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San Diego Padres Rumors
The idea of the Padres as contenders for one of the offseason’s top free agents is somewhat odd. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported last week that the Padres were listening to trade offers for young pitchers Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, not a strong sign that the team was considering spending big in the free agent market. They have been connected to Yasmany Tomas, although Tomas is only 24 and might be seen as more of a future-oriented signing than Sandoval would be. (It was later reported that the Padres were not likely to sign Tomas.)
The Padres currently have Yangervis Solarte, who’s coming off a productive season, slotted at third base, although the versatile Solarte could be moved to a different position if the Padres were to sign Sandoval. The team traded longtime third baseman Chase Headley to the Yankees in July.
The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.”
In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:
- Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
- Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
- The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Payroll parity has improved throughout baseball, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. A combination of TV deals and luxury taxes have contributed to evening the playing field between the big earners and the laggards. As Mets GM Sandy Anderson points out, “there are outliers in both directions.” Yet we’ve also seen traditionally cautious clubs like the Reds sign Joey Votto to a large contract and outbid the Yankees on two Cuban players. The advantage may cycle back to large market clubs as they hire the best talent away from smaller market. We’ve seen the Dodgers snap up key personnel from the Rays and A’s this offseason which also allowed the Cubs to snag former Rays manager Joe Maddon. Brewers GM Doug Melvin isn’t concerned, saying “more (front office personnel) doesn’t mean better.”
- The Cubs and Red Sox will meet with Jon Lester this week, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. The Yankees could play the role of dark horse. While other sources have reported that Lester is willing to sign quickly, Gammons suggests the process may last into December.
- Pitcher Josh Johnson is talking with five to six clubs, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Padres remain the righty hurler’s first choice, although nothing is imminent. My own thoughts: I’m not sure I see San Diego as a fit unless they trade from their current stock of starters. While pitcher friendly Petco Park is a good destination for Johnson as he seeks to reestablish himself, the Padres appear to have five starters and at least four depth pieces. Surely, another club can offer Johnson an easier path to starts.
- Yoan Moncada‘s expected $30MM to $40MM price tag (reported on Nov. 12) isn’t the only impediment for interested clubs, writes Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Teams routinely reach handshake agreements with the next crop of international free agents well in advance of the July 2nd signing period. Any club who signs Moncada will not be able to sign an international player for over $300K, which would force many teams to rescind existing agreements. While that may not sound like a big issue, Badler describes Latin American scouting as a “small world.” A misstep could alienate the small cadre of influential trainers in the region. Moncada achieved free agency earlier today, although he has not yet been cleared by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The latest out of the game’s western divisions:
- The Mariners have had conversations with Nelson Cruz and his agent since the start of the offseason, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. According to Morosi, Seattle does not have a club policy against signing players with past PED suspensions. A recent report stated that the team backed off of Cruz last year because of his recent Biogenesis situation, but it appears that will not be a roadblock this time around.
- The Padres will listen to trade offers for their top three pitchers (Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross) as well as catchers, Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Presumably it would take quite an offer to part with Cashner or Ross, and Kennedy could be held and reassessed at the trade deadline. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old, former top prospect Grandal has yet to establish himself fully. Though he posted a solid 112 wRC+ last year, he also rated as one of the league’s worst defensive catchers. Rivera, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to post by far his most extensive and productive MLB season in 2014, slashing .252/.319/.432 over 329 plate appearances while grading out as one of the game’s best-fielding backstops.
- Righty Dan Haren of the Dodgers has come up in trade chatter, but could retire if he is dealt away from Los Angeles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Haren exercised a $10MM player option to stay on the west coast, and Heyman indicates that he might prefer to hang up his spikes than pitch for any other club but the cross-town Angels.
3:40pm: MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes hears that three of the four teams set to meet with Tomas would have been seen as “very unlikely” suitors, suggesting they’re of the dark horse variety (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the Padres are no longer seen as a fit for Tomas.
Hall of Fame reporter Peter Gammons hears that Giants special assistant Felipe Alou is pushing the team to sign Tomas as a third baseman (Twitter link). Gammons also hears that the Phillies would likely have to clear some money in order to add Tomas.
Additionally, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Oakland has scouted and discussed Tomas, though they wouldn’t be involved at the rumored $100MM price tag. She speculates that if Tomas were open to a shorter-term deal that allowed him to hit free agency faster, Oakland would be in play.
3:26pm: Alou is still expected to meet with four MLB GMs in the Dominican in the next two days, he tells Arangure (Twitter link).
2:05pm: Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas is scheduled to fly to the United States tomorrow to meet with his agent, Jay Alou Jr., Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports reports on Twitter. A deal appears imminent, per Arangure, and could come as soon as this weekend.
Tomas, 24 tomorrow, has drawn significant interest around the league from clubs intrigued by the possibility of fielding his power bat through his prime years, a rare opportunity in the current market. There have been varying reports as to Tomas’s timeline for signing, with some suggesting that he is moving quickly with a small group of frontrunners and others indicating that a wide-open battle for his services is just beginning.
Argangure’s report does not give any indication of the team with which Tomas could be nearing a deal. Needless to say, Tomas ‘s ultimate destination will have an important bearing on the rest of the free agent market.
The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.
Here’s the latest out of the division:
- The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
- Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
- There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
- Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
- Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
- The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Ben Revere | Chicago Cubs | Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | Free Agent Market | Giancarlo Stanton | Ian Desmond | Johnny Cueto | Jordan Walden | Kris Medlen | Kyle Kendrick | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Tommy La Stella | Ubaldo Jimenez | Washington Nationals
Left-hander Eric Stults has chosen to become a free agent after the Padres outrighted him to Triple-A, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Twitter link). Stults was designated for assignment by the Padres last week.
As Jeff Sanders of the Union-Tribune recently explained, the Padres’ decision to designate Stults was largely based on financial reasons (the $4.6MM he’d earn through the arbitration process, as projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz) rather than the southpaw’s performance as a Padre. Stults has been a reliable innings-eater since joining the team in May 2012, posting a 3.87 ERA and 2.71 K/BB rate over 472 IP. The advanced metrics, however, rank Stults as a below-average performer at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, so the Friars felt they could afford to let Stults go in lieu of their other pitching depth.
Stults, who turns 35 next month, has a career 4.12 ERA over 635 2/3 IP with the Padres, White Sox, Rockies and Dodgers over eight Major League seasons.
Here’s the latest from San Diego…
- The Padres are listening to trade offers for Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The team would look for hitting in return, though you’d suspect the asking prices would vary given the levels of team control — Kennedy is a free agent after the 2015 season, Cashner after 2016 and Ross after 2017. Rosenthal speculates that the Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, Rangers and Royals could fit as possible trade partners for San Diego.
- If the Padres are dealing some of their starters, then the addition of Kwang-Hyun Kim is a way to add depth, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The Padres posted the high bid for Kim’s services and have just under a month to negotiate a contract with the Korean left-hander.
- Carlos Quentin is open to waiving his no-trade clause to be dealt to an AL team, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Quentin has a long history of knee injuries and playing in the American League would allow him to get some rest in a DH role.
11:51pm: The Wyverns will accept the Padres’ bid for Kim, who now has a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the Padres, according to a report from Naver Sports (Korean link; hat tip to Sung-Min Kim on Twitter). Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net tweets that Kim is being represented by veteran MLB agent Melvin Roman.
The Yonhap News Agency has a full English report on Kim’s posting, noting that he features a fastball which sits around 93 mph and a sharp slider. However, Kim relies primarily on those two pitches and would like to develop a more effective changeup if he jumps to the Majors. Kim thanked the Wyverns for the opportunity and issued the following statement:
“Now that I’ve been given a chance to try to reach the majors, which has been my lifelong dream, I’ll try to make the best of the situation and prove myself on the biggest stage. I will go back to the drawing board and prepare the best I can.”
9:19am: The Padres have posted the highest bid for Korean lefty Kwang-hyun Kim, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, at $2MM. He notes that Kim’s team, SK Wyverns, might not accept since they were reportedly seeking $10MM.
The 26-year-old Kim is considered the country’s ace, wrote C.J. Nitkowski for Just A Bit Outside. However, Nitkowski feels Kim might be best-suited bullpen work in MLB. In a new article, Nitkowski writes that he expects intense conversations between Kim and SK, with the pitcher pushing hard to be let go.
Kim pitched to a 3.33 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 167 2/3 innings this season in the notoriously hitter-friendly environment that is the Korea Baseball Organization. Though he’s struggled with health in recent years, Kim has a lifetime 3.28 ERA in more than 1000 innings in KBO.
The front office shuffling of the NL West continued today with another pair of moves. The Dodgers will hire Scott Bream away from the Tigers to be their new pro scouting director, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Padres announced that they’ve promoted regional supervisor Mark Conner to director of scouting. The 38-year-old Conner joined the Friars in 2010 as an amateur scout and was the scout responsible for signing the highly touted Matt Wisler.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- New Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi declined to give a firm answer when asked by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times whether or not the team will tender a contract to A.J. Ellis. However, Zaidi offered strong praise for Ellis’ leadership and relationships with the pitching staff. “…it’s clear he’s a big part of this team and a big part of the preparation and comfort level for the pitchers,” Zaidi told Hernandez.
- In a second tweet, Saxon notes that Brandon Morrow is a name to keep an eye on for Dodgers fans. As Saxon points out, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has had success turning starters with dynamic arms and transitioning them to the bullpen. Of course, it’s not clear if he is open to ‘pen work. Morrow indicated late in the season that his preference was to be a starter.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the team “absolutely, 100 percent” needs to upgrade its rotation. Bridich said the club is keeping all avenues open to acquire pitching talent. One possibility that may intrigue Rockies fans is Jeremy Hellickson, whom the Rays are said to be discussing with an NL club. However, Saunders hears from a Major League source that the Rockies aren’t targeting Hellickson at this time, although they have shown past interest.