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Here’s the latest from around the NL West…
- While Carlos Gonzalez specifically stated that he wanted to stay with the Rockies, Troy Tulowitzki somewhat tellingly only said “I want to win here” when asked by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale if he wanted to stay with the club. The Rockies discussed Tulowitzki with a few teams this winter (including the Mets), a process that GM Jeff Bridich said the star shortstop was kept fully informed about, even though there wasn’t much to discuss. “We had conversations this winter, and Tulo has an understanding what we’re thinking….We talked to teams, but there really is nothing that came close to being done,” Bridich said.
- Justin Maxwell can opt out of his minor league deal with the Giants if he isn’t on the club’s Major League roster by Tuesday, March 31, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 31-year-old Maxwell is battling for a reserve outfield job and said he hasn’t decided what his next step will be if he’s told he isn’t making the roster.
- While the Padres have come up short in high-profile pursuits of Yasmany Tomas, Hector Olivera and Yoan Moncada, that doesn’t mean the club hasn’t been busy on the international signing front. In a profile of Padres international scouting director Chris Kemp, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports that the team has signed 12 international players between the ages of 16-19 are close to deals with several others. Of particular note is right-hander Starlin Cordero, who is already throwing at 94 mph at age 16 and only two months after being converted to pitching from the outfield.
- Diamondbacks catching prospect Peter O’Brien has played back-to-back games in the outfield, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. O’Brien was having problems throwing the ball back to the mound in games earlier this month and he since hasn’t been back behind the plate. Dubbed as the D’Backs’ catcher of the future by GM Dave Stewart and others within the organization, many scouts have questions about O’Brien’s long-term future behind the plate (even aside from his throwing issue).
- In NL West news from earlier today, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times discussed the Dodgers with Jeff Todd on the MLBTR Podcast…Jeff also asked MLBTR’s readers to rank the Dodgers‘ many notable offseason moves…I profiled Juan Uribe as a possible trade candidate…the Padres claimed righty Jandel Gustave off waivers from the Royals…the Mets are checking in on both the Rockies and Dodgers as part of their search for relief pitching help.
Padres GM A.J. Preller says that the team does not view outfielder Justin Upton as a mere rental player, as MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reports. “We made a big trade for him, and when you do something like that, you always hope you can work something out long term and do something together,” said Preller of Upton. “… That’s why we acquired him. You always want guys like that on your team.” While Preller has already made quite an impression in his first offseason at the helm in San Diego, an extension or free agent signing of Upton would be grander and more committing than any of his other moves. The 27-year-old sits atop the free agent power rankings of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, owing in large part to his youth and power output. For now, Preller says the team is focused on letting Upton get comfortable with the organization in the hopes that he will “see the long-term fit.” Upton, meanwhile, says it is too soon to discuss the possibility of a new deal with the Padres. “”I’ve only been here for a month,” he said. “I don’t even want to talk about that.”
Here’s more out of the western divisions:
- The Athletics have optioned righty Ryan Cook to Triple-A, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports. Cook has struggled this spring, but has a well-established track record at the big league level and owns a 2.77 ERA over nearly 200 frames over the last four seasons. It is worth noting that Cook has more at stake than his immediate roster spot: he entered the year with three years and 36 days of service, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could delay his free agency by a year.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean addressed the team’s outfield situation today, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Angel Pagan‘s back troubles are not cause for the team to go searching for another outfielder, he said, noting also that Hunter Pence is only out for a small portion of the season.
- The Diamondbacks, in many respects, “appear to see things differently than the rest of the league,” Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. That applies to the team’s overall approach to blending statistics and scouting and its assessment of the defensive capabilities of several of its young players, among other things. Cameron cautions not to write off the team’s ultimate ability to compete based on a process that he believes is flawed, citing the Orioles’ somewhat surprising run of success, though he also makes clear that he does not see a promising method being applied in Arizona.
- The first trade of Preller’s stint with the Padres was not nearly as heralded as his later swaps, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes. Lefty Kyle Bartsch was, in fact, the first name added to San Diego’s slate of players under the Preller regime, representing the return on outfielder Reymond Fuentes. The 2013 seventh-round pick probably fit expectations for the new San Diego front office better than the later, splashier additions. “With Fuentes, he was someone who was coming off our roster, so you look for smaller deals and value-type pieces and in Kyle we found someone with three pitches, had success [in the pros], had success in college,” Preller said. “He’s a lefty and that’s always a good thing. That’s an area he fit for us.”
Hall of Fame baseball writer Nick Peters, who covered the Giants for 47 years, has died, Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee writes. Peters was 75. He worked for the Bee, the Oakland Tribune, the Berkeley Gazette and the San Francisco Chronicle, covering a total of nearly 5,000 games. The BBWAA honored him with a Spink Award in 2009. Breton writes that Peters had an especially good relationship with Barry Bonds, who Peters had known from being around the Giants since Bonds was child following his father Bobby and godfather Willie Mays. “Nick was known not only for his writing talent and encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, but also for his mentorship of many young reporters who rose through the ranks of sports journalism,” write the Giants in a statement. “He will be deeply missed by the entire Giants organization and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Lise and the entire Peters family.” Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins‘ new interview with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal offers an unusually candid look at what it’s like to change teams. Rollins spent 19 seasons in the Phillies organization before heading to Los Angeles. That involved quite a mental adjustment, as Rollins explains. “It was real tough in the beginning to give in to the LA thing, the Dodger thing, the wearing of blue, being the best organization in pro sports. That’s their belief,” he says. “Now I’m part of that product. But it was tough – 14 years on the other side, learning to . . . I can’t say hate, that’s a strong word . . . but learning to want to beat the brakes off anything with L.A. and Dodger blue in it.”
- Sam Deduno, who’s out of options, appears to have a good shot at making the Astros‘ roster because he can relieve, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes. Deduno is competing with Roberto Hernandez and Asher Wojciechowski for the fifth spot in the Astros’ rotation, but he has a better chance than either of the other two of making the roster because he can head to the bullpen if he doesn’t get the rotation job. The Astros have two bullpen openings. One will likely go to a lefty (perhaps Joe Thatcher), but Deduno could win the other spot.
- Olivera’s new agent, Greg Genske, says he thinks he and his client will reach a deal with his new team “soon.” (Last Wednesday, Genske told Heyman that Olivera would likely sign by the end of what is now last week, so negotiations have already gone on longer than anticipated.)
- It’s possible there could be a bidding war between the Dodgers and Padres. Those two teams appear to be leading the bidding, although other teams (including the Braves, Athletics and Giants) remain interested. (The Marlins are reportedly out of the bidding.)
- Olivera is reportedly throwing well, perhaps easing concerns over a report that he could have UCL damage.
- Olivera will likely agree to a deal by Wednesday, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweets.
The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest. The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday. Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time. The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019. While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
- The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports. Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign. A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
- The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera. For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll. The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexander Guerrero | Arizona Diamondbacks | Boston Red Sox | Dioner Navarro | Howie Kendrick | Jimmy Rollins | Juan Uribe | Los Angeles Dodgers | Madison Bumgarner | Milwaukee Brewers | Pablo Fernandez | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The White Sox have traded catcher/pitcher Mike Blanke to the Diamondbacks for cash, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The 26-year-old Blanke hit .226/.302/.340 for Double-A Birmingham in 2013, but in 2014 he made the switch to pitching, striking out ten batters and walking 12 in 13 1/3 innings for Great Falls in the Pioneer League. He evidently throws 95-98 MPH, perhaps suggesting the pitching experiment is one worth continuing. Nonetheless, he’ll be back at catcher this season, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona tweets. It appears likely he will be minor-league depth, not a solution to the Diamondbacks’ catching uncertainties at the big-league level.
- The Giants have released Adalberto Santos, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Santos, who plays second, third and the outfield, has an impressive .303/.388/.428 line for his minor-league career, but he’s never received an extended opportunity at Triple-A. The 27-year-old began 2014 in the Pirates organization before heading to the Giants in a minor trade in June.
- The White Sox have released righty Ryan Kussmaul, according to the International League transactions page. Kussmaul, 28, posted a 4.08 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2014. He’s never received a shot in the Majors despite a career 10.4 K/9 in the minors.
With Hunter Pence out to start the season, the defending World Champion Giants are experiencing some uncertainty in their outfield mix. The major question at present revolves around the health of center fielder Angel Pagan, who had back surgery last season and has been limited this spring.
Here’s the latest:
- Pagan had two injections in his ailing back today, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. The club is hopeful he can resume baseball activity over the weekend and appear in a game early next week. If Pagan is ready for the regular season, he would presumably join Norichika Aoki and Gregor Blanco as the starters, with players like Travis Ishikawa, Juan Perez, Justin Maxwell, Gary Brown, and Jarrett Parker potentially in the mix for bench roles.
- One other possibility for some time in the outfield is first baseman Brandon Belt, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports. Asked today whether Belt was a first baseman, period, manager Bruce Bochy replied that it was “more of a comma” and said the possibility of using Belt in the outfield was under consideration. The club may also see how infielders Adam Duvall and Matt Duffy look on the grass, with Bochy indicating that the team is currently focused on evaluating its internal options and monitoring Pagan.
- Depending upon how the above situations play out, the team could obviously find itself in need of another bat capable of manning a spot in the outfield. Indeed, San Francisco is monitoring Nationals outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. Moore is out of options and may not have a spot on the Washington roster, though the club’s own rash of outfield injuries could create at least a temporary opening. The Giants are said to be interested in adding pop if they make a move, and the power-hitting Moore would certainly match that desire.
The Dodgers have announced that they’ve shut down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation. He will be shut down for the next three days while the Dodgers determine the right course of action. Ryu had experienced shoulder tightness in his last start, during which his velocity was down. Ryu had similar shoulder issues last September, although he returned to pitch in the playoffs. There’s no indication yet that his current issues are serious, and Ryu (via a tweet from J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group) believes the injury should not keep him from being ready for the start of the season. The Dodgers could consider having him begin the season on the disabled list, however, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin tweets. The Dodgers don’t require a fifth starter until April 14. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Yasmany Tomas chose the Diamondbacks over other teams in part because he liked their front office, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Giants were the runners-up in the bidding for Tomas, writes Piecoro. “At the end of the day, he said, ‘I really like those people,'” says agent Jay Alou of Diamondbacks execs Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart, De Jon Watson and Junior Noboa. “These are baseball people. They get it. I think Yasmany appreciates that.” After committing $68.5MM for Tomas, the Diamondbacks now appear to be quietly considering having Tomas start the season in the minors, although they offer guarded praise for his abilities. “I really believe that a number of us in the organization believe that he could hit,” says La Russa. “If we were short and he had to play, at the end of the year he would survive.”
- The Athletics‘ seemingly incongruous addition of Billy Butler in the offseason actually makes sense, Tony Blengino of FanGraphs writes. While Butler’s 2014 season wasn’t a good one, his underlying numbers suggest a player whose ability is closer to his .289/.374/.412 2013 season. Blengino suggests Butler has a decent chance of being as good as or better than Nelson Cruz next year, although the two players’ offensive profiles are quite different.
- The Rangers‘ prospects give the team a bright future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The team still has Jorge Alfaro, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, Keone Kela and to power-hitting prospect Joey Gallo in big-league camp. “I think they are still getting something out of being here,” says GM Jon Daniels. “Some of these guys are not very far away at all.” Relief prospect Kela has wowed scouts with his stuff, Grant says — Kela can throw 100 MPH and now also has a quality breaking ball.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty said today that the club has “had some discussions” on an extension with representatives of ace Johnny Cueto in an interview on MLB Network Radio (audio link). Noting that pitching salaries continue to rise, Jocketty said that he could not give “any odds” on how likely a new deal was, though he noted that the team is “still trying” and indicated that both sides hope to continue their relationship. Cueto, of course, is set to hit the free agent market after the season.
Here’s more from the National League:
- Giants skipper Bruce Bochy says he is “a little concerned” about the injury status of center fielder Angel Pagan, Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com tweets. “I think we need to be [concerned],” said Bochy. “I think we need to be. he had back surgery, now he’s hit a bump in the road.” With Hunter Pence already set to miss a good bit of time to start the year, any time missed from Pagan would stretch the club’s outfield depth. That could increase the urgency to make an addition, though a recent report suggests that the team has not been actively searching for another outfielder.
- Mets manager Terry Collins had some less-than-promising things to say about the state of the club’s bullpen, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports (links to Twitter). The most prominent issue, of course, is the question of matching up against opposing lefties now that Josh Edgin is out for the year. Collins also mentioned concern with Vic Black‘s ability to return from shoulder issues in time for Opening Day, though Black himself evidently does not see it as quite so large an issue. “We’ve been … telling everybody that we didn’t have to rebuild our bullpen,” said Collins. “Right now, we’re in the process of rebuilding it.” In spite of those comments, it would be surprising to see the club do anything to add a new arm other than searching for additional left-handed help.
- Top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant has handled the simmering controversy over his promotion timeline quite professionally, by all appearances. While praising the organization, and his agent, Bryant does say that he feels he’s received “mixed messages,” as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “I’m hearing from my teammates that they want me up and I’m doing well and everybody’s telling me I’m progressing well,” said Bryant. He continued to note that he “took … to heart” the team’s message to players that roster spots could be earned in the spring.
- Of course, the underlying service time rules at play are the larger issue in the Bryant matter, and it is rather difficult to dream up alternative systems that would really change the analysis for teams in a mutually agreeable way. ESPN.com’s Keith Law weighs in (subscription required) to offer a unique solution: when a team puts a true rookie on the active roster to start the year, and the player then reaches exactly six years of service, that player gets a special one-year form of free agency in which any team may make a single-season offer but his current team gets the choice to match the high bid. Law posits that this approach would encourage teams to go ahead and add their best prospects to the roster, comforted by the knowledge that they can still maximize team control — even if it ultimately comes at a (potentially much) higher cost in the final season. That proposal would obviously create quite an interesting new wrinkle in the market.
Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is “likely” to sign by the end of this week, agent Greg Genske tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Olivera is still looking for a team to promise him a sixth year, the report indicates.
The Braves have reportedly put in an offer of four years and $40MM that is said to be “behind the pack,” per Heyman’s source. Multiple other clubs have reportedly shown a willingness to guarantee five years, possibly over $50MM, though Heyman says that the precise value (and source) of the other bids are not known.
Among the other clubs that have shown interest, of course, are the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. Heyman says it is unclear at this point how involved the Marlins and Athletics are, though recent reports indicated that Miami still has interest at seven years and $50MM, perhaps representing a lower AAV than Olivera prefers.