San Diego Padres Rumors

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

West Notes: Dunn, A’s, D-Backs, Zobrist, Chavez, Alonso

Adam Dunn‘s agent, Brian Peters, tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that Dunn is indeed retiring, as was widely expected. Dunn himself said that he would retire following the season back in August, though he created a bit of doubt when he backed off slightly and said, “That’s it, probably,” following the Athletics’ loss to the Royals in the AL Wild Card game. Dunn’s career was unique, to say the least, as he epitomized the “three true outcomes” player, homering 462 times while striking out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances and walking in  15.8 percent of them. Just under half (49.9 percent) of Dunn’s career plate appearances ended in a long ball, a walk or a whiff, and he will enter the record books with a .237/.364/.490 batting line. Dunn hit 40-plus homers in six separate seasons, including five consecutive years — four of which finished with 40 on the dot (2005-08). The “Big Donkey” will be fondly remembered by many for his light-tower power — a skill that earned him more than $112MM throughout his career, per Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Dunn and his family happiness and the best of luck in his post-playing days.

Here are a few notes on some of the game’s Western division clubs, including the final team for which Dunn played…

  • Athletics right-handers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are doubtful for Opening Day, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That’s not a huge shock, given that both underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, though Parker, whose surgery was on March 25, would have seemed to at least have a chance at being ready. Oakland still has plenty of pitching depth, however, with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman all in the fold. Once Griffin and Parker are healthy, Oakland will have a plethora of MLB-ready rotation options, and only Kazmir is set to depart following the 2015 campaign.
  • Morosi also tweets that the Diamondbacks have received calls from the Orioles regarding their outfield depth. Baltimore is known to be looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, and both David Peralta and Ender Inciarte would fit that description, Morosi notes. Peralta’s name has surfaced in trade talks already this offseason, as the Reds were said to be interested in him prior to acquiring Marlon Byrd. Moving Peralta would allow Arizona to shift Yasmany Tomas to the outfield rather than trying him at third base, as is the current plan, although first-year GM Dave Stewart specifically mentioned Peralta when discussing the club’s strengths shortly after his hiring.
  • Also from Morosi, the D-Backs have called the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, but talks haven’t advanced much to this point. Morosi noted last night that Arizona is working hard to acquire a catcher, as Tuffy Gosewich is the lone player on their 40-man roster with big league experience. Navarro is known to be available after the Jays inked Russell Martin to a huge five-year deal earlier this offseason.
  • The Giants tried to work out a deal to acquire Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland, but San Francisco deemed Tampa’s asking price to be too high, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • The Mariners are one option for veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, tweets Heyman. Soon to be 37, Chavez remains on the free agent market on the heels of a season in which he batted .276/.317/.371 (99 OPS+, 97 wRC+). While Chavez has never brought much to the table in terms of offense, he’s graded out well from a defensive standpoint throughout his career (though defensive metrics have soured on him over the past two seasons).
  • Yonder Alonso tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he is 100 percent healthy after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right wrist. Alonso says that he hasn’t been pain-free in his hands since he broke a metacarpal bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on May 31, 2013. Padres GM A.J. Preller has indicated that first base is likely to be handled by some combination of Alonso, Tommy Medica and Will Middlebrooks, and Lin notes that perhaps a lower-pressure environment with more offensive threats throughout the lineup will help Alonso. Still, he notes, Alonso’s tenure with the Padres has been a disappointment to many. “I really thought he’d unleash some power,” a scout from another club tells Lin. “It’s been disappointing.”

Cuban Right-Hander Yoan Lopez Weighing Offers

JAN. 12: Lopez is already weighing multiple offers and could receive the largest bonus ever for an international amateur prospect, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Currently, Roberto Baldoquin‘s $8MM signing bonus stands as the largest ever signed by an international amateur. (Players such as Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, Yasiel Puig, etc. were considered professionals when they signed.)

If a record-setting bonus is to be expected, then it stands to reason that the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Rays all have a leg up when it comes to signing Lopez, as each team has already incurred the maximum penalties for exceeding their bonus pool this signing period. None of those four will be able to sign a player for more than $300K next two signing periods, so they may be more willing to take on the added cost right now while they’re still able to add talent. The Cubs and Rangers, on the other hand, can’t sign a player for more than $250K after exceeding their pools last signing period, and therefore can’t bid aggressively on Lopez.

JAN. 9: The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control has cleared Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez to sign with Major League teams, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 21-year-old Lopez was already cleared by Major League Baseball back in November, meaning that he can now officially sign with a big league club at any time. Sanchez writes that Lopez is expected to sign with a club prior to Spring Training.

Because Lopez is just 21 years of age and has only three seasons of professional experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he will still be subject to international spending limitations. To this point, the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres and D-Backs have shown the most serious interest in Lopez, according to Sanchez.

Of that group, the Yankees have already gone well over their 2014-15 spending pool. As such, it stands to reason that they could be willing to outspend other interested teams, as they’re already set to incur the maximum penalties during the next international signing period. Additionally, the Rays, Red Sox and Angels have gone over their pools, though Sanchez doesn’t specifically link any of those three clubs to Lopez.

Lopez has held multiple showcases for Major League clubs since defecting from Cuba and establishing residence in Haiti, and he’s also held private workouts for multiple yet-unreported clubs. Sanchez writes that Lopez’s fastball sits 93 to 95 mph, but he’s touched 100 mph on occasion. He also throws a cutter, curve, changeup and slider, per Sanchez, who adds that Lopez worked to a 3.12 ERA with a 28-to-11 K/BB ratio in 49 innings in his final season in Cuba.


Rockies, Padres, Giants Interested In Dillon Gee

Following a report from last night in which Andy Martino of the New York Daily News indicated that the Mets are in active trade talks regarding Dillon Gee, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Rockies, Padres and Giants are all looking at a trade for the 28-year-old righty.

The Rockies were linked by Rosenthal’s colleague, Jon Morosi, to free agent Ryan Vogelsong last night, and Morosi reported late last week that the Rox also had mild interest in Dan Haren. It’s not surprising to see Colorado looking to add some arms, and Gee would seem a bit of a better fit than either Vogelsong or Haren. For one, his projected $5.1MM price tag (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) is half that of Haren’s. But more importantly, Gee is more of a ground-ball pitcher than either of the other two veteran righties; he posted a 44.1 percent ground-ball rate in 2014 and sports a 45.6 percent mark for his career. While those numbers are roughly league average, they’re much higher than the marks Haren and Vogelsong have posted in recent years. Both have a ground-ball percentage of about 39 percent in that time. Gee is also controllable for two seasons via arbitration — another factor that Colorado likely finds appealing.

It’s a bit puzzling to see the Padres linked to a starting pitcher, but perhaps it shouldn’t be, given how active GM A.J. Preller has been on the trade front this winter. San Diego currently projects to have a strong crop of starters, fronted by Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy. Beyond that trio, injury-prone but talented righties Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson will compete with Odrisamer Despaigne, Robbie Erlin andCory Luebke for the final two spots. Of course, both Luebke and Johnson are on the mend from Tommy John surgery, so they’re unlikely to be ready for the beginning of the season. And, Cashner, Morrow and Johnson all have lengthy injury histories, so perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Friars are looking for more depth. San Diego also traded away the talented Jesse Hahn, who seemed destined for a rotation spot, in the Derek Norris deal with the A’s.

As for the Giants, they’ve had uncertainty surrounding their rotation for quite some time, and that only increased when they learned that Tim Hudson would require ankle surgery that would keep him shelved for eight weeks. Following that news, vice president/assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters that the team still wasn’t considering adding a Major League arm to its ranks, but that no longer appears to be the case. The Giants have Madison Bumgarner atop the rotation and re-signed Jake Peavy to a two-year deal, but both Matt Cain and Hudson are now coming off surgery, Tim Lincecum has been unstable for the better part of three years, and Yusmeiro Petit has never handled a full season’s workload as a starter (though he has been brilliant as a swingman for the past two seasons). San Francisco also watched Vogelsong hit the open market this winter, further depleting their rotation.

Gee, who turns 29 in late April, worked to an even 4.00 ERA in 137 innings with the Mets last season. He was limited by a strained lat muscle that led to a prolonged DL stint, but he did toss 199 innings the year prior. Over the past four seasons in the Mets’ rotation, Gee has worked to a 4.01 ERA (4.24 FIP) with 6.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The Mets are known to be looking to shed a veteran starter this winter, and Gee’s name has come up the most frequently of late.

Among the areas that the Mets could be looking to address on their big league roster are left-handed relief and shortstop. I find it unlikely that the Mets receive a starting-caliber shortstop in a trade of Gee, but a left-handed reliever is certainly a plausible return, and they could simply move him for the best package of minor league talent offered by any of the interested parties as well.



Marlins Interested In Andy Dirks, Will Venable

The Marlins are looking for a left-handed bat that can spell their outfielders and do some pinch hitting.  Their search, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, has now led to a couple of new names: Andy Dirks and Will Venable.

The Blue Jays non-tendered Dirks back in December instead of keeping him on board for a projected $1.6MM.  The left fielder, who didn’t make a major league plate appearance in 2014, slashed .276/.332/.413 between 2011-2013 for the Tigers.  He grades out as an excellent defender in left field, having compiled 16 Defensive Runs Saved and an UZR/150 mark of +5.1 in 1569 innings in left field.

Venable, 32, has come up quite a bit in trade rumors over the last month and change with the Orioles among the teams that have been linked to him.  Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune recently said that it seems more and more likely that the Padres will hang on to him, but one has to wonder if the Marlins’ interest could change things.  Venable is due to earn a reasonable $4.25MM in 2015.

The Marlins are also looking into Ichiro Suzuki and Nate Schierholtz as fourth outfielder options.  When word of that came out last week, our own Steve Adams speculated that Dirks and Venable could be considerations for Miami.


Quick Hits: Haren, Lavarnway, A’s

The Marlins still hope that Dan Haren will report to spring training, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The righty, who was acquired from the Dodgers earlier in the offseason, has told the club he prefers to play for a west coast team. Of the available options, the Padres and Giants are considered the most likely to acquire him. However, the Marlins could use a veteran like Haren, and they’re unlikely to spend $100MM on a free agent alternative like James Shields. When MLBTR readers were polled last week, nearly 11% thought he would pitch for the Marlins next season.


NL West Notes: Padres, Maurer, Rockies, Rosario

Padres GM A.J. Preller deserves much of the credit for the club’s surprising offseason, but ownership should get its due too, writes Matt Calkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While the decision to fire former GM Josh Byrnes prior to the trade deadline was roundly lampooned, it opened the door for Preller to prepare his staff for a flurry of offseason moves. Additional support from ownership, including an expanded payroll, helped to fuel Preller’s moves.

  • New Padre Brandon Maurer blossomed in a relief role last season, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Maurer features a 95 mph fastball and a biting curve. The Padres may give him a chance to start, but he appears to have the floor of a late innings reliever.
  • If the Rockies don’t make some bold moves, another 90 loss season could be on the horizon, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says a couple moves were “close-ish,” but hasn’t yet found a major move to his liking. Saunders would target the rotation and bullpen for remodeling.
  • In a quick analysis piece of the 15 NL clubs, ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider required) opines that the Rockies need to trade Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The club has a lot of work to do before it can be considered a contender. From my perspective, I think they’re just waiting for the right offer, which may include both players proving themselves healthy and productive after their latest batch of injuries.
  • The Rockies and Rangers engaged in “significant” trade talks involving catcher Wilin Rosario, reports Saunders. However, a trade has yet to materialize. The Rockies are now saying they’re comfortable splitting Rosario’s time between catcher and first base, although that could be posturing.

Padres Sign Jose Valverde To Minor League Deal

The Padres have signed former closer Jose Valverde to a minor league deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. San Diego has also signed lefty Scott Elbert and righty Marcos Mateo.

Valverde made the Mets’ Opening Day roster last season, but after a combustive two months in their bullpen, the Mets released him in late May. He has struggled in each of the past two seasons, posting ERAs over five in both and giving up ten home runs in 40 total innings. Valverde’s last full season came in 2012, when he posted a 3.78 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 for the Tigers. The 36-year-old has 288 career saves with the Diamondbacks and Astros in addition to the Tigers and Mets.

The 29-year-old Elbert was a first-round pick of the Dodgers all the way back in 2004. He had two effective seasons of relief for them in 2011 and 2012, but had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and missed most of the next two years. The Dodgers outrighted him in early November, and he became a free agent.

The 30-year-old Mateo pitched for Triple-A Iowa in 2014, posting a 3.86 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings of relief. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Cubs in 2011.


Hector Olivera To Hold Showcase In Two Weeks

Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera is set to host an open showcase at the Giants’ facility in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 21-22, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The 29-year-old second baseman is one of the top international prospects on the market but is not yet eligible to sign with clubs due to the fact that he has not been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or by Major League Baseball.

Representatives from the majority of Major League clubs should likely be expected to attend, as this will be many scouts’ first opportunity to see Olivera in-person in several years. Olivera missed the entire 2012-13 season in Cuba with what his club said was a blood disorder, and he also sat out from many international tournaments in that span. He returned to Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2013-14 and batted .316/.412/.474 in 273 plate appearances, although as Badler cautions, Olivera played second base in just 29 of his 90 games, appearing at DH in all of the others.

Olivera’s age and experience as a professional in Serie Nacional will make him exempt from international spending limitations once he is ultimately declared a free agent by the league and OFAC. It’s not clear at this time, however, exactly what type of contract the soon-to-be 30-year-old will command.

Badler notes that earlier in the offseason, he heard both the Padres and A’s mentioned as possible fits for Olivera. San Diego may not be as strong a fit for Olivera as it was a few weeks ago, however, as the Padres have added Will Middlebrooks to the mix at third base,. One would assume that Jedd Gyorko would have slid over to the hot corner eventually if Olivera were to play second base for the Friars.

From a purely speculative standpoint, I can also see the Nationals, Angels, Blue Jays and White Sox as fits based on team need, as each has some uncertainty surrounding their second base incumbent. The Sox are admittedly an imperfect fit, as they just signed Emilio Bonifacio and have the well-regarded Micah Johnson waiting in the wings, but from a 2015 standpoint, Bonifacio could simply be used in a super utility capacity.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 12

In our return from the holiday break, Jeff Todd breaks down the latest MLB moves before chatting with Corey Brock, MLB.com’s Padres beat writer, about San Diego’s fascinating offseason (1:34). Jeff then takes a brief look at perception and expectation in a changing NL West (22:30).

Podcast
Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! You can download the episode directly with this link. The podcast is also available at SoundCloud via this link, and at Stitcher with this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


Reds Claim Keyvius Sampson From Padres

The Reds have claimed right-hander Keyvius Sampson off waivers from the Padres, assistant director of media relations Jamie Ramsey announced today (on Twitter). This waiver claim gives the Reds a full 40-man roster.

The 23-year-old Sampson found himself designated for assignment last week to clear roster space following the acquisition Shawn Kelley from the Yankees. Sampson was long regarded by Baseball America as one of the Padres’ top 30 prospects, peaking at No. 9 just last offseason. However, Sampson had a very rough season in 2014, struggling to a 6.68 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 6.7 BB/9 in 91 2/3 innings between the rotation and bullpen at Triple-A El Paso.

Nonetheless, the former fourth-round pick does come with some upside for the Reds. As recently as last offseason, BA noted that Sampson sat 93 to 95 mph with his fastball and had scrapped a below-average curveball for a more effective slider. Those two pitches paired with a “quality changeup,” per BA, though their scouting report noted that his below-average command could be an obstacle, and that was clearly the case in 2014.