San Diego Padres Rumors

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

Padres Expected To Name Interim Manager Today

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.


Padres To Sign Second Rounder Austin Smith

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.


Padres To Sign Jacob Nix

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.



Padres Fire Bud Black

The Padres announced that they have relieved manager Bud Black of his duties. The team will begin a formal search for an interim manager to play out the remainder of the 2015 season immediately, per a Padres press release. Until that search is concluded, bench coach Dave Roberts will serve as the club’s manager.

Black’s nine years as manager of the Padres have helped to make him one of baseball’s most respected skippers. The move has been speculated upon in the past, but it still comes as somewhat of a shock to see it actually executed. In 1362 career games as a manager, all with San Diego, Black has totaled a record of 649-713 despite routinely having to work with one of baseball’s lowest payrolls. A pitching coach prior to his work as a manager, he’s drawn praise for his work with many of the Padres’ young arms over the course of his career in the dugout.

The 32-33 Padres have yet to fully live up to expectations, although it’s tough to pin those struggles on Black. San Diego entered the season with the combination of Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes to handle the team’s shortstop woes, and the outfield defense was questioned from the moment that it was announced the team would field an outfield of Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp. The team also possesses few quality left-handed bats, leaving it somewhat vulnerable to strong right-handed pitching.


Quick Hits: Astros, Huntington, Reds, Nola

Collin McHugh‘s recent struggles have only sharpened the Astros‘ need for starting pitching help, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  McHugh has a 7.77 ERA over his last four starts, leaving ace Dallas Keuchel as the only truly reliable rotation option, as it’s asking a lot of rookies Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez to immediately help carry a playoff-contending team (though McCullers has been outstanding in six starts.)  Here’s some more from around baseball as we head into the new week…

  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells David Manel of the Bucs Dugout blog that the club will again “walk that balance between now and the future” in making any deadline additions.  “We want to do everything we can to put this club in a position to make the playoffs this year, win a World Series this year. At the same time, we want to be able to be in that position as many years in the future as we can,” Huntington said.  Pittsburgh will face a lot of competition in making deals only a few teams are truly out of the race at this point; as Huntington puts it, “this is absolutely a sellers market, at this point in time.”
  • The rising costs of youth baseball has led to fewer young athletes choosing the game, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  The Pirates value having versatile players who are able to play multiple positions, and the best fits for this model are those who played baseball and other sports growing up, so they have a larger athletic toolbox.  With more youngsters specializing only in one sport growing up, however, these well-rounded athletes are harder to find.
  • Despite the Reds‘ struggles, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn’t think manager Bryan Price’s job is in jeopardy.  “It would be hard and foolish to fire Bryan Price given all the injuries” the Reds have had to deal with, Fay writes.
  • Most scouts feel that the Reds wouldn’t trade Aroldis Chapman “if push came to shove” and they became deadline sellers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.  There hasn’t been any indication that the Reds are willing to deal Chapman, though his name has at least been floated in talks with the Nationals.
  • Also from Cafardo, some scouts following the Reds have mentioned Brandon Phillips, but while he’s having a good season, Cafardo feels the second baseman’s large contract is still a deterrent to a trade.
  • The Padres, White Sox and Indians are three of the many clubs still relatively close to a postseason spot but unsure if they’ll be able to make a legitimate run, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required).  San Diego’s situation is particularly tricky given their major winter expenditures and rival evaluators doubt that the Padres would engage in any major sell-off if they continue to struggle.
  • Top Phillies pitching prospect Aaron Nola has been promoted to Triple-A, the club announced earlier today.  Nola, the seventh overall pick of the 2014 draft, posted a 1.88 ERA and 6.56 K/BB rate over 76 2/3 innings at Double-A this season, with the only minor red flag being a middling 6.9 K/9.  At this point, Nola seems well on pace to earn a promotion to the Show late this season.

Draft Signings: Minter, Padres, David Fletcher

The 2015 MLB Draft is in the books, and over the coming weeks we’ll see plenty of picks agree to terms with their new clubs.  With so many players selected in the draft, there’s no way to cover all of them, but we’ll run down some of the more notable picks — either due to the size of their signing bonus, the round they were selected or a significantly over-slot/under-slot deal — as they’re reported. Here are today’s notable mid-round signings (with all slot values coming courtesy of Baseball America)…

  • The Braves have signed second-rounder A.J. Minter, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports (via Twitter).  Minter will receive a $814.3K bonus, matching the slot value of the 75th overall pick.  The left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in March and injuries limited him to just 58 innings in his career at Texas A&M.  It’s yet to be determined whether he’ll stick as a starter or reliever when healthy, though Callis notes that Minter can throw a cutter in the low 90’s and has touched 97mph with his fastball.
  • The Padres have signed fourth-rounder Austin Allen ($484K), Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.  Allen, the 117th overall pick in the draft, will receive the $484K bonus that matches his slot value.  The club also made two notable under-slot signings in sixth-rounder Jordan Guerrero ($200K) and ninth-rounder Jerry Keel ($10K), who respectively signed for $71.3K and $151.4K less than their assigned values.  As Lin notes, the Padres are already a combined $310K below slot value after just four signings.
  • The Angels signed sixth-rounder David Fletcher to a $406.9K bonus, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports (Twitter link).  This is a sizable bump up from the $228.1K slot value for the 195th overall pick.

Trea Turner Joins Nationals

12:06pm: The Nationals officially announced that Turner has joined the organization, as Bill Ladson of MLB.com tweets.

11:27am: At long last, Trea Turner is on his way to join the Nationals.  Turner is headed to Double-A Harrisburg today, according to Mike Saeger, the play-by-play announcer for the Padres’ Double-A affiliate (on Twitter).

Turner, of course, was shipped from the Padres to the Nationals in December’s three-way deal involving Wil Myers and the Rays.  However, Turner was termed as a player to be named later in the swap since he was not eligible to be traded at the time.  The agent for the shortstop prospect, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed concern about his client’s situation almost immediately.  At the time, Berry intimated that he might file a grievance action, but ultimately he had a change of heart.

“Trea has put this matter behind him and is focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization,” Berry said in a February statement.

Of course, just last month, the league ultimately decided to alter the PTBNL rules.  Now, players selected in the amateur draft are permitted to be traded beginning the day after the conclusion of the World Series.

Over 321 plate appearances at the low-A and Class A levels last year, Turner slashed .323/.406/.448 with five home runs and 23 stolen bases.  This year, in Double-A San Antonio, the former No. 13 overall pick has hit .322/.385/.471 across 254 plate appearances with five homers.

Coming into the season, Turner was rated as the No. 65 prospect in the game by Baseball America.  Back in January, John Manuel of Baseball America speculated that the Padres did not view Turner as a shortstop in the long run since he does not have an exceptionally strong arm.  Others believe that Turner can blossom into a strong shortstop at the big league level, however.


Mets Acquire Alex Torres

Jun 13: The player to be named later is left-handed pitcher Brad Wieck, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. He’ll now head to the Padres. The southpaw was the Mets’ seventh round pick in the 2014 Rule 4 draft. He has a 3.21 ERA with 11.89 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9 in 56 Low-A innings. FanGraphs prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel says Wieck’s fastball works in the low 90’s. The 23-year-old could move quickly as a situational reliever.

Mar 30: The Mets announced that they have acquired left-handed reliever Alex Torres from the Padres in exchange for Minor League right-hander Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later.

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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.


Trade Market Notes: Top Targets, Papelbon, Jays, Mets, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ranks the top forty trade candidates around the league, adding observations and notes on each. Though he notes that clubs like the Red Sox and Orioles could potentially end up moving assets, Heyman restricts things to clubs that seem more likely than not to sell at this point. Cole Hamels of the Phillies lands in the pole position; though some top suitors remain unwilling to part with the top players targeted by Philadelphia, one GM tells Heyman that the club will probably be able to land a premium prospect for the lefty. He also argues that a deal involving Dodgers outfielder and Angels starter C.J. Wilson looks good on paper, though the teams have not discussed such an arrangement. You’ll need to read the whole post to take it all in, of course.

  • The Blue Jays and Phillies have not discussed Jonathan Papelbon in the last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links), adding that Toronto is looking at other arms at the moment. One name to watch, says Sherman, is Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, who Toronto had in-depth discussions about over the winter.
  • It’s academic at this point, but Clippard also drew significant interest from the Astros over the offseason, Sherman further tweets. Indeed, Houston was “very close” to acquiring the veteran reliever, says Sherman, which raises the interesting question of what the Nationals would have received in return. Ultimately, the club took infielder Yunel Escobar in return, though that deal did not occur until a month after the Astros had already spent big on free agent bullpen arms, which could indicate that the prospective Clippard acquisition might have been contemplated earlier in the winter.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson indicated that the club will not rely on a return from David Wright in making its summer moves, David Lennon of Newsday writes. Alderson said the club would not continue providing regular updates on Wright’s status, and said he would not be restricted in making moves. “Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?” Alderson queried. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.” The veteran GM continued to throw cold water on the idea of a move in the near-term, noting that the market was “narrow” and generally features underperforming players at this stage.
  • C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer discusses the Reds‘ current predicament, with Zack Cozart out for the season, Devin Mesoraco likely to join him in that regard, and Marlon Byrd sidelined for a significant stretch. Cincinnati should not allow its hosting of the All-Star game to slow its efforts to deal Johnny Cueto, opines Rosecrans, who suggests that the team could reap a larger reward by moving him now (both by selling more starts and, perhaps, by getting ahead of the market). Dealing Cueto, of course, would also increase the appeal of shipping out Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman. Rosecrans concludes: “At this point, the organization doesn’t need to think about the All-Star Game, or even 2016. This is a long-term move and needs long-term thinking.”
  • Though he’s a rental, Cueto is a true ace and should bring back a healthy return — even if it won’t be near what the Reds might have achieved last year (as Rosecrans explains). There should be no shortage of suitors, but MLB.com’s Phil Rogers lists the five most plausible landing spots: the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, and Padres.

Padres Option Jedd Gyorko

The Padres have optioned struggling infielder Jedd Gyorko to Triple-A, the club announced.

Gyorko, 26, has seen his playing time dwindle in San Diego. But it remains a surprise to see him headed back to Triple-A. After all, Gyorko is playing in just the second year on the six-year, $35MM extension he signed early last season. Most of that contract is due after this year, and it comes with a $13MM option for 2020 ($1MM buyout).

The Padres had hoped that Gyorko would take the reigns at second for the long run when they locked him up, but he’s struggled badly ever since. Since a strong rookie campaign in 2013, he owns just a .210/.280/.328 slash with 12 home runs in 574 plate appearances.

San Diego will hope that Gyorko can work out his issues in the upper minors and return to deliver value on his contract. In the meantime, the club will presumably rely on some combination of Cory Spangenberg and Yangervis Solarte at second.

The move serves to emphasize the Padres’ middle infield woes. Short and second have both checked in at (or just below) replacement level thus far, and the .500 club could be in need of a boost in both spots if it hopes to stay in the hunt.