- Padres outfielder Jon Jay tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link) that he anticipates returning to the majors within a “couple” of weeks. Of course, that almost certainly means he won’t be able to make it back in advance of the trade deadline, which was always the expectation when he went down with a fractured forearm. Jay could be moved in August, particularly if San Diego is able to get him through waivers early in the month — thus opening the possibility of getting a solid offer once he has returned to full health. Such a waiver placement could be risky, though, because the club might be forced to let him go, take a meager trade return if he is claimed, or pull him back while losing the chance to deal him later in the month. With just over $6MM in annual salary, Jay isn’t a terribly expensive piece for a team in need of outfield help, so it’s not inconceivable at all that a contender would roll the dice on a claim even before he’s at full health.
- Meanwhile, the Padres are drawing stronger interest in Andrew Cashner than his spotty recent track record might suggest, Rosenthal reports in the above-linked piece. The righty did just throw a gem, and still carries a tantalizing arm, so perhaps it isn’t surprising to hear that multiple organizations are interested in a chance at harnessing the evident talent.
- Before the Padres finally landed pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza from the Red Sox in the Pomeranz trade, San Diego team president Mike Dee tells Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune that his club made two earlier attempts at landing Espinoza’s services. The Padres also asked about the 18-year-old righty at last year’s trade deadline, and again last offseason when the Friars and Sox were negotiating the Craig Kimbrel deal. In the same interview, Dee also discusses how the organization will be more entirely focused on improving the on-field product in the coming years.
12:10pm: Texas would like the Yankees to take on a portion of Miller’s salary in the event of a trade, writes Wilson. Miller is under contract through 2018 at $9MM per year.
11:30am: The Rangers are also in talks with the Padres regarding righty Andrew Cashner, per Sullivan (Twitter link).
11:24am: In addition to Moore, the Rangers and Rays are also discussing Odorizzi and Drew Smyly, but not Chris Archer, tweets TR Sullivan of MLB.com. As for the bullpen, the Rangers are eyeing Yankees relief ace Andrew Miller, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).
9:04am: Looking to upgrade their rotation and bullpen prior to the Aug. 1 trade deadline, the scuffling Rangers are engaged in trade talks with the Rays, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter links). The clubs have discussed left-handed starter Matt Moore, to whom the Rangers have been connected previously, as well as relievers. Texas was also reportedly interested in Rays right-handed starter Jake Odorizzi as recently as July 5.
While the 54-38 Rangers hold a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL West, they and the second-place Astros have been going in opposite directions lately. Texas has dropped 11 of its last 14, and its rotation is missing righty Colby Lewis and southpaw Derek Holland – both of whom are on the 60-day DL – and has gone without ace Yu Darvish for most of the season. Darvish made his second return of the year Saturday, but the Rangers can’t necessarily count on him to be at full strength.
Even if Darvish and Cole Hamels stay healthy and effective, there are questions about the rest of the Rangers’ starters. A.J. Griffin hasn’t lasted longer than five innings in a start since May 2; Martin Perez has yielded 12 earned runs in 9 2/3 frames over his previous two outings, and his ugly 1.0 K-BB percentage this year ranks second to last among qualified starters; and Kyle Lohse has only made one start in Texas, a five-inning, six-earned run showing on July 9, since signing a minor league deal in May. It’s worth noting that Lohse was woeful as a Brewer last year, logging a 5.85 ERA in 152 1/3 innings.
On paper, Moore would be an upgrade over each of Griffin, Perez and Lohse. Considering the 27-year-old is under control through 2019 via reasonably priced club options, he’d also fit into president and general manager Jon Daniels’ plan to acquire pitching capable of helping the Rangers beyond this season. Moore isn’t without his flaws, though, as the previous Tommy John recipient has recorded somewhat pedestrian numbers this year (4.33 ERA, 7.58 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, 36.9 percent ground-ball rate) through 116 1/3 innings. His velocity is at its highest point since 2013, however, and he’s throwing more strikes and going deeper in games, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote earlier this month.
In addition to potentially acquiring Moore, the Rangers would also like to bolster their bullpen, which has both the second-worst ERA (5.03) and K-BB percentage (8.9) in the majors – bettering only the Reds’ dreadful group in each category. Among their innings leaders, Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman (who’s on the DL with a finger laceration), Anthony Barnette, Matt Bush and Alex Claudio have fared well this season. Shawn Tolleson and Cesar Ramos have endured miserable years, on the other hand. Rays right-handed swingman Erasmo Ramirez has come up in trade rumors throughout the season, but he hasn’t performed well and it’s unclear if Texas is interested in him.
The resurgence of Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. is “opening eyes,” according to Friars general manager AJ Preller, who told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the 31-year-old is garnering trade interest as a potential 30/30 player (Twitter link). Upton has racked up 16 home runs and 20 steals this year, so he at least has an outside shot at joining the 30/30 club. Overall, he has hit an above-average .262/.311/.454 through 353 trips to the plate this season. Dating back to last year, Upton has accounted for 3.2 fWAR while logging 581 plate appearances, thereby reviving his career after back-to-back poor seasons in Atlanta. The longtime Ray is expensive, though, with a $15.45MM salary this year and $16.45MM coming his way next season.
First baseman Wil Myers has been a bright spot for the struggling Padres, earning his first All-Star nod at 25 years of age. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that both he and the team are open to discussing a long-term deal.
Notably, no discussions have occurred as of yet, and both Myers and GM A.J. Preller say that there are no intentions to hold them during the present season. But it seems clear from their comments that both have genuine interest in exploring a long-term relationship.
Myers, who says he loves playing for the Padres. He also expressed positive sentiment toward Preller and manager Andy Green. “I do really, truly believe that A.J. Preller has a plan for the future,” said Myers, “and that’s a big deal when it comes to extension talks. … As far as being here long-term, I could see myself doing it. I could see trying to build something here.”
The former Rookie of the Year will qualify for arbitration for the first of three times in the coming winter, meaning he’ll start to get expensive. With three partial and uneven seasons under his belt coming into 2016, there was quite a bit of variability in his earning power. But Myers is carrying a .286/.351/.522 slash over 379 plate appearances, with a career-high 19 homers in the bank, ensuring that he’ll get a very nice raise.
That performance not only begins to set a price point for the sides to work from, but enhances San Diego’s desire to get a deal done while it has some leverage. “You always want to hear players that want to be in your franchise, that want to be in your city, and I think that’s exciting to hear,” Preller said. “He’s a big-time talent and, I think, is excited by this franchise, this place, and wants to be here. When we made the trade, that’s what we were looking for.”
Of course, as Preller notes, he’ll need to talk the matter through with club ownership before approaching Myers’s camp with any offers. But the success of Myers is a notable element in evaluating Preller’s own tenure with the team. After all, he gave up two significant pieces (Joe Ross and Trea Turner) to acquire him, and the results had been less than promising at the start of the 2016 campaign.
Having just dealt lefty Drew Pomeranz, San Diego is clearly not angling for near-term contention. But the organization has begun accumulating some near-MLB prospects, with a large haul of younger players behind them, and could conceivably begin building toward competitiveness before long. Myers is young enough that the Pads might commit to him in hopes that he’ll help boost performance and attendance in the near-term while remaining a core piece in the team’s next window of opportunity.
The Red Sox and Padres have begun the second half of the season with some fireworks, announcing on Thursday night that Boston has acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz in exchange for top right-handed pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, who is widely considered to be one of the 20 best prospects in all of Major League Baseball. Infielder Josh Rutledge moves to the 60-day DL for Boston in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for its new starter.
The Padres acquired Pomeranz, 27, from the A’s this winter for the now-bargain price of Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski. After talking his way into the rotation mix in Spring Training, Pomeranz has broken out as the ace of the San Diego staff and fulfilled a good deal of the potential that pundits believed him to possess when he was selected fifth overall by the Indians back in 2010. In 102 innings this season, the first-time All-Star has posted a 2.47 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 47.8 percent ground-ball rate. He’ll immediately slot into the middle of the Boston rotation and can be controlled for another two seasons beyond the 2016 campaign via the arbitration process. Not only does he have two years of club control left, he’s earning just $1.35MM in 2016, which will help to suppress his future arbitration salaries despite this season’s breakout.
While Pomeranz has been dominant in 2016, he doesn’t come without his risks, and chief among them is the limited workload he’s had in recent seasons. Pomeranz spent his early years in Colorado after being included in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with Cleveland, and his innings totals were suppressed as he pitched poorly much of the time at Coors Field. Oakland deployed Pomeranz in a swingman capacity and utilized him more out of the bullpen than the rotation. Since being drafted, Pomeranz has never thrown more than 146 2/3 innings in a single season between the Majors and Minors combined. That total came all the way back in 2012 and has been followed by single-season innings totals of 112 2/3 (2013), 115 1/3 (2014) and 88 (2015). The Red Sox, however, appear undeterred by the fact that Pomeranz will be approaching uncharted waters in terms of workload as the season progresses into its final months.
The Red Sox have been tied to rotation help for more than a month, as the club’s Opening Day mix of starters has largely underwhelmed. MLBTR’s Jason Martinez noted earlier today in examining the top need of each American League contender that the rotation was far and away the Red Sox’ primary deficiency. Boston starting pitchers rank 19th in Major League Baseball with a 4.72 ERA this season, and only Steven Wright and Rick Porcello have posted earned run averages south of 4.00. David Price has righted the ship after a rocky start to the season but still is sporting a 4.34 mark on the year, while Eduardo Rodriguez has been slowed by injuries and pitched poorly even upon activation from the disabled list. Joe Kelly has been relegated to the Triple-A bullpen, and spot starts from Henry Owens and Sean O’Sullivan have been sub-par, to say the least. Excluding the work of Wright, Price and Porcello, the Red Sox have received a combined 7.22 ERA from the rest of their rotation.
From the Padres’ vantage point, the decision to move Pomeranz wasn’t a clear-cut one. We at MLBTR weighed the pros and cons of dealing Pomeranz and wound up with a split camp among our staff when debating whether the Padres should trade him (a topic that I first examined at length before polling the MLBTR staff for their individual opinions). Pomeranz is both controllable and affordable but also comes with limited innings and a pair of DL stints for shoulder and biceps issues.
While it’s possible that Pomeranz’s value will be even higher come the offseason, the Padres elected to move him now, and in doing so continued down a clear path to an extensive rebuild. Not only that, but the fact that the club focused in on the 18-year-old Espinoza when dealing a pitcher that could’ve provided significant value in both 2017 and 2018 indicates that the Padres may feel that a fairly lengthy rebuild is in order. Espinoza, who rated 14th on today’s midseason top 100 prospect update from ESPN’s Keith Law (ESPN Insider required/recommended), is currently the youngest player in the Class-A South Atlantic League but has held his own in spite of that fact. He’s totaled 76 innings and delivered a 4.38 ERA with a 72-to-27 K/BB ratio and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate against much older competition.
Law notes in his scouting report that Espinoza sits comfortably at 94-95 mph with his heater and can touch 99, and he also features a plus changeup and curveball (with the former representing the better of the two secondary offerings). Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com note that Espinoza repeats his delivery well, which allows him to locate the ball effectively. The MLB.com duo notes that his secondary offerings are much more advanced than those of a typical teenager. Baseball America, who rated him 15th in MLB on their midseason Top 100 list, wrote in the offseason that Espinoza possesses “obvious front-of-the-rotation talent, and makeup and intelligence to maximize his ability.”
The swap represents the second significant trade completed between the Red Sox and Padres over the past nine months, as Boston also acquired Craig Kimbrel from the Friars in exchange for Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Logan Allen in the offseason. While San Diego GM A.J. Preller has taken his share of flak for the Padres’ ill-fated attempt at an accelerated path back to contention in the NL West, he’s now flipped a pair of assets (Kimbrel, Pomeranz) within a year of acquiring them and received significantly more in exchange than he initially surrendered.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, meanwhile, has come to Boston as advertised: unafraid to utilize a deep farm system to acquire immediate impact talent at the Major League level in the name of winning now. While the losses of players like Margot and Espinoza sting, the Red Sox likely feel compelled to capitalize on the fact that young stars such as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley are emerging (or have emerged) as front-line talents, while aging veterans (most notably David Ortiz) are still productive and able to help the club push for a return to the postseason.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that Pomeranz was going to the Red Sox. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported (via Twitter) that Espinoza was part of the return. Lin (Twitter link) and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports/MLB.com indicated that it was a straight-up swap of those two players.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Mets have seen their vaunted young rotation display its mortality this season, particularly with the loss of Matt Harvey, and have also suffered a number of injuries throughout the starting lineup — most notably, David Wright and Lucas Duda. Nevertheless, the team feels that another relief arm is its top need at the moment, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
New York’s National League entrant isn’t necessarily prioritizing a premium closer or setup man, per the report. Puma lists Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand of the Padres, Chris Withrow of the Braves and John Axford of the Athletics as plausible targets for the Mets. (For what it’s worth, the guess here is that Buchter would require quite a bit more than the other names, given his skyrocketing strikeout rate and lengthy, cheap control.)
The report also names Jeremy Jeffress as a possibility in the event that the Mets wish to pursue another club’s closer, although the asking price on Jeffress is said to be quite high. One name that GM Sandy Alderson and his staff did not pursue, according to Puma, was Fernando Rodney — who recently went from the Padres to the Marlins in an early July swap.
While some fans may prefer to see the Mets pursue some help for their ailing rotation, the club’s current plan is to use Logan Verrett in the rotation until Zack Wheeler is able to return to next month. Should Verrett falter, Puma lists Triple-A righty Gabriel Ynoa as an alternative option. Any further setbacks for Wheeler could also change the calculus.
Having already moved to shore things up in other areas, and having cashed in some notable trade chips during last season’s run, it’s not surprising to see attention move to the pen. The unit rates quite well by most measures, but that’s mostly driven by late-inning righties Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed and Hansel Robles, who are joined by southpaw Jerry Blevins to form a solid core. Beyond that foursome, though, the results have been uneven. Alderson was quite successful in rescuing Reed a summer ago, and may be on the lookout for another chance to harness a talented arm at a reasonable price.
JULY 13: As many as 10 teams have reached out to show interest in Pomeranz, Lin writes in an updated piece. Rival executives have suggested to Lin that the Padres are actively looking to move Pomeranz, although he notes that could be a matter of perception as opposed to an accurate representation of the Padres’ genuine interests. Changes to Pomeranz’s pitch mix in 2016 have some scouts convinced that his breakout is sustainable, Lin adds.
JULY 12: The Rangers are interested in Padres lefty Drew Pomeranz and have “done background work” on him, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes that the Rangers have considered many pitchers who seem to be available. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that he hears the same: Texas has indeed kicked the tires on Pomeranz. Lin points out that the Rangers originally drafted Pomeranz as a high schooler, but the lefty elected to go to college rather than sign as a 12th-round pick in 2007. Nonetheless, the Rangers have followed his big league career closely, Lin writes.
Pomeranz has lately been connected to the Red Sox, Orioles and Marlins, and the Padres have reportedly not ruled out dealing him. Two weeks ago, MLBTR’s staff weighed the pros and cons of a Pomeranz deal from the Padres’ perspective, with several MLBTR writers suggesting the Padres should consider keeping him, since he’s under control through 2018 (which means they’ll have opportunities to deal him in the future), and since trade partners might not pay a premium for him given his lack of a track record as a proven workhorse. Given the Padres’ struggles and Pomeranz’s strong season (2.47 ERA, 10.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9), though, it’s easy to see why San Diego would at least consider dealing him.
Of course, just because the Padres will consider moving Pomeranz doesn’t mean that they’re actively shopping him. Within Lin’s piece above, he notes that Padres sources have previously told him that Pomeranz won’t be traded for anything less than a “substantial” return. He adds that GM A.J. Preller is quite infatuated with Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar, though it’s far from clear that the Rangers would entertain that type of swap. Profar has looked sharp in his return from a pair of season-ending shoulder injuries and is controllable for three years beyond this season, compared to Pomeranz’s two years of remaining control. If Profar is off limits, Preller undoubtedly possesses plenty of familiarity with alternative young talent; the second-year Padres general manager previously spent a decade working in the Texas front office and rising to the rank of assistant GM before being hired away by San Diego.
The Rangers have already reportedly shown interest in rotation options like Jake Odorizzi, Ervin Santana and Matt Moore, so it comes as no surprise that they would look into Pomeranz as well. The team currently has starters Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis on its DL (although Darvish appears close to returning). The team has lately relied upon rotation options like Kyle Lohse, Cesar Ramos, Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez, frequently with poor results.
- Drew Pomeranz, who just entered the All-Star Game in relief for the National League, wouldn’t have had a rotation job this spring at all if he hadn’t initiated a conversation with Padres manager Andy Green, writes MLB.com’s A.J. Cassavell. Pomeranz saw early in camp that he wasn’t in the same workout group with the team’s starting pitchers and made the bold move to go to his new manager and tell him that he’d been working on a third pitch and wanted a crack at the rotation. Pomeranz said that Green appreciated how straightforward he was and gave him a chance to earn that job. The rest, of course, is history, as Pomeranz is now the Padres’ best starter, having turned in a 2.47 ERA in just over 100 innings this season.
With Friday’s deadline to sign 2016 amateur draft picks creeping up, the Red Sox and first-round selection Jason Groome are in a dispute over how much the left-hander is worth, reports Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. Boston is currently offering Groome $3.5MM – which is $372K more than the 12th overall selection’s $3,192,800 slot value – according to Heyman, who adds that the 17-year-old had a pre-draft agreement with the Padres to sign for $5MM had he fallen to them at No. 24. The Red Sox have in the neighborhood of $400K remaining in their pool and could up their offer to Groome, Heyman notes, and he expects the two to eventually reach a deal.