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Phil Hughes Rumors
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.
David Ortiz says the timing of his likely return to the Red Sox's lineup Friday is unrelated to the structure of his contract, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. Under his current two-year, $26MM contract, Ortiz is guaranteed $11MM in 2014, but that number would rise to $13MM if he spends 21 to 40 days on the disabled list due to his Achilles injury in 2013. It would further increase to $15MM if he spends 20 or fewer days. Thursday was Ortiz's 19th day on the DL this season. If he is not activated before Saturday, he will lose $2MM in 2014. "I just found out about [the contract clause] a couple of days ago," says Ortiz. "If I would be limping or hurting still, it is what it is. But I’m going back now because I feel ready and I want to be playing for my ball club." Here's more from the AL East.
- At age 40, Ramon Ortiz is back in the big leagues, Steph Rogers and Evan Peaslee of MLB.com note. Ortiz's appearance with the Blue Jays on Wednesday was his first Major League outing since September 2011, when he was with the Cubs. "I know guys who are coaches and managers in the big leagues [or] the Minor Leagues. When they see me, they say 'Ramon, you're still playing?'" Ortiz says. Ortiz made 27 starts for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate in 2012, then signed a minor-league deal with the Jays in December.
- Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes could get $70MM as a free agent next winter, the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand argues (on Twitter). Feinsand compares Hughes to Anibal Sanchez, who got five years and $80MM from the Tigers in December. Sanchez, though, had xFIPs of 3.25 and 3.60 in his last two seasons before free agency; Hughes' xFIPs in the last two years were 4.90 and 4.35. Peripheral numbers might not matter much in an arbitration hearing, but they matter in free agency. Feinsand is correct to note that the two players have pitched in very different park and league contexts, but the numbers still strongly suggest that Sanchez is the far better pitcher. Of course, much will depend on the way Hughes pitches in 2013. Hughes does not crack Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
As the Yankees and Phil Hughes negotiated their one-year, $7.15MM deal for 2013, the topic of an extension hardly came up, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. As a pitcher, Hughes says that he never expected a long-term deal out of the Yankees before reaching free agency. At the same time, it sounds as though he'd like to stay in the Bronx for the long-term. “The Yankees are the ones who drafted me; they’re like a second family. For me to say I’d be neutral [about leaving New York] would be dishonest," said Hughes. Here's more out of the AL and NL East..
- Jordan Zimmermann would be open to listening on a multi-year extension, but so far nothing has happened on that front, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Nationals and the right-hander avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.35MM deal yesterday.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) believes that Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman would be a great big league manager, but he has a feeling that it will happen elsewhere and not with the Mets. If the Mets don't bring back Terry Collins next year, Martino expects the club to go with a younger skipper.
- Jair Jurrjens' contract with the Orioles is now a minor league deal rather than a guaranteed pact, but the pitcher says he's not overly concerned about it, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The two sides first agreed to a $1.5MM contract with incentives potentially pushing the figure to $4MM, but red flags on his physical led to the O's insisting on a reworked deal.
It was 100 years ago today that legendary announcer Mel Allen was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Allen is best remembered as the voice of the Yankees from 1939 to 1964, though his long career also included Indians play-by-play, NFL and college football games and hosting This Week In Baseball from 1977 until his death in 1996.
Here are a few Yankee-related items that may make you say "How a-BOUT that?!"…
- Robinson Cano and the Yankees aren't making much progress in their initial contract talks, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. There is "a significant difference in either talent assessment or valuation" between the two sides. The Yankees see Cano as a top-10 or top-15 player in the game, while agent Scott Boras sees his client as a top-five talent — a small gap on paper, but one worth tens of millions in negotiations. If Cano does hit the open market, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes cites the second baseman as "the clear number one choice" as the best free agent of the 2013-14 offseason.
- When Phil Hughes worked out his one-year deal with the Yankees for 2013, "the topic of an extension was hardly mentioned," Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes. Hughes is eligible for free agency after the season but he doesn't expect New York to try and lock him up early. “Coming up with this organization as a pitcher, you know you’re not going to be signed long-term before (free agency),” Hughes said. “Nobody tells you. You just know. No pitcher is getting a long-term deal before free agency.”
- The Yankees' best prospects are in the lower levels of their farm system, which an executive tells MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince is due in part to the club lack of success at finding quality waiver claim pickups or minor league free agents, but also because New York is always successful and thus drafting near the end of the first round. "Depth is an issue in the very short run, but the talent they have coming up in the system is actually surprisingly good," the executive said. "It's impossible to draft a lot of talent with later and limited picks."
5:08pm: Hughes' contract is worth $7.15MM, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
4:39pm: The Yankees and Phil Hughes have avoided arbitration with a one-year contract, Chad Jennings of the Journal News reports. Terms of the deal between the Yankees and the CAA client were not announced.
Hughes had a projected salary of $5.7MM following a season in which he posted a 4.23 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 191 1/3 regular season innings. The right-hander was arbitration eligible for the third and final time after earning $3.2MM in 2012.
Links out of the AL East..
- The Yankees are still listening to offers on Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Team executives have acknowledged that Granderson and Hughes have come up in trade talks but say that it would be tough to replace both in the short-term.
- Right-hander Claudio Vargas has agreed to a minor league deal with the Blue Jays, according to Metis Sports Management (via Twitter). Vargas retired in summer 2011 before inking a minor league deal with the Brewers this past spring.
- The Rays aren't going to be shaking things up right away but there could be some trades on the horizon, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "At the very least we have more clarity. I wouldn't say anything is imminent. But we just have more clarity on how we might be able to complete this offseason looking out over the next six-to-eight weeks," said executive VP Andrew Friedman.
- It seems that almost everyone in Nashville this week was poised to spend big bucks except for the Yankees, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Scott Boras and two other agents who have discussed clients with the Yankees in recent days said their perception was a clamp had been placed on spending with the team’s payroll already at $168MM for 2013. Meanwhile, the Yanks still have major needs in right field, the left side of the infield, and at catcher.