- Right-hander Seth Simmons has agreed to a minor league contract with the Padres, MLBTR has learned. Simmons, a former D-backs farmhand, split the 2015 season between Arizona’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, working to a 2.99 ERA with 10.4 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings. The 27-year-old struggled out of the gates with Arizona at the Triple-A level this season and was granted his release recently. The 27-year-old has yet to pitch in the Majors but has posted strong numbers for most of his minor league career, working a 2.97 ERA with averages of 11.6 strikeouts and 3.9 walks per nine innings. The Padres would seem to be somewhat of a logical connection, as San Diego skipper Andy Green has previously managed Simmons during his days as a minor league skipper with the D-backs.
The Mets have at least “some curiosity about” Padres first baseman James Loney, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Loney’s representatives at the Legacy Agency are expected to contact the club today to see if there’s a fit.
While Loney remains under control of the Padres, he’s reportedly able to opt out of his contract if a major league opportunity arises with another organization. As I explained this morning in breaking down New York’s options with Lucas Duda sidelined, Loney looks to be one of the most viable targets for the club.
Playing at Triple-A to open the year, Loney owns a .333/.368/.417 slash over 155 plate appearances with two home runs and just ten strikeouts to go with his nine walks. That’s not a terribly surprising batting line for the 32-year-old, who is a somewhat atypical hitter for a first baseman. Over his decade of major league experience, Loney has slashed .285/.338/.411, relying on average and low strikeout tallies to make up for a lack of pop.
Loney has also generally graded out well with the glove, though defensive metrics viewed him as a slightly below-average performer at first in each of his last two major league seasons. He also won’t require any kind of payroll hit beyond the league minimum, as the Rays released him this spring when trade partners failed to materialize. Tampa Bay remains obligated for his $8MM salary.
With San Diego rostering both Wil Myers and Brett Wallace, it doesn’t appear as if the Padres will be motivated to move Loney up to keep him in the organization. Wallace is hardly untouchable, but his salary is guaranteed and he’s capable of playing third base. On the other hand, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has noted on Twitter, San Diego would have the option of elevating Loney if another team offers him a big league job, which also means the club could potentially extract some trade value.
The Mets will, no doubt, consider alternatives. The left-handed-hitting Loney wouldn’t make much sense on the roster when Duda returns, after all, and it’s probably worth at least checking to see if there’s a better match elsewhere. As covered in the above-linked post, there are a lot of possibilities out there, though ultimately a low-risk fill-in would make plenty of sense.
One hypothetical candidate, Nick Swisher of the Yankees, does not appear to be a fit. Sherman notes that the Mets don’t have interest in the veteran, who has continued to post meager numbers at Triple-A.
- Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. appears to be getting his career back on track in San Diego, writes FOX Sports’ Flinder Boyd in a lengthy profile that chronicles the twists and turns Upton’s career has taken. After miserable seasons with the Braves in 2013 and 2014, Upton has quietly had modest success with the Padres, batting .257/.327/.429 last season and .266/.346/.441 this year. “I stopped trying to live up to other peoples’ expectations,” says Upton. “I’m just thankful for another opportunity.”
3:47pm: Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets that the Mariners will receive cash instead of a PTBNL in the deal.
3:06pm: The Padres have struck a deal to acquire outfielder Jabari Blash from the Mariners, per an announcement from Seattle. A player to be named later or cash will return to the M’s in the deal.
Blash, of course, has spent much of the year playing at the major league level for the Friars after being selected in the winter’s Rule 5 draft. San Diego designated him for assignment recently, and Blash evidently cleared waivers and was offered back to his original organization — the Mariners, who had declined to protect him in the offseason by adding him to their 40-man.
Clearly, the Padres are more enamored of Blash’s future prospects than is his former team. The 26-year-old will head to Triple-A to attempt to refine his hitting, which wasn’t possible when San Diego controlled his Rule 5 rights.
Blash struggled to a .120/.241/.160 batting line with 13 strikeouts in his first 29 trips to the plate in the majors. But he showed some promise last year in the upper minors compiling a .271/.370/.576 slash in 476 plate appearances in the upper minors.
- News was less positive on some recovering Padres, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell writes that righty Brandon Morrow and infielder Cory Spangenberg have both suffered setbacks. Morrow is experiencing fatigue in his surgically repaired shoulder, and it’s not clear when he’ll be able to resume throwing. That could result in player and team agreeing to push back his current June 1 opt-out date, per the report. Spangenberg, meanwhile, tweaked his injured left quad and will need to go back to the rest and strengthening regimen that he had hoped to be done with by this point.
- Key Padres right-hander Tyson Ross is still not throwing, Cassavell adds, but he’s at least been cleared for full-blown strength work on his own injured shoulder. “You’ve basically got to lay a good foundation first, and that’s what we were doing,” Ross said. “It’s just kind of limited ranges, and making sure everything is strong and stable. And then progressing on up the chain from there. Things have been going great.”
- Among the Padres’ moves, per Eddy, the organization has released righty Greg Reynolds, who was the second overall selection of the 2006 draft. He struggled in three brief cracks at the big leagues, and was hit hard in his five starts this year at Triple-A, allowing twenty earned runs while recording just five strikeouts. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Cory Mazzoni was re-signed to a minor league deal after being released, and was then shifted to the 60-day DL while he works his way back from shoulder surgery. The 26-year-old, a former second-round pick, briefly reached the majors last year.
- The thin free agent pitching market could lead to more trades for arms this summer, as ESPN’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) notes in his listing of eight contenders who could deal for pitching and 10 starters who could be shopped. Bowden’s list of starters including two Athletics (Hill and Sonny Gray) and three Padres (James Shields, Drew Pomeranz and Andrew Cashner). The A’s have been adamant about keeping Gray, though with his rough start, Bowden wonders if the club could decide to move him while he still has value. As for the Padres, a scout tells Bowden that of the three San Diego pichers, he would prefer to have Pomeranz, which is a sign of just how much Pomeranz has upped his trade value with his impressive start — a 1.80 ERA and 51 strikeouts through 40 innings.
- The Padres had originally planned to carry three catchers for a short time following the claim of Hector Sanchez, but a hand injury to Derek Norris last night now makes the decision to claim Sanchez all the more critical, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Norris was hit on the hand by a pitch and would ultimately leave the game, and while initial x-rays were negative, he’s undergoing further tests today. Interestingly, Lin notes that the Sanchez claim, initially, would’ve allowed the Padres to use Christian Bethancourt as a pinch-hitter, and there was even some talk of him getting some work in at third base (scouting reports have long touted his arm as an 80-grade tool). However, if Norris is found to have any kind of fracture and will miss some time, those plans will change.
- Meanwhile, the Padres decided to put righty Andrew Cashner on the 15-day DL today after determining that his hamstring wasn’t quite ready to go, as Lin tweets. It certainly doesn’t appear to be a major injury, since Cashner very nearly was allowed to pitch tonight, but it’s nonetheless notable. After all, San Diego doesn’t appear to be primed to contend this year, and Cashner could be an important trade piece — or qualifying offer recipient, if he can really turn things around. But he’s currently allowing just under five earned runs per nine, with ERA estimators not much more optimistic.
He’ll ultimately be exposed to waivers, where other teams will have a chance to step into San Diego’s Rule 5 rights. If he clears, then he’ll be offered back to the Mariners.
Blash, 26, has only received 29 plate appearances on the year, but he’s largely been overmatched in his first run at the majors. The big outfielder has registered just three hits and four walks to go with 13 strikeouts.
San Diego surely always knew it was uncertain whether Blash would be able to stick at this point; after all, that’s why he was left off of the Seattle 40-man in the first place. He has shown some interesting skills in the minors, though. Last year, he ran up a composite .271/.370/.576 slash with 32 long balls in 476 plate appearances in the upper minors.
Tim Lincecum has yet to sign following last Friday’s showcase, which was attended by roughly two-thirds of the league, but a handful of reports today has at least eliminated a few teams from consideration. Per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter), both the Padres and Mariners are out of the mix on Lincecum at this point. While some San Diego fans speculated that the Friars’ claim of Hector Sanchez, who caught Lincecum during the pair’s San Francisco days, could be related, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune squashed that notion in relatively short order last night, tweeting that the Sanchez claim was unrelated to any pursuit of Lincecum and was instead merely about adding catching depth to the organization.
Beyond all of that, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins, too, are unlikely to make a play for the right-hander at this time. Those reports join previous word out of Baltimore and Arizona that the Orioles and D-backs, respectively, aren’t expected to pursue Lincecum, either.
Rosenthal adds (Twitter link) that the Angels, Giants and White Sox currently have the most interest in Lincecum, which is the same list of clubs reported to be most intrigued this past weekend, with the notable exclusion of the D-backs. Per Rosenthal, no decision is close. Any of the three make sense as a landing spot, though Giants manager Bruce Bochy said last week that the club was only interested in a relief role for Lincecum, and fallen ace Matt Cain delivered a strong showing in his most recent start, by dominating the Blue Jays over eight innings. The Angels, meanwhile, picked up one arm yesterday by acquiring Jhoulys Chacin from the Braves, and while it’s hard to imagine that lone pickup leaving the Halos feeling like they have sufficient depth in the rotation in the wake of all the injuries they’ve incurred, it probably does curb some of the urgency to seek further rotation help.
As for the White Sox, they have some options to replace the recently released John Danks (former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez is getting the first crack at the fifth spot), but the rotation is suspect beyond Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Mat Latos started the year strong, but his lack of strikeouts and considerable fortune on balls in play made him a clear regression candidate through his first several starts, and the wheels have begun to come off as of late.
Amid the considerable Lincecum chatter, it seems worth addressing that it’s been five years since he posted an ERA south of 4.00 in a season, making it likelier that he stabilizes the back end of a rotation than emerges as a revitalized top-of-the-rotation force. Lincecum did post a 4.37 ERA and come within arm’s reach of 200 innings as recently as 2013 even while averaging 90.4 mph on his fastball, so there’s certainly reason to express optimism that he can help a club in 2016 with the aid of improved health. However, fans hoping for a return to the levels displayed in his Cy Young heyday are probably overreaching.