .301/.351/.458 with 16 homers with slightly below-average glovework in left field. In total, Fangraphs pegs him at 2.7 wins above replacement, while Baseball-Reference valued him at 3.1.

Cabrera, of course, brings with him to free agency the baggage of having served a 50-game suspension after testing positive for synthetic testosterone back in 2012. While many were quick to point to his disappointing 2013 season — he hit just .279/.322/.360 — as evidence that he’d benefited substantially from PEDs, doctors eventually found a benign tumor on Cabrera’s spine that had to significantly impact his ability to produce.

The question, of course, will be what type of deal Cabrera can command this winter — a topic which MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth examined in depth in a recent Free Agent Stock Watch post. Cabrera recently told reporters that he hopes to remain in Toronto, stating that he loves the city of Toronto and suggesting that he feels indebted to a team that gave him a chance when his value was at its lowest point. I’d think a four-year deal is attainable for Cabrera on the open market, particularly after Jhonny Peralta managed to secure such a contract on the heels of a much more recent PED suspension last winter.


Free Agent Stock Watch: Melky Cabrera

A year ago, Melky Cabrera‘s value was at its nadir. After a PED suspension cut short his 2012 breakout season with the Giants, and after he left the team under bizarre circumstances, Cabrera became a free agent and landed a relatively meager two-year, $16MM deal with the Blue Jays. He then began that deal by hitting a disappointing .279/.322/.360 in his first year in Toronto, then had surgery in September to remove a benign tumor from his back.

USATSI_8028977_154513410_lowresSince then, though, a healthier Cabrera has improved his bargaining position, hitting a much better .301/.351/.458 in his walk year and emerging as one of the better hitters available in a very weak free agent class. Perhaps even more importantly, he’s another year removed from his PED troubles, and his good season, along with even better seasons from Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz, might suggest that teams this offseason will be less wary of suspended players than they have been in the recent past.

Cabrera now is out for the rest of the season with a fracture in his right pinky, an injury that could have some effect on his market as a free agent. He’s had surgery and should be ready for spring training, although the injury could theoretically have a lingering effect on his power.

Still, Cabrera is likely to get a sizable deal, given the weakness of the outfield market. Rusney Castillo has already signed with the Red Sox, and there’s another Cuban outfielder, the very promising Yasmany Tomas, who’s currently waiting to be declared a free agent. There’s also Cruz, who will be coming off a very good offensive season but is already in his mid-thirties and has significant defensive limitations.

After that, there’s Cabrera, and then a significant drop-off. The best remaining outfielders are the aging, injury-prone Michael Cuddyer; the defensively challenged Michael Morse and Josh Willingham; and light-hitting types like Nori Aoki and Emilio Bonifacio. There will also be Colby Rasmus, a 28-year-old who has hit well at times and can play center field, but who was recently benched by the Jays. And the market could also include players like Nick Markakis and Alex Rios, depending on the statuses of their options.

Leaving aside Tomas, there isn’t anyone on the outfield market who’s better rounded than Cabrera, even if one counts his PED past as a strike against him. Unlike Cruz, Morse or Willingham, he isn’t a terrible fielder (although he isn’t a great one, either). Unlike Aoki or Bonifacio, he has power. Unlike Cruz and Cuddyer, he’s still relatively young, at 30. And unlike Rasmus, he isn’t a complete question mark. The outfield market is full of dubious options. Teams considering punting on the left field position in order to upgrade their offense elsewhere won’t have much to work with, either.

Even better for Cabrera, there could be plenty of teams on the prowl for a corner outfielder this offseason. The Astros, Athletics, Mariners, Mets, Orioles, Phillies, Reds, Twins and White Sox could all make some degree of sense for Cabrera, depending on how the rest of the market shakes out. Cabrera has said that he wants to return to the Blue Jays, and a return to Toronto might be a good fit as well. The Jays have Jose Bautista in right, and assuming Rasmus departs, they’ll probably soon have top prospect Dalton Pompey as their regular starter in center. But they don’t have a stellar option in left field.

Given Cabrera’s performance, a potentially vigorous market and the Jays’ own need for an outfielder, extending Cabrera a qualifying offer seems like an obvious decision. Such an offer should help the Jays limit other teams’ interest (particularly from teams like the Mets and Reds, who currently look to have two of the first unprotected picks in next year’s draft), and could lead to some sort of multiyear agreement for him to remain in Toronto.

As long as teams aren’t worried about the lingering effects of his hand injury, Cabrera’s representatives at the Legacy Agency should be able to swing at least a three-year deal. Last month, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star polled various agents who suggested he could get anywhere from $36MM to $45MM over a three-year deal, meaning that the three-year, $39MM deal Shane Victorino received from the Red Sox before the 2013 season might be a precedent. A four-year deal might also be a possibility, with Cabrera’s camp possibly pointing to last offseason’s contracts for Curtis Granderson and Peralta.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Cuban Hurler Jorge Despaigne Declared Free Agent

MONDAY: Despaigne’s showcase will now take place on September 23rd, Badler reports.

THURSDAY: Cuban right-hander Jorge Despaigne has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. He is yet to be cleared by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to sign, it appears.

Despaigne, 23, presents a plus fastball that can hit the mid-90s, says Badler, though he can struggle to spot it. As Badler recently explained, Despaigne is said to have difficulty repeating his mechanics. Lacking international exposure, Despaigne is a “relative unknown” with “a higher uncertainty level,” according to Badler.

Importantly, with just three seasons of play in the Cuban league Serie Nacional under his belt, Despaigne will be subject to international bonus limits. With many clubs having already allocated their international spending, he may present an opportunity for a team that has already decided to accept penalties or that has some available space.

Despaigne, residing in Haiti, will put on a showcase in the Dominican Republic on September 25. He will be joined there by countrymen Dian Toscano (a 25-year-old outfielder) and Javier Gonzalez (a 20-year-old righty).


Mets “Almost Certain” To Retain Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins For 2015

The Mets are expected to bring back both general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins for the 2015 season, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  Contract details haven’t been finalized with either man, though since Collins is already signed through 2015, Alderson’s status is the only one that needs to be immediately addressed.  The GM’s previous deal will expire at the end of the season, and though the Mets hold a team option on his services for 2015, Martino reports that it’s more likely the Mets will work out an extension with Alderson rather than just exercise the one-year option.

Alderson and Collins both joined the team prior to the 2011 season, and the rebuilding Mets have a 297-339 record under both men.  It had been assumed that Alderson would return in 2015, and though Collins’ status was perhaps in question earlier in the season, recent signs pointed towards his return as well.  The skipper signed a two-year extension with the Mets last September that covers him through 2015, plus a team option for 2016.

While wins and losses haven’t been a major concern for the Mets in recent years, this could be a different story in 2015 when Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery and joins the several other promising young players on New York’s roster.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mets only announce that Collins is returning and don’t work out any further extension; the team will want to see if Collins is the right man to manage a contender before making a longer-term commitment.  At most, the Mets could exercise Collins’ 2016 option so he could avoid lame-duck status next year.

The Mets will make an official announcement on Alderson and Collins at the end of the season, and sources tell Martino that the club could confirm both are staying during a single press conference, though nothing has yet been decided.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Stewart, Orioles, Levine, Rockies

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • Some within baseball believe Dave Stewart might be a top candidate for the Diamondbacks‘ open GM position, but that he can’t confirm that he’s overly interested in the job until he knows it can be his. Otherwise, he risks losing clients as a player agent.
  • The Orioles are lucky to have avoided signing Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, Rosenthal suggests. Machado and Wieters are dealing with injuries, while Davis has struggled through a disappointing season and is now serving a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. The Orioles, meanwhile, have Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and potentially Nick Markakis due for free agency this winter, and they’ll need to have money available if they want to keep them.
  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine could be a candidate for a top position with the Rockies if Colorado decides to make changes in its front office. Levine is also a potential candidate for the open GM job in Arizona. The Rockies could choose an internal candidate if they do replace or reassign Dan O’Dowd and/or Bill Geivett, however.