San Diego Padres Rumors

San Diego Padres trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Omar Minaya Joins MLBPA As Senior Adviser

The Major League Baseball Players Association has announced that Omar Minaya has left his post as senior vice president of baseball operations for the Padres to join the MLBPA as a senior adviser to executive director Tony Clark.

With the MLBPA, Minaya will focus on international affairs and game development in the United States, per the Associated Press. Clark stressed the importance of having the Dominican-born Minaya join the union’s ranks as the number of Latin American players in the game continues to increase. Minaya may also play a part in determining the structure of a potential international draft, which the league is eyeing upon the completion of the current collective bargaining agreement at the end of the 2016 season.

In a statement within the press release, Minaya said he feels that players “provide the sport with its heart and soul.” The former Mets GM continued: “I share the Players’ and Tony’s views on the state of the game, especially as they relate to what active and inactive Players are doing to help develop the game, widen its appeal and excite the next generation of players, while ensuring the integrity of the competition on the field is maintained.”


Cuba Links: Unblocking, Moncada, Olivera

We looked yesterday at the latest on the slowly-moving Yoan Moncada signing eligibility process. Today, there’s an update to that story as well as some more interesting info on the always-intriguing Cuban market:

  • It is Major League Baseball, not the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), that is currently holding up Moncada’s freedom to sign, reports Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Though MLB has already declared him a free agent, and Moncada has met the standards for a “general license” that would leave him free to sign (“unblocked”) in OFAC’s eyes, the league is not permitting Moncada (and others) to reach eligibility based on that general license. Instead, per Badler, MLB has required players since Yasiel Puig to apply for and receive a “specific license,” creating up to a six-month delay. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds (via Twitter) that OFAC changed its rules four years ago, with the additional step (presumably, the specific license) being added at some intervening point.
  • As Badler explains, if the process drags on long enough, it could create some intrigue, as teams like the Yankees and Red Sox will face a two-year international signing ban (for all but sub-$300K bonus amounts) beginning on June 15 of this year.
  • Fellow second basemen Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez, among other players, are awaiting their specific licenses, like Moncada, Badler notes.
  • Olivera, of course, is more of a plug-and-play option than the other, young Cuban middle infielders. Baseball America passes on some video of Olivera, who cuts rather an imposing figure for a second baseman. Badler wrote up Olivera’s efforts yesterday, noting that the PadresGiantsAthletics, and Braves had significant presences in the stands.

Latest On Yoan Moncada

The international market provides opportunities to make (mostly) open-market purchases of the rights to the types of players who rarely can be acquired in that manner. Recent years have brought early-prime starters (Masahiro Tanaka, Hyun-jin Ryu), still-youthful sluggers (Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes), and high-upside talents (Yasiel Puig, Jorge Soler). Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada certainly fits into that last category, rating as the type of player who would be chosen at or near the top of an amateur draft. In that regard, his ultimate payday (bonus plus ~100% penalty) will provide some fascinating insight into team valuations. But, of course, we are still waiting for the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to establish Moncada’s eligibility to sign. Here’s the latest:

  • The precise hold-up in Moncada’s seemingly overdue OFAC application is not clear, writes Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. Moncada’s agent indicated that he has not heard from OFAC since President Obama announced changes in the US diplomatic stance toward Cuba, seemingly indicating that higher-level activity is playing a role in Moncada’s situation. As McDaniel explains, MLB is working with the government to determine how to apply new unblocking policies. For what it’s worth, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez notes on Twitter, a similar policy appears to have been in place several years back, when Cespedes was preparing to enter the market.
  • One entirely hypothetical reason for the delay with regard to Moncada, apart from the broader diplomatic considerations, is the fact that he was allowed to leave the island legally. Per McDaniel, concern that money could flow from Moncada back to the Cuban government is a possible, but by no means substantiated, factor distinguishing his situation.
  • Of note, fellow top young middle infielder Andy Ibanez is also rumored to have left the island with the blessing of the government. There are rumblings that he could be unblocked soon, however, McDaniel notes.
  • As for another largely-uncertain bit of information, McDaniel adds that the latest chatter has Moncada going for about a $80MM total investment (based on a $40MM bonus).
  • Moncada worked out for the Dodgers this morning, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has given public indication of its interest, and if impressed with its private look will certainly have to be counted among the most capable suitors. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Don Mattingly were both on hand, Sanchez reports on Twitter.
  • The other teams to have held private workouts are the BrewersRangers, GiantsYankeesRed Sox, and Padres, Sanchez tweets


Padres Sign Ramiro Pena To Minor League Deal

The Padres announced their list of non-roster invitees today, and among several previously reported names (e.g. Brett Wallace, Scott Elbert, Jose Valverde, Jason Lane and Marcos Mateo) was the news that the team had signed Ramiro Pena to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training.

Pena, 29, has spent the past two seasons with the Braves, batting a combined .258/.315/.385 over the course of 272 plate appearances, although his 2013 numbers were considerably better than his 2014 numbers. Pena, who has also spent parts of four seasons with the Yankees, is experienced at second base, third base and shortstop, having totaled at least 339 big league innings at each of the positions. Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating feel that his best positions are third base and shortstop, where he’s well above-average and average, respectively, though the sample size of his work at all three positions is too small to represent a truly accurate level of his defensive capabilities.

The Padres have a good deal of uncertainty around the infield, and Pena should provide them insurance. Will Middlebrooks and Yangervis Solarte will compete at third base, though Middlebrooks will need to prove that he is healthy an can cut down on his strikeouts to cement himself as a regular. Jedd Gyorko figures to man second base, but he’s coming off a dreadful season in which he slumped to a .210/.280/.333 batting line just one season after looking like a Rookie of the Year candidate. At shortstop, Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes are the top in-house options, and neither brings much upside at the plate, though Barmes is an excellent defender.

The Padres also announced that catcher Griff Erickson and right-hander Jay Jackson have been signed to minor league deals and invited to camp. Jackson, a former top prospect with the Cubs, struggled to a 4.93 ERA in 111 innings with the Triple-A affiliates for the Pirates and Brewers in 2014. The 27-year-old struck out 115 batters against 52 walks last year. Erickson, meanwhile, has spent his whole career with the Dodgers and batted an impressive .297/.384/.510 in his first extended taste of Triple-A action last season (60 games), though the standard disclaimer about the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should be applied to those statistics.


International Notes: Olivera, Fernandez

Last week, Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera had a showcase at the Giants’ facility in the Dominican Republic that reportedly had over 200 scouts in attendance. Ben Badler of Baseball America has some takeaways from that showcase in latest piece; some highlights from Badler’s post and a bit more news on the international front…

  • Olivera was clocked at 6.7 to 6.8 seconds in his 60-yard dash and looked to be a steady defender when fielding grounders at second base. He also took grounders at third, but didn’t show off as much arm strength as he had in previous years. Olivera collected three hits in “seven or eight at-bats” against live pitching. While the overall report has a positive undertone, Badler does note that there is still some uncertainty among scouts due to the fact that Olivera missed all of the 2012-13 season with a blood disorder and then spent most of his time at DH upon returning in the 2013-14 season.
  • Four teams — the Padres, Giants, A’s and Braves — had the largest contingents at Olivera’s showcase, and all are expected to be in the mix to sign the 29-year-old. Padres GM A.J. Preller was on hand, in fact, and his team has been the most aggressive on Olivera, Badler writes, adding that San Diego may ultimately be his most likely landing place. It’s not known at this time when Olivera will be cleared by Major League Baseball and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, but Badler speculates that Olivera will be able to sign prior to Opening Day based on the fact that he left Cuba all the way back in September.
  • Kiley McDaniel joined Carson Cistulli on the Fangraphs’ podcast over the weekend, and the two spent the early portion of the episode discussing Cuban players. The biggest takeaway from the discussion was an update on highly touted Cuban second baseman Jose Fernandez, whom McDaniel hears is now being heavily guarded by police in Cuba. Fernandez was thought to have left the island late in 2014 but was apparently detained in his attempt to do so.

West Notes: Astros, Tulowitzki, Padres

News out of the AL and NL West..

  • The Astros have had an eventful offseason, but it sounds like most of the heavy lifting has been done already, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  “I don’t know if we’re going to sign anybody on a major league deal, but there’s possibilities we’d bring another pitcher on the NRI (non-roster invitee) basis,” General Manager Jeff Luhnow said.
  • Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki isn’t stressing out about the constant trade talk surrounding him, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes.  “In this game you never get relaxed,” Tulowitzki said. “Anything can happen. I’ve heard a few people say, ‘As soon as I thought that I was going to stay somewhere, that’s when I got traded.’ So I won’t go there. Whatever they do, they do. Whatever happens, happens.”  At this stage of the offseason, it seems unlikely that the shortstop will be moved, but he says that he’s prepared for any possibility.  Tulowitzki is currently rehabbing a surgically repaired left hip labrum.
  • The Padres pulled the trigger on the Matt Kemp blockbuster thanks in large part to Logan White and his knowledge of the player, as Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes.  “He had some good insight into Matt Kemp — the person, the makeup,” Padres VP of scouting operations Don Welke said of White. “One of the things he does that fits in with what A.J. [Preller] and I do is getting to know the person, background and family — going into all that. He’s very good at that.”  White, whose current priorities include filling out his pro scouting staff, likely will have a significant role in the Padres’ international efforts going forward.

Quick Hits: Shields, Yankees, Craig

Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider required) speculates the best fits for the current top 10 free agents. At the head of the list is James Shields who Bowden thinks fits with an AL team. Specifically mentioned are the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Rangers. However, now that his price tag may have dropped below five years and $110MM, other teams could get involved too. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also explored nine potential suitors for Shields and turned up plenty of NL contenders like the Cardinals and Padres.


Quick Hits: Papelbon, Beachy, Olivera

Talks between the Phillies and Brewers concerning closer Jonathan Papelbon are “on life support,” reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt reported earlier today that “there was no traction” between the two sides. GM Doug Melvin echoed that sentiment, saying there was no momentum. It is thought that Papelbon’s $13MM option for 2016 is holding up an agreement. Since Papelbon has a limited no trade clause that includes the Brewers, he may ask for the option to be guaranteed before accepting a trade. The ball may be in Philadelphia’s court to find a financial solution to the situation.

  • Brandon Beachy has “zeroed in on a new team,” tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. Beachy and the unknown team are currently working on contractual details. Wolfson adds that the team is not the Twins. Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves earlier in the offseason after undergoing his second Tommy John procedure. If he avoids setbacks, he may return to action mid-season. It’s easy to compare Beachy’s situation with fellow former Brave Kris Medlen, who signed a two-year, $8.5MM deal with an option. Like Beachy, Medlen is also recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.
  • Cuban infielder Hector Olivera held a public workout in the Dominican Republic last week and over 200 scouts attended, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The Giants, Padres, Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are showing the strongest interest in Olivera.

Latest On James Shields

James Shields‘ market still lacks clarity, as more notable teams are claiming to be out rather than in on the free agent right-hander.  The Diamondbacks and Brewers both seem to be out of the running, while Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said his team is more focused on adding rotation depth than a potential ace.  Here’s some more about which clubs may or may not still be in the Shields derby…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports takes an overview of Shields’ market, plus passing on the news that Shields would prefer to pitch closer to his home on the west coast.  Rosenthal also adds to the lack of a Brewers/Shields connection, reporting that Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio isn’t pushing his front office to add Shields.  The Blue Jays, who are known to be interested in Shields, have limited payroll space and would need a “massive backload” of a contract to make it work.
  • Also from Rosenthal, some executives think Shields will receive a four-year deal worth $70-$80MM.  Page Odle, Shields’ agent, has been very quiet about his strategy or expectations for his client’s next salary, though Rosenthal reports that some around the game feel Shields would’ve been better off billing himself as a No. 2 or No.3 starter rather than as a top-of-the-rotation ace.
  • The Marlins are “closely monitoring” the Shields market, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter link).  Miami has been linked to Shields in recent weeks though they’re wary about paying too much to sign him and Grantland’s Jonah Keri recently reported there is a “zero percent” chance of Shields joining the Fish.
  • In an interview with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link), Royals GM Dayton Moore said it’s “doubtful” that Shields returns to Kansas City.  While Moore admitted that “I can’t say [re-signing Shields] hasn’t crossed my mind,” he said that the Royals’ roster, and particularly its rotation with new addition Edinson Volquez, is probably settled going into Spring Training.
  • The Padres are “unlikely” to sign Shields though they’re still “on [the] periphery” of his market, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.  A few weeks ago, I speculated that the Padres could be a dark-horse contender for Shields since they’ve been so aggressive in upgrading their roster, not to mention the fact that Shields lives in the San Diego area.

West Notes: Rockies, Astros, Gallardo, White

Wilin Rosario‘s name has come up quite frequently in trade talks this winter, but Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that it now appears likely that the Rockies will hold onto Rosario heading into the 2015 season. GM Jeff Bridich explained to Saunders that he feels Rosario possesses the athleticism and work ethic to add first base and corner outfield to his repertoire, and he’ll still likely see some time behind the dish.

Here’s more from Saunders’ piece and more regarding other clubs in baseball’s Western divisions…

  • Charlie Blackmon has also been a popular name on the rumor mill of late, but Saunders hears that the Rockies haven’t initiated any trade talks regarding Blackmon. While they’ve talked to several teams over the past few months, they’ve been on the receiving end of those calls rather than openly shopping Blackmon.
  • Saunders also notes that a trusted Major League source informed him that the Rockies “unequivocally did not make [James] Shields an offer,” thereby squashing some speculation that it was Colorado who extended the previously reported five-year, $110MM offer.
  • The Astros‘ deal with Ryan Vogelsong looks to have fallen through, with the Giants reportedly making a serious run at re-signing the righty, but Houston GM Jeff Luhnow indicated earlier today that the team could still add another starting pitcher but is likely set from an offensive standpoint, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (All Twitter links). Luhnow also did not rule out trading away more of his own players. It seems like the Astros may not be quite done shaping the 2015 roster.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Luhnow about the Astros‘ abundance of strikeout-prone hitters, and Luhnow explained that the team is OK with the trade-off of strikeouts for power. “We probably will have a few strikeouts because of the types of players that we have,” said Luhnow, “but the flipside of that equation is we’re going to produce a lot of runs with those types of players. It’s up to our hitting coach to work on them to figure out when’s the right time to go for it and when to put the ball in play, and (manager A.J. Hinch) to figure out the lineup, so we don’t kill rallies by stacking up more than two or three of these guys at a time.”
  • More from Drellich, who adds some additional Astros notes in a late-night roundup, noting that Luhnow doesn’t expect to resolve the team’s only outstanding arbitration case (that of Marwin Gonzalez) in the near future. He also adds that the Astros’ acquisition of so many strikeout-prone hitters wasn’t due to a philosophy or belief that Houston knows something about strikeouts that other clubs do not; it just happened that the power bats they targeted came with strikeout issues.
  • In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the changes in Yovani Gallardo‘s arsenal of pitches over the past few seasons and wonders if the Rangers can receive better results from the 28-year-old by trying to revert him to his previous ways. Gallardo has switched from pitching primarily off a four-seam fastball to throwing  significant amount of two-seamers. The results, Cameron notes, has been an increase in grounders and a decrease in strikeouts. However, Cameron theorizes that part of the thinking behind the conscious shift from Gallardo was that Milwaukee catchers excel at expanding the bottom half of the strike zone. Meanwhile the Rangers ranked 29th in team ground-ball percentage in 2014 and typically emphasize four-seamers over two-seamers. Cameron wonders if the change in scenery could cause Gallardo’s strikeout rate to rise, which could pay significant dividends for Texas.
  • Logan White is invigorated by his transition from Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting to Padres senior adviser/professional scouting director, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock. White spoke at length about the differences between working on the amateur side of the game and working the pro side and the aggressive approach that the Padres will be taking to scouting: “We’re going to see anyone and everyone in pro baseball. We’re going to get after it on the back fields, make sure we know the makeup of these guys, talk to coaches, watch BP and early work. …  Some of the best decisions you make is because you work a little harder, not because you’re smarter than everyone else.”