San Diego Padres Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Huff, De La Cruz, Bautista, Meyer

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The Dodgers have announced that they’ve outrighted lefty David Huff, who has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers designated Huff for assignment on Wednesday after he made one four-inning start for them. The 30-year-old has a 5.06 ERA, 5.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in parts of seven seasons with the Indians, Yankees and Giants in addition to the Dodgers.
  • The Yankees have outrighted righty Joel De La Cruz, then sent him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 25-year-old posted a 4.44 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 121 2/3 innings in the high minors last season. The Yankees selected his contract last week, but he did not appear in a game before they optioned him back to the minors.
  • The Red Sox have signed righty Denny Bautista to a minor-league deal, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets. The 32-year-old Bautista last appeared in the big leagues with the Giants in 2010 and previously pitched for the Orioles, Royals, Rockies, Tigers and Pirates. He pitched in Mexico in 2014 (struggling with his control, also a problem in his big-league days) and in Korea from 2011-2013.
  • The Padres have signed former Astros third-round pick Jonathan Meyer, Eddy tweets. Meyer had been an infielder in the Astros’ system, but the Padres will use him as a catcher. The 24-year-old hit .215/.274/.280 at Double-A and Triple-A last year before Houston released him.
  • The Nationals are having infielder Emmanuel Burriss join the team, James Wagner of the Washington Post tweets. It’s not clear how the Nats will make room for Burriss on their 25-man roster, although Yunel Escobar suffered a groin strain against the Phillies on Friday. (MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweets that Burriss is not listed on the Nats’ lineup card today, and Wagner notes that Burriss could simply be with the team as insurance in case the Nats need to make a move.) Burriss, a D.C. native, was hitting .286/.359/.486 in 39 plate appearances with Triple-A Syracuse. The Nats re-signed him to a minor-league deal last November. The 30-year-old appeared in parts of five seasons with the Giants from 2008-2012, hitting .243/.304/.269 in 801 plate appearances.

Heyman’s Latest: Padres, Buehrle, Greene

The Padres declined to part with top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe in their deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  At the same time, the Braves weren’t sold on top catching prospect Austin Hedges and feared that his hitting might not develop enough. Ultimately, that left pitcher Matt Wisler as the key prospect in the deal.  Here’s more from Heyman’s column..

  • Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is considering retirement following the 2015 season, Heyman reports. While he notes that April retirement ruminations often prove to be inaccurate, there seems to be a strong possibility that the 36-year-old Buehrle will call it quits.
  • Tigers executives were shocked that they were able to pry right-hander Shane Greene away from the Yankees this winter, Heyman writes. The Yankees considered trading Greene “painful,” but the team was desperate for a shortstop, and New York scouting guru Gene Michael was a strong supporter of Gregorius.
  • Trading Ryan Howard seems less and less likely for the Phillies each coming day, Heyman writes, noting that one scout said that Howard simply looks “lost” at the plate. Heyman also notes that the stacked starting pitching class on next year’s free agent market may be hindering the Phillies’ ability to move Cole Hamels, as teams are content to wait to bid on the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others.
  • The Orioles checked in on Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro at some point late in the spring.  Navarro, who has been supplanted as the starting catcher in Toronto by Russell Martin, is hoping to go elsewhere and start.  The diplomatic Navarro spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links last month about the trade talk surrounding him.
  • One GM who has some interest in Elvis Andrus suggested to Heyman that it’d be hard for the Rangers to trade him now.  While Texas has infield depth, most of it is at the lower rungs of their system.  Meanwhile, they’ll be without Jurickson Profar for a second straight year.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has one year to go on his contract, but word is that the front office likes him and they mainly want to see progress from their younger players before extending him.  It’s said that Gonzalez won’t be judged on his win-loss record, but so far he’s doing pretty well in that department too.
  • The Red Sox made at least a preliminary offer to Yoenis Cespedes before trading him, which seems to poke a hole in the theory that Boston coaches “hated” the outfielder.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


International Notes: Bonus Pools, Dodgers, Cubs

Yesterday, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel looked ahead to the 2015-16 international signing period by looking at several of the top prospects expected to land large bonuses on or after July 2.  Today, McDaniel is back with the second part of his piece, this time examining how particular clubs are going to approach this next round of international spending.  For reference purposes, here are the 2015-16 international bonus pools for each team, as compiled by Baseball America.  If a team exceeds its pool, they have to pay a 100% tax on any overage and are prohibited from spending more than $300K to sign any player in the 2016-17 and 17-18 international periods (provided that the current rules aren’t altered in the next collective bargaining agreement).

Some of the highlights of McDaniel’s latest work, focusing on the teams most likely to exceed their bonus pool and face that two-year penalty…

  • The Dodgers are, unsurprisingly, the only team McDaniel lists in the “(almost) anything is possible” category.  By not signing Yoan Moncada, the Dodgers retained their ability to spend freely in the 2015-16 market, and it seems the team will go far beyond its $2.02MM bonus pool limit.  The Dodgers are rumored to already have agreements in place with Yadier Alvarez (for $16MM), Dominican center fielder Starling Heredia ($3MM) and Dominican shortstop Ronny Brito ($2MM).
  • The Cubs‘ previous ban on signings of more than $250K will expire on July 2, and the team is reportedly already planning to again exceed its international budget.  McDaniel lists seven players who have deals in place with Chicago, the most expensive of which is a $2MM bonus for Dominican shortstop Aramis Ademan.
  • The Rangers are another club coming off a ban, and “they’re at least thinking long and hard about” exceeding their pool limit again, though McDaniel hears from rival scouts that Texas’ international planning may have “got a bit of a late start” due to A.J. Preller and Don Welke leaving for the Padres.  Three rumored agreements should put the Rangers roughly at their approximate $4.586MM bonus pool already, and the club is still checking in on other high-priced talent.
  • The Royals have a shot at staying under their bonus limit if they trade for some extra space, though it looks like Kansas City will probably slightly exceed their pool (a little over $2.07MM).
  • The Blue Jays also seem likely to slightly go over their spending pool (roughly $2.324MM) and it could be entirely for the sake of their much-rumored agreement with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  McDaniel believes Toronto’s agreement with Guerrero is worth $4.4MM and he hasn’t heard any news that the Jays have any other deals lined up with other prospects, though he figures they’ll sign one or two other notable players “to make the most of going over.”  While fans now associate exceeding the bonus limit with extreme cases like the Yankees or Red Sox, McDaniel notes that most clubs who exceed their pools are like the Jays, who fit the model of a team who “found a couple players they really like in a year they didn’t have a ton of money to spend.”
  • Since they had hoped to sign Moncada and thus be facing a penalty for the 2015-16 signing period, the Padres seemingly don’t have any deals lined up.  McDaniel considers them a “wild card” due to Preller’s aggressiveness.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Cash, Closers & Kimbrel

After the weekly quick hits, Jeff welcomes fellow MLBTR writers Steve Adams and Charlie Wilmoth to the show.  Jeff and Steve break down the blockbuster trade between the Braves and Padres that brought Craig Kimbrel to San Diego.  Jeff and Charlie then explore the unique set of recent transactions involving Ryan Webb, as well as a discussion of Charlie’s post from earlier this week about qualifying offer-worthy impending free agents who could be trade candidates this summer.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

This week’s episode of the MLB Trade Rumors Podcast, which runs weekly on Thursday afternoons, is brought to you by DraftKings. Use the promo code “MLBTR” to gain free entry into a daily fantasy sports contest!


NL West Notes: Tomas, O’Brien, Kennedy, Ottavino

Despite the high-profile signing of Yasmany Tomas this winter, the D-Backs will use him primarily off the bench in his first taste of Major League action, GM Dave Stewart told reporters, including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Tomas was promoted today, due in part to a lack of other options on the 40-man roster, Piecoro writes. Arizona had few other position players both healthy and on the 40-man, but despite that fact, Stewart said he didn’t consider transferring injured pitchers Matt Stites or Patrick Corbin to the 60-day disabled list. Stewart feels that each is close enough to being healthy that he didn’t want to risk a move to the 60-day DL. The GM also noted that he has not considered making a trade to alleviate some of his logjam of outfielders.

More on the D-Backs and their division…

  • D-Backs prospect Peter O’Brien will go about a month without playing behind the plate, manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. O’Brien will see some time in left field and at first base but is apparently receiving a mental break from catching after developing an issue throwing the ball back to the pitcher late in Spring Training. Clearly, that’s not the type of issue that any team wants to see from a player it has dubbed the “catcher of the future.” Common consensus among scouts and other organizations has been that O’Brien isn’t a good enough defender behind the plate to remain at the position, though he’s certainly hitting well enough to garner some attention early in the year. Through a small sample of 28 plate appearances, O’Brien’s batting .333/.357/.519 with a homer and two doubles. Many felt Arizona should have traded for catching help this offseason, but Stewart stated on multiple occasions that such a move was not the plan, partly because the club believed O’Brien could handle the position eventually.
  • Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy is nearing a rehab assignment, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Kennedy is slated to throw a bullpen session on Friday, and if all goes well, he’ll join a Minor League affiliate and look to throw 75 to 90 pitches in a rehab start. It’s possible that Kennedy will need a couple of rehab outings, though he’d probably prefer to return to the field sooner rather than later. As a pending free agent, Kennedy has quite a bit riding on his 2015 performance.
  • Adam Ottavino has been named the new closer for the Rockies, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Manager Walt Weiss wasted little time this season in swapping the hard-throwing 29-year-old and former closer LaTroy Hawkins, who will now pitch in a setup or middle relief role. An effective season as a closer would do wonders for Ottavino in arbitration next offseason, as he’d stand to see a sizable raise from this year’s $1.3MM salary if he can accumulate a year’s worth of saves. Ottavino’s numbers over the past two seasons indicate that he can indeed thrive in the role, as he’s pitched to a 2.97 ERA with 158 strikeouts against 48 walks in 148 2/3 innings dating back to 2013. Of course, as a closer, he’ll be more exposed to lefties, who have given him trouble in the past, but Ottavino tells Saunders that he feels more comfortable against opposite-handed batters after making some adjustments and keeping them in check during Spring Training. Fantasy players, remember that you can keep up with all closer trends and performances by following @closernews on Twitter.

Quick Hits: Cubs, Kimbrel, Bryant, Pirates

Teams have quickly accepted the importance of the mental side of the game, reports the Associated Press in the New York Times. For example, the Cubs view mental skills coach Josh Lifrak as an equal to their hitting and pitching coaches. The article describes part of the process used by the Cubs, Nationals, and Red Sox, although all teams have probably adopted some form of mental skills development.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • Padres senior advisor Trevor Hoffman was thrilled by the team’s recent trade for Craig Kimbrel, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Kimbrel follows Hoffman (the all-time NL leader in saves) in a line of strong Padres closers. “We’ve been pretty fortunate to have a guy at the backend, even before I got here and continuing with Huston (Street) and Joaquin (Benoit),” says Hoffman. “The street cred [Kimbrel has] built in the game over the last four, five years really separates him from the rest of the group as one of the top-echelon closers in the game.”
  • The Cubs‘ decision to send Kris Bryant to the minors to start the season led to controversy, but now that he’s there, the team has him working on playing outfield, Gordon Wittenmyer writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). While many assume that Bryant will be activated as soon as next week, the Cubs may legitimately be concerned about finding him a defensive home.
  • If the Pirates have money to spend at the trade deadline this year, they could target an ace pitcher, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The payroll is cheap thanks to a number of young players and team friendly extensions. That could make Cole Hamels a potential fit. He, like Andrew McCutchen, has four years remaining on his contract. My thought: it’s at least conceivable that the Phillies would take on a large portion of his contract for the right prospects. To be clear, this is not to say that the Pirates have inquired about Hamels, only that a fit might exist.

Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.


West Notes: Kennedy, Angels, Alvarez

Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • Padres righty Ian Kennedy is headed to the 15-day DL, as Dennis Lin of theSan Diego Union-Tribune reports. Fortunately, Lin tweets, skipper Bud Black says that Kennedy already has shown improvement and that the team does not believe he’ll be out long. Then there is the fact that, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports notes on Twitter, San Diego has solid rotation depth and will be comfortable handing the ball off to Odrisamer Despaigne.
  • The fact that the city of Anaheim has a new lead negotiator does not change the Angels‘ stance in stadium talks, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter“Why would it change anything?” queried owner Arte Moreno. “We are not negotiating.”
  • The Dodgers have been said to be indeed lining up as top contenders for the services of hyped Cuban hurler Yadier Alvarez. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has gone to watch Alvarez pitch in the Dominican Republic, where he established residency upon leaving Cuba.

Shortstop Alternatives For The Padres

The Padres are said to be “scouring” the trade market for shortstop upgrades over internal options Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista, and while significant trades at this stage of the season are indeed rare, the Sunday’s blockbuster acquisition of Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton from the Braves shows that GM A.J. Preller isn’t averse to making trades at any stage of the season.

Both Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports beat me to writing something on the subject, and each piece is well worth the read. However, there are a vast expanse of shortstop options available for the Padres to explore, and Rosenthal reports that the team seems likelier to add a low-cost upgrade than to make an extravagant splash for the likes of Elvis Andrus or Starlin Castro. (The Padres have concerns about Castro’s glove at shortstop, in fact, Rosenthal adds, and have not recently been in touch regarding Chicago’s middle infielders.)

Cameron discusses a wide range of shortstop possibilities for the Friars, concluding that an acquisition of Jean Segura might be the most logical upgrade for San Diego. While I agree that Segura makes some sense for the Padres, there are some additional low-cost names (from a financial standpoint, that is) that could  be replaced within their respective organizations.

Before delving into some speculative candidates, let’s first take a quick glance at the current options in San Diego. Barmes batted a decisively sub-par .245/.328/.294 last season, with six of his nine walks coming while batting eighth, in front of the pitcher. While he’s well-known as a plus defender, Barmes projects to be roughly a replacement level player when looking at the ZiPS and Steamer projection systems. Likewise, Amarista is a light-hitting infielder, who projects to be scarcely more than a replacement-level option. He’s younger than Barmes but is also just a .233/.278/.335 hitter in more than 1200 plate appearances. It’d be a surprise to see him contribute anything close to league-average production at the dish.

The Padres have a pair of serviceable gloves at shortstop, but neither comes with much in the way of offensive upside, and as such, their search for a shortstop upgrade isn’t unexpected.

All that said, let’s look at some options around the league that could serve as alternatives to Amarista and Barmes…

Luis Sardinas, Brewers: Preller of all people should be familiar with Sardinas, who was signed by the Rangers and developed into a promising prospect while Preller was still in the Texas front office. The jury is out on how much Sardinas will actually hit — he’s batted .290/.310/.374 in limited Triple-A action and didn’t fare much better in the Majors last year — but he’s regarded as a plus defender and has more upside at the plate than either incumbent option in San Diego. Sardinas is blocked in the Majors by Segura, who, as Cameron noted, could be a fit in San Diego himself, if the Brewers believe that Sardinas can adequately step into the everyday role at shortstop.

Javier Baez, Cubs: While much of the talk surrounding the Cubs and Padres has centered around Starlin Castro, one could make the case that Baez is a better fit. The Padres’ payroll undoubtedly has to be nearing its apex, and squeezing Castro’s sizable contract into the books may be too tall a task. Additionally, the Cubs are trying to contend this year, and jettisoning one of their core pieces and more proven hitters could be a lateral move, or even a step backwards, depending on what the Padres are willing to offer. Baez isn’t a definitive upgrade, but his light-tower power unequivocally gives him more upside than current options, and Preller’s Padres have an affinity for right-handed power bats. The Cubs could commit to Arismendy Alcantara at second base in the event of a Baez trade, though the Padres have parted with most of their upper-level pitching prospects, making a trade perhaps more difficult.

Jordy Mercer, Pirates: Moving Mercer now would likely accelerate that Pirates’ timeline for getting Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang regular at-bats at the big league level, and they may not be comfortable moving Mercer until seeing how Kang adjusts to the Major Leagues (admittedly, they may not be comfortable moving him even if Kang hits). However, Mercer is a solid enough hitter and fielder that the Padres could reasonably expect him to be worth a couple of wins per season, and they could send Amarista back to Pittsburgh along with any potential prospects to give the Bucs an immediate alternative in the event that Kang struggles. If the Padres offered a means of improving the Pirates’ 2015 roster, it’s at least plausible.

Eugenio Suarez, Reds: Acquired from the Tigers in the offseason, Suarez isn’t as gifted a defender as Barmes, but he but he held his own from a defensive standpoint last year in the eyes of Ultimate Zone Rating (Defensive Runs Saved was a bit more pessimistic). He comes with significantly more upside at the plate, however, as evidenced by a .278/.362/.415 batting line. ZiPS projects him at two wins, for those who are interested in projection systems, and the Reds, who stand to lose both Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto after the season, might be interested in adding some pitching to the upper levels of their system, even if it’s not an elite prospect with front-of-the-rotation upside.

Eduardo Escobar, Twins: Minnesota seems set to give Danny Santana every opportunity to prove that he’s their shortstop of the future, leaving Escobar as a perhaps overqualified utility infielder. The switch-hitting 26-year-old grades out as average or slightly better in the field over the course of a relatively small sample of 1053 innings, and he delivered a .275/.315/.406 batting line in the Twins’ pitcher-friendly home park last year (102 OPS+/wRC+). His offense may trend downward a bit, as he may not sustain his .336 BABIP, but he’s probably a better hitter than Amarista/Barmes and won’t sink the Padres in the field. Of course, the Padres could try to pry Santana away from the Twins as well, who could then use Escobar at shortstop until the more highly regarded Jorge Polanco is MLB-ready. But, I’d think the asking price on Santana would be higher, even if he clearly won’t repeat last year’s .405-BABIP-fueled offensive output.

Brad Miller/Chris Taylor, Mariners: Both Seattle shortstops were oft-mentioned as trade candidates throughout the offseason. For the time being, Miller’s getting a look at shortstop after Taylor fractured his wrist in Spring Training. Miller’s first half in 2014 was an unmitigated disaster (.204/.273/.330), but he quietly had a nice second half (.268/.330/.464), performed quite well in spring and has hit well in this season’s minuscule sample size. Miller struggles against lefties, so perhaps there’s some merit to the idea of a platoon, but either of these two would likely be an upgrade in San Diego (once Taylor is healthy, of course).

Obviously, there are far more names that could be suggested. The likes of Erisbel Arruebarrena and Deven Marrero come to mind, though each strong defender has drawn questions about his bat. Danny Espinosa has far more big league experience, but he offers a similar tale of plus defense and a questionable bat. Jonathan Villar has been displaced in Houston, but he grades out as a poor defender and hit his way into a demotion to Triple-A last year. Nick Franklin, now with Tampa following last year’s David Price trade, could be a consideration, but he’s injured at the moment and has also drawn questions about his glove at short.

The temptation for Padres fans, based on Preller’s track record, might to expect the moon and set their sights on Troy Tulowitzki and Starlin Castro, but the market does bear plenty of affordable options that are perhaps superfluous to their respective organizations. While that doesn’t mean they can be had for nothing, the presence of viable, starting-caliber alternatives within the organizations listed here makes a trade easier to envision.


Heyman’s Latest: Kimbrel, Howard, Perez, Salty, Soriano, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has penned a lengthy column that’s chock full of Hot Stove related items as the season gets underway. First and foremost, he chronicles the Braves‘ trade of Craig Kimbrel at length. Heyman spoke to president of baseball ops John Hart, who candidly told Heyman that the team took a hard line of refusing to trade Kimbrel unless Melvin Upton Jr. was involved in the deal. “We were not going to separate Kimbrel and trade him by himself,” Hart told Heyman. Atlanta reached out to the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Padres, among others, this winter in an effort to move Upton, and despite the Dodgers’ bullpen needs, they weren’t willing to add Upton’s contract to that of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, having already shed Matt Kemp‘s contract. The Padres trade didn’t heat up until about four days before it was agreed upon, Heyman writes, with Hart even remaining in Orlando to finish negotiations rather than fly with the team to Miami at the end of Spring Training. Hart credited assistant GM John Coppolella for doing much of the legwork and his creativity in getting the trade finalized.

More highlights from Heyman’s article (though the entire piece is well worth your time)…

  • While some reports late in Spring Training indicated that the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Ryan Howard‘s contract, two GMs tell Heyman they hadn’t heard that figure. One of those GMs was of the belief that the Phillies’ top offer was to pay about $35MM, which, Heyman speculates, may have been a large reason that the Royals opted to sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $17MM rather than pursue a Howard trade.
  • Speaking of the Royals, Heyman hears that the team is open to pursuing a second extension with catcher Salvador Perez and would be happy to make him a Royal for life. Heyman notes that some in the organization even have some sympathy for Perez, whose five-year, $7MM contract is widely considered the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball. Perez’s deal contains three startlingly low club options valued at $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the 2017-19 seasons — two of which would have been free-agent seasons beginning at the age of 28.
  • The Marlins tried to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter after the catcher’s first season on a three-year, $21MM pact was a struggle, but his salary was too great a deterrent. The Marlins presumably feel that top prospect J.T. Realmuto could step into the catcher’s role in the not-too-distant future.
  • The Tigers are believed to be at least monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami, per Heyman. However, Soriano has seen his stock suffer not only due to ineffective innings late int he 2014 season but also due to perceptions about his personality and negative clubhouse impact. At least one club that was taking a hard look at late-inning relievers ruled out Soriano entirely due to that perception, Heyman reports.
  • The Reds felt the odds of extending Johnny Cueto prior to Opening Day were so slim that it’s not even clear if they made a formal offer, writes Heyman. Cueto is seeking a figure in the range of $200MM following Max Scherzer‘s mammoth contract this offseason, he adds. Heyman also opines that David Price would probably be selling himself short if he took much less than $200MM from the Tigers at this point as well.
  • Anecdotally, Heyman tells the story of how Cody Ross‘ career began when he was sold to the Marlins from the Reds in exchange for “cash considerations” of precisely one dollar. Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky spoke to Heyman about the deal, explaining that they didn’t have room on the Cincinnati roster back in ’06 but genuinely wanted to get Ross into the best possible position to have a chance at a Major League roster spot. Ross has gone on to earn more than $52MM in the game of baseball.