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Jason Heyward got off to a slow start with the Cardinals but he posted a .960 OPS and five home runs over 100 plate appearances from May 27 to June 27. As Heyward tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the improvement came in no small part due to intensive work on his swing, and it seems like things are finally clicking for the right fielder. If Heyward can keep this hot hitting going throughout the season, it will send his free agent value soaring; MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has speculated that if Heyward could land a $200MM contract if he delivers a big season and proves he can be a consistent force at the plate. Here’s some more from around baseball as we head into the new week…
- The Brewers haven’t told inquiring clubs that they’re not trading Jean Segura, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, but the team would clearly want a lot in return for the shortstop. Haudricourt ranks Milwaukee’s roster in terms of likely trade targets, and the only seeming untouchables being Jonathan Lucroy and young arms like Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers, Jimmy Nelson and others.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes that the Giants‘ top priorities heading into trade season are fixing the bench, improving the outfield if Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki have longer-term injuries, and addressing the rotation. He adds that while it seems like San Francisco needs to dabble in the market for a front of the rotation starter, it might be too tall of an order. Over the weekend, Giants GM Bobby Evans acknowledged that it could be hard to pull off a deal for a high-end starter given the team’s glut of pitchers with limited trade value.
- Phillies prospect Tommy Joseph is being shifted from catcher to first base, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. Multiple concussions and a wrist injury limited Joseph to just 63 total games in 2013-14, and after suffering another concussion this season, the decision was made to end Joseph’s catching career for the sake of his health. The Giants drafted Joseph in the second round of the 2009 draft and he came to Philadelphia as part of the Hunter Pence trade package.
- The Padres may “take a more measured approach” to their spending when the July 2 international market opens, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The Padres are already scouting the 2016-17 international class and may be looking to spend more heavily next year when several big-market teams will be under bonus penalties and out of the market for the top prospects.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- At 36-40, the Padres have considered buying as well as selling at the trade deadline. They could pursue a shortstop and left-handed hitter if they buy. If they sell, they could consider dealing Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Upton is the only one of the three who’s eligible for free agency after the season, though, and the Padres might not want to tear down entirely, since they’re hosting the All-Star Game next year.
- The Cubs have considered dealing for Mets left-hander Jon Niese, although they might also aim higher. The salary remaining on Niese’s current deal (he’ll make $9MM next year, plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2016) might also be a slight obstacle to trading him.
- The Blue Jays are interested in pitching, but also perhaps in outfield help. Acquiring an outfielder would help the Jays to keep top young player Dalton Pompey in the minors — he’s currently hitting very well for Double-A New Hampshire after struggling in both the big leagues and in Triple-A this year.
- Former Padres manager Bud Black could be a possibility for the Braves if they eventually decide to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Black worked for the Indians front office when current Braves GM John Hart was in Cleveland, and Braves president John Schuerholz traded for Black all the way back in 1982, when Schuerholz was GM of the Royals.
Today’s outright assignments…
- The Phillies outrighted Dustin McGowan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 33-year-old has struggled with his control this season, leading to a 6.94 ERA in 23 1/3 innings. McGowan’s 21 strikeouts in that time are a solid mark, but he’s also walked 20 hitters, and his ground-ball rate is down significantly from its peak — a trend that began last year in Toronto and has continued in 2015.
- Padres left-hander Eury De La Rosa cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A El Paso, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter). De La Rosa, 25, has pitched exclusively at Triple-A this year, working to a 4.03 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 5.6 BB/9 over 22 1/3 frames. That represents a career-worst K:BB ratio in his professional career.
- As we passed along earlier today, Mets pitcher Dillon Gee was also placed on outright waivers. As the DFA Tracker shows, that leaves six players in DFA limbo: Jhonatan Solano, Phillippe Aumont, Andy Parrino, Hector Noesi, Jeff Bianchi, and Rickie Weeks.
Remember when the Padres, Red Sox, and White Sox were the most improved teams in the majors? They, along with the Marlins, are below .500 despite their busy offseasons, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Alternatively, the Blue Jays have pushed into playoff contention with a recent winning streak. Toronto added Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin over the offseason, but the core of the team has remained largely intact. Kepner notes that these quick turnaround rebuilds are no guarantee for solid performance.
Here’s more from around the league:
- A new international signing period will begin on July 2nd, but 2016 is the time for your favorite team to break the bank, per Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Angels, and Diamondbacks are already unable to spend more than $300K on a player for the next two seasons. The Dodgers, Cubs, Royals, Phillies, and Blue Jays may blow past their bonus limit in the 2015 signing period. That will remove many of the most active teams from the market in 2016. Badler gives a complete description of the international market conditions. It’s well worth a read.
- The Giants will soon face a roster crunch in their rotation, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Jake Peavy is medically ready to return, and Matt Cain is nearing readiness. The easiest move would be to option Chris Heston, but he’s tied for the club lead with seven wins and recently no-hit the Mets. Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Hudson have been merely serviceable. The same can be said of Tim Lincecum in recent weeks. With the exception of Heston, the other rotation arms could be lost if they’re designated for assignment. The club could opt to move Lincecum and Vogelsong into the bullpen, but that just pushes the roster crunch elsewhere.
- An influx of Cuban players could soon flood the majors, writes Bill Shaiken of the Los Angeles Times. Cuban players, even those who fall under international spending restrictions, are currently able to negotiate with all 30 clubs. That increases their bargaining power. It’s a big reason why infielder Roberto Baldoquin cost about four times more than the Angels’ entire 2015 amateur draft class. Cubans are currently the third most represented foreign nation in the majors. Opening day rosters included 18 Cubans, 65 Venezuelans, and 83 Dominicans. Cuba has a comparable population to the Dominican Republic. As such, we could see a surge of Cuban players as diplomatic relations continue to thaw.
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The Padres have designated lefty Eury De La Rosa for assignment, the club announced. San Diego selected the contract of corner infielder Brett Wallace in a corresponding move, necessitating a 40-man spot.
De La Rosa, 25, has pitched exclusively at Triple-A this year, working to a 4.03 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 5.6 BB/9 over 22 1/3 frames. That represents a career-worst K:BB ratio in his professional career.
The southpaw spent time in the Diamondbacks bullpen over the past two seasons, putting up a 4.21 ERA in 51 1/3 total frames. De La Rosa bounced from the D’Backs to the Athletics and then to the Dodgers in recent months before reaching San Diego on a waiver claim.
The 28-year-old Wallace, a former top prospect, will make his first big league appearance for a team other than the Astros. He hasn’t seen the show since 2013, but owns a career .242/.313/.391 slash in just over 1,000 career plate appearances in the majors. Wallace has (as usual) hit Triple-A pitching well this year, slashing .305/.380/.460 while carrying a 21.1% strikeout rate.
Padres outfielder Wil Myers will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur from his left wrist tomorrow, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune. It will likely be at least eight weeks before Myers is able to resume baseball activities, Lin adds, which seems to suggest that Myers could be sidelined through the end of August.
It’s been an injury plagued season for the 24-year-old Myers, who joined the Padres alongside Ryan Hanigan in a three-team trade that sent Joe Ross and Trea Turner to the Nationals while also sending Steven Souza, Burch Smith, Rene Rivera, Jake Bauers and Travis Ott to the Rays. Myers was tasked with playing center field despite not carrying a strong reputation even as a corner outfielder, and the results weren’t pretty, from a defensive standpoint (-9 DRS, -57 UZR/150 in 260 innings).
Myers, however, was acquired more for his bat than his glove, and he didn’t disappoint in that regard. In 159 plate appearances with the Padres this season, Myers has batted .277/.322/.459 with five homers, 10 doubles and a triple. When weighting that line to account for his home park, Myers has been about 22 percent above the league average (per wRC+ and OPS+).
Myers has missed significant time in both 2014 and 2015 with injuries to each of his wrists. A sprain and a fracture in his right wrist led to separate DL stints for Myers last season, and he’s been troubled by both inflammation and tendinitis in his left wrist this season — the same wrist that will now put him on the shelf for another two months or more. According to Lin, Myers has played through this bone spur since middle school, but it became increasingly problematic this year when a tendon near his pinkie finger became inflamed.
In Myers’ absence, the Padres will likely use a combination of Will Venable and Melvin Upton Jr. in center field, with Justin Upton and Matt Kemp handling corner outfield duties. The loss of Myers hurts the lineup, though it does allow interim manager Pat Murphy an avenue to insert a much-needed left-handed bat — Venable — into his lineup with regularity. Venable is hitting a strong .273/.331/.453 against righties this season and owns a lifetime .257/.322/.430 slash when holding the platoon advantage.
Myers did start five games at first base this season, so it shouldn’t be completely ruled out that hyper-aggressive GM A.J. Preller could pursue a trade for a center fielder, then use Myers at first base if he’s able to return in a timely fashion. Doing so could theoretically displace Yonder Alonso, who has enjoyed a .319/.406/.420 start to his season. Much of that is owed a to a .359 BABIP, however, as Alonso still offers little power, especially relative to his first base peers.
The Padres announced this afternoon that they have named Pat Murphy their interim manager for the remainder of the 2015 season. Murphy had been serving as the team’s manager at Triple-A El Paso.
“Pat Murphy’s 30 years of experience coaching and managing, and his success at every level, stood out to me as I came to this decision,” said Padres GM A.J. Preller in the press release announcing the move. “His leadership ability, his respect in the clubhouse and his familiarity with our system will make this transition a smooth one for our players and coaching staff.”
The 56-year-old Murphy was in his third season as El Paso’s manager and spent the two years prior to that managing for San Diego’s A-Ball affiliate. He also has an extensive college coaching career, most notably with Arizona State. Murphy was long hailed as one of the best coaches in the college game, but his time at ASU wasn’t without controversy. Murphy was reportedly forced to resign in 2009 after allegations of academic fraud and recruiting violations marred his tenure as the team’s head coach.
Recently, the Brewers had interest in interviewing Murphy for a coaching position on the Major League staff, but the Padres did not grant Milwaukee permission to do so. Speculation emerged shortly thereafter that Murphy “had been made promises” by the organization. While that may or may not be the case, it does certainly seem likely that the Padres were at least considering Murphy as a possible coach, if not manager, in the event that Bud Black was let go. The Padres dismissed Black yesterday after parts of nine seasons on the job.
The Padres are expected to name an interim manager that will hold the position through the end of the season today, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune. More than likely, it’ll be an internal candidate, Lin adds. He hears that Triple-A manager Pat Murphy and bench coach Dave Roberts (who managed last night’s contest in Black’s absence) are the two likeliest candidates. First-year hitting coach Mark Kotsay has been discussed internally, he adds, but Kotsay is viewed as a less likely candidate.
Both Will Carroll of Fanduel and Keith Olbermann of ESPN heard yesterday that Murphy was on his way to San Diego, though Olbermann’s source indicated that it was possible that Murphy could become either the bench coach or the manager (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that some view Murphy as the favorite to succeed Black, at least for the remainder of the season, and he will indeed be interviewed (or, perhaps, was already interviewed last night). Heyman writes that general manager A.J. Preller is said to want a manager with a fiery personality, and the Padres recently declined to let Murphy interview for a big league coaching position with the Brewers, perhaps indicating larger plans for him.
While Lin’s report makes Kotsay appear unlikely, Joel Sherman of the New York Post did tweet yesterday that the most common names he’s heard from executives outside of the Padres organization are Kotsay and Murphy. Scott Miller of FOX Sports Southwest and Bleacher Report added third base coach Glenn Hoffman’s name into the mix as well.
The Padres have agreed to a slightly above-slot deal with second-round pick Austin Smith, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Smith will receive a $1.2MM bonus after being taken 51st overall, which came with a $1,178,400 allocation.
The high school righty was regarded as one of the forty to fifty best prospects available by draft observers. MLB.com likes Smith’s “easy” velocity, while noting that he has some work to do in building out his secondary offerings. ESPN.com’s Keith Law calls Smith “a rawer version of Nationals prospect Joe Ross,” noting that he comes with the upside of a mid-rotation starter.
Smith was San Diego’s first pick . The club already went over-slot to add its next choice, righty Jacob Nix, but has saved plenty of money on several other signings and still has flexibility to use in locking up other players.
The Padres have agreed to terms with righty Jacob Nix on a $900K signing bonus, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. The 86th choice in the draft came with a $687,300 pick value, meaning that San Diego went over $200K over slot to add Nix.
Of course, Nix thought he had an even larger bonus locked up last year with the Astros, before he was caught up in the Brady Aiken saga. He ultimately landed at IMG Academy for a year and brought a grievance action against Houston (reportedly settling for a six-figure payout).
Now advised by MVP Sports, Nix drew plenty of top-forty pre-draft ratings. Keith Law of ESPN.com was highest on Nix, rating him the 32nd-best player available and saying he has mid-rotation starter upside. Baseball America and MLB.com concurred that Nix had back of first-round talent, while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs dropped Nix to 81st on his list.