San Diego Padres Rumors
With one-fourth of the season in the books, let's have a look around some injury situations and how they might impact the developing trade market.
- The Cardinals and Yankees provide an interesting case study as we enter the second quarter of the season. Both have excellent records and lead their division. Both have sizeable payrolls as well as large portions of those payrolls sitting idle on the DL. Both have had to insert players onto their active roster that they did not anticipate. But, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch well explains, the source of those substitute bodies has been drastically different. While the Yankees spent well over $20MM to bring in players like Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells -- all of whom are 34 or older -- the Cards reached into their minor league system. Remarkably, St. Louis has plugged all of its holes with players making league minimum, including young pitchers John Gast, Shelby Miller, and Seth Maness.
- The Goold piece also includes some valuable insight from GM John Mozeliak. According to Mozeliak, amongst the team's Double-A and Triple-A rosters, "there is almost at any one position, if we needed help at the big leagues, someone we could call on from there." He acknowledges that such cheap, youthful depth cannot always be achieved, and says the team is prepared to pursue other markets as necessary. "I don't want us to go down the path where we feel like we've created this functional model and don't utilize a really robust pro scouting model that makes sure we understand the trade market and understand the free agent market. We can't be scared of those." Yet, by looking internally first, the team has managed to retain salary flexibility to add outside impact down the line. "This organization's way now of staying healthy is not being tied to those outside markets to fill needs," says Mozeliak. "Having some young players step up like they are now gives us additional flexibility when we're going to need it."
- The Cards' internal depth will once again be put to use with starter Jaime Garcia now staring at a strong possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery, writes Goold. Even with fellow starter Jake Westbrook also stuck on the DL, the team has multiple options among its current relief corps and Triple-A rotation that make a look outside the organization unlikely. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Garcia's replacement(s) can match his strong start to the year. He had thrown 55 1/3 innings of 3.58 ERA baseball to open the season. Veteran starter Chris Carpenter is increasingly shaping up as a viable mid-season option for the club. But any setback in his surprising recovery, or hiccups among the team's young hurlers, could lead St. Louis to consider eventually utilizing some of its salary reserves and young minor league depth in a trade.
- The Braves are another National League contender dealing with injured arms. As Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder writes, Eric O'Flaherty appears likely to join fellow setup man Jonny Venters as a season-ending Tommy John patient. While the team seems likely to utilize internal options to fill in for the present, the loss of its two late-inning lefties leaves the team with just one southpaw in the pen, Luis Avilan. Ultimately, then, Atlanta could be forced to explore the trade market to re-establish its depth as the season wears on.
- Teams shopping for starters at the trade deadline appear likely to find a limited supply of attractive arms, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Two Cubs pitchers headline the developing market, with Scott Feldman shaping up as the surprise top option at the moment. (Matt Garza, of course, will begin his potential audition on Tuesday.) In addition to several other well-documented trade candidates in Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and the Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, Olney pegs the Padres' Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez as likely available. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon of the Athletics and Cliff Lee of the Phillies could also be dealt, writes Olney, with the A's having other internal options and the Phils still weighing how to proceed with their excellent (but expensive) 35-year-old co-ace.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.
- The Padres signed outfielder Mike Wilson to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com's transactions page. The former Mariners prospect hit .239/.343/.452 for Triple-A Tacoma last year. He has 27 career big-league at bats.
- The Braves have signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel to a minor-league deal, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Beimel missed 2012 due to injury. He pitched 25 1/3 innings for the Pirates in 2011, posting a 5.33 ERA with 6.04 K/9 and 3.20 BB/9.
- The Twins will sign outfielder Jordan Parraz and assign him to Double-A, MLBTR has learned. Parraz, 28, hit .141/.230/.321 in 78 at bats for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate this season.
- The Marlins have signed infielder Gil Velazquez, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports (on Twitter). Velazquez, 33, has a career .245/.307/.327 line in the minors. He played in the Yankees' farm system earlier in 2013 before being released.
- The Yankees have signed third baseman Josh Bell to a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of CLNSRadio.com reports. Bell has hit .195/.223/.265 in 272 career big-league at bats. He received 55 at bats for the White Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte in 2013 before being released.
Let's take a look around the National League ...
- Pitcher Tim Stauffer was called up by the Padres, meaning that the team will not risk losing him to a June 1 opt-out clause, notes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Returning for the second time in his career from major arm surgery, Stauffer was thrown right into the fire and worked 1 2/3 effective innings last night against the Nationals.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. believes his club has the pieces in place to be much better offensively and is not looking for outside help at the moment, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "I don't see us making any trades any time soon," Amaro said. "There's too many teams that are in it, not enough teams that are out of it." Amaro is preaching patience with struggling hitters like Delmon Young and Ryan Howard: "Right now we have to be patient to see if Delmon starts swinging it. And Ryan [Howard] is going to have to start swinging it. If those guys do then we'll be OK. If they don't we'll have to figure out what we're going to do." As Salisbury notes, the Phillies rank near the bottom of baseball in most major offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.304, 25th); OPS (.683, 26th); and runs scored (3.61, 27th).
- Prospective free agent Matt Garza will make his season debut for the Cubs this Tuesday, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Garza, who last checked in at eighth on Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, will be an interesting player to watch over the coming weeks. Depending upon his performance and the intentions of the Cubs, he could be an extension candidate, prime mid-season trade bait, and/or a major 2014 free agent target.
- To make room in the rotation for Garza, Miles further notes, the Cubs will bump Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen. The right-hander, who is in the first half of a two-year, $10MM deal with the Cubs, has struggled since a promising start to the 2013 campaign. After allowing just five earned runs and logging 29 1/3 innings in his first four starts, Villanueva has conceded eighteen earned runs and lasted only 23 1/3 innings over his next four outings. Pitching from the pen, Villanueva is much less likely to profile as a potential trade candidate for the Cubs.
- In spite of a nice 2012 season in which he slashed .263/.299/.504 and hit 20 home runs over 398 plate appearances for the Mets, outfielder Scott Hairston says that the team never formally offered him a contract this offseason. As Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports, Hairston felt that New York "wanted to go in a different direction," leading him to look elsewhere for a multi-year deal and regular playing time. He ultimately landed a two-year deal with the Cubs that guarantees him $5MM. Now, both player and team seem to be regretting how things turned out: the Mets outfield has been terrible, and Hairston has struggled in limited action for Chicago with a .125/.154/.354 line over just 52 plate appearances.
There's been plenty of speculation that the Padres will trade Chase Headley this July after he stated his unwillingness to negotiate an extension mid-season, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the team still has no intentions of moving him.
Majority owner Ron Fowler went on record earlier this month as saying that the team wanted to offer Headley a multiyear contract that would be the largest in franchise history, which seemed to take the 28-year-old by surprise. Headley stated that he told the team before the season that he didn't want to negotiate once the 2013 campaign commenced, and he's stuck by that.
Heyman reports that it's believed the Padres preferred to get something done this offseason without crossing the $100MM barrier. It's believed that ownership and GM Josh Byrnes were hoping for something in the five-year, $75MM range.
Earlier in May, when the extension rumors began, I speculated that a five-year, $85MM deal would work for both sides. However, agents not involved in the negotiations told Heyman that Ryan Zimmerman's six-year, $100MM contract would likely have to be a baseline for a Headley extension. In spite of that speculation, Byrnes repeated that the team's preference is to sign him long-term, adding:
"We can't wait forever. We have a group that's trying to take it to the next level. And that's what we're hoping to do.''
Byrnes conceded that many teams have made an attempt to acquire Headley over the past year, with Heyman noting that the Pirates made "an especially spirited" effort. Heyman also adds that the Indians, Diamondbacks and and Dodgers tried to a lesser extent and came up short. Byrnes added that since those trade efforts took place, the Padres have only come to value Headley even more.
Last month, a poll showed that MLBTR readers were evenly divided on the issue, with 51 percent feeling he'd be traded and 49 percent feeling he would sign an extension.
Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that the Padres have selected the contract of Tim Stauffer and designated right-hander Thad Weber for assignment (Twitter link). In a related move, Carlos Quentin has been placed on the paternity list.
The 28-year-old Weber allowed just two runs in nine innings for the Friars this season, though he walked five and struck out only six in that time. The Padres claimed him off waivers from the Tigers last August. Weber has just 13 innings of big league experience and averages 89.8 mph on his fastball. He does have a stellar 68.2 percent ground-ball rate in that admittedly tiny sample.
Stauffer, 30, was a key member of the Padres' pitching staff from 2009-11. After a strong year-plus in the bullpen, he shifted to the rotation for the end of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 campaign. He made one start in 2012 before elbow surgery cut his season short. From 2009-12, the former No. 4 overall pick in the draft had a 3.27 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 346 1/3 innings of work.
Stauffer signed a minor league contract this offseason after being waiver in the fall. His deal had an opt-out clause around June 1, so the Padres were nearing a decision on him. Stauffer had a 3.16 ERA through 42 2/3 innings at Triple-A Tucson this season.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- Astros pitcher Philip Humber has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, according to Chris Cotillo of CLNSRadio.com (via Twitter). MLBTR has learned that the right-hander has until Friday to accept the assignment or elect free agency. Humber was designated for assignment earlier this week after posting a 9.59 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in seven starts and two relief appearances.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets that the Padres have requested unconditional release waivers on Fautino De Los Santos, confirming an earlier tweet from Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio. De Los Santos, 27, was designated for assignment over the weekend. He made only two appearances for Triple-A Tucson this season due to an injury but has a 4.21 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings at the Major League level -- all coming with the A's. His release will become official on Thursday.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Scott Richmond to a minor league contract, according to Jeff Sullivan of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). The 33-year-old Canadian hurler has a 5.27 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 169 big league innings for the Blue Jays. Richmond, who was pitching in Korea prior to this signing, was on Team Canada's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He will report to extended Spring Training, according to Sullivan.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The new draft slotting system essentially allows teams to "trade down" with themselves, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron uses the Astros' selection of Carlos Correa last year as an example, stating that by saving money on the No. 1 overall pick and re-investing their draft pool later on Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz, the team employed the same philosophy that NFL and NBA teams do when they trade down: increase the quantity of good talent rather than focus on one elite player. Cameron adds that such a tactic is highly risky, as the No. 1 overall slot has produced significantly more value (in terms of WAR) than even the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the draft, historically speaking. He does concede that in years without a consensus No. 1 talent, the strategy can make a lot of sense. Here are Wednesday's draft-related tidbits...
- The Marlins are likely to focus on college players early on, specifically position players, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the Fish will likely select San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant or UNC third baseman Colin Moran if either is available at No. 6. If both are gone, they could shift to Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley and target a bat later on.
- The Rockies are also eyeing Kris Bryant at the No. 3 spot, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Bryant, regarded as the most powerful bat in the draft, has been popping up in rumors more and more as the draft nears. Some feel he has No. 1 overall potential.
- After focusing heavily on high school pitching in last year's draft, the Padres are likely to focus on bats, assistant GM of player personnel Chad MacDonald tells Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Particularly, the Friars will be looking for middle infield help.
- MacDonald has scouted prep right-hander Kohl Stewart, and the Padres are enamored with his "electric" talent, but he's very unlikely to be on the board by the No. 13 selection. "He's the best high school arm in the country," said MacDonald.
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. ... Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.
The July 2nd international signing period is less than two months away. Every team had a $2.9MM bonus pool for 2012-13, but as Baseball America's Ben Badler outlined here, the 2013-14 pools "will be tiered based on reverse order of 2012 major league winning percentage." The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies each have at least $4.2MM to spend, plus teams can trade for additional money. The Twins, Indians, Marlins, and Red Sox each have more than $3MM to spend, while the Royals and Blue Jays are close to that figure. Badler has the latest on ten prospects who are expected to sign for at least $1MM apiece.
- The highest bonus is likely to go to Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, potentially $2.6-2.8MM with the Cubs as the "heavy favorite." The Cubs are also the frontrunners to sign one of the top Venezuelan players, shortstop Gleyber Torres.
- Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers "might be the best hitter on the international market," writes Badler. He's the primary target of the Red Sox. Another contender for the best bat is third baseman Luis Encarnacion, who is most likely to sign with the Phillies.
- The Yankees are the most likely suitor for Leonardo Molina, perhaps the best athlete in the class. He can sign when he turns 16 on August 1st. The Yankees' preliminary bonus pool is reportedly $1,877,900.
- The biggest raw power belongs to Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata, who has been connected to the White Sox and Padres.
- Badler's article has much more information, so be sure to give it a click and a read.
When players with significant Major League experience settle for minor league contracts, it's commonplace for these deals to contain opt-out clauses. If the player hasn't been added to the 25-man roster by a certain point, he can exercise the clause and seek employment with another organization. Such clauses aren't always made publicly available, but here's a list of some of the pitchers who have known opt-out dates that are nearing...
- Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees: Wang can opt out of his contract on May 31. In five starts spanning 31 2/3 innings at Triple-A thus far, the 33-year-old has a 2.84 ERA, 4.3 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. The Yankees have said they don't feel Wang's minor league success will translate to the Majors just yet, as they want him to rely more on his breaking pitches than just his sinker.
- Tim Stauffer, Padres: Stauffer can opt out of his deal "around June 1," according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He appeared in just one game for San Diego before needing season-ending surgery but posted a 3.24 ERA in 341 1/3 innings for the Friars from 2009-11. So far in Triple-A, the 30-year-old has a 3.16 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 42 2/3 innings.
- Sean O'Sullivan, Padres: Currently Stauffer's rotation-mate, O'Sullivan has the same opt-out clause in his contract (near June 1) despite being just 25 years of age. O'Sullivan has a 4.19 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 43 innings for Triple-A Tucson. He's had a rough time in the Majors, however, as evidenced by his 6.13 ERA in 193 2/3 big league innings.
- Jeremy Bonderman, Mariners: Bonderman's opt-out date is June 1, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Still just 30 years of age, Bonderman has been solid for Triple-A Tacoma. He's pitched to a 3.70 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in eight starts spanning 48 2/3 innings. Olney feels Bonderman will opt out if he's not called up in the next couple of weeks, and I'm inclined to agree.
- Jair Jurrjens, Orioles: Jurrjens has an opt-out date of June 15. After a drastic fall from grace in the Braves organization, the 27-year-old has looked sharp at Triple-A Norfolk in 2013. He's compiled a 2.62 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings.
All of the pitchers listed here have pitched well enough that they could make a case for helping a Major League team with a struggling rotation. It seems likely that by mid-June, each could force his way onto a Major League roster, even if it's with a new organization. If you see a notable omission with a known opt-out date, speak up in the comments section.