- Despite moving to add infielder Eduardo Nunez tonight, the Giants are still focused on pitching, GM Bobby Evans tells reporters including Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area (via Twitter). It’s hard to draw a bead on the Giants’ favored targets, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick says they’re “blanketing” the market for starters and relievers (Twitter links). But the team is among may that have reached out to the Royals, so you can at least add some hypothetical new names to the long list of possibilities for San Francisco.
The Giants have announced a deal to acquire Twins infielder Eduardo Nunez, as LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune first reported (via Twitter). Lefty Adalberto Mejia is headed to Minnesota in return.
Nunez, 29, has revived his career in Minnesota over the last two years. Once a prized Yankees farmhand, he had struggled to gain traction and ended up changing hands in a minor swap in April of 2014. Though he started off slowly in his new home, Nunez came on strong last year and has only improved thus far in 2016 — even earning his first All-Star berth.
A shortstop by trade, Nunez has also seen significant time at third base while also appearing a second and in the outfield. Though he’s not a highly-regarded defender, the versatility should come in handy. He’ll presumably see action around the diamond for the Giants, with much of his early action coming at third base, where Matt Duffy remains an injury question. Second baseman Joe Panik has only just returned from his own DL stint, and while Brandon Crawford is as steady as ever, it doesn’t hurt to have a quality option to support him as well.
The right-handed-hitting Nunez carries neutral career platoon splits, but has been better this year against southpaws. Both Duffy (a righty) and Panik (a lefty) are also neutral in their relatively short careers, but each has seen a downturn against same-handed pitching thus far in 2016. That makes Nunez a more natural platoon mate for Panik, though the Giants’ new addition has spent most of his time on the left side of the infield and is perhaps more likely to take time from Duffy (once the latter returns from the DL). Nunez also provides a right-handed complement to Crawford, though obviously the incumbent figures to remain an everyday fixture at short. San Francisco will also soon welcome back the switch-hitting Ehire Adrianza from a rehab stint, and he too will provide an option up the middle.
Owing to his relatively limited playing time and generally meager career numbers, Nunez is earning just $1.475MM this year. He’s also controllable for another season via arbitration. Though he’ll surely earn a nice raise, Nunez figures to remain quite an affordable piece before qualifying for free agency in 2018.
Minnesota seems to have made out quite well for its meager investment in Nunez. In addition to receiving quality production from him while he was in town, the club will add a nice piece in the 23-year-old Mejia. After a solid showing at Double-A last year, he pitched well enough there early in 2016 to earn his first promotion to Triple-A. All told, he owns a 2.81 ERA over 105 2/3 innings with 8.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 between the two levels.
Long considered a solid prospect, Mejia has moved up the charts as he has ascended the ranks of the Giants’ system and is said to profile as a near-ready number-four starter. He sat at fifth among the team’s pre-MLB assets in Baseball America’s latest farm ranking (also cracking the top-100 list leaguewide) and seventh per MLB.com. Though he doesn’t have huge stuff, the pundits credit him as a sturdy southpaw who limits the home runs and walks and should be able to generate strong results with a quality three-pitch mix.
The Twins will promote top prospect Jorge Polanco to replace Nunez on the active roster, the Star-Tribune’s Phill Miller tweets. Polanco, 23, enjoyed a nice start to his major league career in a brief stint earlier this season after cracking some top-100 prospect rankings over the winter. He has spent most of the year at Triple-A, posting a .271/.331/.455 batting line in 320 plate appearances with nine long balls on his ledger.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
[Related: Updated Giants Depth Chart]
Green, 28, has produced at a .251/.286/.339 clip over 350 MLB plate appearances in parts of four seasons. The former Angels and Athletics prospect was always considered a bat-first player, and has a sturdy track record of hitting in the minors. But Green comes with a lightly-regarded glove and his home run pop has dissipated in the upper minors. It remains to be seen whether he’ll ever earn a full shot a steady MLB job.
San Francisco will certainly be glad to welcome back Panik, who missed a month with concussion symptoms. He hasn’t produce at anything close to his rate from a year ago, but Panik still carries a league-average hitting line in 2016 to go with a quality glove at second. Plus, he has probably been a bit unlucky with a .266 BABIP, so there’s reason for the Giants to expect that he’ll be even more useful down the stretch than he was in the first half.
- The Giants are interested in Minnesota’s Eduardo Nunez, who has also recently been connected to the Indians. The Twins figure to be wide open to trade scenarios in the coming days, and Nunez would give the Giants some cover at third base, shortstop, second base and in left field. Similarly, the Giants have a bit of interest in Alex Guerrero, who was released by the Dodgers earlier this year. However, Heyman points out that catcher Miguel Olivo, who is being sued by Guerrero after biting off a piece of Guerrero’s ear in a dugout altercation with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2015, is playing for San Francisco’s Triple-A affiliate.
- Royals righty Luke Hochevar is a potential target for the Giants as San Francisco searches for relief upgrades, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Hochevar’s name hasn’t been out there much, but the mutual option on his contract means that he’ll almost certainly be a free agent at season’s end, as such options are rarely exercised. The former No. 1 overall pick has settled in as a quality bullpen arm in Kansas City and has recovered nicely from 2014 Tommy John surgery, as he owns a 3.86 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 36.1 percent ground-ball rate in 37 1/3 innings this year. While his velocity isn’t at its 95.5 mph peak from the 2013 season, he’s still averaging a strong 94.4 mph in 2016, and SIERA pegs him at a more favorable 3.16.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that given the high asking price for impact relievers and the desire of clubs like the Nationals and Giants to acquire such an arm, it makes sense for the Pirates to listen to offers on Mark Melancon. Left-hander Tony Watson could step into the ninth inning in his stead, and Melancon would be a highly sought-after commodity that could bring back a significant return for the Bucs. Earlier this morning, I discussed that very possibility with Josh Taylor of TribLive Radio in Pittsburgh (link), suggesting that the Pirates have the pitching depth to absorb the loss and could recoup greater value right now than through a potential qualifying offer, which seems unlikely from the budget-conscious Pirates anyhow. There’s yet to be any concrete word that Pittsburgh will market its closer, however.
Star Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner has changed agents, moving to the Legacy Agency, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). This represents his second change of counsel in recent months.
Bumgarner, who is still a few days shy of his 27th birthday, is in the midst of what might well end up being his best season in the majors — which would be no mean feat given all he has accomplished already. On the year, he owns a 2.14 ERA in a league-leading 142 2/3 innings, with 10.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9. That puts the southpaw on pace for a fourth-straight year with a sub-3.00 earned run average and a sixth-straight with over 200 frames.
With age on his side and a still-rising strikeout rate, it isn’t clear whether Bumgarner has even peaked yet. And with his near-flawless record of health factored in, he’s unquestionably one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. When you factor in a contract that keeps him under control through 2019 — the latter two years via $12MM options — Bumgarner looks to be one of the most valuable assets of any kind in the whole sport.
Though he isn’t going anywhere and there isn’t any pressure to talk over a new deal, it is fair to wonder at what point team and player might return to the bargaining table. Second extension aren’t at all uncommon, of course, as players who signed on as early as Bumgarner did will sometimes outperform their future guarantee by quite a fair margin.
In this case, there isn’t any question whatsoever that Bumgarner would be a $200MM+ pitcher in free agency — which he would have been after this year — but he’s still a long ways from reaching the open market. If the Giants wish to keep him around for the long haul, we’re probably at the start of an opportune window — extending for another year or two — for the club to seek another discount while still bumping his overall earnings into the nine-figure range.
That’s all idle chatter, of course, as we’ve heard no suggestion that the Giants or Bumgarner are looking into another contract. But it’s certainly worthwhile to consider the possibility as he continues to build a case as one of the organization’s greatest players.
The Legacy Agency represents a wide variety of notable players, including young position player stars such as Mookie Betts and Carlos Correa and youthful hurlers including Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. The agency has also handled free agent negotiations for pitchers including Johan Santana and Scott Kazmir.
- The Giants’ list of relief pitching targets includes Angels closer Huston Street, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman reports. Street, who turns 33 in August, is enduring by far the worst season of his 12-year career — the veteran has as many walks (11) as strikeouts over his 19 2/3 innings pitched, and he missed a month due to an oblique strain. His 5.03 K/9 would be a career low, while ERA indicators (5.69 FIP, 6.16 xFIP, 5.67 SIERA) show that Street is actually somewhat fortunate to “only” be posting a 5.03 ERA, though he also has a .358 BABIP. With around $2.8MM still owed to Street this season and $9MM for 2017, the Angels would surely have to eat a big chunk of that contract to facilitate a deal given Street’s struggles.
- Andrew Cashner has been cited as a possible Giants target, though interestingly, Schulman reports that San Francisco could explore converting the righty into a reliever. I would guess that this scenario wouldn’t happen unless Matt Cain quickly rounds back into form. The Padres are getting a lot of interest in Cashner and are certainly demanding a “starting pitcher” price tag for him, which the Giants likely wouldn’t be willing to pay unless they were totally committed to using Cashner in the rotation.
- Brewers relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith are also Giants targets, with Schulman reporting that Milwaukee has been trying to include either reliever together with Jonathan Lucroy or Ryan Braun as part of a larger trade. This tactic is of no interest to San Francisco since the Giants have no interest in Lucroy or Braun.
SUNDAY, 6:32pm: Shortstop Gleyber Torres, one of the Cubs’ top prospects, has been scratched from the lineup for Chicago’s High-A affiliate tonight, according to Sports Illustrated’s Kenny Ducey (Twitter link). Torres was known to be of interest to the Yankees, and Heyman tweets that the Cubs have an offer of Torres and more on the table for Chapman. Torres was a consensus top-50 prospect (#28 from MLB.com, #41 from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus) in preseason minor league rankings, and the 19-year-old is hitting .275/.359/.433 in 409 plate appearances this season.
3:52pm: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner still hasn’t given general manager Brian Cashman the green light to sell off top veterans, including Chapman, according to Heyman. As of now, the Indians, Cubs, Nationals, Rangers and a mystery team are pushing for Chapman. (Twitter link).
12:57pm: The Indians have the best names on the table for Chapman right now and a trade could be close, a source told Bruce Levine of 670TheScore (Twitter link). The Nationals are also aggressively going after Chapman, notes Levine, and Keith Law of ESPN hears (on Twitter) that Erick Fedde, Koda Glover and another prospect will head to the Yankees if the two sides strike a deal. Fedde, a right-hander, is Baseball America’s 61st-ranked prospect.
11:03am: The Yankees are dissatisfied with the Nationals’ offers, who are behind at least three other teams (including a mystery club) in the Chapman derby, writes Heyman. Further, the remaining $5MM on Chapman’s contract could make it difficult for a team like the Indians to acquire him, as the Yankees are currently unwilling to eat any of that money.
Meanwhile, the Giants sense that the momentum is elsewhere in regards to Chapman, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. The Yankees are giving the Giants “radio silence” and don’t like San Francisco’s farm system as much as other suitors’, adds Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
8:46am: Chapman is the Nationals’ No. 1 target, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, who adds that the Yankees are interested in Nats right-handed starter Joe Ross. The Giants are also in the Chapman sweepstakes, but neither they nor the Indians are progressing toward a deal with the Yankees. The Cubs are higher on Miller than Chapman, though it doesn’t appear the former is going anywhere.
Although Ross has been out for several weeks with inflammation in his throwing shoulder, it’s fair to say he’d be a significant pickup for the Yankees in a Chapman trade. The 23-year-old has thrown 172 innings and put up a 3.56 ERA, 7.74 K/9, 2.46 BB/9 and 46.6 percent ground-ball rate since debuting in the majors last season. Unsurprisingly, there’s “no chance” of Washington moving Ross for a rental, a source told Heyman (Twitter link).
8:38am: The Yankees have asked the Nationals, Cubs, Indians and a mystery team to submit their best and final offers for Chapman, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
SATURDAY, 10:18pm: A Chapman trade isn’t necessarily imminent, but the Yankees are ready to conclude the process, tweets Rosenthal.
9:32pm: The Yankees are telling teams that they’re nearing a trade involving closer Aroldis Chapman, but they plan on keeping fellow left-handed relief ace Andrew Miller, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). There’s no word yet on where the Yankees will send Chapman in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
As of earlier Saturday, the Nationals were pursuing Chapman – to whom they’ve been connected for months – but they haven’t shown an eagerness to part with top prospects for the 28-year-old free agent-to-be. Fellow contenders like the Cubs, Indians and Giants, among others, have also been linked to Chapman, whom the Yankees acquired from the Reds for an underwhelming prospect package during the offseason amid his domestic violence issues.
The flame-throwing Chapman served a month-plus suspension to begin the season because of his off-field misdeeds, but he has been his usual dominant self on the mound since. Over 31 1/3 innings this year, Chapman has pitched to a 2.01 ERA while notching 12.64 strikeouts and walking 2.3 batters per nine innings, and converting 20 of 21 save chances. Chapman’s strikeout rate represents a career low, though his walks are at a personal best and he hasn’t shown any signs of losing velocity, having exceeded 105 mph on Monday. The exact speed (105.1) is the fastest pitch ever on radar, tying Chapman’s record from 2010.
For the Yankees, dealing Chapman would be an admission that they’re not all in on contending this year. The Bombers dropped a 12-inning decision to the Giants on Saturday and fell to 49-48, which puts them 7.5 games behind the AL East-leading Orioles and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. On the other hand, judging by their decision to keep the 31-year-old Miller – who has outperformed Chapman this season – they haven’t abandoned all near-term hope. Miller is locked up through 2018 at $9MM per annum and would surely merit a significant return (even greater than what Chapman will bring back), but the Yanks look prepared to hold him and hope he’s part of playoff teams in the Bronx over the next couple years.
Even if the Yankees part with Chapman, he, like Miller, could conceivably be part of their plans beyond this season. Chapman would have to hit free agency and New York would have to be motivated to re-sign him, of course. He seems likely to exceed his 2016 salary ($11.325MM) on a long-term deal in the offseason, and it stands to reason that the Yankees could be the club to give him that contract on the open market. For now, it appears Chapman will head to a team in better position to compete for a World Series this season.
SUNDAY: The list of teams interested in Cashner is close to 10, writes Heyman. That includes the previously reported Marlins, who have discussed many of their top prospects – including first baseman Josh Naylor – with the Padres, Heyman hears. The surging Astros are also in the Cashner sweepstakes.
SATURDAY, 11:51am: The Marlins are also still discussing Cashner with the Padres, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.
10:17am: The Giants have also checked in on Cashner, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link), though San Francisco is more focused on adding bullpen help before the deadline. The Dodgers don’t appear to be in the mix for Cashner as they “seem to be aiming even higher” for a rotation upgrade, which Heyman speculates could be Chris Sale or one of the Rays’ starting pitchers. In another Heyman tweet, he writes that the Orioles and Blue Jays are thought to be the leaders for Upton, though the two clubs are also exploring bigger deals that could involve Upton and other Padres changing teams.
8:48am: The Orioles are chasing two high-profile names from the Padres, as they are looking at Melvin Upton and Andrew Cashner in separate trade talks, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Reports surfaced yesterday that the O’s and Padres were discussing a swap that would’ve sent Ubaldo Jimenez and a prospect to San Diego for Upton. That deal would be something of a fit of large contracts, whereas for Cashner, Rosenthal notes that San Diego is asking for two prospects.
Interestingly, Baltimore isn’t the only AL East team linked to these two Padres stars, as the Blue Jays have also discussed Upton and Cashner with San Diego, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Padres are trying to get the division rivals into a bidding war over Upton, though it isn’t certain if Toronto would have interest in the outfielder if Cashner wasn’t part of the deal. Even the Cashner talks with Toronto may not have much momentum, as Rosenthal notes that the Jays and Padres have differing opinions on Cashner’s value.
As of yesterday, the Padres were telling other teams that they were close to finalizing an Upton trade, which at the time was perceived as a possible negotiating tactic on the Friars’ part. A rival official for a team not interested in Upton observed to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Padres were “trying to get someone else to bite before they are forced to send him to the one club ready to move on him.”
Given Rosenthal’s subsequent tweets, it would seem that Toronto could be the “someone else” in that description while the O’s could be the more eager suitor for Upton’s services. Then again, Upton makes sense as an outfield upgrade on a few different contenders. For instance, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that the Indians have also talked to the Padres about Upton over the last few weeks, though nothing is close on that front.
Of the three teams mentioned, the Orioles would seem to have the clearest need for Upton given their left field void (as both Joey Rickard and Hyun Soo Kim are on the DL), plus Upton could also provide cover in center behind Adam Jones. Jimenez’s contract also helps offset the large amount of money still owed on Upton’s contract, as the outfielder is set to earn $16.45MM in 2017 and roughly $5.31MM remaining this season; Cleveland and Toronto don’t have any Jimenez-esque large salaries that could be dealt to create payroll space.
The uncertainty surrounding Michael Brantley’s status could certainly put Cleveland in the market for outfield help, though the Tribe have been getting some very solid contributions from their current outfield mix of Tyler Naquin, Jose Ramirez, Rajai Davis and Lonnie Chisenhall. The Blue Jays are pretty set in the outfield with Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista (who could return from the DL as early as Monday), so Upton doesn’t really have a regular spot. Toronto could use Edwin Encarnacion more regularly at first to get Upton into left field and Saunders at DH, depending on matchups.
Cashner, meanwhile, has been linked to several teams in need of rotation help. The O’s don’t have a terribly deep minor league system, and while Cashner wouldn’t necessarily command top-tier prospects in return, it’s still possible Baltimore could be outbid by another suitor (such as the Rangers) who simply have more quality minor leaguers to offer. Cashner fits as a big upgrade for the Orioles’ struggling pitching staff, and he also fits in Toronto given that Aaron Sanchez may yet be moved to the bullpen to control his innings.
- As for the Athletics and Reddick, there are other teams in the mix, too. Per John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group, the Royals and Giants are also taking a look. Of course, we also heard today (subsequent to Hickey’s report) that Kansas City may instead head in a different direction.
- We’ve heard plenty of chatter on Melvin Upton tonight, after Olney suggested earlier today that he could be a fit for the Giants. Whether or not Upton is the target — or, as just noted, Reddick — it seems that San Francisco is once again leaning toward adding another outfielder. Hunter Pence’s return hasn’t been quite as smooth as might’ve been hoped, and the remaining primary mix — Angel Pagan, Denard Span, and Gregor Blanco — hasn’t been terribly productive, though Pagan has had a solid bounceback campaign. On the other hand, both Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson have hit at better than league-average rates when they’ve been up, so the club isn’t exactly hurting for options.