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San Diego Padres Rumors
- The fact that the Angels could control Huston Street for 2015 was a key factor in trading for him, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. “Were it not for the fact we had the ability to control Huston for a year and two months, it would have been far more difficult to justify giving up the type of package we gave up to get him,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
- Angels reliever Joe Smith doesn’t mind ceding the closer’s job to Street, DiGiovanna writes. “If they think it’s better for the ballclub, I’m all for it. I signed my life away, so to speak, last off-season. I came here to win,” he says. “If they think he can help this club, bring it on.”
- From the Padres’ perspective, the deal increases the likelihood that Chase Headley will be traded this month, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus writes (subscription only). The inclusion of second baseman Taylor Lindsey in the deal likely bumps Jedd Gyorko to third base. Gyorko had a disastrous start to his season is no sure thing himself, of course, but the Street trade makes the Padres’ future infield at least a little clearer.
- The Padres did quite well in the deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cites another team’s GM who sounds excited about R.J. Alvarez (“could be a future closer“) and Jose Rondon, in particular, even though he doesn’t like Lindsey as much.
- The Padres’ trade of Street shows about what they’ll expect in return for Joaquin Benoit, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Since most teams would not want Benoit to be their closer, though, the price would have to be somewhat lower than it was for Street.
- The Pirates and Royals both scouted starting pitcher Ian Kennedy last night, Rosenthal tweets. The Pirates are looking for starters and relievers, Rosenthal notes.
- The Blue Jays are part of an “ongoing dialogue” regarding Chase Headley, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Morosi tweets. The Jays have shown interest in Headley in the past.
- The Padres are likely to trade outfielder Chris Denorfia, Morosi tweets. Denorfia, like Headley, is a free agent this coming offseason, so it makes sense that the Padres could have interest in trading them both.
- In case you missed it from the Yankees notes post, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reports that the Padres are not likely to trade Andrew Cashner, who was terrific this season before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Cashner is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
The Angels have officially agreed to acquire All-Star closer Huston Street from the Padres, as first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links). It is a four-for-two deal, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted.
In return for Street and 2013 sixth-round draft choice Trevor Gott, San Diego will receive second base prospect Taylor Lindsey, who entered the year as the Halos’ top-rated prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, as well as 23-year-old righty R.J. Alvarez, who BA ranked fourth among Angels prospects. Two other minor leaguers are also headed to San Diego: rising shortstop prospect Jose Rondon and righty Elliot Morris.
Street has been one of the most effective late-inning relievers in baseball this year. In his age-30 season, Street owns a 1.09 ERA backed by 9.3 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9. He also sports a 42.5% groundball rate that is his best mark since his rookie year of 2005. While Street’s earned run mark is propped up somewhat by the fact that he has a remarkable 100% strand rate, ERA estimators also like his work thus far (2.90 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, 2.46 SIERA).
Street’s contract, of course, makes up a good portion of his appeal, and also presumably opened up a broader market for his services. He is owed only the remainder of his $7MM salary this year and comes with a $7MM club option for 2015. That manageable commitment arguably made him the most attractive closer acquisition candidate on the market this year — at least, that is, unless and until the Red Sox make Koji Uehara available. It appears that the Angels decided it was worth parting with a larger prospect haul to add Street, and do so now, rather than waiting to pursue one of the more expensive relief options that might have been had, such as Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies.
For the Angels, Street represents fourth reliever added in the last month, joining Joe Thatcher, Jason Grilli, and the since-released Rich Hill. Street will presumably bump Joe Smith out of the closer role that he has occupied since deposing Ernesto Frieri, who was of course dealt for Grilli. Of course, Smith — who inked for $15.75MM over three years before the season — has been every bit as good as Street this year (2.32 ERA with 9.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 58.1% groundball rate).
The other piece of the deal for Los Angeles, Gott, had been throwing at Double-A after earning a mid-season promotion. The 21-year-old has just a 4.63 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 6.9 BB/9 through 11 2/3 frames at that level, but had worked to a 3.16 mark on the back of 8.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 through 31 1/3 High-A innings. Gott did not rank among San Diego’s thirty best prospects entering the year in the eyes of Baseball America.
San Diego looks to have achieved a strong return for Street. Lindsey, 22, was taken in the sandwich round of the 2010 draft and landed in the 93rd overall spot on Baseball America’s top-100 prospect list. His calling card is his unconventional but effective left-handed bat. He profiles as an average runner and fielder, according to BA. In his first season at Triple-A, Lindsey owns a .247/.323/.400 slash with eight home runs and seven stolen bases.
Though it is generally unwise to look too far ahead with prospects, it appears that Lindsey is close to earning a shot at big league playing time and makes for a nice fit with San Diego. With Chase Headley set to hit the open market this coming offseason (if he is not traded earlier), Jedd Gyorko could slide to the hot corner with Lindsey slotting in at second. (Of course, 2011 San Diego first-rounder Cory Spangenberg is also filtering up the system as a keystone option, though his prospect sheen has dimmed in recent years.)
For his part, Alvarez has dominated upon being promoted to Double-A for the 2014 campaign. Exclusively a reliever, he has allowed just one earned run in 27 innings of work, striking out 12.7 while walking just 3.3 batters per nine. That performance supports Baseball America’s scouting report from before the season, which praises Alvarez for his big fastball and power slider. Indeed, according to BA, the Friars may have picked up their closer of the future by dealing their closer of the past, as Alvarez has 9th-inning upside.
In the meantime, presumably, Joaquin Benoit will step into San Diego’s closer role. He has been outstanding, with a 1.86 ERA and 10.5 K/9 versus 2.1 BB/9, since signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal (with a $8MM club option for 2016). The veteran could still be dealt, Rosenthal tweets, but San Diego will “raise the bar” on its demands having already shipped out its incumbent closer.
As for Rondon, a 20-year-old from Venezuela who was rated the Halos’ 12th-best prospect coming into the year, Baseball America says he has a good hit tool and approach, but lacks any power to speak of. He is not much above average on the bases and is a good, but not spectacular fielder who could become a second baseman or utility player as he moves forward. Of course, the youngster has only raised his stock with a strong .327/.362/.418 slash in 324 plate appearances at the High-A level this year. With half a year in the books, Rondon had already jumped to 5th among Angels prospects on MLB.com’s ranking.
Morris, 22, was a fourth-round selection last year for Los Angeles who signed for a $387.3K bonus. He has moved up to the High-A level in his second season as a professional, and owns a 4.17 ERA through 45 1/3 innings with 7.9 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9.
9:47pm: A deal is being finalized to send Street to the Angels, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
9:18pm: The sides are indeed close, with second base prospect Taylor Lindsey expected to be part of the return to San Diego, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Medicals have been exchanged, Rosenthal adds, which is obviously one of the final steps to a swap.
9:15pm: A deal could happen tonight, with talks currently at a “sensitive” stage, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (via Twitter).
5:30pm: “Nothing is imminent” between the Angels and Padres regarding Street, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
5:16pm: The Angels are one of several teams in on Street, and no deal has been finalized, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles has indeed looked like a good fit for the 30-year-old righty. Certainly, he has more than justified his $7MM salary this year, with a 1.09 ERA on the back of 9.3 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9. That also makes his $7MM club option for 2015 look quite attractive.
You probably will not be surprised to learn that Angels star Mike Trout has once again been rated the game’s most valuable asset by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Though he now comes with a long-term financial commitment, Trout has also promised away three more seasons of club control and remains highly underpaid for his services. Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks also made a leap, moving into the third overall slot on Cameron’s top fifty; the entire series is, of course, well worth a read.
Here’s the latest from the game’s West divisions:
- Mariners outfielder (and former second baseman) Dustin Ackley has drawn significant trade interest, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Clubs are interested in a chance at a turnaround from a player who was once one of the game’s top prospects, notes Heyman. With Robinson Cano etched in stone at second and Seattle looking to upgrade its production in the corner outfield, Ackley could theoretically be included as part of a package or dealt away to create roster space.
- The Mariners plan to be on hand to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo in his upcoming showcase, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Of course, that does not mean that Seattle is in a unique position, as GM Jack Zduriencik explains. “Any time there’s someone out there showcasing, we’re going to have somebody there,” said Zduriencik. “This would be no different, but most other clubs will have somebody there as well.” Of course, the M’s are a particularly interesting team to watch with regard to Castillo given the team’s need for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.
- The Giants are considering bringing in just-released second baseman Dan Uggla, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports on Twitter. While Marco Scutaro is back on the active roster, it may take some time to determine whether he’ll be a regular, healthy contributor. Indeed, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an appearance on the Sports Virus Podcast that it is “not a real optimistic situation” for Scutaro to hold down the club’s second base job.
- Veteran starter Tim Hudson told Shea at the All-Star break that he and the rest of the club would welcome the addition of an impact player, especially a bat to bolster the lineup. There “wouldn’t be a guy in the locker room” who “wouldn’t be for it,” said Hudson.
- The Padres have not reached out to the Diamondbacks to discuss a possible new role in the organization for current Arizona GM (and former San Diego GM) Kevin Towers, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. “I know and like him,” said executive chairman Ron Fowler. “He has had a great relationship with many people in all areas of the Padres’ organization. That said, we have not asked for permission from the D’backs to talk to Kevin. I don’t know how this story got started.”
11:10am: Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, adds that the Tigers are also interested in Joaquin Benoit but are not actively pursuing Huston Street at this time (Twitter links). The Tigers, according to a rival executive with whom Rosenthal spoke, are interested in adding a reliever that doesn’t view himself as a pure closer, suggesting that a new acquisition may not supplant Nathan as the primary ninth-inning option.
The back end of the bullpen was a worry that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski hoped not to have when he signed Joe Nathan this offseason, but the former Twins/Rangers stopper hasn’t pitched like himself in 2014. Nathan has posted a 5.61 ERA in 33 2/3 innings with the Tigers, and while his strikeout rate remains strong (9.4 K/9), his walks are up and his fastball is averaging a career-worst 91.7 mph. That velocity dip could have something to do with the increase in his home run rate and decrease in swinging-strike rate as well.
Soria, on the other hand, has been excellent in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The former Royals closer has turned in the best strikeout and walk rates of his career (11.9 K/9, 1.2 BB/9) en route to a 2.67 ERA and 16 saves in 30 1/3 innings of relief work.
An acquisition of Soria would give the Tigers an improved ninth-inning option not only for 2014 but also 2015, as his contract contains a $7MM club option ($500K buyout). Beyond that, Soria is highly affordable in 2014, as he’s earning just a $5.5MM salary, of which $2.19MM remains.
This would be the second straight season in which the Tigers have acquired bullpen help, should a deal come to fruition. However, the asking price on Soria will undoubtedly be higher than last year’s asking price for Jose Veras. Detroit sent Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to Houston in order to complete that deal.
The Rangers have reportedly been receiving a good deal of interest in their bullpen arms, and they’ve already shown a willingness to move veteran pieces by sending Jason Frasor to the Royals this week.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp doesn’t necessarily want to be traded, but he would welcome a deal that would allow him to man center field on an everyday basis with a new team, agent Dave Stewart told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports yesterday. Rosenthal notes, however, that GM Ned Colletti is a bit hesitant to part with Kemp’s right-handed bat, as that would leave the team with just one surefire right-handed power threat in the everyday lineup in 2015: Yasiel Puig. (Hanley Ramirez, of course, is a free agent at season’s end.) Another major roadblock is the roughly $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract through the 2019 season.
Here’s more on the Dodgers and the rest of the NL West…
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles now debunks one of his own reports, tweeting that he’s been told the Dodgers are not interested in Jonathan Papelbon. Yesterday, a baseball source told Saxon he expected the club to pursue the Philadelphia closer.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort appeared on 850 KOA-AM radio with Dave Logan and Susie Wargin, and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding provides some highlights from the discussion. Most notably, after Monfort defended GM Dan O’Dowd by saying he judged O’Dowd’s success on more than just the club’s win-loss record, he was asked who should take the blame for the record: “You would have to say it’s [Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations and assistant GM] Bill Geivett,” said Monfort. “He’s responsible for the Major League team. Now, the talent that gets into the Major League team, [that] is the responsibility of scouting and development.” Monfort declined to comment when asked if all of the club’s decision-makers would return next season, but he did say he “stand[s] by the job that everybody does.”
- The San Diego Union-Tribune’s staff runs down the list of each Padres GM candidate and explains the reasons that they have a chance at the job as well as the reason that each could lose out to another candidate. Since the publishing of that article, four candidates have already been eliminated, and the finalists now are Red Sox AGM Mike Hazen, Rangers AGM A.J. Preller, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler and MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng.
- Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Kevin Towers could join the Padres front office as a senior advisor if he his dismissed from his post with the D’Backs. Padres CEO Mike Dee now tells Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Any new hires in the front office will be up to the new GM. Kevin Towers is not a candidate for that position. Thus, any speculation about Kevin rejoining the Padres is just that, speculation.”
The Padres, you may recall, are still in the market for a new GM after parting ways with Josh Byrnes. With so many names being tossed around — all amid the latest trade deadline rumors – it can be difficult to keep track of things. Now that the club is beginning to select second-round interview candidates, it seems worthwhile to round up the candidates and see where things stand.
The club is expected to sit down with about a dozen people before narrowing it further and ultimately installing a new GM in August. We’ll keep track of the candidates here by splitting them into categories below, and we’ll post the latest news updates here at the top of this post…
- San Diego may be interested in hiring former GM Kevin Towers to a senior advisor position if Towers is fired by the D’backs, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The report appears to imply that Towers would not be in consideration for the actual GM post, which the club is expected to fill in relatively short order anyway.
- The Padres have informed Larry Beinfest that he is out of the running, as their preference is to hire an up-and-coming GM, tweets Scott Miller of FOX Sports San Diego and MLB Network Radio.
Still in the running
- Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller (also the first candidate who is reported to have been selected for a second interview)
- Padres assistant GM Josh Stein
- MLB senior VP of baseball operations Kim Ng
- Diamondbacks director of scouting Ray Montgomery
- Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler
- Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen
Interviewed, but no longer a candidate
- Dodgers VP of amateur scouting Logan White, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Former Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, per Scott Miller of FOX Sports San Diego and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
Declined the opportunity to interview
- Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch
- Padres senior VP of baseball operations Omar Minaya
- Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch
- Cubs senior VP Jason McLeod
- Athletics assistant GM David Forst
- Indians assistant GM Mike Chernoff
Falu spent about three weeks in the San Diego organization after he was claimed from the Brewers in late June. Now, he’ll head back to Milwaukee, where he signed over the offseason after 11 seasons with the Royals. On the year, Falu has just three hits in 35 MLB plate appearances but owns a .306/.364/.361 triple-slash (with seven stolen bases against six unsuccessful attempts) over 170 trips to the plate at Triple-A. He’ll be headed back down, as the club announced that he has been optioned.
Shackleford, 25, made it onto the club’s 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. But after dominating High-A hitters earlier this year, he has struggled to a 6.35 ERA through 28 1/3 Double-A frames with just 3.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. (In 29 1/3 innings at the level last year, he managed a 0.92 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.)
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:
- The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
- One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
- Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
- The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
- The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
- Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.
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