San Diego Padres Rumors
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players -- outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz -- each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.
Padres fans got some welcome news this evening, as it was announced that Time Warner Cable will begin airing Padres games for the coming season, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs has explained, the failure of Time Warner (and, at the time, AT&T U-verse and DISH Network) to agree to the Fox Sports San Diego subscriber fee not only left many fans without access to games, but put a significant dent in the Friars' expected annual payout. Here's more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:
- When the Padres inked reliever Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $14MM deal earlier in the off-season, it raised an immediate question whether he or incumbent Huston Street would close. As Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, both back-end arms are content with the situation and their roles. "[Street] is going to shut the door," said Benoit, "and I'm going to try to give him as many games with leads as I can." For his part, Street -- whose deal includes a $7MM club option for 2015 -- says that he understands the business side of things and hopes only for success for his new teammate. "It's a smart move on the Padres' part," he said. "It gives them options for 2015. It gives them options if I go down. It gives them options if I struggle."
- After a breakout campaign last year put him in position for a nice payday as a Super Two, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has yet to reach agreement with his club on a price for his 2014 season. The sides' filing figures ($3.6MM against $2.05MM) are the furthest apart in relative terms among remaining arbitration cases. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, however, it remains likely that a hearing will be avoided, as team and player both recently expressed an expectation that a settlement will be forthcoming.
- Despite adding another rotation arm in Bronson Arroyo, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that top prospect Archie Bradley can still earn a starting spot out of camp, reports FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder. "We want to get out of the gate quick," said Towers. "I've said from the beginning, with Archie, it's not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he's ready coming out of the spring and we're a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he's going to be there." Putting the 21-year-old on the MLB roster for Opening Day would mean giving up the ability to extend team control for an extra season, but Towers' statement indicates that is still a real possibility. (On the other hand, given that factor and Bradley's limited seasoning, it will probably be a tall order for him to unseat one of the expected five as a practical matter.) Fellow righty Randall Delgado would likely join the bullpen if he does not earn a turn in the rotation, said Towers, since he is out of options.
- The Arroyo signing has earned mixed reviews; as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth opined, for example, the $23.5MM guarantee that he received is a debatable investment in a market that promised Paul Maholm just $1.5MM. One under-the-radar issue with Arroyo, argues Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, is that his pronounced struggles against lefties have been masked somewhat by pitching in a division (the National League Central) that has not featured the volume of left-handed bats to take full advantage of the platoon split. In particular, Cameron says, should the Diamondbacks reach the post-season, Arroyo's achilles heel could significantly impair his usefulness to his new club.
Let's take a look at the latest from the AL and NL West:
- Josh Reddick was one notable absence at the Athletics' FanFest today, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Reddick is arbitration eligible and has yet to agree to a deal, but such players still attend team events, according to Slusser. When asked about Reddick's case, GM Billy Beane indicated a lack of concern, commenting, "these things always get done." The outfielder is projected to earn $2.2MM in his first trip through the abritration process by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Padres starter Josh Johnson tells Corey Brock of MLB.com that he's already been able to throw three bullpen sessions since undergoing surgery in October to remove loose bodies in his right elbow. Club management has informed Johnson, however, that he may have a light workload in Spring Training to ensure that he's fully healthy for the start of the season.
- Catcher Yasmani Grandal told attendees at the Padres' FanFest today that he's well ahead of schedule in his rehab from ACL surgery, and aims to start the season opener behind the plate for San Diego. Starting on Opening Day would put him back on the field less than seven months after the surgery, which can require close to a year of recovery time, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego.
- Andrew Cashner was also in attendance at FanFest today and offered his thoughts after attending his own arbitration hearing earlier this week, reports Brock. "I thought it was an interesting process," the starter commented. "All you ever really know is the stuff on the field. It was interesting hearing both sides." Cashner won his case after filing for $2.4MM, just $125K more than the Padres' offer of $2.275MM. The difference was the smallest among all arbitration filings this year.
Starting pitcher Andrew Cashner has won his arbitration case against the Padres, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (via Twitter). Cashner will make $2.4MM in 2014. The Padres had offered $2.275MM, so the difference between the two figures was relatively small, but Cashner's victory should still help him bump his salary up slightly in future seasons. Cashner is represented by CAA Sports.
2014 is Cashner's first year of arbitration eligibility, and he's eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. The righty posted a 3.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 175 innings for the Padres in 2013.
Current Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein covered a range of subjects in a fascinating interview on WEEI's Hot Stove Show on Thursday (audio link; transcript). In addition to discussing the two clubs he has headed from a baseball ops perspective, Epstein emphasized the impact of changes to the CBA. The new system has both reduced teams' abilities to reap draft picks from outgoing free agents, Epstein said, and made it difficult to pay for hard-to-sign talent in later draft rounds. Here's more from around the league, including other notable talking points from Epstein:
- Discussing his current club's reported pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, Epstein noted that the pitcher likely cost the Yankees more in real terms than the team's $175MM contract and release fee commitment, once the collective bargaining tax is accounted for. The signing, said Epstein, "reflects the dynamic that there are many, many teams with lots and lots of dollars to spend and very few places to spend them, very few players who represent sound investments for the dollars."
- "There are lots of teams demanding talented, prime-age players, and supply is really a trickle," Epstein continued. "Fewer and fewer players of that ilk are reaching free agency. ... You're going to see these prices that cause people to shake heads. ... Because of the TV deals, the teams that have them have a lot of money and not a lot of attractive players to spend the money on." Indeed, as I explored earlier tonight, some teams' desires to use free cash to enhance the value of their player assets (i.e., control and contract rights) could result in increasingly robust contracts for some younger players that remain years away from free agency.
- One player that seems suitable for an attractive, long-term investment is Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics. Fresh on the heels of today's extension of teammate Coco Crisp, Cespedes said that he, too, hopes to ink a new pact, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 28-year-old slugger, who still has two years remaining on the deal he signed out of Cuba, said that he hopes to play for the A's for his entire career. Of course, given his relative youth, upside, and high profile, Cespedes figures to command a much higher price than the $22.75MM over two years just given to Crisp. It remains to be seen whether the A's will be willing to dangle a sufficient guarantee to get a deal done.
- Turning back to the aforementioned Tanaka, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio today (via ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand) that the club views its new acquisition as "a really solid, consistent number three starter." Cashman noted that, though the club scouted Tanaka extensively, uncertainty remains as to how he will transition to the big leagues. "If we get more than that," Cashman said, "all the better. He's got a great deal of ability."
- Two arbitration hearings took place today, after none occurred last year. Andrew Cashner of the Padres and Vinnie Pestano of the Indians both made their cases to their respective panels. Cashner and the Padres are quite close in filing numbers ($2.4MM against $2.275MM), while Pestano ($1.45MM) and the Indians ($975K) left a larger absolute and relative sum to chance.
- Glancing in at MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, 16 cases remain unsettled as hearings begin to take place. By my count, just over $23MM remains at stake between the player filings ($79.325MM total) and team counters ($56.15MM). Only the Indians, with Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, and Josh Tomlin (in addition to Pestano), have more than one outstanding arbitration case.
Padres southpaw starter Cory Luebke will not be a rotation option for San Diego after an MRI found a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock. After missing most of 2012 and all of last year as he rehabbed from a prior Tommy John surgery, Luebke appears headed for a second procedure.
Luebke had been expected to play a major role in the team's rotation plans for the coming season. GM Josh Byrnes expressed dismay at the "mystery" of Luebke's elbow issues. Though the Friars still have plenty of options to take the ball every fifth day, the injury certainly takes away one layer of security (and one possible source of some upside for the club). Though the club's depth means that an immediate addition is not an obvious necessity, the injury certainly has an impact on San Diego's current and future rotation plans.
Through 55 career appearances, 25 of them starts, Luebke has recorded 188 1/3 innings of 3.25 ERA ball, including 9.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Luebke is still under contract for this season and next under the three-year, $12MM extension he signed before the 2012 year. The Padres hold club options for the 2016-17 season, though it is premature to consider what the decision will look like on those at this point.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune will continue his weekly reader chats and a few other ongoing projects for the paper, but otherwise, Center is retiring after a 47-year career. All the best wishes to a veteran baseball scribe whose name has regularly appeared on MLB Trade Rumors over the years. Here are a few Padres-related hot stove notes and more from Center's latest online chat with fans...
- Andrew Cashner and the Padres are just $125K apart on the price of Cashner's 2014 contract (the righty asked for $2.4MM, the team offered $2.275MM) and as of today, the two sides are set to go to an arbitration hearing. Center figurs the reason Cashner and the team couldn't come to an agreement over such a relatively small gap is because the two sides are working on a long-term contract. Cashner, 27, has two more years of arbitration eligibility left after this offseason and is scheduled for free agency following the 2016 season. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR's Steve Adams during the GM Meetings last November that a Cashner extension was "certainly a possibility" for the team this offseason.
- The Padres are set for starting pitching and aren't likely to make a play for Bronson Arroyo, even though Center "imagine[s] his price is dropping rapidly."
- The Padres signed Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $15.5MM deal this offseason, the type of large expenditure on a reliever who isn't expected to close (if Huston Street remains healthy) that you wouldn't expect from a smaller-market team like San Diego. Center likes the move, however, feeling it was the type of move a contender makes. Center feels the bullpen "could push the Padres over the top" in 2014.
- The crowded Padres bullpen, however, will make it harder for left-hander Patrick Schuster to make the team. Schuster was the first pick of this year's Rule 5 draft, selected by the Astros off the Diamondbacks' roster, and Houston then dealt Schuster to the Padres to complete the Anthony Bass trade. As per the Rule 5 regulations, Schuster must remain on the Padres' Major League roster all season, or else San Diego must offer him back to Arizona for $25K (or work out a trade with the D'Backs).
More teams are employing platoons as baseball's balance of power has shifted toward pitchers, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes. Elias Sports Bureau data show that hitters had a favorable matchup 56 percent of the time in 2013, the highest rate recorded since 1995. Heading into 2014, the A's again look to field one of baseball's most platooned lineups, as they could employ the strategy at no less than four positions. Here's a quick look around baseball's Western divisions:
- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp won't try to accelerate his return from this offseason's ankle surgery, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Kemp says he rushed the rehab process for injuries last season, which may have been a factor in his 2013 struggles. The star's ankle injury, a fracture of the weight-bearing talus bone, can be "career-threatening," according to Gurnick.
- Several key Padres players are likely to see reduced workloads in Spring Training as the club aims to start 2014 healthy, U-T San Diego's Bill Center writes. He cites Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin -- all of whom missed time in 2013 due to injuries -- as players that may be affected.
9:41am: Sipp's deal includes opt-out dates of March 26 and June 1, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets.
8:31am: The Padres have agreed to terms with lefty reliever Tony Sipp on a minor-league deal. Sipp, 30, posted a 4.78 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2013. The Diamondbacks designated him for assignment in November. He had pitched the previous four seasons for the Indians before heading to Arizona in the three-team Shin-Soo Choo deal.
In addition to Sipp, the Padres have recently added Alex Torres (via a trade with the Rays) and Patrick Schuster (via the Rule 5 Draft) as potential lefty bullpen options. GM Josh Byrnes said in November that the Padres would attempt to add lefty relievers this offseason.
The Padres are closing on a minor league deal with southpaw reliever Tony Sipp, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). Yesterday, it was reported that Sipp, a Bledsoe Brothers client, was nearing a deal with an unknown club.
The 30-year-old Sipp has a career 3.84 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 and a 29.9 percent ground-ball rate. After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Indians, Sipp was included in the three-team deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs to the Indians and Didi Gregorius to the D-Backs.
In his lone season with the Snakes, he struggled to a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. Sipp averaged more than five walks per nine innings last season and posted a minuscule 26 percent ground-ball rate, but he also whiffed 10 hitters per nine innings. Should Sipp make the team, his fly-ball tendencies would play significantly better in San Diego's Petco Park than they did in Arizona's Chase Field.
Padres GM Josh Byrnes said left-handed relief was a priority back at the GM Meetings in November, and he's since added Alex Torres in a trade with the Rays and Patrick Schuster via the Rule 5 Draft (acquiring him in a trade from the Astros). Sipp would further add to that depth.