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The Troy Tulowitzki trade speculation has been plentiful over the past week, but Jon Morosi of FOX Sports asked Rockies owner Dick Monfort about the rumors at this week’s owners meetings (Twitter link) and was told, “We’re not trying to trade him. There’s no story there.” Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, couldn’t even get that level of an answer out of Monfort last week, as Rosenthal recently wrote that Monfort quickly hung up the phone when asked about the Tulowitzki trade scenario. Many, including Rosenthal, have written that the belief is that Monfort himself, not GM Jeff Bridich or Tulowitzki, is in control of whether or not the shortstop is traded. Monfort has a history of reluctance in trading veterans; a report from hall of fame journalist Peter Gammons last summer indicated that Monfort vetoed a trade of Jorge De La Rosa for highly touted prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. De La Rosa was signed to a two-year extension shortly thereafter.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- Travis Ishikawa is nearing a return from the disabled list, and his impending activation creates a potentially uncomfortable roster crunch for the Giants, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. The Giants will have to either trim a member of their bullpen or cut a bench player to activate Ishikawa, neither of which is a desirable outcome for the club, Haft continues. Ishikawa is aware that with Brandon Belt and Nori Aoki playing well, at-bats with the big league club could be few and far between, but he’s ok with a reduced role. “If I’m not going to be an everyday guy, I want to be the best pinch-hitter that I can be,” Ishikawa said. To this point, the veteran first baseman/outfielder said he hasn’t received any indication from the club as to what their decision will be.
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles speculates that the Dodgers‘ glut of infielders could be leveraged in trades to address the starting rotation. Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy are already out for the season, and as Saxon notes, Friedman told reporters (including MLBTR’s Zach Links) that an excess of good players can benefit a team by making trades easier to facilitate. Saxon quotes Friedman as saying, “…if we can add an arm, that would certainly be helpful.” I’d add that the Dodgers’ rotation is currently also banking on the injury-prone Brett Anderson to remain healthy, further increasing the possibility that the Dodgers may need to look outside the organization for rotation help. Of course, as Saxon notes, Brandon Beachy is on the mend from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be ready to return by June. Given that he’s returning from his second TJ operation, however, it would likely behoove the Dodgers to have depth beyond Beachy, Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger.
- Losing Ryu will make the Dodgers‘ efforts to acquire a starter significantly more difficult, opines Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. Rival clubs already knew that they had leverage over the Dodgers, given the team’s rotation holes, and with Ryu slated to go under the knife, the Dodgers’ need has only been magnified. The Dodgers need to add a reliable mid-rotation arm, but teams can afford to demand a more premium asking price, Dilbeck feels, knowing that the Dodgers aren’t likely to be able to get by for the rest of the season with Anderson, Beachy, Bolsinger and Frias supporting Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
- For those who didn’t see earlier, the Rockies made the somewhat surprising decision to option Drew Stubbs, who has five-plus years of Major League service, to Triple-A. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd took a look at the situation in more detail.
Hector Olivera is Los Angeles’ newest star, but he easily could have wound up elsewhere given the widespread interest clubs had in him. On a conference call Tuesday evening, I asked the infielder how many teams he had serious conversations with and whether he was close to signing with any of them.
“There were five teams that had interest in me [including] San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami,” Olivera said through a translator. “But, in the end, I decided to sign with the Dodgers because I know that this is a great organization.”
Hours ago, team president Andrew Friedman told reporters that he is open to different positions for Olivera, who is said to have the ability to play second base, third base, and the corner outfield. It appears that Olivera and Friedman are in agreement.
“My whole career I played second base, but I don’t think I’m in the position to decide where I should play or to say what my preference is,” said the Cuban star when asked what position he is most comfortable playing. “Wherever they put me, I’m going to give my best…Wherever they put me, they’ll see results.”
Friedman was unwilling to put a timetable on Olivera’s Major League debut, but the player doesn’t think it’ll take all that long. The second baseman told reporters that he’ll probably need “three or four weeks” to get ready before making the leap to L.A. As he prepares to make the biggest transition of his professional career, he’ll do so unencumbered by any elbow trouble. For weeks, it has been reported that Olivera was dealing with an issue in his arm, rumored to be a a slight UCL tear in his right elbow.
“I don’t know where that rumor came from. I know that there was a little bit of inflammation in my forearm…It was just fatigue in the muscle, but it wasn’t a serious problem and I don’t know where that rumor started.”
The Giants have officially announced on Twitter they have designated right-hander Erik Cordier for assignment after reinstating him from the disabled list. Cordier opened the season on the DL with a right forearm strain and was sent out on a rehabilitation assignment April 25th. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, who first tweeted news of the DFA, notes the Giants were forced into the move because Cordier is out of options and his rehab assignment had finished.
The 29-year-old made his MLB debut last September with San Francisco after a decade toiling in the minors for the Giants, Pirates, Braves, and Royals (who made him their second round selection in the 2004 draft – one pick ahead of Hunter Pence and two before Dustin Pedroia). Cordier, whose fastball can reach triple-digits, made seven relief appearances during the Giants’ Wild Card run posting a 9-to-2 K/BB ratio while allowing one earned run in six innings. That September stint followed a strong Triple-A campaign in which he compiled a 3.59 ERA, 11.6 K/9, 5.3 BB/9 in 52 2/3 innings of relief over 47 outings.
During his 12-game rehab assignment, Cordier was solid with a 20-to-8 K/BB ratio in 12 innings out the bullpen surrendering only two earned runs. Cordier came to the Giants in November 2013 signing a Major League contract with no MLB experience after becoming a six-year minor league free agent and was featured in a January 2014 post by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes examining that trend.
The Giants now have ten days to either trade, release, or outright Cordier to the minor leagues.
Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.
- Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
- While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.
Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.
Here are some more injury notes from around the game:
- Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
- The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
- The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
- Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.
The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.
Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…
- The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
- Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
- Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
- Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
- Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
- It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
- The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
- In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexi Amarista | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Correa | Chicago Cubs | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Didi Gregorius | Hector Rondon | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Juan Uribe | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Noah Syndergaard | Oakland Athletics | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Troy Tulowitzki | Wilmer Flores | Yunel Escobar
Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles was forced to exit Wednesday evening’s start against the Angels after taking an Albert Pujols line drive off his pitching hand. Twitter reactions indicated that Lyles’ hand became visibly swollen in nearly instantaneous fashion (image via Vic Lombardi of CBS Denver on Twitter). Clearly, the struggling Rockies can ill afford to lose a reliable rotation arm such as Lyles for a significant amount of time. To date, the 24-year-old Lyles has a 4.30 ERA with a somewhat troublesome 21-to-17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings with the Rockies. He’s notched a characteristically strong 49.6 percent ground-ball rate as well. A serious injury would mark the second consecutive season in which a freak injury shelved Lyles, as last year he suffered a fracture in his non-throwing hand while covering home plate.
Here’s more on the Rockies and the rest of the division in what is an injury-tinted look at the NL West…
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post joined Sandy Clough and Scott Hastings of 104.3 The Fan in Denver (audio link) to discuss recent news in which Troy Tulowitzki‘s agent publicly mentioned that he and his client would consider requesting a trade. Saunders touches on the previous unwillingness of Rockies owner Dick Monfort to part with veteran players. Saunders offers a very candid take on his view of the state of the Rockies and how the team has handled Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the past, specifically wondering if the latter of the two has much of any trade value left. (At present, it would seem to me that he has very little, due to the remaining three years on his contract, his injury history and lack of productivity to begin the season.)
- Josh Johnson‘s return from Tommy John surgery had recently been slowed by some soreness, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the oft-injured righty has resumed throwing. The Padres are optimistic that Johnson can soon begin a rehab assignment, Morosi adds. Johnson returned to the Padres on a one-year, $1MM contract this winter after missing the entire 2014 season due to a torn UCL.
- Via FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder (Twitter link), Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said in a recent TV interview that the club is targeting a June 4 return for fallen ace Patrick Corbin, who, like Johnson, underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season.
- Yasiel Puig has experienced a setback in his recovery from a strained hamstring and isn’t expected to join the Dodgers anytime soon, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. An MRI taken Monday revealed that Puig’s hamstring strain has not yet healed, and Mattingly said that it would be “at least a couple weeks” that Puig will remain on the shelf. It seems fair to believe that Puig may be sidelined into June.
- In other Dodgers injury news, righty reliever Pedro Baez was forced to leave tonight’s game after he felt something in his right pectoral muscle, tweets the L.A. News Group’s J.P. Hoornstra. Baez is slated to undergo an MRI tomorrow. He’s been a highly useful member of the Dodgers’ bullpen, entering play Wednesday with a 1.88 ERA and a 19-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings.
- Giants right-hander Matt Cain threw his first bullpen session since his elbow surgery yesterday, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll have another session on Friday and will need three to four in total before moving onto facing liver hitters, Shea adds.
The Giants have signed right-hander Tommy Hanson to a minor league contract, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). The former Braves and Angels right-hander is a client of the Legacy Agency.
Hanson, now 28, once ranked among baseball’s top pitching prospects and briefly looked the part of a budding ace in Atlanta prior to succumbing to injuries. Hanson finished third in the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year voting, and between the ’09-’10 campaigns, he worked to a stellar 3.16 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate just north of 41 percent.
Shoulder problems began to plague Hanson in the 2011 season, however, and a Spring Training car accident in 2012 also resulted in a concussion. The Braves would ultimately flip Hanson to the Angels in exchange for setup man/closer Jordan Walden after Hanson worked to a 4.48 ERA with significantly diminished velocity in 2012.
The 73 innings that Hanson tossed in an Angels uniform in 2013 were the last he’s thrown in the Majors. Since that time, he’s signed minor league pacts with the Rangers and White Sox but has not surfaced at the Major League level. He may have a chance to do just that with San Francisco, if he can prove healthy, as the Giants have been beset by injuries to this point in the 2015 season.
Matt Cain has spent the entire season on the disabled list to this point, and Jake Peavy has been sidelined as well. The Giants have primarily relied on Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Chris Heston in their rotation. Vogelsong, however, has posted just a 5.67 ERA, while Lincecum’s somewhat surprising success has come in spite of an average of 87.5 mph on his heater. The Giants, of course, also have swingman Yusmeiro Petit as a potential rotation reinforcement, should further need arise.
10:20am: Romero and the Giants have indeed agreed to a Minor League contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).
MAY 11, 7:09am: The Giants and Romero are making progress on a deal and could have something finalized as soon as today, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter). Romero would report to extended Spring Training with the Giants upon completion of the deal.
MAY 10: The Giants are close to signing former Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun tweets. The deal will, presumably, be of the minor-league variety. The Jays released the 30-year-old lefty last month. Romero is a client of the Legacy Agency.
Romero appeared to be blossoming into one of the game’s better young starters in 2011, when he posted a 2.92 ERA in 225 innings with Toronto. He struggled the following season, though, leading the American League in walks, then had elbow surgery and never returned to his previous form. He last appeared in the bigs in 2013. Lately, he’s battled knee injuries, and Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said his team decided to release Romero because they didn’t think he would recover in time to contribute this year. The Jays are on the hook for the remainder of Romero’s $7.5MM 2015 salary, plus a $600K buyout.
The Padres could be facing an extended absence for first baseman Yonder Alonso following a shoulder injury sustained in last night’s contest, reports MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. Alonso is slated to have an MRI today after jamming his shoulder while diving to field a grounder. The 28-year-old was already scheduled for an x-ray on the shoulder today as well, Bloom notes, having been hit by a pitch there over the weekend — an incident which led to soreness that cost him two games in this week’s series against the Giants. Losing Alonso would be a difficult setback for the Padres for a number of reasons. The former top prospect is hitting well this season, with a .333/.427/.437 batting line in 103 plate appearances. He’s also the only true first baseman on the 25-man roster, and he’s been the most productive left-handed bat on an exceptionally right-leaning Padres roster.
In other news from the NL West…
- The D-Backs made no promises to Jarrod Saltalamacchia upon signing him to a Minor League deal, writes Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. In fact, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa tells Buchanan that the team wouldn’t have signed Saltalamacchia had he and agent Jim Munsey insisted on being added to the 25-man roster. The club has received virtually no offense from Tuffy Gosewisch thus far — though Gosewisch did respond to Salty’s signing by lacing three doubles on Thursday — but manager Chip Hale said they knew they’d likely be sacrificing some offense for Gosewisch’s glove. The D-Backs were hoping to have more offense from the rest of the order, making the need for production from catcher a bit less glaring. “It depends on how much our shortstop hits, how much our second baseman hits,” said Hale. “You can’t have it be really tough on you after the fifth hitter.”
- Hunter Pence has yet to play in the second season of his five-year, $90MM contract with the Giants, but the right fielder is set to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Pence is in line for a relatively long rehab assignment, possibly as many as 10 games according to Schulman, in order to make up some of the lost ground from missing Spring Training. Justin Maxwell and Gregor Blanco have shouldered the load in Pence’s absence, but the Giants’ collective .229/.305/.400 line from right fielders clearly isn’t equal to what Pence can provide.
- Dodgers righty Brandon Beachy is traveling with the Dodgers and working with VP of medical services Stan Conte and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on changing his mechanics, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. The changes, made in an effort to prevent further elbow injury once he’s healed from his second Tommy John surgery, were Beachy’s idea. Conte immediately supported the pitcher’s interest in pitching mechanics and biomechanics. Beachy admitted that he’s having trouble commanding his pitches thus far in bullpen sessions, perhaps in part due to the new mechanics. While he has plenty of time to iron out the kinks, reduced control would be a trade-off Beachy would happily make if it meant avoiding another surgery. “I think I’d rather be less effective and be able to stay healthy for longer than one or two months.”