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Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
Elsewhere in the National League:
- With the possibility Niese may open the season on the disabled list, Jenrry Mejia could join Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Mets' rotation with John Lannan earning a relief role, according to Rubin.
- The Diamondbacks are another team scrambling to fill a void in their starting rotation in the wake of the news from earlier today Patrick Corbin could be facing Tommy John surgery. GM Kevin Towers, however, plans to use in-house options like Randall Delgado, Archie Bradley, and Josh Collmenter rather than seek a trade immediately, tweets Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com.
- Noah Syndergaard, who remains in the Mets' Major League Spring Training camp, was the key component in last offseason's R.A. Dickey trade, writes Matt Ehalt of the Record. "I think eventually it got to the point where we needed Syndergaard," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Mets' special assistant to the GM. "I think in order to finish it off, we needed a younger, higher prospect to make us say, 'OK, it's worth trading a Cy Young Award winner.'"
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says the team's bullpen depth is "a chance to move a guy that can go help someone else to add a piece," tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Travis Sawchik. Huntington also gave a near-guarantee Edinson Volquez will be in the Pirates' starting rotation, Sawchik tweets.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post contradicts a story from this morning the Rockies are in the market for right-handed bullpen help. A source tells Renck the club prefers to give Chad Bettis or Chris Martin a chance before pursuing a trade.
- Being forced to rush their young pitching prospects to the Majors has come back to haunt the Marlins, as Jacob Turner and Brad Hand (22 and 23, respectively) are now out of options, opines MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- The Dodgers have selected the contract of Justin Turner and will bring Chone Figgins to Australia, reports Dylan Herndandez of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes broke the news in February of Turner agreeing to a minor league contract with the Dodgers and now the 29-year-old will make $1MM as a reserve infielder. Figgins, who signed a minor league deal in January and is trying to make the squad as an utilityman, will be one of 30 players the Dodgers are taking on the trip (only 25 will be active on game day).
Full Story | 15 Comments | Categories: Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks | Chone Figgins | Colorado Rockies | Daisuke Matsuzaka | Edinson Volquez | Jacob Turner | Jenrry Mejia | John Lannan | Jon Niese | Jonathon Niese | Josh Collmenter | Justin Turner | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Neal Huntington | New York Mets | Noah Syndergaard | Pittsburgh Pirates | Randall Delgado
If things went differently, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could have found himself on the pages of Pro Football Rumors rather than MLBTR. Gibson was a standout wide receiver at Michigan State in 1977 and in an effort to increase his leverage with the NFL, he returned to the baseball diamond for the first time since high school, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. When the Tigers drafted Gibson with the 12th pick in the 1978 draft, they allowed him to finish out his senior season but made him give up on the NFL. Here's more out of the NL West..
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says that newly-acquired starter Paul Maholm knows he might wind up pitching in relief if Josh Beckett is healthy and named the fifth starter, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
- Diamondbacks newcomer Bronson Arroyo might not give Arizona the kind of production they were hoping to get out of a rotation addition this winter, but he should give them plenty of innings, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
- Randall Delgado is out-of-options, but the Diamondbacks won't let him get away, tweets Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona. The D'Backs want to keep all of their assets so if he's not in the starting five, they'll slot him in the bullpen.
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring … He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy — he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
FRIDAY: Despite Towers' comments, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Diamondbacks are at least discussing Jake Peavy as a possibility, noting that the White Sox have scouted Randall Delgado (Twitter link). Given the number of available relievers the White Sox have, the Diamondbacks could ask for both Peavy and a bullpen arm in a trade, though that's just speculation on my part.
THURSDAY: While many of the rumors regarding the D-Backs' search for pitching thus far have focused on starting pitchers such as Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Samardzija, GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that bullpen help is the team's bigger need:
"I'm not as concerned probably with our starting pitching and looking externally for starting pitching as much as trying to get a bullpen arm," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.
Towers feels that injured starters Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy can help to upgrade the team's rotation when they return from the disabled list. Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com echoes that sentiment (Twitter link), adding that Towers will not trade top prospects Tyler Skaggs or Archie Bradley. Skaggs had been mentioned as a possible component to a Gallardo trade.
The Diamondbacks have actually received a combined 3.33 ERA from their bullpen this season, but J.J. Putz has been injured and Heath Bell has an 8.38 ERA over his past 11 appearances. They also lost one of their top relief arms when Matt Reynolds hit the disabled list in early June. So far, the Diamondbacks have been linked to the Brewers' bullpen options such as John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez and Michael Gonzalez. Other teams such as the Marlins, White Sox and Twins figure to have bullpen arms that could be moved in the coming weeks as well.
While Ben Cherington was the only GM that was in attendance for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's audition yesterday, the Red Sox aren't the only team with interest in the Cuban right-hander. The Dodgers sent three of their top scouts to Tijuana on Thursday to find out if they might have another exciting Cuban import to join Yasiel Puig, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Agent Jaime Torres declined to say how many clubs sent representatives to the Tijuana showcase but said there was "a great turnout." Meanwhile, Gonzalez is scheduled to put on another display for teams next Friday where he could pitch five innings, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Here's more from around baseball..
- After designating him for assignment on Tuesday, Mets assistant GM John Ricco acknowledged that the club is soliciting trade offers for Collin Cowgill, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Ricco added that the Mets would try to get Cowgill through waivers and send him to Triple-A Las Vegas if they were unable to get a suitable deal rather than release Cowgill.
- Hisashi Iwakuma's name has popped up in rumors, but the Mariners intend to hang on to him. "Trust me," M's GM Jack Zduriencik told Peter Gammons (on Twitter), "we're not going to trade him." The 32-year-old has a 2.06 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 through 15 starts this season.
- Diamondbacks right-hander Randall Delgado hired Beverly Hills Sports Council, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). You can look up agency info for just about every major leaguer with MLBTR's Agency Database.
Here's the latest news from Chase Field…
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said "there may be" other players he will look into extending this spring, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (via Twitter). Paul Goldschmidt and Ian Kennedy look like the two top candidates for extensions in Magruder's opinion. The club is already talking to Goldschmidt about a long-term deal and Kennedy agreed to a one-year, $4.265MM deal for 2013 in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Kennedy and Goldschmidt are under the Diamondbacks' control through the 2015 and 2017 seasons, respectively.
- Towers said he didn't talk to Goldschmidt's agent from SFX today, Magruder tweets. Towers didn't have any new details since the two sides met last week.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link) senses more optimism about a possible Goldschmidt extension than he did last month. Goldschmidt originally wasn't interested in negotiating when Towers approached him about a multiyear deal earlier this winter.
- Randall Delgado talks to Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic about being able to focus just on pitching with the D'Backs after being the subject of trade rumors for several months. Delgado was part of the trade package sent to Arizona from Atlanta in the Justin Upton deal, and last summer the Braves nearly sent Delgado to the Cubs in exchange for Ryan Dempster. “I heard my name in other rumors before, but this one was like big," Delgado said about the Dempster speculation. "It was on TV. It was on radio. It was everywhere. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I feel like I’m more on that team than here.’ ”
After years of trade talk, the Justin Upton rumors finally amounted to a deal. The Braves and Diamondbacks have officially agreed to a seven-player trade that will send Upton to Atlanta. The Braves obtain Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson for third baseman Martin Prado, right-hander Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, right-handed pitching prospect Zeke Spruill and minor league first baseman Brandon Drury.
The Braves now have a new-look outfield that will also feature B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward. Justin's older brother signed with Atlanta as a free agent earlier in the offseason, agreeing to a five-year, $75.2MM contract. GM Frank Wren added balance to what had previously been a lefty-heavy lineup by acquiring the right-handed hitting Upton brothers.
Upton, the first overall selection of the 2005 draft, followed up a breakout 2011 season with a solid but unspectacular 2012 campaign. The 25-year-old hit 17 home runs and posted a .280/.355/.430 batting line in 628 plate appearances last year, his sixth season at the MLB level.
There are now three years and $38.5MM remaining on Upton's contract, including a $9.75MM salary in 2013. The contract includes a no-trade list which allows him to block trades to the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays and Mariners. He exercised his no-trade rights earlier in the winter, blocking a proposed trade that would have sent him to Seattle.
Prado has provided the Braves with versatility on defense and steady offensive production in recent years. He posted a .301/.359/.438 batting line in 690 plate appearances in 2012 while playing five positions. Though Prado was Atlanta's primary left fielder, he played at least ten games at second base, shortstop and third base.
The 29-year-old is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter. He asked for $7.05MM with the Braves, a file and trial team, offering $6.65MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. The Braves were willing to trade Prado once they learned that his asking price on a multiyear deal was $11-12MM, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Prado, a client of The Legacy Agency, remains on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
Johnson hit a career-best 15 home runs last year while playing for the Astros and Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old posted a .281/.326/.451 batting line in 528 plate appearances in 2012. He'll earn $2.875MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2016.
As a consequence of the trade, Johnson and Juan Francisco project as Atlanta's primary third basemen. The Braves plan to use the pair in a platoon at third, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). The trade will also take Atlanta out of the running for center fielder Michael Bourn and other free agent outfielders.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks still have considerable outfield depth. Cody Ross, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton provide Arizona manager Kirk Gibson with various options, even without Upton, who had been the team's primary right fielder since 2008. Prado figures to play at third base in Arizona given the team's crowded outfield and the departure of Johnson.
Teams such as the Orioles that had interest in trading for Kubel will now have to look elsewhere for offense. Though Arizona GM Kevin Towers was willing to listen to offers on Upton and Kubel, there's no indication he'd actually trade both players.
Upton drew interest from multiple MLB teams this offseason, as the Diamondbacks were evidently listening to trade offers. The Rangers, one of Upton's many suitors, offered Mike Olt in a trade, but did not include right-hander Cody Buckel in their proposal, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter).
Delgado started 17 games for the Braves in 2012 after entering the season as the 46th ranked prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old posted a 4.37 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings.
Ahmed, 22, played at Class A this past season in his second year as a professional. The 2011 second rounder posted a .269/.337/.391 batting line in 571 plate appearances. Baseball America named him the best defensive infielder in Atlanta's minor league system.
Spruill ranked ninth on BA's list of top Braves prospects this winter. The 23-year-old spent the 2012 season at Double-A Mississippi, posting a 3.67 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 161 2/3 innings.
Drury played at Class A in 2012. The 20-year-old posted a .229/.270/.333 batting line in 480 plate appearances in his third professional season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the teams were nearing an agreement, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the teams had agreed to a trade (on Twitter) and Mark Bowman of MLB.com first reported the specifics of the deal.
- A trade is still the more likely means for Colorado to acquire starting pitching help, according to Renck. Teams are calling about Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer. Renck notes that the two years and $21MM remaining on Cuddyer's contract may be appealing to teams, given the inflated prices we've seen in this year's free agent market.
- The one-year deal signed by Jeff Francis last night will pay the southpaw somewhere north of $750K salary that he earned in 2012.
- Renck also writes that the team included Alex White in this week's Wilton Lopez trade because they no longer viewed White as a starter.
- Within that same piece, Renck reports that in trade talks prior to the Winter Meetings, the Rockies asked for Mike Minor and one of Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado in exchange for Fowler. Needless to say, the price on Colorado's center fielder remains high.
The Mets are talking R.A. Dickey trades, the Marlins' highest-paid player wants out and the team is shopping its second-highest, and the Phillies have moved on to other outfielders with Angel Pagan off the board. More from around the NL East…
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo does not "see a fit financially or term-wise" with free agent lefty Sean Burnett, he told reporters including Mark Zuckerman today, but he won't rule anything out as the team seeks a second lefty in the bullpen to pair with the newly re-signed Zach Duke.
- Braves GM Frank Wren spent part of the day talking to the agents of free agent bench candidates, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien says the team is believed to have an offer out to bring back outfielder Reed Johnson.
- Wren told reporters including MLB.com's Mark Bowman that while no player is untouchable, shortstop Andrelton Simmons is "unreachable." Pitching prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado aren't off-limits, but "if we’re going to trade one of those guys it’s going to be a significant deal," explained Wren.
- Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post has more from Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick, who explained that his client would "be a completely happier player playing somewhere else."
The Braves' season ended in a game that will be remembered for a controversial call last week, as did the likely Hall of Fame career of Chipper Jones. With a feeling that he could only describe as "emptiness," general manager Frank Wren talked with David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the playoffs, his team's upcoming offseason and several of the decisions they'll have to make…
- Wren suggested that he's not a fan of the Wild Card format and that he'd like to see the system amended to give the Wild Card teams a three-game series, beginning with a day-night double-header.
- He also said that it's worth revisiting the trade deadline, which Wren feels is "pretty early for the current system." August 15 would be a more logical date for teams to determine whether or not they want to push for the Wild Card, in Wren's estimation.
- Wren says he's looking forward to a "focused" offseason. The front office recognizes that they have to replace Jones at third base, and they hope to retain Michael Bourn, whose contract expired at season's end. The team would like to address center field and the leadoff position in the same move — a role which Bourn can obviously fill. The Braves contacted Bourn's representatives about an extension in Spring Training but were told to wait until after the season to engage in negotiations.
- Atlanta would love to have David Ross back in the fold in 2013. Wren spoke very highly of his backup catcher to O'Brien.
- The Braves chose not to have Brian McCann undergo an MRI with a dye injection during the season because the recovery is too long. McCann will undergo that test in the near future, which could reveal a need for surgery, but for the time being the Braves believe their catcher needs only rest to recover.
- Jason Heyward could handle center field "for a few days," but Wren and his associates don't view him as a long-term answer in center. Wren said he considers Heyward among the best defensive right fielders in the game and wouldn't want to diminish his defensive value by moving him.
- The Braves have options on McCann ($12MM), Tim Hudson ($8MM) and Paul Maholm ($6.5MM), and they'll address those decisions in the coming weeks.
- It would take a "very, very big piece" to trade Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran this winter. The trade market does figure to be in play for the Braves though, as Wren said he won't be "going outrageous salary-wise" on free agents. The team will be "looking for premium players," but Wren cautions they're not looking to add a player to the team as much as they are looking to add value. If they feel that adding two players can give them more than one premium name, they'll pursue that route instead.
- Jair Jurrjens' situation is different from Tommy Hanson's, in Wren's mind. Wren spoke more definitely of Hanson's future with the team than that of Jurrjens. The Braves "will have a determination" on Jurrjens' future this winter. Jurrjens earned $5.5MM in 2012 and is a non-tender candidate for 2013 in the mind of MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
- Wren confirmed that the entire coaching staff will be offered the opportunity to return to the team.