- Blue Jays To Name Mark Shapiro As Team President
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- Denard Span To Undergo Season-Ending Hip Surgery
- Mariners Fire GM Jack Zduriencik
- MLB Wins Collusion Case Versus Barry Bonds
- Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney, Designate Brian Schlitter
- Chris Perez Retires
- Hanley Ramirez To Play First Base For Red Sox In 2016
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Pedro Alvarez Rumors
In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.
- There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
- The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
- Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
- Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
- The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
- Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
- One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
- Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.
Full Story | 53 Comments | Categories: Cincinnati Reds | Cole Hamels | Craig Kimbrel | Dan Haren | David Price | Detroit Tigers | James Shields | Jeff Samardzija | Joaquin Benoit | Johnny Cueto | Justin Upton | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mat Latos | Miami Marlins | Mike Leake | Minnesota Twins | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rajai Davis | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steve Cishek | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Tyson Ross | Will Venable | Yoenis Cespedes | Yovani Gallardo
At least one executive of a club with interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto saw significant concern in his latest outing, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Though he only allowed four hits and two runs, Cueto walked six and lasted just four innings, marking his second consecutive start of five innings or less. He also generated a season-low three groundball outs. Given Cueto’s status as one of the premium rental trade pieces on the market, and some pre-existing injury questions, his next appearance could be one to watch.
Here’s more from the game’s central divisions:
- We heard yesterday that the Tigers were gearing up to sell, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes on Twitter that multiple GMs tell him they have yet to be informed that Detroit will sell. Per Rosenthal, it’s still up in the air whether the Tigers will move quality veteran assets such as David Price and Yoenis Cespedes.
- The Pirates are not only looking at possible shortstop acquisitions but continue to seek an addition at first base, Stark tweets. Pedro Alvarez has provided only average offensive production while struggling mightily with the glove. Of course, the first base trade market is not exactly overflowing with obvious upgrade candidates.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti says his team plans to be an “opportunistic” and “open-minded” participant on the trade market, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. One thing the team likely won’t do, however, is deal from its array of quality, controllable starting pitchers. “We are not motivated at all to do that,” said Antonetti.
- The Brewers will welcome back righty Matt Garza from the DL tonight, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. That means he ought to have two starts to show his health and regain some trade value, though Garza’s big contract makes him a viable August trade piece as well (since he’d very likely clear waivers).
- The Cubs got promising news on the injury front, as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports (Twitter links). Backstop Miguel Montero has only a sprained left thumb, rather than something more serious, though he is still set to rest for two weeks before being evaluated again. And minor league infielder Javier Baez may appear in game action this week. That makes the high-upside prospect a more viable trade piece if the Cubs decide to pursue a significant upgrade.
Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer was injured by a take out slide while turning a double play earlier today. The extent of the injury is unknown. The Pirates may activate utility infielder Brent Morel if Mercer misses more than a few days, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The club is already carrying a short bench, and none of the three healthy players have experience at third base. Morel was pulled from his Triple-A start today. The Pirates 40-man roster is full, so activating Morel will require a roster move.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) heard that the Reds did not want to trade Johnny Cueto last month because they feared having to watch him pitch for another team in the All-Star Game. Of course, Cueto was not named an All-Star and he remains a member of the Reds as of this writing.
- The Orioles are among the teams scouting the Reds, tweets Morosi. They’re most interested in Cueto and outfielder Jay Bruce. Cueto is a free agent after the season, but Bruce is under contract through 2016 for $12.5MM with a $13MM ($1MM buyout) for 2017.
- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the challenges Pedro Alvarez is having in his first season at first base, but he told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he’s not about to lobby GM Neal Huntington to make a move. “I think our [GM] knows as well as I do what we’re looking to identify as strengths and weaknesses on our club,” Hurdle said. “We will do everything we can to fortify and make our club better. I’m not a fan of saying OK, we need A, B and C when A, B and C are out there [in the clubhouse].”
- Justin Upton was pulled out of today’s game early, but it wasn’t a sign of an impending trade as many speculated. The Padres simply had a muscle tighten up on him in the middle of today’s contest and he was pulled from the game as a precaution due to weather, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
The Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Todd Frazier will stay put. Billy Hamilton probably isn’t going anywhere. Most others are probably on the table. Fay expects at least four players to be traded, presumably Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Marlon Byrd as a starting point. Others like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Skip Schumaker are also expected to be shopped. The Reds are seven games below .500 and 15.5 games back in the NL Central. It’s probably too late for a rebound.
Here’s more news out of the NL Central:
- Gerardo Parra‘s strong play has all but ensured that he’ll be traded by the Brewers, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Parra is in the midst of a career season, hitting .311/.345/.502 with nine home runs and six stolen bases. Known for fantastic defense, he’s actually struggled this year per Ultimate Zone Rating (-9.8 UZR). Still, plenty of playoff teams have need of a high average, left-handed outfielder.
- Cubs manager Joe Maddon said reliever Rafael Soriano might be “up sooner than planned,” tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Soriano was signed on June 12. He has a career 2.85 ERA and 207 saves in 630 innings. The Cubs have manufactured a pseudo-closer battle. They demoted Hector Rondon from the role earlier in the summer despite solid production. The club also recently called up Neil Ramirez – another candidate for saves.
- The Pirates would probably like to de-emphasize Pedro Alvarez, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The former third baseman has continued his defensive ineptitude at first base with 15 errors. He’s also offered a .233/.299/.424 slash which is well below average for a first baseman. Unfortunately, the Pirates will have to look outside of the organization to move beyond Alvarez. Adam Lind is probably the most notable first baseman on the trade market. If the Pirates get creative, they could also try a three-team swap for Jon Singleton. Typically, Pittsburgh will look for fringier options like Chris Parmelee. We heard earlier this evening that the Orioles may soon designate Parmelee for assignment.
Full Story | 64 Comments | Categories: Aroldis Chapman | Baltimore Orioles | Brandon Phillips | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Gerardo Parra | Jay Bruce | Johnny Cueto | Marlon Byrd | Mike Leake | Milwaukee Brewers | Neil Ramirez | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rafael Soriano | Skip Schumaker
The Brewers are being realistic about their status as sellers, pro scouting director Zack Minasian tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we weren’t honest with ourselves about where we’re at [in the standings],” Minasian told McCalvy. He adds that his message to his scouting team is that it’s OK to be both frustrated and angry with the team’s struggles this year, but times like this are the scouts’ chance to make an impact on the future of the club. As McCalvy notes, Adam Lind, Aramis Ramirez, Gerardo Parra and Kyle Lohse are all logical trade targets for the Crew, and if the team wanted to target a bigger deal, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez represent more controllable options that could be dealt. Minasian tells McCalvy that when he sees scouts from other clubs on assignment, he has no qualms about being straightforward: “I don’t have a problem going up to them and asking, ‘What are you here for?’ … We are straightforward with clubs about what we can and can’t do.”
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- The Mets scouted Aramis Ramirez during the Brewers‘ recent series with the Twins but came away unimpressed with his play on both sides of the ball, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Sherman adds that the Mets weren’t all that interested in Ramirez even prior to that series, making a trade fit seem particularly unlikely.
- There was once a time where Pirates fans may have feared losing Pedro Alvarez to free agency, writes Brian O’Neill of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the Alvarez question has now shifted to whether or not he should even be tendered a contract this winter. O’Neill notes that Alvarez’s offensive profile over the past season-and-a-half is remarkably similar to that of two platoon-challenged first basemen on whom the Pirates have recently cut bait: Ike Davis and Garrett Jones. A trade of Alvarez, be it this month or this winter, wouldn’t bring much of a return without significant improvement at the plate, and giving him a raise on his $6MM salary after he’s shifted to first base and hit .236/.316/.417 over his past 694 plate appearances may not be worth it.
- O’Neill’s colleague, Stephen J. Nesbitt, spoke with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and right-hander Deolis Guerra about Guerra’s long road to the Major Leagues. One of the key pieces in the 2008 blockbuster that sent Johan Santana from the Twins to the Mets, the now-26-year-old Guerra had never reached the Majors until this Sunday with Pittsburgh. Minnesota released him after six seasons in the organization this November, but Guerra worked with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason and refined the control of his secondary pitches at Triple-A this season. Guerra called his MLB debut “the greatest feeling,” adding that he experienced “so many emotions going on at the same time” that he couldn’t even put it into words. Hurdle said this type of debut is the type that gives veteran players and coaches alike goosebumps. “One of the biggest blasts you can have is watching a kid that’s had to fight, scratch and claw get out there, get the ball,” said Hurdle.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the upcoming outfield logjam that will face Cardinals manager Mike Matheny once Matt Holliday returns from the DL. With Holliday and Jason Heyward locked into the outfield corners, the Cards will be left to divide the center field at-bats between Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Grichuk’s excellent power numbers and sound defense should earn him at-bats, writes Miklasz, but he also notes that Bourjos’ offensive game has improved a great deal in 2015. Bourjos is, historically, the best defender of the bunch as well. Jay’s track record with the team is the lengthiest, but as Miklasz writes, his offense hasn’t been the same since undergoing wrist surgery this offseason. Miklasz observes that Matheny is typically loyal to his players almost to a fault, which could lead to continued playing time for Jay despite his offensive struggles. He also notes that last season, when a similar situation occurred with the struggling Allen Craig, GM John Mozeliak intervened and traded Craig to Boston.
- From my vantage point, a trade of Bourjos is at least something worth exploring for the Cardinals. A team in need of a center field upgrade could be appealed to Bourjos’ strong defensive track record and improved offensive output, and while Bourjos is highly affordable, he’s also controlled through just the 2016 season. Jay’s contract and defensive decline will make him difficult to trade, and Grichuk’s status as a cost-controlled piece with both power and defense in his skill set make him a highly appealing long-term piece for the Cardinals. If Mozeliak is looking to address some needs on his 2015 roster — fifth starter, bullpen, first base — flipping Bourjos to a contender with a hole in center could help to fill the need without dipping into his farm system (or, at least, not dipping as far as he’d have to without including an MLB-ready asset).
Scott Boras was on-hand in Pittsburgh yesterday to watch the Major League debut of client Addison Russell and one of Kris Bryant‘s earliest games, but the agent also discussed a pair of other clients — Pedro Alvarez and Gerrit Cole — with local media. Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that Boras feels more confident these days that Pirates ownership has a strong desire to compete, and he’ll give the Bucs “an opportunity” to secure his clients as core members going forward.
Boras added that there have been no serious talks of a long-term deal with either player yet, and he also strongly refuted the notion that he discourages all of his clients from signing extensions before reaching free agency. “I always let players make their decisions,” said Boras. “People say I always go to free agency. I can give you 15 players that did not go to free agency.” While he’s correct in stating that his clients don’t all reach free agency as early as possible, the vast majority of them do. Nonetheless, notable examples (via MLBTR’s Extension Tracker) such as Jered Weaver, Elvis Andrus, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Pena and Ryan Madson each signed contracts that gave up free agent years in the guaranteed portion of their contracts.
It remains to be seen whether or not the team will express interest in long-term deals. Alvarez, in particular, may not be viewed as a long-term piece, as he’s seen his role reduced over the past year. The 2013 NL home run leader opened last year as the team’s everyday third baseman — a role he filled in both 2012 and 2013 — but he eventually lost playing time to Josh Harrison. Alvarez developed a serious issue in throwing over to first, making 25 errors in just 99 games at third last year, and he eventually slid over to first base. This year, he’s been platooned with Corey Hart at first base, batting .227/.277/.523 with all but three plate appearances coming against right-handed pitching.
Despite those defensive shortcomings, Boras unsurprisingly voiced a confidence that Alvarez could still be a serviceable third baseman at the Major League level. That, as Sawchik notes, may serve as a rift if the two sides do ultimately try to assess Alvarez’s long-term value. Alvarez would have more value as a third baseman, but the Pirates don’t seem to believe that he can handle that role, or, at the very least, recognize that they have a vastly superior defensive option in Harrison. Alvarez is slated to hit the open market following the 2016 season.
As for Cole, the budding ace can be controlled through the 2019 season, so the Pirates probably don’t feel a strong sense of urgency to complete a contract extension in the near future. Nonetheless, I’d imagine that Cole, along with Gregory Polanco, would be at the top of their list of players they hope to extend. The 24-year-old is off to an excellent start to his 2015 campaign, having worked to a 3.18 ERA with even more encouraging peripheral stats in an admittedly small sample. However, he’s worked to a 3.44 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 50.1 percent ground-ball rate since debuting as a 22-year-old back in 2012.
Madison Bumgarner currently holds the record for largest extension among starting pitchers with between one and two years of service time (Extension Tracker link) thanks to his five-year, $35MM contract in San Francisco. The record for pitchers with two to three years of service (Ext. Tracker link) remains Gio Gonzalez‘s five-year, $42MM pact with the Nationals. I’d expect Boras to set his sights significantly higher if he were to have serious extension talks either during this season or next winter, as he’d surely look to obtain a premium price on any free agent years sacrificed by Cole.
Whether or not the two sides ever have serious discussions regarding either player seems to be largely up to the Pirates, based on Boras’ comments to Sawchik. “I don’t sign checks,” said Boras. “I’m in the back of the bus. … I get the message when the driver pulls over and says, ‘I need to talk to you.'”
The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.
|Player||Team||Player Amt.||Team Amt.||Player won?|
|Alejandro De Aza||Orioles||$5.650MM||$5.000MM||No|
|Josh Donaldson||Blue Jays||$5.750MM||$4.300MM||No|
|Danny Valencia||Blue Jays||$1.675MM||$1.250MM||Yes|
A few notes:
- Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
- The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
- Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
- There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
- In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.
Pedro Alvarez has won an arbitration hearing against the Pirates and will be awarded with the $5.75MM salary for which he filed as opposed to the team’s $5.25MM offer, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter). The Scott Boras client and former No. 2 overall pick had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.5MM in this, his second trip through the arbitration process.
The 28-year-old Alvarez wins his hearing in spite of a down season in 2014 that saw his homer total from the previous year halved — from 36 to 18. Alvarez also saw his already questionable defense at third base decline, making an astounding 24 throwing errors in 823 innings at the hot corner. That led to him losing the reins on the everyday job at third base to breakout infielder Josh Harrison. Alvarez will be tasked with shifting to first base on a full-time basis beginning in 2015.
Overall, Alvarez will be receiving a modest $1.5MM raise from last season’s $4.25MM salary. Restored power would go a long ways toward earning him one more significant pay increase in arbitration next offseason as he heads into a contract year; Alvarez will be free-agent eligible following the 2016 campaign.
For the Pirates — a noted “file and trial” arbitration team — this was the third arb hearing they’ve had this winter, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. The team won a hearing against Neil Walker (who had filed at $9MM against Pittsburgh’s $8MM) and also lost a hearing to Vance Worley ($2.45MM versus $2MM).
The Pirates and third baseman turned first baseman Pedro Alvarez have their arbitration hearing set for tomorrow, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). That means that by Thursday of this week, we should know whether Alvarez will earn the $5.75MM for which he filed or the $5.25MM figure submitted by the team (as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). Alvarez, who turned 28 earlier this month, saw his homer total cut in half from 2013 (36) to 2014 (18) in a season in which he hit .231/.312/.405 overall. The Pirates have already won an arbitration hearing this offseason, beating Neil Walker. He’d filed at $9MM against the team’s $8MM. They also lost a hearing against Vance Worley, who will earn $2.45MM rather than $2MM as a result.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Pirates infielder Jung-ho Kang isn’t making the jump the Major Leagues just for himself, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Rather, Kang hopes to be a trailblazer whose success allows other position players to jump from the Korea Baseball Organization to the Major Leagues. “…I know that if I do well, more Korean players will come here,” said Kang through an interpreter. “So while I feel pressure, I’m also very excited about opening the market here for Korean players.” Kang knows the language barrier he faces will be an obstacle, though he’s already met teammates Andrew Lambo and Tony Sanchez and has positive interactions down in Florida. “He seems like a great dude,” Lambo told Biertempfel. “He’ll fit in right. He’s real quiet, obviously, coming from a different country. But he’s also given a (vibe) that he is genuinely friendly and wants to get to know every player, which is really cool.”
- Joel Hanrahan‘s 2015 contract with the Tigers contains opt-out clauses on April 30 and June 5, reports Chris Iott of MLive.com. As Iott points out, Hanrahan will also be an Article XX(B) free agent this year. As a player who finished the 2014 season on a Major League contract but signed a minor league deal this offseason, he’ll have to be released or paid a $100K retention bonus before sending him to the minors at the end of Spring Training. MLBTR will again cover all of the Article XX(B) free agents in a more in-depth fashion as Spring Training wears on.
- Left-hander Bruce Chen will have a shot to crack the Indians‘ rotation after signing a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training, but he faces an uphill battle in making the roster, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Cleveland’s top four rotation slots are occupied by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Gavin Floyd. The fifth spot will be competed for by Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister and Chen. Though he could land in the bullpen as well, he’s seemingly behind fellow lefties Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Hagadone and Kyle Crockett on the depth chart.