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San Diego Padres Rumors
Catcher Eli Whiteside has opted to accept a coaching job with the Giants rather than taking one of several offers he had to continue playing, MLB.com’s Chris Haft reports. The veteran played in parts of six MLB seasons, including a three-year run in which he was a significant contributor for San Francisco. He will retire after getting one last short run in the bigs last year with the Cubs.
More from the NL West:
- Padres righty Josh Johnson has progressed to the point that he’ll throw to a catcher on flat ground, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. With his training program currently on track, Johnson is scheduled to throw a pen session for the first time by mid-March with a target of game action by June, if all goes according to plan. Johnson’s deal with San Diego promises him only $1MM but can increase all the way to $7.25MM if he maxes out his incentives.
- Fellow two-time TJ patient Cory Luebke is also hoping to return strong for the Padres, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. The story details some of the ups and downs that Luebke has had in dealing with his two procedures. As with Johnson, 2015 is something of a make-good season for the lefty: his early-career extension is up after the season, when San Diego will have to decide whether to exercise a $7.5MM option or pay a $1.75MM buyout.
- The Rockies pursued utilityman Daniel Descalso not only because he would offer a versatile bench option, but because of his big-game experience, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. Skipper Walt Weiss explained that the former Cardinals infielder brought an underappreciated element to the squad. “All of that factored in quite a bit,” said Weiss. “I think we sometimes underestimate the value of that — guys that have played in big games, pennant races, and have won a World Series. Those types of players are valuable, and that’s a big reason why we brought Danny in here.”
- Alex Guerrero‘s contract and the Dodgers roster situation makes for quite a puzzle, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. On the one hand, Guerrero can refuse an optional assignment and has said he will do just that. On the other, if he is traded he will earn the right to opt out of his deal after the season. Cameron posits that the club could send Guerrero out in exchange for some savings on his 2015 tab, agreeing to remain responsible for post-2015 responsibilities while hoping he will opt out. The Angels, Blue Jays, Rockies, and Rangers all look like reasonable landing spots, in Cameron’s estimation.
The White Sox announced today that they have promoted Jeremy Haber, who was previously assistant to general manager Rick Hahn and will now bear the title of assistant GM. The 31-year-old Haber led negotiations on the team’s five-year, $21MM extension with Jose Quintana last offseason, says Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), and he also leads salary arbitration negotiations. CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes profiled Haber last offseason, noting an impressive educational background but little experience in the baseball world. Haber has a B.A. in political science from Brown as well as an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Haber was initially hired as an intern with the Red Sox after a series of blind emails to teams in search of a front office opportunity, and he’s since helped in the White Sox’ hiring of hitting coach Todd Steverson in addition to making player acquisition recommendations for Hahn and the rest of the Chicago front office.
More from the American League:
- Huston Street tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto have begun swapping text messages to figure out a time when they can have more serious extension discussions in the near future. Street, who acts as his own agent, has said he wants to get a new contract worked out in Spring Training and made no attempt to hide the fact that he’s eyeing something between the four-year, $36MM deal inked by Andrew Miller and the four-year, $46MM contract signed by David Robertson. He did say he envisions a new contract overriding his current one-year deal, so he’s essentially looking for three new years.
- Ryan Ludwick told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that multiple teams for which he had played in the past expressed interest in bringing him back this offseason, though he declined to specify which teams. The Rangers are clearly one, as the now-36-year-old signed a minor league pact to return to Texas, where he made his big league debut 13 years ago. “It’s cool knowing that teams are willing to take you on,” Ludwick said Sunday. “I guess that means I’m somewhat of a decent guy.” The Rangers will hope that in addition to being a “somewhat decent guy,” Ludwick will bring the offense he showed as recently as 2012, when he hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers in just 472 plate appearances for the Reds. He’s also played for the Cardinals, Indians, Padres and Pirates.
- Replacing Nelson Cruz‘s production will not be straightforward but may yet be possible for the Orioles, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com writes. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette explains that the current roster not only has power across the board but does so with generally well-rounded players. And, as he notes, the team will never “grab a lot of headlines in the offseason,” as would have been needed to bring Cruz back or replace him with a single player. “We pick up players year round,” said Duquette. “We don’t do it all in the offseason.”
Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon is a better bet than projection systems indicate, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues. Steamer and PECOTA foresee regression for Gordon next season, but Rosenthal points to examples of late-blooming speedy players like Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino and Tom Goodwin as evidence that Gordon (who didn’t start playing baseball until he was a junior in high school) ought to be able to retain some of the improvements he made in the first half of last season. Rosenthal also suggests being traded from Los Angeles to Miami might be good for Gordon, in that he’ll get to work with top infield instructor Perry Hill with the Marlins. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Diamondbacks prospect Enrique Burgos‘ current GM, Dave Stewart, was also his agent before the Dbacks hired him last September. Burgos credits Stewart for helping him improve last season, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. Burgos walked 50 batters in 46 1/3 innings with Class A South Bend in 2013, but he took a new attitude with him to Class A+ Visalia last year and halved his walk rate while posting 13.7 K/9 in 54 2/3 innings of relief. “Before, a lot of people would tell me that I looked so nice on the mound,” says Burgos. “But with the stuff that I have, I can’t be nice. That was one of the things [Stewart] told me. You have to think you’re the man up there, instead of being so nice.”
- Fellow GMs thought new Padres executive A.J. Preller would be aggressive, but his ultra-busy offseason took the rest of baseball by surprise, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The fact that the Padres hired Preller in August gave him time to figure out how best to remake his team, his former boss and Rangers GM Jon Daniels says. “I think the fact that he got in early gave him the chance to truly evaluate what they had and make this decision that people didn’t anticipate,” says Daniels. “I think the assumption was they might trade some of their pitching and build the system, especially with his background in the amateur markets. That’s where I give him a lot of credit. He said, ‘No, we can win right now,’ and did it in a creative fashion.”
James Shields is already providing value to the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “Having him in here is going to be super valuable for this pitching staff,” says Tyson Ross. Shields has impressed the Padres with his attitude and his preparation — he’s already showed many of his teammates his personal book of scouting charts on opposing players. Ross and Robbie Erlin add that they’re looking forward to watching Shields work to see how he stays so durable — Shields has pitched over 200 innings in eight straight seasons, and as Lin notes, Ian Kennedy is the only other Padres starter who’s reached the 200-inning threshold. Here’s more from the National League.
- Infielder Alex Guerrero is facing a crucial year in Dodgers camp, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Guerrero, who’s now in the second year of a four-year deal, cannot be optioned to the minors this season without his permission, so if the Dodgers don’t find space for him on their active roster, they’ll have to to trade or release him. “I don’t want to go down. I’m not going down,” Guerrero says. “I feel like I can get better here at this level and play every day. I think that’s what every player wants.” Guerrero, 28, hit well at Triple-A last season even given the offense-heavy environment at Albuquerque, batting .329/.364/.613 in 258 plate appearances. The Dodgers have a crowded middle infield, however, with Justin Turner and Darwin Barney also available to back up Howie Kendrick at second base, and there are questions about Guerrero’s defense.
- The Marlins still have plenty of prospect depth despite their offseason trades, president of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Marlins dealt Andrew Heaney, Austin Barnes, Anthony DeSclafani and others this offseason, but they still have top 2014 pick Tyler Kolek, along with Justin Nicolino, Trevor Williams, Avery Romero and other solid prospects. Catcher J.T. Realmuto and pitcher Jose Urena top their list of prospects further up the chain. “We have a lot of upper level prospect depth,” says Hill.
Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley. Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution. Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.
Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period. Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
- Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made. “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
- From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada. “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
- Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres. Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us. I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.” Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
- Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The MLB.com transactions page lists a few new minor league deals. Infielder Cody Ransom has joined the Diamondbacks after spending some time in Japan last year. Ransom, 39, has seen action in eleven big league seasons, though he has broken the 100 plate appearance barrier only twice — in 2012-13, oddly enough. Ransom played well in that late-career run, putting up 505 plate appearances with a .207/.301/.414 slash and twenty home runs over those two seasons.
- The Padres signed utilityman Mike McCoy. Now 33, McCoy has yet to pass the 400 plate appearance barrier at the big league level and has struggled at Triple-A in the last two seasons, but does have a better prior track record.
- Catcher Robinzon Diaz, 31, is joining the Brewers on a minor league deal. Diaz last saw MLB action back in 2008-09 and has bounced around the upper minors since. In parts of eight seasons at Triple-A, Diaz has slashed .278/.305.387.
- The Dodgers will sign right-hander Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal, and he will be a non-roster invitee to Major League Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The 31-year-old Gaudin sat out the 2014 season as he recovered from neck surgery but was quite good with the 2013 Giants, working to a 3.06 ERA (with a 3.34 FIP and 4.00 xFIP) in 97 innings. Gaudin has experience as both a starter and a reliever in parts of 11 Major League seasons — the bulk of which have come with the Athletics. He has a lifetime 4.44 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate in 836 1/3 Major League innings. Gaudin also worked out for the division-rival Diamondbacks recently.
Shortstop Trea Turner is technically still a member of the Padres, but it’s one of baseball’s worst-kept “secrets” that he’ll be headed to the Nationals in June as a player to be named later in the three-team Wil Myers trade once he’s a year removed from being drafted. Turner tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that while he does find the situation to be a bit weird, he’s happy to have had a normal camp thus far. “A little bit. It’s been awesome, though, because a lot of my teammates don’t really care too much about it. They know the business side, and things like this can happen all the time, so I haven’t been treated differently than I thought I would.” Turner’s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, called the situation “unconscionable” at the time of the trade but released the following statement yesterday, per Lin: “Trea has put this matter behind him and is focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization.”
Some more notes pertaining to the NL East…
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that his team was in contact with Yoan Moncada‘s agent, David Hastings, right up until the end when Moncada agreed to sign with the Red Sox this week. However, Amaro declined to get into specifics or even give a “yes” or “no” answer when asked by Zolecki if the Phillies submitted a formal offer for the highly touted 19-year-old.
- Ichiro Suzuki is appreciative of how accommodating the Marlins were during negotiations, and the positive feelings he got from the organization are a large reason that he signed there, writes Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida. (For example, the Marlins have added facilities for Ichiro’s Pilates machine in their Spring Training and regular season homes, said Ichiro through a translator.) He’s also very accepting of his role as a fourth outfielder, which manager Mike Redmond said was a key component in the deal.
- New Braves right fielder Nick Markakis has been cleared for running and extensive workouts, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Markakis won’t be in the lineup for the early games in Spring Training and isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to compete come Opening Day, but he tells O’Brien that’s absolutely his goal. Manager Fredi Gonzalez tells O’Brien that he is optimistic that Markakis, who signed a four-year, $44MM contract this winter, will be ready for the opener come April 6.
Despite all of their success, it’s not easy for the Giants to land free agents thanks to the tax rate in California, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. The top income tax rate in California is 13.3%, which is more than double the top tax rate in all but a handful of states with major league teams. “It’s exponential when you get into the size of some of these numbers,” Sabean said. “It makes a difference.” The Giants have had to build differently and a little more creatively than others, sometimes with some key moves in the summer, but it has worked out pretty well for them. Here’s more from the West divisions..
- The Rangers‘ interest in lefty reliever Phil Coke has waned and the club doesn’t expect to sign the free agent reliever, a source tells Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram (via Twitter). The Rangers claimed a left-handed reliever earlier today when they plucked Edgar Olmos from the Mariners. The Tigers apparently haven’t expressed much interest in a reunion and another spot in their ‘pen was filled when they signed Joba Chamberlain.
- If shortstop prospect Ketel Marte plays well enough to reach the big leagues this year, the Mariners’ willingness to move Brad Miller or Chris Taylor will increase in the coming months, if not sooner, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. One Mariners official compared Marte, a switch hitter, to a younger version of Jose Reyes. He also has some second base experience, but he’s blocked there by Robinson Cano.
- All of the Angels‘ core relievers throw fastballs at an average speed of less than 92 mph, which means they’re basically ignoring baseball’s dogma about power arms in the bullpen, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Recently, the Angels have placed more of a premium on strike-throwing ability than velocity.
- Trea Turner, who will be joining the Nationals as the player to be named later in the Wil Myers trade, is in camp with the Padres, Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes. Lin checks in on Turner’s unusual camp experience as he is still more than three months away from joining the Nats.
The Rangers and Padres were among teams to at least “kick the tires” on Phillies starter Cliff Lee earlier this winter, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Of course, the Padres have since signed James Shields to a four-year, $75MM deal, which probably means that they won’t be making a play for Lee or teammate Cole Hamels. The Rangers have also added to their pitching depth this offseason.
Meanwhile, Heyman believes that Lee would be a solid fit for the Red Sox as their own talks on Hamels seem to have stalled. Boston won’t part with either catching prospect Blake Swihart or second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts to pry Hamels away, but a Lee deal could get done with lesser assets.
A deal for Lee could even include former fan favorite Shane Victorino as Heyman hears the Phillies wouldn’t mind a reunion. The Red Sox can certainly part with the Flyin’ Hawaiian given their crowded outfield, even though they’re pushing the idea that he’ll start Opening Day if he’s healthy.
While there haven’t been any known talks between the two teams regarding Lee, the BoSox do have an affinity for him and they’ve seemingly had interest since he joined Philly as a free agent.
“He’s hard not to like,” one Red Sox person told Heyman.
However, another Boston official characterized the Lee possibility to Heyman as a “long shot” since he still has to prove his health. On the other hand, it’s well known that Lee wants to play for a winner and his track record of pitching in the American League could appeal to the Red Sox.
Outside of the Red Sox, Heyman posits that the Cardinals are a team that would seem to fit since they weren’t all that aggressive in adding pitching and they’d be almost local for the Little Rock, Ark. resident.
Lee is owed $25MM for the coming season and can be controlled for another year through a $27.5MM option that comes with a hefty $12.5MM buyout. Prior to his 2014 elbow trouble, Lee boasted a streak of six straight seasons with 200+ innings. Over that stretch, he carried a 2.89 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9. The 36-year-old (37 in August) has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to twenty teams per year.
“You say, ‘OK, eight years with 200 innings pitched,’ and you can look at it both ways,” said Preller. “We debated it when we were talking about James, and obviously we’re betting that there are quite a few more years of that left…When you study it, there’s nothing definitive that says, ‘Once you turn 33 and have a certain amount of innings, that’s the end of the day.’ You look up and see guys — whether it’s Tim Hudson or Mark Buehrle or a lot of guys — and they’re still doing it. We think with James’ makeup and athleticism, he’s going to be a guy who’ll take the ball for us the next four years in San Diego.”
Here’s more from the NL West..
- Reliever Chris Hatcher was more than a throw-in in the trade that sent Dee Gordon, Miguel Rojas and Dan Haren to the Marlins, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “He was a guy we targeted,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. “To start off the season, he may be even more important than we anticipated.” The 29-year-old converted catcher has less than 90 big league innings on his odometer, meaning that he won’t be arbitration eligible until 2017.
- Padres veteran Carlos Quentin is trying out first base and that could give rival teams an opportunity to evaluate him and possibly get the ball rolling on a trade, Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes. “It can increase value as a player to have versatility,” Quentin said. “It gives (the Padres) an idea of how I might fit in here, possibly. It gives other teams an idea of how I might fit in there. It can only be a good thing.” Quentin also reiterated his openness to waiving his no-trade clause to move to an AL team.
- Andre Ethier, who wants to start in 2015 whether it’s for the Dodgers or another team, doesn’t see himself as a threat to take the starting job away from Joc Pederson in center field. “I just don’t think that’s where I’m best suited to play every day,” said Ethier, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “If you’re 33 you get moved out of center field. You don’t get moved to center field. For me to say all of a sudden, I’m going to be an option in center field that’s a far reach and a far stretch.”