San Diego Padres Rumors

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

NL West Notes: Padres, Bradley, Rockies, Sabean

The Padres have “sort of banned the word ‘small-market’ ” in regards to how they both perceive themselves and how they wish to be seen around the league, team co-owner Peter Seidler tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  The Padres’ busy offseason and second straight year with a payroll in the $100MM range were made possible by increased revenues from Petco Park and national and local TV contracts.  Team president/CEO Mike Dee notes that the Padres’ recent spending “should not be looked upon as an aberration.  This should not be looked upon as ownership is going for broke. This should be looked upon as ownership is doing what they said they were going to when they bought the team, which is trying to make this a franchise that operates at a very high level.”

Here’s the latest from around the NL West…

  • Archie Bradley‘s promotion to the Major Leagues and to the Diamondbacks‘ starting rotation is all but official, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes.  Bradley’s strong performance during Spring Training gave the Snakes reason to explore trading Trevor Cahill, eventually sending the veteran righty to the Braves.  “If [Bradley] had needed more work, Cahill would still be here,” Tony La Russa said.  “Trevor got the attention of a number of clubs, so we started getting calls from different clubs.  It wasn’t a question of let’s trade him at some point. It came to a decision of Archie versus Trevor.”
  • Speaking of highly-touted young arms in the NL West, Eddie Butler still has a chance to earn a place in the Rockies‘ rotation after his start today, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes.  Jon Gray, the Rockies’ top prospect and one of the top-ranked prospects in all of baseball, will not be starting his MLB career quite yet, as Groke notes in another piece that Gray will begin the season at Triple-A.
  • Brian Sabean’s promotion from Giants general manager to VP of baseball operations will allow Sabean to personally scout new talent, he tells reporters (including The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea).  This includes players currently in MLB and also international prospects who could become more available thanks to the expanding Cuban market and the possibility of an international draft being instituted.  “The international schedule is moving fast. I don’t see enough of our minor-league teams to draw my own conclusions,” Sabean said.  “I hardly see any games before the June draft, which I used to do. Selfishly, I’d like to see some guys who could be in play trade-wise and free agents to be. This allows me to be more places.”

Padres’ Maybin, Phillies’ Revere Both “Available” For Trades

The list of players “available…in final days of spring” on the trade market includes Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin and Phillies outfielder Ben Revere, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  It is difficult to move higher salaries at this time of the season, Rosenthal notes, which would seem to indicate a tougher market for the pricier Maybin, though Revere isn’t an inexpensive asset himself.

Maybin signed a five-year, $25MM extension with San Diego in March 2012 but has yet to deliver on the contract, hitting just .235/.297/.336 over 890 plate appearances over the last three seasons.  This stretch of Maybin’s career has also been marred by injuries and a 25-game suspension for amphetamine usage in 2014.

His struggles were already hurting his playing time in San Diego even before the Padres added Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers this offseason.  It’s not surprising that the Padres are having a difficult time shopping Maybin given his expendable role on the team and hefty remaining contract — Maybin (who celebrates his 28th birthday today) is owed $7MM this season, $8MM in 2016 and the Padres hold a $9MM club option on his services for 2017 that can be bought out for $1MM.  The Padres would surely have to eat a big chunk of that contract to make a deal work, or take on another big contract in return.

Revere, meanwhile, is a bit younger (he turns 27 in May) and cheaper (owed $4.1MM in 2015) than Maybin and was a much more productive player in 2014.  Revere collected a league-leading 184 hits while going 49-for-57 in stolen base attempts and slashing .306/.325/.361 over 626 PA.  This still added up to only a 92 wRC+ for Revere, however, due to his lack of walks and near-total lack of power, and he has also been a below-average defender over the last two seasons according to both the Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 metrics.

With Revere’s limitations in mind, it makes sense that the Phillies would explore a trade now since he’ll only get more expensive over his two final seasons of arbitration eligibility.  The Phillies drew some trade interest in Revere early in the offseason though no firmer details were ever revealed about the depth of that interest or which teams were involved.

Revere had been penciled in as Philadelphia’s regular left fielder this season, as Rule 5 Draft pick Odubel Herrera has won the center field job after an impressive spring camp.  The Phillies’ outfield mix includes the likes of Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, the injured Domonic Brown, and veterans Jeff Francoeur and Jordan Danks also in camp, leaving the club with some unremarkable replacement options should Revere be dealt.


Padres Return Rule 5 Pick Jandel Gustave To Astros

The Padres have returned Rule 5 pick Jandel Gustave to the Astros, Houston announced. Gustave will open the year in Double-A.

The right-hander was originally a Rule 5 selection of the Red Sox, but had his rights dealt to the Royals. He was then claimed off waivers by San Diego. Today’s move will bring his travels to an end, at least for the time being.

Gustave, a raw 22-year-old with a huge fastball, was never really expected to stick with the Padres. Though he has shown the ability to rack up strikeouts at a useful pace in the low minors, Gustave has yet to prove he can keep the ball in the zone — let alone that he can consistently retire major league hitters.



Jose Valverde Opts Out Of Deal With Padres

12:28pm: Valverde tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune (Twitter link) that his agent has informed him that a new deal may come quickly. Given the fact that Valverde opted out of his deal (as opposed to being released) and has pitched reasonably well this spring, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s drawing interest from other clubs.

10:03am: Righty Jose Valverde has opted out of his deal with the Padres and will be given his release, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports on Twitter. The 37-year-old was in camp on a minor league deal.

Valverde enjoyed a long stretch as a quality reliever who racked up a lot of saves. But his struggles over the past two years have been rather pronounced: over 40 innings, he owns a 5.63 ERA. Though the veteran still has a useful K:BB ratio in that stretch (9.5 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9), he has been exceedingly home run prone. Among the major ERA estimators, only SIERA values Valverde as an average or better reliever since 2013.

It seemed at one point that Valverde could be headed toward a job with the Pads. He has maintained quite a bit of fastball velocity into his later years, but reportedly was working into and above the mid-90s at times this spring. He allowed four earned runs in 8 2/3 spring innings, but fanned eight while walking only one batter.


Padres Actively Taking Calls On Relievers

Even after trading lefty Alex Torres to the Mets yesterday, the Padres are in active trade talks regarding their bullpen, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter).

San Diego’s bullpen currently projects to be anchored by closer Joaquin Benoit, who is earning $8MM in the second season of a two-year, $15.5MM pact. His contract comes with an $8MM club option ($1.5MM buyout). Beyond Benoit, Kevin QuackenbushBrandon Maurer, Shawn Kelley, Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Frank Garces and Odrisamer Despaigne are all candidates for the bullpen, making for eight total relievers.

Of that group, Quackenbush, Vincent, Maurer and Garces are all relatively young and have several years of team control remaining, making them perhaps unlikelier to be dealt than their counterparts. (Then again, the same could have been said of Torres.) Despaigne seems likely to be the long man, though it wouldn’t be inconceivable for the Padres to find an alternative long relief option should he draw significant interest. Kelley was just acquired this offseason, so it seems unlikely that he’d be flipped again so close to the regular season. Thayer, earning $1.38MM after avoiding arbitration for the first time this winter at 34 years of age, might be the most logical trade candidate, but he was excellent in 2014 and has been a generally useful relief arm for the Friars over the past three seasons.

It’s unclear exactly how serious any talks regarding their relievers are, but the Friars do have options in the event that they part with one of their relievers. Robbie Erlin would seem capable of stepping into the bullpen, though he’s been optioned to Triple-A already this spring. Right-hander Jandel Gustave, a Rule 5 pick by the Royals (out of the Astros organization), was claimed by the Padres last week, and Lin tweeted earlier in the night that the team may be able to work out a trade with the Astros to keep him (he did characterize that scenario as “unlikely”). The Padres could also simply choose to hang onto the hard-throwing righty and use him in low-leverage situations, though it’s difficult for a team that plans to contend to justify using a roster spot in such a manner.

Of course, San Diego could potentially receive a different relief option back in a trade of one of their current ‘pen members. Flipping someone like Thayer or Vincent for a second lefty behind Garces could make some sense, as he’s currently slotted to be the only left-handed option for manager Bud Black following the Torres trade. (Non-roster invitee Chris Rearick could factor into the equation as well.)

The Blue Jays and Tigers are two teams that are oft-cited as searching for bullpen help, though recent reports have indicated that the Twins, too, are on the hunt for relief upgrades. The Marlins were known to be looking at relief options late in the offseason, and the Dodgers have incurred multiple bullpen setbacks as well this spring. Suffice it to say, if the Padres are willing to deal from what should be a sound bullpen, they’ll likely have no shortage of interested parties with which to exchange ideas.


Article XX(B) Free Agent Updates: Tuesday

Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…

  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
  • The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.

Earlier Updates

  • Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
  • The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
  • The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
  • Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
  • Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.

NL West Notes: Gutierrez, Ethier, Dodgers, Padres

Giants right-hander Juan Gutierrez has elected not to exercise the April 1 opt-out clause in his contract, MLBTR has learned (Twitter links). Gutierrez has been slowed this spring by shoulder inflammation but is healthy now and touched 93 mph the last time he threw. Gutierrez has another opt-out in his contract for June 1 and will, in the meantime, hope to find an opportunity with the big league club. The 31-year-old Gutierrez logged 63 2/3 innings in the Giants’ bullpen last year, posting a 3.96 ERA with 6.2 K/9, a career-best 2.3 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate, averaging a strong 93.5 mph on his fastball.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Andre Ethier was hit on the elbow by a pitch from Carlos Rodon today, but x-rays came back negative, writes ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon. Additionally, he notes that contractual issues surrounding Ethier won’t keep the Dodgers from going with Joc Pederson in center field. Saxon also says that the Dodgers won’t keep Pederson in the Minors to delay his free agency, although his situation is different than that of Kris Bryant, whose demotion to the Minors has caused quite a stir; Pederson already has 28 days of Major League service and would need to spend nearly six weeks in the Minors at this point to give L.A. an extra year of control. Manager Don Mattingly has hinted that Pederson will get the nod, though nothing has been officially announced yet, Saxon adds. “Joc’s kind of checked off all the boxes,” said Mattingly.
  • The Padres gave veteran catcher Wil Nieves a $100K retention bonus rather than adding him to the big league roster or releasing him, but he’s not a lock to be their backup catcher, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While it may be difficult to find a definitive upgrade outside the organization this close to the regular season, a source tells Lin that the search could go right down to the wire before Sunday’s deadline to set the 25-man roster. An out of options player such as Austin Romine of the Yankees would make some degree of sense, and the Orioles have quite a few experienced catchers, including Steve Clevenger and Ryan Lavarnway. Those names, however, are merely my own speculation.

NL East Notes: Duda, Wilpon, Gonzalez, Turner

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.”

Mets Acquire Alex Torres

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.

Alex Torres

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.


Cafardo On Porcello, Chacin, Kimbrel

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.