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Phil Hughes Rumors
In today's column, Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. required and recommended) explains that many teams have "Zack Wheeler Syndrome" as they approach the deadline. As he describes it, It’s the tendency of GMs to wait for a club to get desperate and overpay for a player. That's what the Mets were able to do in 2011, when they demanded that they get a top-tier prospect in return for Carlos Beltran and wound up prying Wheeler from the Giants. Today, one exec tells Olney that the asking price for the Cubs' Matt Garza (as well as the Yankees' Phil Hughes) is "incredibly high" because of that thinking. Chicago knows they will at least present a qualifying offer to Garza after the season if they keep him, which will net them a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere. Anyone who wants to land Garza has to match, and probably exceed, the value of that pick. Here's more out of the NL Central..
- Ty Wigginton wound up as the low man on the totem pole with the Cardinals, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While his disappointing tenure in St. Louis ended with his release yesterday, manager Mike Matheny is an adamant supporter of the veteran and says that his career is far from done.
- The Cardinals made reliever Mitchell Boggs available because he has struggled so far in 2013, but he could bounce back and regain his 2012 form, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. St. Louis shipped Boggs to the Rockies yesterday for roughly $206K in international bonus slot money.
- The Biogenesis suspensions could make for a messy second-half of the season, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. However, despite the negative attention surrounding the Brewers' Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, and others, the game has been quite resilient through this and other PED scandals.
The Yankees are aggressively pushing trades involving Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, an AL executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). In fact, a deal sending Chamberlain to a National League team could happen soon, though nothing is imminent on either front.
Yesterday we learned that the Phillies have expressed interest in Chamberlain as they feel out the market for Michael Young. However, as Tim Dierkes noted yesterday, the market for the 27=year-olds is somewhat limited as they are in their walk years and not of much use to non-contenders. In the case of the Phillies, they may see themselves as buyers with a real chance to win this year, as ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears.
Chamberlain typically wouldn't garner trade attention, but a team in need of bullpen help could bite. The right-hander has a 5.75 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 22 relief appearances this year. Hughes, meanwhile, has a 4.55 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 17 starts.
Last night, Baseball America's JJ Cooper wrote that an NL scout told him Twins' center field prospect Byron Buxton is the best prospect he's seen in more than a decade of scouting. Buxton's hype has soared this season following a jaw-dropping start at Class A Cedar Rapids, and he's recently been promoted to Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Here's more on last year's No. 2 overall pick and the team that drafted him…
- Baseball America's Jim Callis opines that were he in the Astros shoes in last season's draft, he'd have taken Buxton over Correa, still gone over-slot on Lance McCullers Jr., and neglected to give fourth-rounder Rio Ruiz his over-slot deal. Callis adds that he likes Correa very much, but preferred Buxton and wasn't high on Ruiz (Twitterlinks).
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Twins are expected to pursue Phil Hughes as a free agent this offseason (Twitter link). The Twins have struggled tremendously in the pitching deparment over the past few years, and Hughes has been a better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium throughout his career.
- Wolfson also spoke with vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff regarding the upcoming international free agency period. Radcliff expects to sign eight to 10 international free agents and cited the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Italy as areas of focus. The Twins, who have the fourth-largest bonus pool, have been approached by the Rangers about trading some of their funds from that pool, but the team won't do it this week at least (Twitterlinks).
- Radcliff also told Wolfson (link) that there's "nothing imminent" on the trade front for the Twins. However, he and the other pro scouts are diligently watching players that they may add at the deadline.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new article discussing All-Stars, some of the game's top young hitters and a plethora of hot stove info. Here are some highlights…
- Rival executives around the league are critical of the Mariners for rushing their top prospects, but Rosenthal notes that Nick Franklin has been more than up to the challenge, and Brad Miller earned his promotion with his minor league performance. Regarding the struggling Mike Zunino, GM Jack Zduriencik told Rosenthal: "We planned all along to get Mike to Seattle at some point in July … He wasn't expected to be a big contributor offensively if it was now, July, September … but he has held his own, and what he is receiving now will set him up for 2014 and beyond."
- Multiple scouts have questioned the work ethic of the Brewers' players, with one telling Rosenthal "there's a lot of quit on that team." Rosenthal writes that it isn't manager Ron Roenicke's fault that Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez have been injured, but the negative reports could be an "ominous sign" for Roenicke. Rosenthal tweets a correction, noting that Roenicke is signed through 2014, not through 2013 as he initially reported.
- The Yankees aren't planning a fire sale, but if they did, they'd have some of the most attractive trade chips in the game. The Yankees could part with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, however, and Rosenthal adds Curtis Granderson's name to the mix, assuming the injured outfielder gets healthy in time.
- The Rays aren't looking to add a starting pitcher with both David Price and Alex Cobb likely to return in the near future. If the Rays make any moves at all, they'll be for impact players regardless of position.
- The Cubs are "all but certain" to trade pending free agents Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg and Scott Feldman, but they're not in a rush to deal Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, both of whom are controlled beyond 2013.
Here's a look around the American League East, which figures (as usual) to be one of baseball's most interesting divisions over the summer.
- The Red Sox are doing everything they can to court 22nd-round high school outfielder Ryan Boldt, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier, including a trip to venerable Fenway Park. While the presumption has been that Boston's free bonus money will be insufficient to draw Boldt away from the University of Nebraska, the Sox are still hoping to woo him with a $1MM-plus bonus offer.
- We just learned that the Red Sox are bringing up longtime minor leaguer Jonathan Diaz to fill in temporarily at third, but the club could have designs on a more permanent solution for the remainder of the year. George A. King III of the New York Post says that Boston could be in on Michael Young if the Phillies make him available, with one source saying that the Sox "want him badly."
- King further reports that the Yankees are also likely to be in on Young, as others have noted. Indeed, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman discussed yesterday, the Yanks seem to be a likely buyer at third. Alex Rodriguez is still a ways off from a return, and remains a major uncertainty. Other than Young, Heyman says that the top potential target — Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — will likely be too expensive for New York's preferences. According to Heyman, the Bronx Bombers could consider White Sox utilityman Jeff Keppinger, and are still interested in bringing in free agent Ian Stewart on a minor league deal.
- As the Yankees look for bats, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger explores whether the club could do so by dealing inconsistent starter Phil Hughes. McCullough acknowledges that there are several reasons why this wouldn't make sense: for one, if Hughes performs well enough to net a good return and the Yankees remain in contention, it would be hard to part ways. For another, Hughes would seem to appeal mostly to other contenders given his pending free agency, limiting the potential for acquiring an impact bat from a cellar-dwelling trade partner. Finally, the possibility of making the still-youthful Hughes a qualifying offer remains an attractive (if complicated) option for New York.
- The Orioles have a complex roster management situation developing with the impending return of second baseman Brian Roberts, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. While the club has a 40-man spot open after removing Freddy Garcia, the O's will need to create a 25-man vacancy. Kubatko lists several roster moves, each of which has some drawbacks: the club could designate first baseman Travis Ishikawa or option one of infielder Danny Valencia or utilityman Ryan Flaherty. The decision is complicated by the fact that lefty Wei-Yin Chen promises to return from his own DL stint shortly.
The Blue Jays' 11-game win streak was snapped tonight at Tropicana Field in a 4-1 loss to the Rays. Jeremy Hellickson delivered seven shutout innings of one-hit ball while James Loney, Wil Myers (in his home debut) and Sam Fuld connected on three straight solo homers in the second inning. One more victory would've given Toronto a new franchise record for consecutive wins.
Here's the latest from around the AL East…
- "If it’s up to me, it’s very unrealistic," that the Rays would leave the Tampa area, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg tells FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, though Sternberg warns that "the decision can be taken out of my hands at some point" by Major League Baseball if the Rays' stadium situation isn't resolved. Sternberg discusses several topics in this wide-ranging chat, from his team's future in Tampa Bay to David Price and Evan Longoria's contracts to even the prospect of MLB returning to Montreal.
- An AL executive sums up the Yankees' decision about trading Phil Hughes as "If he’s good, why trade him? If he’s struggling, what will you get?", according to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (Twitter link). Hughes hasn't pitched well this year (a 5.09 ERA in 14 starts) and will be a free agent this winter, though it has been speculated that the homer-prone Hughes could still be targeted by teams who play in pitcher-friendly stadiums.
- Mark Teixeira received a cortisone shot over a week ago but is "still experiencing soreness" in his right wrist, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including Andy McCullough) in a conference call today. Teixeira's lack of progress renews speculation that he may have to undergo season-ending surgery, though Cashman didn't want to comment on the possibility or possible future moves at first base until more was known about the injury.
- The Orioles are known to be looking for pitching help but since they aren't willing to move any top prospects or core players, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun thinks the O's will have to wait until close to the trade deadline "to see if they can get a bargain" since they currently wouldn't be able to find a true upgrade at their price.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko) that "we would have liked, in a perfect world, to have [Mark Reynolds] back" this season. "I know our guys liked Mark. He's a good teammate, a good guy, an easy guy to manage. We'd like to have had him, but it just didn't work out," Showalter said. Reynolds signed with the Indians last winter and took a .741 OPS and 14 homers into tonight's action, so while the O's could've used Reynolds at DH, they're very set at the corner infield spots thanks to Manny Machado and Chris Davis.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has a new column up that is loaded with trade deadline info after speaking to several Major League executives over the past few days. Here are some highlights from his excellent article…
- One National League executive told Martino that the Yankees won't be able to get a useful bat or prospect back for either one of Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain.
- The Nationals are the most aggressive buyer on the market at this point, and their primary focus is on starting pitching. "They're calling everybody, said Martino's source. The Nationals recently placed the struggling Dan Haren on the disabled list, and Chris Young has been worse at Triple-A with a 7.88 ERA.
- The Orioles are also making calls as part of a search for starting pitching, which lines up with reports from last week.
- Martino spoke with another NL official who told him that the Marlins are "aggressively" shopping their pitchers. Ricky Nolasco is known to be available, and they're said to be open to dealing Ryan Webb as well. I'd imagine that the team will be willing to listen to offers on Kevin Slowey and Chad Qualls also. It would make sense to listen on Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek, though previous reports state that the Fish would like to hold onto both relievers.
- Nolasco's name came up in February trade talks with the Mets, and one NL executive says that the Marlins are still "desperate" to move him. The Mets aren't a fit for Nolasco at this point, but Martino reiterates that the team could act as buyers this July, despite their losing record, as they look to add outfielders with multiple years of team control.
Here’s a look at some highlights from the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- At the age of 27, Phil Hughes will be the youngest pitcher on the open market by far. The Yankees hurler figures to be more in demand that one might think thanks to his high strikeout rate, low walk rate, postseason experience, and his ability to survive – and sometimes thrive – in New York. Hughes’ biggest flaw is giving up a lot of home runs, but a more forgiving ballpark could help correct that. Rosenthal suggests that he would do well in the pitcher-friendly parks of the Mets, Padres, Mariners, and Tigers.
- The trade market for starting pitchers doesn’t look very attractive at this point, but Yovani Gallardo is one player to keep an eye on. Gallardo hasn’t done especially well this season for the Brewers and his fastball velocity is trending downward, but he might be better than any other starter on the block. He’s also relatively affordable as he makes $7.75MM this season and $11.25MM next season with a $13MM option for 2015.
- The Dodgers might not be in as strong of a position for Robinson Cano as they initially appeared. Clayton Kershaw is going to go for ~$200MM and the team might not be able to take another contract in that range. As Josh Kosman and Mark DeCambre of the New York Post reported earlier this week, the club will have to commit a greater percentage of their deal to revenue sharing than the originally thought. That could cost them more than $1B over 25 years and that could affect their ability to maintain skyhigh payrolls.
- Much has been made of the workloads of the Pirates‘ top relievers, triggering speculation that they’ll have to trade for relief help at the deadline. That could happen, but team officials note that Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon both have been quite efficient while Justin Wilson has gone back-to-back just twice in his multi-inning role this season. The club also has a number of intriguing options waiting in the wings in Triple-A, most notably Ryan Reid and Jared Hughes.
The Yankees' Phil Hughes could be a possible free-agent fit for the Mets this winter, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo tweets. Hughes' fly-ball tendencies would make homer-suppressing Citi Field a good ballpark for him, and the Mets will have plenty of money available, DiComo argues. Hughes has a 5.51 ERA so far this year, with 8.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Here are more notes from the Mets.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he "wouldn't say there's a timetable" for the promotion of Zack Wheeler, Fred Kerber of the New York Post reports. But it sounds like it won't be long. "I would say that if he continues to pitch well, he’d be here sometime in the near future," says Alderson. Wheeler struggled Monday for Triple-A Las Vegas against Salt Lake, allowing five runs, three earned, and two home runs in four innings while striking out four and walking three. For the season, Wheeler has a 4.13 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 while playing in the tough pitching environment of Las Vegas.
- Wheeler feels like he's "just waiting on time," the Wall Street Journal's Brian Costa writes. "I think I'm ready, but it is really not my decision." Costa notes that Wheeler's service time clock could play a role in the Mets' decision, citing potential concerns that he could become a Super Two player and become eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season. Costa also discusses comparisons between Wheeler and Matt Harvey, and notes that it will be very difficult for Wheeler's start in the majors to equal Harvey's even if Wheeler pitches brilliantly. Harvey's phenomenal start to his career has lifted him above Wheeler in status, even though Wheeler has pitched perfectly well in his own right.
For those of you still up watching the epic Giants-Dodgers game unfold tonight, here are a few final notes from today:
- Assessing the Phillies' front office performance this past offseason, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer leaves litle doubt as to his stance. He writes (via the Miami Herald) that the Phillies built their 2013 team "on the precarious hope that their aging veteran starters would pitch well and that their aging everyday players would regain their productivity. Around that central theme, the front office sprinkled journeymen and prospects who might be good enough if everything else went right." While the Philadelphia sits only three games under .500, that record has been built on a 9-3 mark against the Mets and Marlins. Unfortunately, opines Ford, there is little that the team can do at this point, especially as the team lacks impact minor league talent ready to help the big league club. With a turnaround always at least possible given the team's starting pitching corps, and with trade value difficult to maximize at this point in the year, Ford says that all the Phillies can do is continue down the path they have chosen and continue to hope for the best.
- In yesterday's matchup between likely first-round pitchers Mark Appel of Stanford and Trevor Williams of Arizona State, it was Appel that came up out on top, writes Keith Law of ESPN (on Insider). Law came away impressed with all of Appel's three primary pitches, along with his athleticism and mechanics. He noted that the Astros and Cubs scouts in attendance likely felt the same. Those two clubs, of course, possess the first two picks in the upcoming amateur draft.
- The prospective class of 2014 free agent starters is beginning to look deeper, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman points to recent solid starts from Dan Haren, Jason Vargas, and Phil Hughes. While Heyman also notes that Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum have settled down since their less-than-promising beginnings to the season, both were roughed up again in their latest outings. With more question marks than sure things among the best rotation options in the 2014 market, pitchers like Haren, Vargas, and Hughes have a lot of room to improve their market positioning over the course of this season. Haren, a 32-year-old one-time ace, has battled through an abysmal early-going to register two consecutive starts that were more reminiscent of his former dominance. The 30-year-old Vargas has buttressed his case as a solid innings-eater, going deep into his last three games and maintaining a 3.72 ERA over 38 2/3 innings. And Hughes, still just 26, has steadily improved all year since returning from injury, most recently tossing an eight-inning, four-hit, nine-strikeout, no-run gem against the Athletics.