Randal Grichuk Rumors

NL Central Notes: Brewers, Aramis, Alvarez, Guerra, Cards

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).

Rosenthal’s Latest: Trumbo, Grichuk, Morales, Bour, Zobrist, Starters

For his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart about the possibility of trading Mark Trumbo this summer — a notion which Stewart seems to strongly oppose. “We know there’s interest in Trumbo,” said Stewart. “…With all of our players, if you overwhelm me with something, I’ve got to listen. I guess most people would say the trade deadline is where we’ll find the best value. But at this moment, Mark Trumbo is my guy. He gives us something in our lineup that none of our other guys do other than Goldschmidt – a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.” However, as Rosenthal points out, Trumbo is controllable only for one season beyond the 2015 campaign and will be bringing big power numbers to his final arbitration case just one year after landing a $6.9MM salary. Trumbo, hitting .273/.314/.533 with nine homers, will undoubtedly be expensive. And, the team has Jake Lamb nearing a return from the DL, and his return to third base would push Yasmany Tomas to the outfield. A trade does seem like something that the D-Backs will have to consider, though they could always move a different piece or option Tomas back to Triple-A. He’s hitting well, however, despite a lack of home runs.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest work…

  • Randal Grichuk‘s importance to the Cardinals is only growing, Rosenthal writes. While he’s the type of bat that could find himself mentioned in trade rumors as the team looks to upgrade potential areas of need, Rosenthal wonders if the team can afford to part with Grichuk. The aging Matt Holliday is under control through 2017, but Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos are free agents after 2016, and Stephen Piscotty isn’t hitting as well as they’d hoped in the minors. Jason Heyward will be a free agent at season’s end and hasn’t hit at the level the Cards had hoped when they acquired him.
  • Rosenthal also spoke with Royals GM Dayton Moore about the team’s decision to sign Kendrys Morales to a two-year deal this winter. As he notes, many were surprised to see Morales land a $17MM commitment after a terrible 2014 season — you can include yours truly among those who did a double-take upon seeing the contract details — but Moore and his staff saw plenty to like in Morales. “Makeup, character, his desire to play, his professionalism, the way he competes in the batter’s box,” said Moore upon being asked what drew the Royals to Morales. Special assistants Luis Medina and Jim Fregosi Jr. were both high on Morales as well. Each felt that he still had good bat speed but faced a difficult challenge in jumping back into the Majors last June after a long layoff at a time when pitchers were peaking.
  • Marlins first baseman Justin Bour looks at this point to be one of the better bargains in the history of the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, writes Rosenthal. As he notes, Baseball America has written that “almost no future big leaguers” come from the minor league portion of the Rule 5, which is used to fill out teams’ minor league affiliates more than anything else. Selecting Bour cost the Marlins $12K, but GM Michael Hill said the whole organization was high on him. “He played against us in the Southern League, so our staff liked him — as did our scouts that covered the league,” said Hill. Miami liked his peripherals and Double-A production.
  • Athletics second baseman Ben Zobrist “might be the player most certain to be traded before July 31,” writes Rosenthal. Zobrist was recently tied to the Cubs, and while the team lacks an obvious everyday spot on its roster, the connection to manager Joe Maddon and the front office’s love of Zobrist may very well outweigh a perceived lack of everyday at-bats. I’d imagine Zobrist could get some time in left field and play all around the infield in an effort to get him five or six starts a week. Injuries may also pop up between now and the deadline.
  • In a second article, Rosenthal looks at the upcoming class of free agent pitchers and notes that it might not be as great as many had expected. Doug Fister is on the DL and was below-average when healthy. Mat Latos has been injured and ineffective this season, and there have been recent injury concerns for both Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. Rosenthal wonders how much more likely all of this makes Zack Greinke to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers, though I personally don’t think there was ever a great likelihood that a healthy Greinke would’ve gone any other route than opting out. Even at age 32, he can top the remaining three years and $71MM handily, even if it comes with a lesser average annual value.

Mozeliak On Jay, Taveras, Choate, Arb Eligibles

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny conducted their end-of-season meeting with the media today, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has several highlights from the talk. Here are some of the main items that are relevant to MLBTR readers, but interested parties should check out the full transcript for additional insight into the team…

  • The Cardinals view Jon Jay as their starting center fielder heading into the 2015 season after the 29-year-old hit .302/.372/.378 in 140 games. Mozeliak revealed that Jay will have his wrist scoped this week to clear out some damage that has been lingering since July.
  • Mozeliak expects Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk to compete for the starting right field job next season and echoed recent comments that he expects Taveras to be with the club in 2015. Taveras has received specific instructions to work on his conditioning and speed this winter.
  • The entire coaching staff has been asked to return for the 2015 season. Bench coach Mike Aldrete is expected to be pursued by at least one other team, Goold reports, but Mozeliak said to this point no team has gone through the protocol of asking to interview Aldrete.
  • The Cards will be on the hunt for power to add to their lineup and possibly a right-handed power bat to add to the bench or pair with Matt Adams at first base. Still, Mozeliak said that he and Matheny see Adams as a potential 600-plate-appearance player.
  • St. Louis will shop Randy Choate this offseason, Goold writes, following comments from Mozeliak on the “specialized” nature of Choate’s current role. Said the GM: “I think we both feel that if we can upgrade there or have an additional arm to choose from, that makes sense. We’re certainly not ruling out [Kevin] Siegrist. I think in Choate’s case, for us, he’s fairly one-dimensional. That makes it difficult for us to use him, particularly during a long season.” Choate is owed $3MM next season and held southpaw hitters to a .093/.205/.147 batting line.
  • Mozeliak expects to offer contracts to all of the team’s arbitration eligible players, including Peter Bourjos and Daniel Descalso. However, Goold writes that the team could gauge interest in both on the trade market. Bourjos strikes me as a particularly appealing candidate, given his elite glove in center field. I speculated that he’d be a good fit for the Twins as a starer in my recent Offseason Outlook, and he could make sense for a number of teams, in my mind. Goold’s colleague, Joe Strauss, tweets that he got a “strong sense” that at least one outfielder would be moved.
  • Both Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales will come to Spring Training as starters, Mozeliak said, but the clearer openings for each are in the bullpen at this time. Elsewhere in the bullpen, Mozeliak noted that the team won’t rule out re-signing Pat Neshek or Jason Motte.


Central Notes: Moustakas, Knebel, Taveras, Cubs

The Royals announced today that they have optioned struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas to Triple-A Omaha. The move marks a significant fall for the former top prospect, who has yet to show any sort of consistency at the Major League level. Royals fans were optimistic when “Moose” hit .269/.314/.425 over his final 78 games last season and posted strong numbers in Spring Training, but the 25-year-old hit just .152/.223/.320 in 40 games this season despite being platooned for much of the year. Moustakas has turned in elite defensive numbers throughout his career, but he’ll need to show more at the plate to ever deliver on his lofty prospect status.

Here are some more items pertaining to baseball’s Central divisions…

  • The Tigers today optioned left-hander Robbie Ray to Triple-A Toledo and announced that they will purchase the contract of right-hander Corey Knebel prior to tomorrow’s game. Knebel, a right-handed reliever, will become the second player from the 2013 draft to reach the Major Leagues (Cleveland’s Kyle Crockett debuted on May 16). He’s posted a brilliant 0.90 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 50 innings across three levels since being selected 39th overall less than one year ago.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that playing time for Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras could present itself shortly in the Majors, as the team begins a stretch of seven games in AL parks in early June. However, the Cardinals could also recall Randal Grichuk, who has been on an otherwordly tear since being sent back to Triple-A, having slashed .347/.418/.776 with six homers in 12 games. GM John Mozeliak wouldn’t rule out the possibility of either player being promoted when asked by Goold.
  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri spoke with Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, ace Adam Wainwright and former Redbird Kyle Lohse about the intricacies of former pitching coach Dave Duncan’s philosophy and approach to the game. Keri writes that Duncan’s influence still runs through the veins of the Cardinals’ organization, which is a driving force behind the team’s extended success. Wainwright said Duncan was “borderline maniacal” in terms of advance scouting and analytics. Keri notes that Duncan never cared much for pitcher-versus-batter data, as such small samples led to misguided decisions.
  • Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts will submit a revised proposal for renovations to Wrigley Field, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. If approved, they are prepared to move forward with the plans, which include additional seating in the Budweiser Bleachers, new outfield lights to reduce shadows, four additional LED signs of up to 650 square feet and a 2400 square foot video board in right field. Ricketts says negotiations with rooftop business owners have gone nowhere, so It has to end. It’s time to move forward.” He hopes they can avoid going to court with the rooftop owners.

NL Central Notes: Grichuk, Hellweg, Chapman

Randal Grichuk will make his first career start tonight for the Cardinals, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. Grichuk will start in center field, a position usually occupied by Peter Bourjos. The Cardinals acquired both players this offseason, dealing David Freese and Fernando Salas to the Angels in a bid to upgrade their defense. The Cardinals have gotten little from Bourjos and from right fielder Allen Craig so far this season, while Grichuk and the Cardinals’ other Triple-A outfielders have excelled, so the Cardinals promoted Grichuk on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the NL Central.

  • Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg had Tommy John surgery today, the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt tweets. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 ranked Hellweg the No. 4 prospect in a weak Brewers system. The 6-foot-9 righty walked 6.8 batters per nine in 126 Triple-A innings in 2013, and struggled badly with his control in 31 big-league innings. When healthy, however, he has an outstanding fastball, and gets plenty of outs on the ground.
  • Reds closer Aroldis Chapman could make a rehab appearance in Dayton on Thursday, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Chapman has been out since being hit in the face with a line drive in an ugly injury suffered in spring training.