San Diego Padres Rumors

NL Notes: Baez, Diaz, Mets

Cubs senior vice president of player development and scouting Jason McLeod was once an assistant GM for the Padres, and he tells FanGraphs' David Laurila that the Friars would not have taken Javier Baez if he had fallen one pick to them in the 2011 draft. "The Cubs beat a lot of teams on Javy. They certainly beat the Padres," McLeod says. "I have to admit we weren’t set up to take him with our pick. Thankfully, the Cubs were smart and I don’t have to wear that one too bad." Baez, of course, is now among the best prospects in baseball, while the player the Padres took instead, second baseman Cory Spangenberg, struggled somewhat last year in Double-A — he hit .289, but struck out three times as often as he walked and hit for very little power. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The market for Cuban free agent infielder Aledmys Diaz will likely be set by the Dodgers' signings of Alexander Guerrero (four years, $28MM) and Erisbel Arruebarrena (five years, $25MM), Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel writes. The market for Cuban players is different from the markets for other player types, McDaniel argues, so it makes sense to compare Diaz to other Cuban players to determine his value. Diaz should hit well for average, and should be a decent defender at second base. Teams believe Diaz will likely receive a contract worth about $5MM-$7MM per season for five or six seasons, although the contracts of Cuban free agents can be difficult to predict.
  • The Mets appear set to head into the season with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They don't appear likely to add Stephen Drew, and they haven't had serious trade talks recently with the Mariners (who have Nick Franklin and Brad Miller) or Diamondbacks (who have Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings). The Mariners and Diamondbacks are asking for a lot in return, Sherman says, since it's tough to find a good shortstop, and all four players have options.

NL Notes: Padres, Minicozzi, Dodgers, Hannahan

MLB.com's Corey Brock brought readers into the dugout for some game action in an interesting read today. Receiving permission to camp out with the Padres during their game Thursday, Brock observed a number of inside snippets. For instance, infielder Stephen Carmon, who came over from minor league camp as depth and did not play, enjoyed a peaceful afternoon chatting with some veterans and sampling the wide variety of sunflower seed flavors made available. 

Here are a few notes from around baseball:

  • In another great story out of the NL West, Alex Pavloic of the San Jose Mercury News tells how 31-year-old Mark Minicozzi took an improbable path — around the world, through multiple injuries, and over multiple years — to rejoining the Giants. He left the organization after 2007, only to come back in 2012. Last year, he homered in his first Spring Training at-bat with the big club after coming over from the minor-league side for a road trip. This year, he earned his first non-roster invitation, and had his first ever start today. In his first trip to the plate, he swatted another long ball. Though Minicozzi still has many obstacles to overcome to reach a regular-season MLB game, his tale is testament to the power of perseverance and positive thinking.
  • The second base position for the Dodgers is now a "full-blown tryout camp," reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Major offseason acquisition Alex Guerrero continues to try to learn second while adapting to the pace of the big league game, and Gurnick says it seems as if he'll start off in Triple-A. Though Dee Gordon is the other player that the team would like to see emerge, he too has not separated himself from a pack that includes Brendan Harris, Chone Figgins, Justin Turner, and Miguel Rojas.
  • Infielder Jack Hannahan has not yet appeared in full spring action for the Reds because he underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Hannahan struggled mightily last year, but was apparently playing through the injury the entire time. The 33-year-old is in the final guaranteed year of a two-year, $4MM deal that comes with a $4MM club option for next season.

NL West Notes: Quentin, Fried, Belt, Tulo, Owings

Carlos Quentin tells Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune that at one point in the 2013 season, his injuries were nagging him to the point where he weighed retirement. The 31-year-old recalls thinking, "I can’t produce and do well, so I shouldn’t be out here." Quentin admitted to Acee that he wasn't honest last Spring when speaking about how healthy he was, but Acee notes the change in Quentin's demeanor this offseason as he told reporters that he wants to set a new career-high in games played this season.

The latest on the Padres and the rest of the NL West below…

  • Dennis Lin of the Union-Tribune reports that Padres top prospect Max Fried has been shut down for at least two weeks due to soreness in the flexor-mass area of his left (pitching) elbow. GM Josh Byrnes said Fried initially felt the soreness when playing long-toss from 120 feet. "At this stage of his career, this time of year, we’re obviously gonna be careful and make sure he’s symptom-free before he gets going," Byrnes said. "There was still enough soreness in there that we’re gonna be conservative and make sure we knock it out."
  • Giants first baseman Brandon Belt told reporters, including MLB.com's Chris Haft, that receiving the biggest payday of his life — a $2.9MM contract to avoid arbitration two nights ago — was a "magical" moment. Belt added that he would be open to discussing a long-term deal to remain in San Francisco: "I think anybody would be open to a long-term extension, especially with this organization. It's a first-class organization."
  • Troy Tulowitzki knows that rumors will fly over the next year, as talk of the Yankees needing to replace Derek Jeter will likely connect him to the Bronx, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Tulo, who has looked up to Jeter since his youth and wears No. 2 in the Yankee Captain's honor, tells Renck that he's used to trade rumors and will remain focused on helping the Rockies win games.
  • Chris Owings never let the Diamondbacks' acquisition of Didi Gregorius faze him last year, writes MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Owings was thought of as the club's shortstop of the future when he was drafted in 2009 but looked to have been passed up by Gregorius at the time of last year's trade. Rather than dwell on it, Owings focused on his game and won the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's MVP Award, once again positioning himself a long-term answer for Arizona at short, writes Gilbert.


Quick Hits: Buxton, Heyward, Padres, Saunders

Byron Buxton holds the top position in Baseball America's 2014 ranking of the top 100 prospects in the sport.  It's no surprise that Buxton was ranked #1 given that the Twins outfielder was similarly ranked in BA's midseason top 100 last summer.  Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (who qualifies for the list despite his long career in Japan) and Cubs shortstop Javier Baez round out the top five.

Here's some more from around baseball….

  • Baseball America's John Manuel picks out some of the best and worst rankings from the past 24 years of BA's Top 100 Prospects lists.
  • The Braves signed long-term extensions with several core players but only extended Jason Heyward through his two remaining arbitration years.  While some believe that this means Heyward's time in Atlanta is limited, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby writes that "the expectation is that after next season, the Heyward deal can be expanded so that he, too, will be locked up at least through the first year in the new ballpark."  Such a deal would require extending Heyward through at least his first two free agent years, which could get very expensive for the Braves if Heyward finally breaks out into stardom, as many have predicted for the young outfielder.
  • Padres chairman Ron Fowler told reporters (including Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune) that the club is prepared to raise payroll even further beyond the current $87MM+ projection for 2014. 
  • In regards to negotiations with Chase Headley on a multiyear deal, Fowler said, “There has been dialogue and we will continue to have dialogue at the appropriate time through the appropriate sources.”  Headley recently hinted that not much progress was being made and that talks could be tabled until after the season.
  • According to a talent evaluator who has seen Joe Saunders throw, the veteran southpaw could be the "steal of February," the evaluator tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).  Saunders posted a rough 5.26 ERA over 183 innings for the Mariners last season.  "No one saying he’s a star, but he’s a major-league pitcher," Rosenthal writes.
  • The Nationals' acquisition of Doug Fister from the Tigers is the best transaction of the 2014 offseason, as judged by Fangraphs' Dave Cameron.  The Fister trade headlines Cameron's list of the winter's top 10 moves.
  • Though Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts denied that his club's profits were going anywhere but back into the team, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders why the Cubs' revenues haven't been reflected in the Major League payroll.
  • NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon stands alone in his own tier atop ESPN's Keith Law's four-tier breakdown of the 2014 draft's top prospects (Insider subscription required).

NL Notes: Cashner, Rizzo, Drew, Mets, Dodgers, Pirates

With the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres and Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs now over two years distant, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at its background and how it has played out to date. While both players have proven that their talent plays at the big league level, each still comes with questions. Nevertheless, the trade appears to have been quite an equal swap at this point, he opines.

Here's more from the National League:

  • The Mets hesitation with respect to shortstop Stephen Drew relates to the team's valuations of him and internal option Ruben Tejada, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo"At the numbers he's looking for," a source told DiComo, "we don't think he's worth it compared to what we have." At this point, a trade of Ike Davis is a more likely outcome than the signing of Drew, says DiComo.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said today that a platoon was possible at second base, a prospect that Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times questions. Both Alexander Guerrero and Dee Gordon — the two likely platoon options — are converting from shortstop, and each brings lots of uncertainty to the table. Guerrero, the club's most expensive offseason acquisition, has reportedly had some struggles moving to the other side of the bag, but putting his right-handed bat in a platoon role would significantly limit his plate appearances.
  • In spite of a resoundingly successful 2013 campaign, Pirates GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle will both go into the season without a contractual assurance that they'll be around for another. As Rob Biertempfel of the PIttsburgh Tribune-Review reports, Owner Bob Nutting said today that extensions for the two are not a major priority, though he indicated that he'd be amenable to talks at the right time. "What they've done for the organization in good and bad times really is tremendous," said Nutting, "and I hope they're with the organization for a long time. My expectation is they're going to be critically important pieces of this organization as we go forward."
  • Nutting also indicated that the Pirates would still consider giving up a draft pick to sign a free agent, Biertempfel further reports"Certainly nothing is off the table," he said. "But at the same time, we need to recognize that a first-round draft pick is a meaningful source of talent for a team like the Pirates. We want to be smart and cautious." The Bucs have spoken with first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, Biertempfel notes, though the extent of the team's interest remains unknown.

Headley Unlikely To Talk Contract Until After Season

Though there have been several extensions inked of late — including Freddie Freeman, Michael Brantley, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel, with Homer Bailey reportedly nearing a deal — it doesn't sound like the Padres and Chase Headley will be reaching a middle ground on a multi-year pact in the near future. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune was among the reporters that spoke with Headley regarding his contract today, and the third baseman offered the following: 

"It’s not fair to the guys in this clubhouse to have anybody’s attention focused on anything but trying to win and trying to do your best for the team. I don’t want to put my foot down and say nothing’s gonna happen, but at this point it certainly seems that we’ll table these until the end of the season."

Headley, who turns 30 on May 9th, admitted that his own struggles have made it difficult to find a common ground in extension talks. The switch-hitter finished fifth in the NL MVP voting in 2012 after batting .286/.376/.498, but he "slumped" to a .250/.347/.400 batting line in 2013 (still good for a 116 OPS+). "That’s part of what makes this so tricky, is you’ve had such a big variation in the last two seasons," he said. 

Clearly, Headley would prefer to be compensated based on his 2012 form, while the Padres have some reservations after last season's decline. However, Headley said that the gap in contractual discussions hasn't strained his relationship with the organization:

"Both sides understand where the other party’s coming from and, frankly, respects where the other side is coming from. … We’re hoping at some point that we can come to common ground."

Last May, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told the press that the team was planning on making Headley an offer that would make him the highest-paid player in franchise history. Headley was caught off-guard by the news and said he preferred not to discuss extensions midseason.

Now, it appears that he'll be presented with the opportunity to test an open market in which he will be one of the top names available. Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Colby Rasmus, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Brett Gardner are among the top free-agent position players available. Ramirez, who is probably the top name set to hit the market, recently expressed his desire to remain with the Dodgers and is in talks about an extension of his own, however.


Minor Moves: Robinson, Knapp, Egan, Morillo, Garrison, Wrigley, Geer, Johnson

Here are some of today's notable minor moves — a rather interesting group on the whole — all courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy unless otherwise noted:

  • Catcher Chris Robinson will retire, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 29-year-old, who was a 3rd round pick of the Tigers back in 2005, had a chance to see his first MLB action (and hit his first home run) last year with the Padres. At Triple-A with the Pads and Orioles, Robinson put up a .282/.307/.320 line in 255 plate appearances.
  • The Rangers have signed righty Jason Knapp to a minor league deal, tweets Eddy. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Knapp is attempting a comeback after washing out of baseball following successive shoulder surgeries. The big hurler was once a top prospect, and headlined the deal that sent Cliff Lee from the Indians to the Phillies. Though he hasn't thrown a professional pitch since 2010, Knapp is just 23 years old and reportedly has managed to build his heater back up into the 90s.
  • Reliever Pat Egan has signed with the Reds, Eddy tweets. Though he has yet to crack the bigs at age 29, the towering righty has found success in recent seasons at the upper reaches of the minors. In 2013 with the Braves organization, Egan notched a 2.95 ERA in 73 1/3 innings (though he was better at Double-A than Triple-A). And in 2012, he was good for 67 innings of 1.61 ERA ball for the Orioles' top affiliates.
  • Reliever Juan Morillo has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun recently reported. The 30-year-old fireballer struggled in four MLB cups of coffee, and washed out of American professional baseball after 2012 as his walk totals reached unsustainable levels. According to Encina, Morillo served as the closer for the Taiwanese EDA Rhinos, during which time his heater registered at a league-record 99.4 mph.
  • The Orioles have also signed lefty Steve Garrison and first baseman Henry Wrigley to minor league deals, tweets Eddy. Garrison, 27, has thrown in just one big league game, and worked 43 2/3 innings of 3.30 ball for the Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate last year, his first as a reliever. In the process, he boasted significantly higher strikeout totals (10.1 K/9) than he carried as a starter. Wrigley, also 27, spent his entire career in the minors with the Rays before moving to the Rockies in 2013. Previously a solid (if strikeout-prone) hitter with 20-home run power, Wrigley struggled to a .188/.227/.348 line in 119 Double-A plate appearances last year.
  • Righty Josh Geer has re-signed with the Padres, Eddy tweets. Geer battled back from Stage III melanoma before the 2012 season. Now 30, the RIce University product saw time in the bigs over 2008-09 but has thrown in the upper minors since. Working mostly as a reliever for the first time last year, he threw 104 1/3 innings of 3.54 ERA baseball with 6.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.
  • Longtime catcher Rob Johnson will attempt to move onto the mound with the Padres organization, Eddie notes in the same tweet. The 31-year-old saw MLB action behind the dish in every season between 2007-13, carrying a lifetime .200/.275/.295 line in the process. Though a surprising number of converted catchers have found success as pitchers, far fewer can say they appeared at both positions at the big league level.
  • One example that Johnson can hope to emulate is Chris Hatcher, who has seen MLB time as a catcher and pitcher. Hatcher was recently designated by the Marlins and remains in DFA limbo. As MLBTR's DFA Tracker shows, two others join Hatcher in waiting to learn their fates: Henry Rodriguez (Reds) and Jimmy Paredes (Marlins).

International Notes: Diaz, Despaigne, Dodgers, Caribbean Series

Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market…

  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.

Earlier Updates

  • Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
  • The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
  • Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players — outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz — each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.

NL West Notes: Padres, Benoit, Belt, Arroyo, Bradley

Padres fans got some welcome news this evening, as it was announced that Time Warner Cable will begin airing Padres games for the coming season, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs has explained, the failure of Time Warner (and, at the time, AT&T U-verse and DISH Network) to agree to the Fox Sports San Diego subscriber fee not only left many fans without access to games, but put a significant dent in the Friars' expected annual payout. Here's more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:

  • When the Padres inked reliever Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $14MM deal earlier in the off-season, it raised an immediate question whether he or incumbent Huston Street would close. As Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, both back-end arms are content with the situation and their roles. "[Street] is going to shut the door," said Benoit, "and I'm going to try to give him as many games with leads as I can." For his part, Street — whose deal includes a $7MM club option for 2015 — says that he understands the business side of things and hopes only for success for his new teammate. "It's a smart move on the Padres' part," he said. "It gives them options for 2015. It gives them options if I go down. It gives them options if I struggle."
  • After a breakout campaign last year put him in position for a nice payday as a Super Two, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has yet to reach agreement with his club on a price for his 2014 season. The sides' filing figures ($3.6MM against $2.05MM) are the furthest apart in relative terms among remaining arbitration cases. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, however, it remains likely that a hearing will be avoided, as team and player both recently expressed an expectation that a settlement will be forthcoming.
  • Despite adding another rotation arm in Bronson Arroyo, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that top prospect Archie Bradley can still earn a starting spot out of camp, reports FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder"We want to get out of the gate quick," said Towers. "I've said from the beginning, with Archie, it's not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he's ready coming out of the spring and we're a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he's going to be there." Putting the 21-year-old on the MLB roster for Opening Day would mean giving up the ability to extend team control for an extra season, but Towers' statement indicates that is still a real possibility. (On the other hand, given that factor and Bradley's limited seasoning, it will probably be a tall order for him to unseat one of the expected five as a practical matter.) Fellow righty Randall Delgado would likely join the bullpen if he does not earn a turn in the rotation, said Towers, since he is out of options.
  • The Arroyo signing has earned mixed reviews; as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth opined, for example, the $23.5MM guarantee that he received is a debatable investment in a market that promised Paul Maholm just $1.5MM. One under-the-radar issue with Arroyo, argues Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, is that his pronounced struggles against lefties have been masked somewhat by pitching in a division (the National League Central) that has not featured the volume of left-handed bats to take full advantage of the platoon split. In particular, Cameron says, should the Diamondbacks reach the post-season, Arroyo's achilles heel could significantly impair his usefulness to his new club.

West Notes: Reddick, Padres

Let's take a look at the latest from the AL and NL West:

  • Josh Reddick was one notable absence at the Athletics' FanFest today, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Reddick is arbitration eligible and has yet to agree to a deal, but such players still attend team events, according to Slusser. When asked about Reddick's case, GM Billy Beane indicated a lack of concern, commenting, "these things always get done." The outfielder is projected to earn $2.2MM in his first trip through the abritration process by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
  • Padres starter Josh Johnson tells Corey Brock of MLB.com that he's already been able to throw three bullpen sessions since undergoing surgery in October to remove loose bodies in his right elbow. Club management has informed Johnson, however, that he may have a light workload in Spring Training to ensure that he's fully healthy for the start of the season.
  • Catcher Yasmani Grandal told attendees at the Padres' FanFest today that he's well ahead of schedule in his rehab from ACL surgery, and aims to start the season opener behind the plate for San Diego. Starting on Opening Day would put him back on the field less than seven months after the surgery, which can require close to a year of recovery time, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego.
  • Andrew Cashner was also in attendance at FanFest today and offered his thoughts after attending his own arbitration hearing earlier this week, reports Brock"I thought it was an interesting process," the starter commented. "All you ever really know is the stuff on the field. It was interesting hearing both sides." Cashner won his case after filing for $2.4MM, just $125K more than the Padres' offer of $2.275MM. The difference was the smallest among all arbitration filings this year.