Rickie Weeks Rumors

NL Central Notes: Weeks, Cardinals, Davis

After covering some Cubs Notes earlier today, let’s take a look around the rest of the NL Central…

  • The Blue Jays haven’t shown any interest in Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks since they’re looking to land a better defender at the keystone, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  (Similar defensive concerns were also the reason for Toronto’s lack of interest in Daniel Murphy, as Heyman reported over the weekend.)  Weeks is hitting .263/.344/.463 in 90 PA against left-handed pitching this season, and would make sense on paper for a Jays team that is need of both second base help and a right-handed bat.
  • The Cardinals are open to acquiring a second or third baseman and have also considered adding a “complement upgrade” for their lineup, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Padres outfielder Seth Smith is cited by Goold as an example of the type of complementary player the Cards are discussing, though Smith himself isn’t necessarily being targeted by the team.  If the Cardinals do add a 2B or 3B, Matt Carpenter would play the other position.
  • The Piratestrade for Ike Davis is over two months old, and Tim Rohan of the New York Times checks in to see how both the Bucs and Mets have progressed since the deal.  The Mets have been very pleased by how Lucas Duda is hitting as the new regular first baseman, and while Davis hasn’t been hitting quite as well (.250/.359/.364 in 217 PA as a Pirate), he mentioned in a recent WFAN interview that he enjoys playing for a team that expects to contend.

Brewers Notes: First Base, Weeks, Bullpen

The Brewers enter play today with the most wins in baseball and a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. With Milwaukee’s success to date and the Trade Deadline looming, will GM Doug Melvin pull off a major acquisition like he did the last two times the Brewers made the playoffs (CC Sabathia in 2008 and Francisco Rodriguez in 2011)? Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he’s “always open for anything,” but there isn’t a lot of holes needing to be filled. “You have to ask, where are you going to play a guy?” said Melvin. “We have a pretty good lineup. I’m not going to trade for a catcher or a second baseman or shortstop or left fielder or center fielder or right fielder.

In other Brewers’ news and notes from Haudricourt:

  • One position Melvin did not mention was first base with the platoon of Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay producing a .683 OPS, which ranks 26th in the majors. Melvin says the duo has “done a nice job for us,” and “there’s not a big offensive first baseman available anyway.
  • The Brewers could be in the market for relievers with Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg still on the disabled list. “We’ve talked about bullpen help,” Melvin said. “Over the course of the year, your bullpen gets worn down pretty good. A lot of teams are going to be looking for bullpen help.
  • Melvin, however, will not sacrifice the future for short-term gain in any trade. “We’re not going to deal the young impact player to help our big club now. It’s going to be tough to do that. I think we do have a lot of players in our system that will play in the big leagues.
  • Melvin acknowledged other teams have called about second baseman Rickie Weeks, but no specific proposals have been made. Weeks is earning $11MM this season with a $11.5MM vesting option for 2015. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently noted the option isn’t likely to be triggered.

2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.


NL Notes: Roark, Weeks, Gregorius, Marlins, Mets, Cards

The Nationals‘ unheralded acquisition of current fifth starter Tanner Roark represents a “triumph of scouting,” writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. With the Nats looking to dump the salary of Christian Guzman back in 2010, the team identified the little-known Roark as a potentially useful arm and picked him up along with righty Ryan Tatusko. While Roark was the real prize of that swap, GM Mike Rizzo says that Tatusko (who owns a 2.15 ERA through seven starts at Triple-A) could reach the bigs himself “somehow, somewhere, with somebody.”

Here’s more out of Washington and the rest of the National League:

  • Much-maligned Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks has been reasonably productive this year, and could potentially be dealt if Milwaukee can find an interested partner, writes Rosenthal. The 31-year-old, who is earning $11MM this year before he reaches the open market, has a .318/.375/.364 line through just 48 plate appearances. Somewhat curiously, and counter to his career tendencies, the right-handed hitter has been knocking around same-handed hurlers (.954 OPS) while struggling against southpaws (.541) in an approximately even number of appearances against pitchers of both sides. Rosenthal mentions the Cardinals and Orioles as possible matches, though the former seems unlikely with Milwaukee leading the division. (Of course, Baltimore already owns the rights to Weeks’s younger brother, fellow second bagger Jemile Weeks.)
  • The Diamondbacks are still in no rush to deal shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is spending some time at second while fellow middle infield prospect Nick Ahmed sees time at short. Rosenthal notes that the team is unlikely to field a double-play combination of Gregorius and Chris Owings unless it saw fit to deal keystone stalwart Aaron Hill, who earns $12MM both this year and next.
  • There is little doubt of the biggest story in baseball right now: the UCL tear of Marlins‘ young ace Jose Fernandez. With the club still in the thick of things in the NL East, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro suggests that Miami should consider a bold move: a trade for Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs. While top prospect Andrew Heaney offers some hope of filling Fernandez’s shoes (to the extent that is possible), Frisaro says that Samardzija “could save the season” for the Fish. Of course, acquiring him could well require parting with Heaney — if not more, if the Cubs’ ace continues his current dominance. Samardzija comes with another year of control after the present, though he’ll be fairly expensive after earning $5.345MM in his second trip through arbitration.
  • While weighing a call-up of Heaney, if not a more drastic move, the Marlins will promote Anthony DeSclafani for his first big league action, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. Baseball America tabbed DeSclafani as the team’s fifth-best prospect coming into the season, saying that the 24-year-old (who came over in the infamous Blue Jays trade) could top out as a number three starter or back-end reliever.
  • Whatever the intentions of Mets‘ co-owner Saul Katz, any sale of his portion of the team’s equity is not likely to change the control of the club, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman walks through the reasons that, even if Katz looks to move some or all of his shares, the Wilpon family is quite likely to stay in charge in New York.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak acknowledges that he finds the club’s middling start “concerning,” reports MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. While the team has plenty of internal possibilities to shake things up, Mozeliak says that he does not intend to just go with what he has if the situation warrants change. “I can’t imagine us just doing nothing all season and just say our strategy is you’re going to rise up to your mean,” said Mozeliak, who said the club’s 19-20 record may actually be an over-achievement at this point. “For us, there are some things we want to be sensitive to. The month of July is an opportunity to maybe change the look of your club if you have to. The clock’s ticking, but it’s not in a panic mode or a reactionary place where you have to just do something to do something. I think people have to be aware that this is not acceptable baseball at this point.”

Central Notes: Chapman, Wong, Weeks, ChiSox, Cubs

On this date 70 years ago, Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis (home to the National League’s Cardinals and the American League’s Browns) became the final MLB stadium to integrate seating for fans. Although there was no official team or municipal policy, African-Americans were restricted to the bleachers before finally being allowed to purchase grandstand tickets.

Here’s today’s news and notes from MLB’s Central divisions:

  • Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to rejoin the club this Friday, if his final two rehab appearances go well, reports MLB.com’s Andy Call. Chapman, who was struck by a line drive during a Spring Training game and needed a three-inch plate and 12 screws to stabilize the bones around his left eye, is scheduled to pitch in back-to-back Triple-A games beginning Tuesday.
  • Last year, the Cardinals sent a highly-touted prospect (Michael Wacha) to the minors after a disappointing start only to become a key player for them late in the season, and they are hoping history repeats itself with Kolten Wong, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • The Brewers should consider all alternatives when it comes to Rickie Weeks because his offensive struggles and being limited to only playing second base puts pressure on the organization, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak in a recent reader’s chat.
  • Both Chicago franchises, with the right returns in trades, could accelerate their rebuilding, opines Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Gonzales notes shedding Alexei Ramirez‘s salary would allow the White Sox to address other needs while the Cubs may deal Jason Hammel hoping for results similar to last summer’s flip of Scott Feldman.

Rangers Seek Depth At Second And Catcher

11:43pm: The Rangers are scouting the Cubs, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports, and perhaps not just because of Kottaras. The Cubs also have infielders Darwin Barney and Donnie Murphy. The Rangers like Barney better, Sullivan writes.

4:50pm: In the wake of Soto's injury, the Rangers are considering acquiring George Kottaras of the Cubs, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com tweets. Kottaras currently projects to back up Welington Castillo in Chicago, but the Cubs are reportedly considering rostering John Baker instead. Kottaras, 30, hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances for the Royals last year. In response to Soto's injury, the Rangers have already signed Chris Snyder to a minor-league deal.

The Rangers also looked at Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks today, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel tweets. As Haudricourt notes, Weeks' $11MM salary could be an impediment to a trade. Weeks hit .209/.306/.357 in 399 plate appearances with the Brewers last year.

12:08pm: Texas has checked in with several clubs with catching depth, including the Yankees, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Though Francisco Cervelli may be available, Olney says that there does not appear to be a fit between those two clubs.

10:50am: The Rangers have had trade talks in a bid to add depth at catcher and/or second base, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The expected starters at those two spots — catcher Geovany Soto and second baseman Jurickson Profar — are each expected to miss ten to twelve weeks to open the year.

While it would be pure speculation to guess at possible trade partners in this kind of scenario, we can look at the available free agent pool for other alternatives. With the list growing as final roster decisions are made, Texas could look to players like Tony Abreu, Ronny Cedeno, or Cesar Izturis for the middle infield. Meanwhile, available catching options include recently-released players like Ramon Hernandez, Chris Snyder, and Yorvit Torrealba.

Of course, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote yesterday, it could be that the greater concern is with the state of the rotation. That is all the more true now, with this morning's report (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that ace Yu Darvish will miss his Opening Day start and undergo an MRI to determine the cause of his stiff neck.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Yankees Monitoring Market For Infielders

The Yankees have questionable infield depth at best, with Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Eduardo Nunez all figuring to see significant playing time in 2014. As such, the team's scouts are placing a heavy emphasis on watching infielders when looking at other clubs in Spring Training, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. King writes that the Yankees could use their surplus of catching options to bolster the infield.

In addition to Brian McCann, who signed a five-year, $85MM contract with the Bombers this offseason, the Yankees have Francisco Cervelli (who is out of options), J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez on their 40-man roster. With the exception of Sanchez, each could be considered Major League ready. Cervelli, of course, has racked up 623 plate appearances with the Yanks over the past several seasons, while Romine had 168 big league PAs in 2013, and Murphy made his Major League debut as well.

It's natural to speculate on the possibility simply adding Stephen Drew, but as Newsday's David Lennon tweeted earlier today, the Yankees will only add to their infield if the addition doesn't come with significant financial impact. GM Brian Cashman told Lennon: "If we need to do improvements, it’s got to be cheap. We’ve spent our money."

Likewise, it's easy to speculate that the reportedly available Nick Franklin would fit with the Yankees, but Seattle likely feels they have their catcher of the future in 2012 No. 3 overall draft selection Mike Zunino. They're said to be interested in acquiring pitching in exchange for Franklin, should they end up dealing him.

King writes that the White Sox, Giants, Tigers, Astros and Twins all had scouts in attendance to watch Cervelli, Murphy and Sanchez in yesterday's exhibition game against Florida State. While that could just be routine and doesn't necessarily carry much weight, King does add that an industry source indicated that the White Sox are seeking catching upgrades. He also adds that the Yankees will monitor Rickie Weeks during Spring Training, who figures to be plenty available due to his $11MM salary and $11.5MM vesting option. It stands to reason that Milwaukee would need to eat a significant amount of salary in any deal to move Weeks, who batted just .209/.306/.357 last season.


NL Central Notes: Cubs, Cards, Weeks, Carpenter

We've already passed along several of Scott Boras' more newsworthy comments from Wednesday's scrum with reporters in Orlando, but one of the superagent's most notable barbs was reserved for the Cubs. Boras likened Chicago's rebuilding process to a lollipop that takes all day to dissolve, suggesting that a major-market team should be retooling more rapidly. Although team president Theo Epstein wasn't surprised by Boras' remarks, he declined to shoot back.

"We’re not going to get into a war of words with Scott other than to say the folks who work for the Cubs probably have a better understanding of our situation than he does," Epstein said, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Here's more from around the NL Central:


NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Freese, Brewers, Bard

The NL Central features a pair of matchups this afternoon each at a different end of the spectrum. The division-leading Cardinals are hosting the Pirates and lead Pittsburgh by one-half game while the Brewers and Cubs are at Wrigley Field battling to avoid the cellar. The Brewers sit in fourth place by only one game. In other news and notes from the NL Central:

  • The first place Cardinals can thank their deep farm system (especially in terms of pitching reinforcements) for their place in the standings, but it has had a ripple effect throughout the entire system, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • Bernie Miklasz, Goold's colleague at the Post-Dispatch, agrees the Cardinals' young talent has been a tremendous resource; but, with Allen Craig nursing a sprained foot, the club will turn to a grizzled playoff veteran: David Freese.
  • The Brewers have a glaring hole at first base with seven different players starting there this season, but Juan Francisco's audition to win the job for 2014 hasn't gone well, opines Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Since a two-home run, four-RBI game against the Rangers on August 14, Francisco has slumped with only seven hits in 44 at bats (.159), two RBIs, and 23 strikeouts.
  • In an recent online chat, Rosiak explained trading either Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse this offseason wouldn't make sense because it would create more holes in a rotation which already doesn't have enough proven arms.
  • Within that same chat, Rosiak can envision the Brewers cutting ties with Rickie Weeks citing the recent examples of Bill Hall, Jeff Suppan, and Randy Wolf. Rosiak notes those three cases occurred in the final year of their contracts, which is what Weeks is entering in 2014.
  • Right-hander Daniel Bard, claimed on waivers by the Cubs last Wednesday, threw his second bullpen session today, but there is still no timetable for him to see any game action, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.  "It’d be nice to see but it’s his timetable and we’ll evaluate and we’ll find out how he’s doing and how he’s feeling," said manager Dale Sveum. Bard is eligible for arbitration this winter.
  • Earlier today, the Cubs designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment to create roster space for right-hander Scott Baker, who is making his first MLB appearance in two years.  

Royals Discussed Kendrick, Beckham, Weeks

3:50pm: The Royals are one of 12 teams to which Kendrick can block a trade, notes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

3:07pm: The Royals have had discussions about second basemen Howie Kendrick of the Angels, Gordon Beckham of the White Sox, and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  They also looked at the Phillies' Kevin Frandsen.  However, Knobler says there is no indication the Royals are close to any deal.

The Royals have used Chris Getz, Elliot Johnson, Miguel Tejada, and Johnny Giavotella at second base this year, resulting in a .230/.279/.311 offensive line.  They seek a second baseman they would control beyond 2013, says Knobler, and all of the players mentioned above are controlled through '15.

The Angels would need a front-line, Major League or MLB-ready starting pitcher for Kendrick or Erick Aybar, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.  As Knobler notes, Beckham presents the problem of playing within the Royals' division, while Weeks' salary is prohibitive compared to his production.