- MLBPA Issues Statement On Bryant, Prospect Promotions
- Pirates Discussing Extension With Gregory Polanco
- Mets Acquire Jerry Blevins
- Kris Bryant To Begin Season In Minors
- Mets Acquire Alex Torres
- Red Sox Acquire Sandy Leon; Christian Vazquez Placed On 60-Day DL
- Rangers Release Ryan Ludwick
- Brewers Release Chris Perez
- Mike Pelfrey Walks Back Trade Comments
- Mariners Prospect Victor Sanchez Dies
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- Added To The 40-Man Roster: Monday
- MLBPA Issues Statement On Bryant, Prospect Promotions
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- Pirates Discussing Extension With Gregory Polanco
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The Mets and Lucas Duda intend to cut off extension negotiations when the season opens, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. It remains to be seen whether anything gets done, of course, especially since the 29-year-old still has just one complete season of strong performance on his ledger. A league executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the comparables suggest a deal in the four-year, $30MM range could make sense, pointing to the cases of Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler. In spite of his somewhat late start, Duda could have a higher earning capacity than that trio if he keeps hitting thirty-plus home runs.
- One notable new feature of Mets camp has been the presence of owner Fred Wilpon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Though Wilpon has not said much publicly, he has been fairly visible and active behind the scenes, says Martino, consistently conveying the message that he expects winning baseball.
- Phillies righty Miguel Gonzalez looks like he may never pay off on the team’s investment, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, particularly since he has not managed to earn a job in spite of the team’s desperate need for arms. “He hasn’t pitched well enough to be a major league starter for us,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “His stuff and his command just weren’t good enough. It’s kind of simple. He needs to be better for us to utilize him in our rotation. He’ll go down and pitch and hopefully he improves. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t.” Amaro continued to acknowledge: “He hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked. He may never perform as well as we would have liked, but that’s the risk you take. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a risk.”
- Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post takes a look in at Nationals shortstop-to-be Trea Turner, who is currently still with the Padres until he can formally be sent to D.C. The club had to check with the league to see if the deal could be structured that way, and pulled the trigger when it found it would be permitted. Washington had been intrigued with Turner in last year’s draft, says Svrluga, and a strong entry into the professional ranks has only raised his stock. For his part, as he waits to get introduced to a new organization, Turner says that his former team has “treated me just like one of their players.”
Torres, 27, will give the Mets a much-needed left-handed option in the bullpen. Josh Edgin, who had projected to be New York’s top southpaw reliever, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month, leaving the team precariously thin in this department. Since that time, rumors have circulated about potential matches for the Mets, who have been linked to Baltimore’s Brian Matusz as well as J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Adam Liberatore of the Dodgers. Colorado’s Rex Brothers was also suggested as a fit.
In Torres, New York receives a pitcher that has posted a 2.49 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate over the past two seasons. Torres has benefited from a perhaps unsustainbly low homer-to-flyball ratio of just 3.1 percent, though Citi Field’s generally pitcher-friendly dimensions may help him to sustain an above-average rate in that regard.
Torres does come with some control issues, as he averaged 5.5 walks per nine innings pitched in 2014. That, combined with some correction for his good fortune on home runs, leads sabermetric ERA estimators to peg him for an ERA in the mid-3.00s rather than to sustain his sub-3.00 mark.
Somewhat curiously, most of Torres’ control problems come against left-handed hitters. Right-handers have batted a meager .175/.260/.251 against Torres dating back to 2013, while lefties have exploited his lack of control and gotten on base at a .341 clip against Torres. Of course, they’ve also batted just .213 and slugged .276, so if he can rein in his control, he could post dominant overall numbers.
With one year and 141 days of service time under his belt, Torres can be controlled via arbitration through the 2019 season. However, because he’ll end up with two years, 141 days next offseason (assuming a full year of service time is accrued, as one would expect), he’s a likely Super Two player, meaning he will be arbitration-eligible four times as opposed to three.
The 25-year-old Mazzoni was New York’s second-round pick back in 2011 and is generally ranked as the Mets’ 15th-20th best prospect, per Baseball America, MLB.com and Fangraphs. Mazzoni split the 2014 campaign across four levels, spending the bulk of his time at Triple-A where he worked to a 4.67 ERA with 49 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 52 innings. Mazzoni has spent much of his career as a starter, but most feel that he’s likely destined for relief work if he surfaces in the Majors, where his low 90s fastball will instead reach the mid-90s, serving as a complement to an above-average slider.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported (via Twitter) that the Mets had acquired Torres.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checked in with Max Scherzer, who is missing former teammate Rick Porcello. Scherzer, of course, left the Tigers in free agency to sign with the Nationals in January. Porcello, meanwhile, was shipped from the Tigers to the Red Sox in December. Scherzer still texts a lot with Porcello, and they have had conversations about free agency.
“He understands the business of the game really well and what teams are trying to accomplish,” said Scherzer. “As most players, he’s motivated by winning as well. What works is going out there and having one motivation and that’s winning. And those things will take care of themselves.”
Cafardo has talked with a few baseball executives who believe Porcello will walk from the Red Sox and do exactly what Scherzer did – go to the highest bidder. Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Rockies tried to trade Jhoulys Chacin but couldn’t find a buyer, so they released him last week. The 27-year-old was a victim of Coors Field, where his ERA was 4.21 as opposed to a much more palatable 3.24 on the road. Cafardo writes that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays, and Blue Jays have been looking for a veteran starter and may be considering him.
- Braves people insist that they will not entertain a deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, but a few executives expect that Atlanta will be thinking differently if they are out of contention at the trade deadline. The Braves are eyeing 2017 as their relaunch, so Cafardo doesn’t see the need for them to hang on to a top closer like Kimbrel in the interim.
- Dan Uggla has an April 1st opt-out on his minor league deal with the Nationals and his play this spring is giving GM Mike Rizzo something to think about, but roster space is an issue. If Uggla doesn’t make the cut in Washington, Cafardo suggests that the Angels, Braves, Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Padres, and Rays could all justify bringing him aboard.
Here are the highlights from an enormous notes post by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
- There’s the potential for lots of trade activity between now and Opening Day, with an unusual number of teams with logjams at particular positions. But there aren’t many good pitching options, and many teams are already close to their payroll limits.
- The Rays are one of several teams looking for starting pitching, but they’re currently focusing their efforts on depth, figuring they only need to cover for injured starters Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly for a month or so.
- If the Phillies struggle early in the year, trade whispers involving Chase Utley could grow louder, with the Padres, Angels and possibly Giants looming as potentially interested teams. Utley would, of course, have to waive his no-trade clause, but he has West Coast roots.
- The Diamondbacks are currently unwilling to trade Mark Trumbo, but that could change if they become dissatisfied with their outfield defense.
- The Orioles discussed trading lefty Brian Matusz to the Rangers before Texas acquired Sam Freeman, and have listened to other clubs interested in Matusz as well. But the Nationals might be more willing than the Orioles to trade a lefty reliever — some within the Orioles see Matusz as a better option than either T.J. McFarland or Wesley Wright.
The Padres are among the teams around the league who are receiving trade interest in their relief pitching, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports on Twitter. As Brock notes, that is not necessarily surprising given San Diego’s pen depth.
Joaquin Benoit is cemented at the back of the pen, with righties Kevin Quackenbush, Dale Thayer, and Nick Vincent also looking like solid bets to maintain their roles. Offseason acquisitions Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer are also options from the right side, along with several minor league free agent signees, such as Jose Valverde, Marcos Mateo, and Jay Jackson.
Assuming he is not able to crack the rotation, Odrisamer Despaigne looks like a good bet to function as a long-man and spot starter. The club claimed the Rule 5 rights to Jandel Gustave recently, though he seems a long shot to break camp at this point.
The Pads have Alex Torres leading things among lefties, with Frank Garces and Chris Rearick also still in camp. Southpaw Scott Elbert has been sent to the minor league side for now but could factor into the equation down the line.
It remains to be seen whether San Diego will be motivated to pull the trigger on a deal, but it likely will not be forced into action. The team could roll with Benoit, Quackenbush, Thayer, Vincent, Kelley, and Despaigne, with Torres functioning as the lone lefty, while starting the remainder of those names mentioned in the minors. Of course, opt-outs or long-term strategic considerations could lead the team to part with one or more of its minor league free agents, but there appears to be a reasonable amount of flexibility. That depth also could allow the Friars to strike a deal to fill another need, of course.
Here’s the latest from around the NL West…
- While Carlos Gonzalez specifically stated that he wanted to stay with the Rockies, Troy Tulowitzki somewhat tellingly only said “I want to win here” when asked by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale if he wanted to stay with the club. The Rockies discussed Tulowitzki with a few teams this winter (including the Mets), a process that GM Jeff Bridich said the star shortstop was kept fully informed about, even though there wasn’t much to discuss. “We had conversations this winter, and Tulo has an understanding what we’re thinking….We talked to teams, but there really is nothing that came close to being done,” Bridich said.
- Justin Maxwell can opt out of his minor league deal with the Giants if he isn’t on the club’s Major League roster by Tuesday, March 31, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 31-year-old Maxwell is battling for a reserve outfield job and said he hasn’t decided what his next step will be if he’s told he isn’t making the roster.
- While the Padres have come up short in high-profile pursuits of Yasmany Tomas, Hector Olivera and Yoan Moncada, that doesn’t mean the club hasn’t been busy on the international signing front. In a profile of Padres international scouting director Chris Kemp, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports that the team has signed 12 international players between the ages of 16-19 are close to deals with several others. Of particular note is right-hander Starlin Cordero, who is already throwing at 94 mph at age 16 and only two months after being converted to pitching from the outfield.
- Diamondbacks catching prospect Peter O’Brien has played back-to-back games in the outfield, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. O’Brien was having problems throwing the ball back to the mound in games earlier this month and he since hasn’t been back behind the plate. Dubbed as the D’Backs’ catcher of the future by GM Dave Stewart and others within the organization, many scouts have questions about O’Brien’s long-term future behind the plate (even aside from his throwing issue).
- In NL West news from earlier today, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times discussed the Dodgers with Jeff Todd on the MLBTR Podcast…Jeff also asked MLBTR’s readers to rank the Dodgers‘ many notable offseason moves…I profiled Juan Uribe as a possible trade candidate…the Padres claimed righty Jandel Gustave off waivers from the Royals…the Mets are checking in on both the Rockies and Dodgers as part of their search for relief pitching help.
The Padres have claimed hard-throwing right-hander Jandel Gustave off waivers from the Royals, reports Josh Vernier of 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City (Twitter link). Gustave had been with the Royals in camp after being selected from the Astros in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, but Kansas City placed him on waivers earlier in the week.
Gustave, 22, is probably a long shot to make the Padres’ roster, considering he’s yet to pitch an inning above Class-A, where he worked to a 5.01 ERA in 79 innings last season. However, he has a fastball that can reach 100 mph and has 199 strikeouts in 196 1/3 Minor League innings, so it isn’t exactly difficult to see why teams are intrigued by his arm. Gustave does also come with command issues; he’s averaged 6.7 walks per nine innings in the Minors.
The Padres have a few options if they wish to retain Gustave. As a Rule 5 pick, he’d have to stick on the team’s 25-man roster all season before he could be optioned to the Minor Leagues. That seems unlikely, so the Padres could simply place him on waivers again and hope that he clears. However, even then, he’d have to be offered back to the Astros, who would likely be happy to reacquire his arm. Perhaps a likelier scenario would be one in which the Padres and Astros discuss a trade that would allow Gustave to remain in the San Diego organization.
San Diego will get a little more than a week to evaluate Gustave before a decision needs to be reached. They’ve placed catcher Tim Federowicz on the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a 40-man spot for Gustave.
Padres GM A.J. Preller says that the team does not view outfielder Justin Upton as a mere rental player, as MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reports. “We made a big trade for him, and when you do something like that, you always hope you can work something out long term and do something together,” said Preller of Upton. “… That’s why we acquired him. You always want guys like that on your team.” While Preller has already made quite an impression in his first offseason at the helm in San Diego, an extension or free agent signing of Upton would be grander and more committing than any of his other moves. The 27-year-old sits atop the free agent power rankings of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, owing in large part to his youth and power output. For now, Preller says the team is focused on letting Upton get comfortable with the organization in the hopes that he will “see the long-term fit.” Upton, meanwhile, says it is too soon to discuss the possibility of a new deal with the Padres. “”I’ve only been here for a month,” he said. “I don’t even want to talk about that.”
Here’s more out of the western divisions:
- The Athletics have optioned righty Ryan Cook to Triple-A, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports. Cook has struggled this spring, but has a well-established track record at the big league level and owns a 2.77 ERA over nearly 200 frames over the last four seasons. It is worth noting that Cook has more at stake than his immediate roster spot: he entered the year with three years and 36 days of service, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could delay his free agency by a year.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean addressed the team’s outfield situation today, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Angel Pagan‘s back troubles are not cause for the team to go searching for another outfielder, he said, noting also that Hunter Pence is only out for a small portion of the season.
- The Diamondbacks, in many respects, “appear to see things differently than the rest of the league,” Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. That applies to the team’s overall approach to blending statistics and scouting and its assessment of the defensive capabilities of several of its young players, among other things. Cameron cautions not to write off the team’s ultimate ability to compete based on a process that he believes is flawed, citing the Orioles’ somewhat surprising run of success, though he also makes clear that he does not see a promising method being applied in Arizona.
- The first trade of Preller’s stint with the Padres was not nearly as heralded as his later swaps, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes. Lefty Kyle Bartsch was, in fact, the first name added to San Diego’s slate of players under the Preller regime, representing the return on outfielder Reymond Fuentes. The 2013 seventh-round pick probably fit expectations for the new San Diego front office better than the later, splashier additions. “With Fuentes, he was someone who was coming off our roster, so you look for smaller deals and value-type pieces and in Kyle we found someone with three pitches, had success [in the pros], had success in college,” Preller said. “He’s a lefty and that’s always a good thing. That’s an area he fit for us.”
- Olivera’s new agent, Greg Genske, says he thinks he and his client will reach a deal with his new team “soon.” (Last Wednesday, Genske told Heyman that Olivera would likely sign by the end of what is now last week, so negotiations have already gone on longer than anticipated.)
- It’s possible there could be a bidding war between the Dodgers and Padres. Those two teams appear to be leading the bidding, although other teams (including the Braves, Athletics and Giants) remain interested. (The Marlins are reportedly out of the bidding.)
- Olivera is reportedly throwing well, perhaps easing concerns over a report that he could have UCL damage.
- Olivera will likely agree to a deal by Wednesday, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweets.
Yankees prospect Jose Pirela has been diagnosed with a concussion following a nasty collision with the center field wall, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, and Pirela could be sidelined for the rest of Spring Training. The injury could be particularly costly for Pirela as he (and fellow rookie Rob Refsnyder) were competing for not just a roster spot, but perhaps regular time at second base given Stephen Drew‘s struggles. In better news for Pirela, he was discharged from hospital last night and MRIs revealed no damage to his neck or spine.
Here’s the latest from both Big Apple teams…
- Yankees catcher Austin Romine has drawn trade interest from the Phillies and Padres, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Romine is out of options and John Ryan Murphy looks like the favorite to win the Yankees’ backup catcher job, so a trade could be possible. Philadelphia and San Diego are both known to be looking for catching depth. The Yankees already dealt one catcher (Francisco Cervelli) this offseason and if Romine is moved, that would leave top prospect Gary Sanchez and minor league veteran Eddy Rodriguez as their depth options behind Brian McCann and Murphy.
- The Mets are “unlikely” to add a left-handed reliever before Opening Day, a team official tells Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter links). The Mets haven’t been particularly interested in many of the available options, and rival teams are asking for a lot in return for their southpaws.
- Bobby Parnell may be back from his Tommy John recovery process sooner than previously thought, a Mets official tells ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Parnell underwent his surgery in early April 2014 so if he is indeed back “sooner than people expect,” then he might have only a brief stint on the DL to begin the season.
- From that same link, Rubin also projects the 25 players who will make the Mets‘ Opening Day roster.