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- Week In Review: 10/25/14 – 10/31/14
- East Notes: Ibanez, Phillies, Mathis
- Blue Jays To Exercise J.A. Happ’s Option
- Central Notes: Maddon, Dirks, Giambi, Indians
- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
- Dodgers Decline Option On Chad Billingsley
- West Notes: Sandoval, Lewis, Ethier, Angels
- AL East Links: Chavez, Yankees, Breslow, Jays
- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
- Rockies Exercise LaTroy Hawkins’ Option
- Mets Outright Satin, Rice, Eveland, Carlyle
- Cubs Hire Joe Maddon As Manager
- Yankees To Extend Qualifying Offer To David Robertson
- Rangers Decline Rios’ Option; Outright Adcock, Lucas, Figaro
- Brewers Exercise Mutual Option On Aramis Ramirez
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Pablo Sandoval Rumors
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- The agent for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval says that the free agent-to-be is still open to discussing a new deal, though no talks have occurred “in months,” according to a tweet from Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Sandoval, who will hit the market before his age-28 season, has put up a solid walk year. In addition to a .283/.330/.438 line and 14 home runs through 463 plate appearances, Sandoval has impressed defensive metrics and scouts alike with his glovework on the hot corner. Even better, his primary competitor on the third base market, Chase Headley, has not impressed. Of course, many clubs will probably view Hanley Ramirez as a third base option at this point as well.
- Cubs starter Jake Arrieta says he is open to an extension with the club, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Though his agent, Scott Boras, typically advises his clients to go year-to-year until reaching free agency, Arrieta says he loves playing in Chicago and would be interested in a reasonable new contract. “I don’t think I’m a guy that’s going to ask for an astronomical amount of money,” he said. “But I think if there’s a fair deal to be reached, I’m in 100 percent.” Arrieta added that he felt Boras would not be any hindrance to a deal, but would instead arm him with the necessary advice and information to enable him to reach a decision. He did note that no talks had occurred to date: “I don’t think it’s out of the question. I don’t think there’s been anything formal in the works, but this is an organization that I’ve really seen a transformation take place … .” Arrieta will be arb-eligible for the first time next year, entering his age-29 season, and could not have set himself up much better. His current line: 2.77 ERA over 110 1/3 innings with 9.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9.
- The Diamondbacks will be in the market for starting pitching over the coming winter, and could look to the Japanese market to fill the need, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Having worked to increase the team’s presence in Japan, the D’backs have been among the many teams watching 26-year-old righty Kenta Maeda, says Piecoro.
- Braves righty Cody Martin drew plenty of interest as the club looked to bolster its bullpen and bench at the trade deadline, writes Bill Ballew of Baseball America. With a solid feel for multiple quality offerings, Martin has drawn comparisons to Kris Medlen and is viewed as a solid rotation or pen candidate despite his lack of a single plus pitch.
Newly hired Padres GM A.J. Preller spoke about a variety of topics during his Wednesday introductory press conference. Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego provides the abridged version including why Preller was interested in the job, the challenge of wooing hitters to Petco Park, and his top priorities (answer: getting to know his employees).
- Also from Lin’s piece, Preller commented on working with a small budget. The Rangers may be a big budget team now, but that’s a recent development. Preller was a part of the Rangers front office when they reached the World Series on a $55MM payroll in 2010, so he’s familiar with building on the cheap. Interestingly for Padres fans, Preller expressed an expectation that ownership would expand the budget when the team was a major player or two away from getting “over the top.”
- With his impending free agency, Pablo Sandoval presents the Giants with a dilemma, writes Drew Fairservice of Fangraphs. On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss the nearly 28-year-old Kung Fu Panda as an inconsistent free-swinger. However, he consistently ranks among the top defensive third basemen and has settled in as a steady 120 wRC+ hitter (20 percent above league average). The Giants have a track record of loyalty to their free agents, so it will be interesting to see if they allow Sandoval to test the waters.
Former Orioles and Mets GM Frank Cashen has passed away at the age of 91. As Baseball America’s Vince Lara-Cinisomo writes, Cashen played an important role in composing Baltimore’s outstanding teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s before wheeling and dealing to put together the Mets’ 1986 World Series-winning roster. MLBTR sends its condolences to Cashen’s family and friends around the game.
Here are the latest rumblings as we turn the page to July …
- The Yankees are regularly scouting Padres third baseman Chase Headley, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Should they pursue the struggling veteran, New York could have competition from a division rival, as it was recently reported that the Blue Jays are also interested in Headley. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said today that he is preparing to act aggressively in upgrading the club’s roster, as Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger reports. Nevertheless, Cashman did not sound inclined to pay a heavy surcharge to make acquisitions well in advance of the deadline.
- Of course, whether or not he is dealt, all signs point to Headley hitting the open market following this season, where he will be joined by Giants third bagger Pablo Sandoval. At present, there are no ongoing extension talks between San Francisco and Sandoval, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish. Of course, GM Brian Sabean locked up two prominent free agents-to-be (Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum) at the last minute last year.
- The Diamondbacks are looking to set their club up for 2015 rather than launching a full rebuild, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. GM Kevin Towers indicated that the club hopes to shed some salary, but will focus on achieving a useful return. “We’re not payroll dumping, we’re looking to get good players back,” he said. “It would be nice to be able to save some payroll and get good players back. I know how [managing partner Ken Kendrick] and [CEO Derrick Hall] are and they are always going to lean towards getting the better players instead of trying to save money.” Towers said that the market is still developing, with just “a couple of clubs that are trying to get in front of people.”
- The Marlins are surveying the market with an eye on landing an established starting pitcher, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Miami would also like to add an experienced veteran middle infielder in the wake of Rafael Furcal‘s injury.
- White Sox hurler Jose Quintana could become what Doug Fister was in 2011, opines Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Quintana has little trade hype, but like Fister, says Morosi, he could wind up getting traded and help his new team win its division. Of course, with Chicago now looking a threat to field a young and talented team in coming seasons, it is doubtful that the 25-year-old lefty (who is under club control through 2018) will come cheap.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
For the Mets and for other teams throughout baseball, undergoing a rebuilding process provides no guarantee that process will actually work for a sustained period of time, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Sherman argues that the Pirates prove that point — they had been rebuilding for years before they finally reached the playoffs last season, but this season they’re struggling yet again. (Even the Pirates’ playoff year depended heavily on outside additions A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Russell Martin, Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon.) Highly-touted young players like Pedro Alvarez don’t always gradually improve as projected, just as Ike Davis (now a Pirate) did not gradually improve with the Mets. Still others, like Matt Harvey, undergo significant injuries. Sherman argues that building the core of a team through one’s farm system is not without risk. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Las Vegas 51s have announced that the Mets have optioned top prospect Rafael Montero back to them. Montero made four starts for the Mets, posting a 5.40 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 in 20 innings. The move clears space for the Mets to promote fellow pitcher Buddy Carlyle. The Mets will replace Montero in their rotation with Daisuke Matsuzaka, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.
- Pablo Sandoval “belongs in San Francisco,” and the Giants ought to work out a new deal with him before he’s eligible for free agency this fall, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins writes. Not only is Sandoval a popular player, Jenkins argues, but his positive outlook helps in the Giants’ clubhouse. Also, the Giants’ relative lack of organizational concern about plate discipline makes the team a good fit for the free-swinging Sandoval. Jenkins thinks the Giants might be able to get a five-year deal with Sandoval done before the All-Star break.
Here are some notes on past, present, and future extension situations around the game:
- The Astros‘ extension offer to then-unpromoted prospect George Springer actually would have guaranteed him just $7.6MM over four years, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. This news represents a correction of Rosenthal’s original report, which cited a $23MM guarantee over seven years. In fact, says, Rosenthal, the $23MM would only have been reached through the exercise of three club options, which would have covered years five through seven of the deal. While this certainly changes the nature of the cost/benefit equation that Springer faced, he would have been subject to team control through 2020 regardless — as is the case at present.
- Likewise, Rosenthal clarifies some details of the offer made by the Pirates to fellow top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco, reporting that the team’s offer would have guaranteed six or seven years in the range of $20MM to $25MM. The length and total guarantee would have shifted based upon whether or not Polanco qualified for an additional year of salary arbitration as a Super Two player. (In that respect, then, the offer looks to be quite similar to the terms agreed upon by the Rays with Chris Archer. As MLBTR reported, Archer’s $25.5MM guarantee hinges upon whether he reaches Super Two status, as expected; if he does not qualify, he would be promised just $20MM.)
- Rosenthal also touches on the situation of free agent-to-be Pablo Sandoval of the Giants. Though talks are currently not taking place, the club is not “ruling out” making another run at an extension for the third baseman. On the other hand, Rosenthal notes that San Francisco could consider adding a different player at the hot corner through free agency or could look to piece together a platoon. Sandoval, who landed in the ninth slot in MLBTR’s first 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings, has struggled to a .191/.262/.294 start through his first 149 plate appearances in 2014.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says that he is still interested in trying to lock up another pending free agent, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Ramirez took the top spot in MLBTR’s list of the top 2015 free agents heading into the year. While he has struggled at the plate recently, Ramirez still owns a .257/.339/.447 slash with five home runs and three stolen bases through 171 plate appearances, though defensive metrics have been down on his work in the field in the early going. “He’s still somebody we’d love to have back,” said Colletti, who noted that he has conveyed that continued interest to Ramirez’s representation.
- The Dodgers would like Hanley Ramirez to prove he can stay healthy before signing him to an extension, Rosenthal reports. Ramirez has played in fewer than 100 games in two of the past three seasons. He can become a free agent this winter.
- The Giants want to keep Pablo Sandoval, but would prefer to sign him to a shorter deal due to his inconsistency and weight issues. Sandoval is also off to a poor start this season, hitting .171/.250/.276 thus far.
- It might still make sense for the Red Sox to re-sign Stephen Drew, particularly given that signing him would prevent him from signing with the Yankees. The Red Sox could move Xander Bogaerts to third base in order to clear space for Drew. The team would prefer not to do that, though, allowing him to develop at shortstop.
- Scott Boras is trying to pique the Brewers‘ interest in Kendrys Morales, Rosenthal suggests. Whether the Brewers would have interest might depend on their perception of Morales’ defense at first base, however. Milwaukee currently has Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay splitting time at first.
The Astros have sent 2013 top overall pick Mark Appel to extended spring training, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter links). The Astros say Appel isn’t injured, and they attribute his struggles to his adjustments to their tandem rotation system, but GM Jeff Luhnow calls Appel’s performance so far “a little unsettling.” Appel has posted a 6.23 ERA with 13 strikeouts and four walks so far with Class A+ Lancaster. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Diamondbacks outfielder Mark Trumbo will be out six weeks with a fracture in his foot, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona tweets. Trumbo’s absence is yet another blow for the Diamondbacks, who are off to a 7-18 start and will now be without one of their key offseason acquisitions (along with Bronson Arroyo and Addison Reed) for an extended period.
- It appears that the price for free-agent-to-be Pablo Sandoval may have increased, and the Giants perhaps should have considered signing him for something close to the five years and $90MM he was reportedly seeking before, Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles writes. Given the lack of good third base options available either internally or on the 2014-15 free-agent market, signing Sandoval to an extension seems to be the Giants’ best bet, Brisbee argues.
Though Pablo Sandoval and the Giants have tabled extension talks during the season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the two sides at least got a bit closer together in terms of contract length during negotiations. The Giants initially pitched a “conversation-starting” three-year, $40MM extension and then expressed an openness to do a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year.
Sandoval and agent Gustavo Vasquez were known to be looking for “at least” a five-year, $90MM deal and Heyman hears that they’re actually aiming for a five-year contract in the $100MM range or more. As MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker indicates, only a few third baseman have found five-year/$100MM+ contracts in recent years and none of those big deals came on the free agent market. (Alex Rodriguez was a shortstop when he signed his initial free agent deal with Texas, and obviously that contract isn’t at all comparable to Sandoval’s situation.) The Giants have been proactive in signing their own stars to extensions, though as Heyman observes, the fact that they haven’t yet done so with Sandoval and are seemingly taking a harder line in negotiations is rather telling.
While a five-year, $100MM deal could be available to Sandoval on the open market given the relative lack of impact free agent bats next winter, a number of factors could cloud Sandoval’s case. He’ll obviously need to improve from his slow start to the 2014 campaign, his market could be dampened by a qualifying offer from the Giants and teams around the league (like the Giants themselves) have concerns about Sandoval’s conditioning. Heyman quotes both an NL scout and an NL executive praising Sandoval’s hitting ability but questioning his ability to stay in shape.
Vasquez implied to Heyman that he isn’t planning to reopen talks, as the Giants “know what they have [in Sandoval], I’m sure.” The agent also said that the Giants wanted to settle the extension “in a rush,” which would seem to counter the belief that the team was waiting to determine if Sandoval’s offseason weight loss would stick before deciding on whether to offer an extension.
Rookies are usually the easiest targets for clubhouse pranks, yet veteran Jeff Francoeur was the victim of a month-long running gag from his teammates on the Padres' Triple-A affiliate. Padres farmhand Cody Decker created a short YouTube video chronicling the prank, and it's definitely good for a few chuckles. Here's some news from around the majors…
- The Diamondbacks' slow start has made them "candidates for early change" in the view of executives from around the league, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. Manager Kirk Gibson and GM Kevin Towers both signed extensions in February that kept both men from being lame ducks in 2014, though there was speculation that this was a make-or-break year for the two men following consecutive .500 seasons for the Snakes.
- Pablo Sandoval is off to a slow start in his contract year, and given how much speculation has already swirled about Sandoval's contract talks with the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy hopes that his third baseman is keeping his focus. "He's the only one who can answer that I guess, if it's on his mind," Bochy tells MLB.com's Alex Espinoza. "The one thing you don't want Pablo to do is to get away from playing the game the way he normally plays it — with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Thinking about the contract, it can be a distraction. He assured me it's not."
- Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges continued to impress scouts during Spring Training, Tom Krasovic writes for Baseball America. While the catcher still has a bit of work to do with the bat, a scout tells Krasovic that “Hedges probably could have caught in the big leagues two years ago. He is so advanced from a receiving and throwing standpoint. He was a treat to watch. Barring injury, he is going to be a big leaguer for a long time." Hedges is one of the game's consensus top prospects (ranked 24th by MLB.com, 27th by Baseball America and 33rd by ESPN's Keith Law in their preseason lists) and he'll start the season at Double-A.
Here are a few tidbits from Ken Rosenthal's latest video from FOX Sports:
- There aren't many good third base options available this offseason (Chase Headley is available, and Aramis Ramirez has a mutual option), so retaining Pablo Sandoval makes sense for the Giants.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Pirates could sign either Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales after the draft in June, at which point they wouldn't have to worry about the draft-pick forfeiture attached to each of them. After a quiet offseason, the Pirates should have the financial wherewithal to pursue a bigger-name player. In a tiny sample size, Jordy Mercer has not hit well so far this year as the Pirates' starting shortstop. The team is currently platooning Travis Ishikawa and Gaby Sanchez at first base.
- Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are off to good starts with the Cubs, who could trade either player by the end of July. The Cubs dealt Matt Garza and Scott Feldman in-season last year, and Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm the previous season.
- Tyler Thornburg is off to an excellent start out of the Brewers' bullpen, which makes clear why they were unwilling to trade him to the Mets this offseason.
- In a separate video, Rosenthal says that five teams bid upwards of $60MM for Jose Abreu: the White Sox, Astros, Rockies, Brewers and Red Sox. The Red Sox still wanted to keep Mike Napoli, however, which would have meant that Abreu might have started the season in the minors if he had signed with them. Abreu is currently hitting .273/.365/.659 in his first couple weeks with the White Sox.