MLBTR Originals

A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week:

  • MLB Trade Rumors Podcast featured host Jeff Todd and MLBTR’s Steve Adams debating the Craig Kimbrel trade. Jeff also welcomed MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth, who wrote last Sunday the Dodgers simply bought a draft pick when they acquired reliever Ryan Webb from the Orioles. A new edition of MLB Trade Rumors Podcast drops every Thursday and can be accessed on iTunesSoundCloud, and Stitcher.
  • Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill and agent Joe Longo both shared details of the negotiations surrounding Christian Yelich‘s seven-year, $49.75MM extension with Zach Links. “Negotiations have an ebb and flow to them. Ultimately, Christian was okay with waiting on an extension and waiting to see what could come in future years. Really, it’s a positive thing when your employer likes you and in baseball sometimes just getting an offer of an extension feels good, because that’s a good review of what you’ve been doing,” Longo explained to Zach. “I went back to Christian and I told him what the numbers were but I explained that A, they’ve never done anything like this before and B, he’s a unique player and there aren’t a lot of comps out there for him, so we had to be patient and take just the start of the conversation as a positive.”
  • Tim Dierkes analyzed the ramifications of 11 prospects from the last decade who made their team’s Opening Day roster in spite of the service time implications. Tim opines two weeks of a rookie in April is rarely directly worth trading for a seventh year of control, but the tradeoff can be defensible for certain teams and players.
  • Steve named 13 players whose roles for 2015 have already shifted and how those changes will affect their arbitration earnings.
  • Jeff listed five upcoming free agents whose slow starts could affect their market next offseason.
  • The 2014-15 Offseason In Review series continued with a look at the Red Sox (by Mark Polishuk), A’s (by Steve), and Braves (by Jeff).
  • Steve asked MLBTR readers whether Kris Bryant should have made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. More than 84% of you believe the Cubs made the correct decision having having Bryant start the season in Triple-A.
  • Jeff asked MLBTR readers whether the Rick Porcello four-year, $82.5MM extension was a wise investment by the Red Sox. Nearly 55% of you believe Boston’s money could have been put to better uses.
  • Steve hosted the weekly live chat.
  • Zach gathered the best the baseball corner of the web had to offer in Baseball Blogs Weigh In.

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Minor Moves: Gonzalez Germen, Ryan Dennick

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Cubs have announced they have purchased the contract of right-hander Gonzalez Germen from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs optioned outfielder Matt Szczur to Iowa and transferred right-hander Jacob Turner to the 60-day disabled list to create room on the 25-man and 40-man rosters, respectively. German, who was claimed by the Cubs on waivers from the Rangers in January, did not allow a run in his four appearances (4 2/3 innings) for Iowa while striking out five. The 27-year-old posted a 4.31 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 in 54 relief outings for the Mets over the past two seasons.
  • The Dodgers have outrighted left-hander Ryan Dennick to Double-A Tulsa, per the club’s transactions page. It has been a whirlwind week for the 28-year-old who was claimed by the Dodgers off waivers from the Reds and then designated for assignment two days later.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Grant Balfour (Rays), Todd Redmond (Blue Jays), and Xavier Cedeno (Nationals) remain in DFA limbo.

D’Arnaud Fractures Hand; Mets To Promote Plawecki

The Mets suffered a pair of bad breaks as they extended their winning streak to eight games. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and left-hander Jerry Blevins both suffered fractures in the 7th inning of the Mets’ 7-6 win over the Marlins: d’Arnaud’s right hand after being hit by a A.J. Ramos pitch and Blevins’ left forearm when struck by a liner off the bat of Dee Gordon. Mets GM Sandy Alderson announced the contract of catching prospect Kevin Plawecki will be purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas and right-hander Hansel Robles will be recalled from Vegas. A 40-man roster move is required to add Plawecki.

Plawecki is ranked 40th overall by FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 63rd by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and 80th by Baseball Prospectus. Manager Terry Collins told reporters after the game (as tweeted by ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin) Plawecki will become the Mets’ number one catcher in d’Arnaud’s absence. D’Arnaud told reporters, including Rubin, Plawecki is ready for his MLB debut. “He’s a great catcher, a great player, a really smart player. He can swing the bat really well. And he knows how to work with the pitching staff as well.

Drafted with the 35th selection in the 2012 draft (a free agent compensation pick obtained when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes), Plawecki is viewed as an offensive-minded catcher. MLB.com’s scouting report on Plawecki, however, gives him credit for having good hands and enough agility to block balls well, but believes the 24-year-old will never be the kind of backstop who can shut down a running game because of his average arm. Plawecki was hitting .229/.250/.343 in 36 plate appearance for Vegas before his call-up, though he hit a much more impressive .309/.365/.460 in 419 PA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014.

The loss of both d’Arnaud and Blevins figure to test the Mets’ depth. While early, d’Arnaud had the makings of a breakout season with his line of .317/.356/.537 at the time of his injury. Defensively, d’Arnaud also stepped up his game throwing out three of the seven runners attempting to steal after catching just five all of last year. Blevins, meanwhile, has been death on left-handed hitters this season retiring all 14 he has faced. Alderson said a timetable for how long d’Arnaud and Blevins will be out will not be known until both are examined by hand specialists Monday.



White Sox To Promote Carlos Rodon

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.

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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.


Huntington On Kang, Taillon, Morton

Pirates GM Neal Huntington met with the media today prior to the team completing its three-game sweep of the Brewers. Here are some excerpts courtesy of Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • Echoing manager Clint Hurdle’s comments yesterday about how it is best for Jung-ho Kang to develop in the Majors rather than play everyday at Triple-A, Huntington said, “We believe Kang has earned opportunity to be on this club & is one of our best 25.” Huntington added, “The variables that would be added by dropping him now into Triple-A, in our minds, don’t make sense.
  • Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon is making progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and Huntington is lookingforward to getting him against an opposition uniform sooner than later.
  • Huntington noted Taillon, the second overall selection in the 2010 amateur draft, is “continuing to make progress and continuing to check box after box,” but was mum on whether the right-hander has pitched in extended Spring Training and where he will begin his rehab assignment.
  • Huntington was more forthcoming about Charlie Morton, who threw 55 pitches in a simulated game Friday. Huntington admitted Morton’s “body just didn’t function the way the body functioned before the surgery” he underwent this past offseason to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, butwe’re getting closer to where Charlie feels like he can just go compete and doesn’t have to work through making sure that he feels right.

NL East Notes: Span, Utley, Hamels, Johnson, Familia

The Nationals activated Denard Span from the disabled list and inserted him into the starting lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Phillies, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. To make room for Span on the roster, Michael Taylor was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse despite slashing .271/.314/.500 in 51 plate appearances this season. “He is one of our future players and needs to play every day,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in explaining the reasoning behind Taylor’s demotion. “We got to see Michael Taylor become a player for us right in front of our eyes. I thought he handled himself brilliantly with some youthful mistakes. The ability level is there. The usefulness of putting it to a Major League setting was there and he took to it very well.

Elsewhere in the NL East:

  • The Phillies have told teams over the past year Chase Utley will not waive his no-trade clause, but ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in an Insider piece (subscription required) the second baseman, facing a long rebuild in Philadelphia, may have a change of heart like former teammate Jimmy Rollins. Olney also notes rival evaluators believe Cole Hamels wants out of Philadelphia, as well.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn’t too concerned with Jim Johnson being roughed up in his last two appearances (four runs, six hits, and two home runs allowed) and will keep the right-hander in the role of the 8th inning setup reliever, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ll see how it plays out,” said Gonzalez. “But from what I saw in Spring Training, and other than these two outings here, I think he’s been fine. We always have a tendency to say what’s the matter with a guy as soon as he gives up something.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, closer Jeurys Familia will remain in that role when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black join the club after completing their rehab assignments. “Certainly, right now Jeurys Familia has pitched well enough,” Collins said. “He is that guy until those other guys show us they’re ready.” Collins adds, in a perfect world, Parnell would be the closer with Black and Familia slotted for the 8th and 7th innings, respectively. Black’s return may be delayed as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the right-hander will undergo a MRI of his shoulder/neck area.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Orioles, Anthopoulos, Pirates

On this date in 1999, Cal Ripken Jr. landed on the disabled list for the first time in what was, at that point, a 19-year career, due to a back injury. Ripken had already voluntarily ended his likely unbreakable streak of 2,632 consecutive games played, though the DL trip served as evidence that baseball’s Iron Man was at least mortal. Ripken would eventually become a first-ballot Hall of Famer, of course, appearing on 98.53 percent of ballots after a career that saw him hit .276/.340/.447 with 431 home runs, a Rookie of the Year Award, two MVPs, eight Silver Sluggers, a pair of Gold Gloves and 19 consecutive All-Star nods. We’ll stick with an Orioles theme to kick off this week’s look at the baseball blogosphere…

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


AL East Notes: Francis, Balfour, Betts, Schoop

The Blue Jays announced today that they’ve selected the contract of veteran left-hander Jeff Francis and optioned fellow lefty Colt Hynes to Triple-A Buffalo. The 34-year-old Francis, a native of Vancouver, will add another Canadian player to Toronto’s roster, joining Russell Martin, Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey. Francis will hope for better results than he’s seen over the past three seasons, during which he’s posted a combined 5.84 ERA in 203 1/3 innings with the Rockies, Reds, A’s and Yankees. Toronto already had an open 40-man roster spot after designating Todd Redmond for assignment last week.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Recently designated right-hander Grant Balfour spoke with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times about how he wished his second run with the Rays had yielded better results. Balfour admitted to shying away from his fastball after the realization that the pitch lacked its typical life. The Australian righty wouldn’t state for certain whether or not he’d pursue another opportunity immediately: “Maybe a little bit of rest will be good for me. … I’m not thinking too far ahead. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
  • After speaking to multiple scouts about the futures of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes that Betts has leap-frogged Bogaerts in the eyes of the baseball industry. “I don’t think you could find anyone in baseball who would pick Bogaerts over Betts right now,” one scout told Silverman. Another said Betts “clearly” has the better bat of the two, while a third scout said that in 20 years, Betts “makes quicker adjustments to his game than anybody I’ve seen.” All of the scouts to whom Silverman spoke are quick to clarify that Bogaerts still has star potential, but the glowing reviews add to the meteoric rise of Betts over the past 12 months.
  • Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop is likely to miss longer than the minimum amount of time on the 15-day disabled list, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 23-year-old Schoop suffered a Grade 1 partial PCL tear and an MCL sprain, and while surgery is unlikely, an exact timetable is unknown. Encina looks at Anthony Rendon as a possible comparable, noting that Rendon has just resumed baseball activities six weeks after spraining his left MCL.

Cafardo’s Latest: Giants, Craig, Lackey, Hamels, Kazmir, Viola

Though the Giants have had a rough start to the season — their 4-9 record has them at the bottom of the NL West — new GM Bobby Evans isn’t overly concerned yet, and an early-season trade for reinforcements is unlikely, he tells the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo“At this point you’re just going back to players that were offered you before that you didn’t deal for,” Evans explains. “Players who some teams are still trying to move that you took a pass on.” Injuries have already been a problem for San Francisco, who saw Hunter Pence go down with a broken forearm in Spring Training and have already placed both Matt Cain and Jake Peavy on the 15-day disabled list. Cafardo notes, however, that in all three of the Giants’ recent World Series runs, midseason acquisitions such as Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro and Peavy have played integral roles (I’d add Pat Burrell‘s name to that list as well), and this year will likely be no different if the Giants are to ultimately turn things around.

Here’s more from Cafardo’s weekly Sunday Baseball Notes column…

  • The Red Sox are in a catch-22 with Allen Craig, writes Cafardo. His poor 2014 performance has reduced him to a bench player, and no team is currently making much of an effort to acquire the first baseman/outfielder. However, if he doesn’t play much, he’s unlikely to look any better and boost his trade value.
  • Right-hander John Lackey is hopeful that the Cardinals will approach him about a contract extension, Cafardo reports, but the team is currently thrilled to have him at just the league minimum. Lackey’s preference may be to remain with the Cardinals, but he’ll likely pitch in 2016 whether it’s in St. Louis or elsewhere, as he recently told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he wouldn’t be pitching this year if he didn’t plan to play beyond 2015.
  • One general manager who has inquired recently tells Cafardo that the Phillies‘ asking price on Cole Hamels has not dropped one bit since the beginning of the season, despite the fact that Hamels has had two rough starts in his first three appearances of the year. Hamels has, somewhat incredibly, yielded seven homers in just 18 innings after surrendering only 14 in 204 2/3 frames last year. Of course, homer-to-flyball ratio tends to stabilize around 10-11 percent (Hamels’ career mark is 11.2 percent), and he’s currently sporting a remarkably high 36.8 percent HR/FB, so better days are almost certainly ahead for Hamels.
  • An AL scout who has attended both of Scott Kazmir‘s starts this season says he’s never seen the left-hander more confident or more impressive on the mound. “Don’t know if it’s because it’s his walk year and he can become a free agent, but if he keeps this up most of the season, he’s going to make himself a lot of money,” said the scout. Of course, that’s just one scout’s take, but Kazmir has been electric to date. The 31-year-old has whiffed 18 hitters against five walks in 13 innings, and the 91.7 mph he’s averaged on his two-seamer in those two starts is up from last year’s average of 90.9, though it remains to be seen whether not that increase can be maintained.
  • David Price‘s hot start to the season makes it likely that his offseason price will land somewhere in the vicinity of Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210MM and Clayton Kershaw‘s seven-year, $215MM pact, one Major League source opined to Cafardo.
  • Former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is helping Frank Viola III, the son of former AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola, develop a knuckleball, Cafardo writes. Viola III was a 29th-round pick by the White Sox back in 2004, but Tommy John surgery and knee surgery derailed his career, and he retired from the game in 2010. He returned in 2014 and pitched with the Blue Jays’ Class-A affiliates, and he’s now aiming to get a look in the independent leagues as he attempts to work his way back into the game. Viola III has also worked with R.A. Dickey and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro on honing is skill with the pitch.

Quick Hits: Scully, Hendriks, Nationals

Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully is celebrating his 65th anniversary in the booth tonight. His first game was at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park featuring Robin Roberts against Don Newcombe. Incidentally, Roberts is also in the Hall of Fame while Newcombe is often discussed as a snub. Here’s more from around the league.

  • The Blue Jays did little to address an obvious bullpen problem over the offseason, writes Mike Wilner of Sportsnet.ca. However, the club might have lucked into a valuable solution in the form of Liam Hendriks. The 26-year-old is averaging 93 mph with his fastball – up about two mph from his career norm. Through six innings, he’s allowed two hits and one walk while recording nine strikeouts. Before anybody anoints Hendriks the closer, it’s worth noting that he has a low 5.3% swinging strike rate. At some point, that rate will either increase, or his strikeout rate will decrease.
  • The Nationals must learn to thrive under walk year pressure, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. When Jayson Werth entered his walk year with the Phillies, then-manager Charlie Manuel advised him to test free agency (in more colorful language). Now the Nationals have four key players on the road to free agency. Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Denard Span could all leave after the season, which gives 2015 a make-or-break feel for Washington. Werth and Max Scherzer have advice for their new teammates – acknowledge all the sources of pressure.

Rays Designate Grant Balfour For Assignment

The Rays have designated reliever Grant Balfour, the team announced. The decision comes on the heels of an outing in which he allowed three runs on three walks and a home run over two-thirds of an inning. The club owes him $7MM this season. Tampa has selected the contract of Brandon Gomes in his place.

Balfour, 37, has a career 3.44 ERA with 9.53 K/9, 4.16 BB/9, and 84 saves. This season, his velocity has declined to a career low 89 mph. In his heyday, he regularly pumped 93-94 mph heat. After today, he’s walked four batters in four and one-third innings without a strikeout. It’s possible that he was underprepared for the season. Balfour’s father passed early during spring training, so it’s certainly understandable if he had trouble focusing on baseball.

The Aussie reliever is joined in DFA limbo by Xavier Cedeno, Todd Redmond, and Ryan Dennick.


Quick Hits: Rose, Herrera, Gregorius, Dodgers

Pete Rose will join the FOX Sports1 team, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As you’re well aware, Rose is banned from baseball for gambling on the sport over 26 years ago. FOX is a broadcast partner with MLB, but the commissioner’s office has no say over who FOX does and does not hire. The media outlet did clear the move with MLB and says Rose was hired to provide a compelling, on-air personality. As I see it, this is a smart play for Rose as he continues to seek reinstatement.

  • In 2013, the Phillies made a mistake by returning Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte to the Diamondbacks, writes Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. However, the club is at no risk of repeating the poor decision with Odubel Herrera. The 23-year-old is hitting .308/.372/.513 in 43 plate appearances. He’s temporarily supplanted Ben Revere atop the lineup. Herrera was selected last December from the Rangers – a team that could also use him right around now.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman made a couple trades over the offseason to address shortstop and starting pitcher. Those moves have not shown positive early returns, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Cashman sent pitcher Shane Greene to Detroit in a three-team swap for Didi Gregorius. Greene has pitched excellently in two outings – 16 innings, zero runs, eight strikeouts, and one walk. Meanwhile, Gregorius has hit just .152/.194/.152 and with a couple iffy plays on defense. In a related move, Cashman dealt Martin Prado for hard-throwing Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. He’s allowed five runs over 10 and one-third innings.
  • The Dodgers local TV blackout does not hurt the team’s brand, argues Bill Shaiken of the LA Times. Owner Magic Johnson said the same recently. As you might expect, there was some backlash to the comments. As Shaiken pointed out, the fans returned to the Dodgers after the Frank McCourt era. NFL teams are clamoring to return to the Los Angeles market despite losing a generation of fans. While L.A. residents may be forgiving, the club’s TV plans remain in limbo while federal regulators work through a proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

Giants’ Peavy Injured, Susac Recalled

Giants pitcher Jake Peavy has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with an injured back, the Giants tweeted. In a related move, the club has recalled catching prospect Andrew Susac. Peavy has struggled with the injury throughout spring and the early season. He allowed eight runs in 7.2 innings through two starts and was scratched prior to an outing last week.

Peavy himself noted that his back needed “a little treatment,” per Chris Haft of MLB.com. Based on that comment alone, it sounds as though he may avoid an extended stay on the disabled list. Short term, the club can call upon Ryan Vogelsong or Yusmeiro Petit for spot starts. Both players are on the active roster. Matt Cain, who is on the disabled list with a strained flexor tendon, is still a few days away from playing catch.

Of course, the promotion of Susac is of interest for a Giants squad that has scored just 32 runs through 12 games. Susac is the 88th ranked prospect by Baseball America. The 25-year-old accrued 95 plate appearances last season and hit .273/.326/.466. With the presence of Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez, there isn’t an obvious role for Susac. However, I could see the club giving Brandon Belt some rest (.077/.143/.077) or even using him in the outfield for a few games. It’s possible, perhaps likely, that Susac will be optioned once the club needs a fifth starter. By my count, that will happen on April 25.


Quick Hits: Trout, Wilson, Tigers

Mike Trout is taking a more aggressive approach this season, writes Buster Olney for ESPN Insider. The result is a likely improvement to his 26.1% strikeout rate from last year. The new approach is designed to avoid pitchers’ counts. While we can’t draw any statistical conclusions from his 42 plate appearances, he has a 11.9% walk rate and 16.7% strikeout rate.

Olney also included a number of other interesting topics. Those include home runs allowed by Cole Hamels, Curtis Granderson‘s low swinging strike rate, and Mike Moustakas‘ all-field approach. Here’s more from around the league.

  • The Rangers own the baseball rights to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and they want him to play, Wilson told HBO’s Bryant Gumble (via Mike Florio of NBC Sports). Wilson, 25, was a two sport athlete in college. He spent a couple seasons in the Rockies minor league system, hitting .229/.354/.356 in 379 plate appearances. A tepid Single-A performance mixed with three years away from the sport isn’t encouraging, but Seahawks GM John Schneider notes Wilson’s off the charts confidence and preparation. It strikes me as unlikely that anything will come of Wilson’s interest in playing two sports. If something were to happen, it’s seemingly too late for the 2015 season.
  • The Tigers have done an excellent job remaining consistent while overhauling their roster, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The team won the AL Central in each of the last four seasons and currently sports the top record in baseball (9-2). Aside from Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, and Justin Verlander, most of the roster has turned over since Detroit won the AL pennant in 2012. Much of the credit goes to President and GM Dave Dombrowski who has overseen major trades involving Ian Kinsler, David Price, and Joakim Soria in recent seasons (among others).

Rosenthal’s Latest: Tillman, Gomez, Beltre

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

  • When the Orioles discussed an extension with Chris Tillman this spring, Tillman favored a contract similar to Lance Lynn‘s three-year, $22MM deal with the Cardinals. That contract did not buy out any of Lynn’s free-agent years. The Orioles were interested in a longer deal for Tillman that would have delayed his free agency eligibility.
  • The Brewers‘ poor start suggests that they could be sellers at the trade deadline, and Rosenthal notes that they could deal Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Gerardo Parra or even Aramis Ramirez (despite Ramirez’s plans to retire at the end of the season). A player who could bring a much greater return, though, is Carlos Gomez, who is signed to a bargain contract the next two years.
  • The Rangers could trade anyone if they fall out of contention, but it might be somewhat tricky for them to deal Adrian Beltre, who has limited no-trade protection and who has about $34MM left on his contract. Beltre also recently turned 36 and is off to a slow .149/.167/.298 start offensively. One might think that would only impede a trade if it were to continue deep into the summer, however — Beltre has a long history of providing excellent value both offensively and defensively.