San Diego Padres Rumors
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.
- The Phillies have signed infielder Tommy Mendonca, Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio notes (on Twitter). Mendonca, a former second-round pick by the Rangers, had been playing in the Atlantic League. The 25-year-old has a career line of .260/.322/.435.
- The Padres have signed pitcher Trevor Holder, according to MLB.com's transactions page. Holder, 26, was a third-round pick by the Nationals in 2009. He made seven appearances at Double-A Harrisburg this season, pitching 18 2/3 innings with a 2.89 ERA, 6.27 K/9 and 1.93 BB/9. The Nationals released him earlier in the week.
- The Braves have signed lefty reliever Juan Cedeno to a minor-league contract, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Cedeno, 29, pitched for Triple-A Scranton in the Yankees organization in 2012, posting a 2.81 ERA with 8.02 K/9 and 2.95 BB/9. He made ten appearances with Scranton in 2013 before being released.
Here's the latest news and notes from the National League:
- Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, is slated for one or two additional minor league rehab starts after an abbreviated outing yesterday, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Garza threw 66 pitches (40 for strikes) over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee allowing three hits and two walks. "He felt great and everything, but not real efficient," Cubs mangager Dale Sveum said. "Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning." Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets Garza is expected to throw 85-95 pitches in his next rehab start, which will come next week for Triple-A Iowa.
- Pirates second baseman Neil Walker is set to return from the disabled list tomorrow and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review doesn't expect utilityman John McDonald to be designated for assignment to create space on the 25-man roster. McDonald, hitting only .067/.176/.100 in 34 plate appearances this year, would have to clear waivers while infielder Jordy Mercer still has minor league options available. "I think the term general managers use is you want to maintain all of your assets," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't want to release somebody if another guy has options. We're mindful of that."
- Despite a slow start offensively, the Diamondbacks are already seeing dividends from their four-year, $40MM investment in Martin Prado, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Hummer.
- The Padres, who have the 13th overall pick in next month's amateur draft, aren't concerned that the perceived top players will be off the board when it comes their turn, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com. "There's probably more balance [in the Draft] than people give it credit for," said Chad MacDonald, vice president and general manager of player personnel, who will preside over the Padres' draft. "There are a lot of high school hitters out there. I think people are quick to grade a Draft." In addition to their area scouts and cross-checkers, the Padres have had GM Josh Byrnes, vice president/assistant GM AJ Hinch, and senior vice president Omar Minaya in the field scouting players.
Another day, another gem from a Cardinals starter. Adam Wainwright took a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings en route to a complete game, two-hit shutout in St. Louis' 3-0 victory over the Rockies. Wainwright's outing was a day after Shelby Miller's complete game one-hitter against Colorado, in the process tying a Major League record for most consecutive batters retired by one team against another. Between Eric Young's leadoff single on Friday and Todd Helton's fifth-inning walk against Wainwright today, the Rockies sent 40 batters to the plate without success.
Here's some news as we head towards a full slate of Mother's Day baseball...
- The Cardinals' pitching depth was one reason they were comfortable letting Kyle Lohse leave in the offseason, the latest case of the Cards saving money and still contending thanks to their constant supply of young talent, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “I would say it this way: you don’t want to have a situation where you can’t re-sign your best talent, long term, but there are times when you have to pick and choose where you want to invest it," St. Louis GM John Mozeliak said. "Our model has been, if possible, to have that flexibility within our payroll allocation without going too long and deep.”
- Paul Goldschmidt is hearing unanimous praise from scouts and is being compared to some of the game's elite hitters, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Goldschmidt took a .977 OPS into Saturday's game, and as Piecoro notes, the Diamondbacks' five-year, $32MM extension (with an option on a sixth year) with their first baseman is looking like a major bargain.
- Also from Piecoro, he hears from Justin Upton and Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers that neither side has hard feelings about the big trade that sent Upton to the Braves in January. It has particularly worked out for Upton, who is enjoying an MVP-caliber season for NL East-leading Atlanta.
- Padres backup catcher John Baker could be expendable once Yasmani Grandal returns from his PED suspension. Baker tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he enjoys playing with the Padres but is prepared for whatever happens.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
- Advanced statistics are taken with a grain of salt by many players, including several in the Rangers clubhouse, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Derek Lowe, for one, believes his unimpressive peripheral stats were part of the reason why it took him until March to find a contract with a team. Texas, unlike several Major League clubs, doesn't have a full-time statistical analysis department in their front office though the club uses sabermetrics as part of their player evaluation process.
The Padres announced that they have designated pitcher Fautino De Los Santos for assignment. The move creates roster space which will allow Double-A hurler Burch Smith to be called up to the varsity squad.
De Los Santos, 27, has 40 big league games to his credit with the A's where he posted a 4.21 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9. Over three seasons at the Triple-A level, the right-hander has a 4.65 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9. De Los Santos is no stranger to the waiver process and came to the Padres in February when he was cut loose by the Brewers.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves right here:
- The Padres signed outfielder Kalian Sams to a minor league contract yesterday, according to MLB.com's Transactions page. The Dutch outfielder ripped two homers tonight in his debut for Double-A San Antonio. Sams, 26, doesn't hit for average or get on base much but has loads of power, as evidenced by his career .215/.292/.443 batting line (which doesn't include today's homers). He spent 2007-12 in the Mariners organization but never reached a level higher than Double-A.
- The Twins have released outfielder Brandon Boggs from Triple-A Rochester, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. Boggs, who signed a minor league contract with the Twins last December, posted a meager batting line of .184/.292/.316 in 89 plate appearances with Rochester. Boggs last appeared in a MLB game in 2011 with the Brewers.
The Reds used only six starting pitchers last season -- an unheard of feat these days that serves as a testament to the quality and durability of their rotation. Todd Redmond was the only pitcher outside of the Reds' top five arms to make a start, and he made exactly one. Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Mat Latos combined to start the other 161 games. Each of those right-handers has been with the Reds organization since 2009 with the exception of Latos, who was acquired from the Padres in December 2011.
Latos never appeared on a Baseball America Top 100 list, but he wasted little time establishing himself as a front-line starter in San Diego. From 2010-11, he led the Padres staff by compiling 379 innings of 3.21 ERA ball with 8.9 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
Latos' name had scarcely appeared on the rumor mill prior to December 17, when Ken Rosenthal broke the news that he'd been traded to the Reds. Cincinnati wound up paying a hefty price for four years of Latos by dealing prospects Yonder Alonso (24 at the time), Yasmani Grandal (22) and Brad Boxberger (23) as well as starter Edinson Volquez to the Padres. Let's examine each player in the deal and see how this one looks today...
The Major League Side
- Mat Latos: Latos instantly became one of the Reds' top two starters alongside Johnny Cueto, and his first season didn't disappoint. Many questioned whether Latos, who is more of a fly-ball pitcher, could succeed in the confines of Great American Ball Park. Latos answered them by pitching to a 3.48 ERA in 209 1/3 innings. He whiffed 185 batters against just 64 walks and allowed homers at a league-average rate (1.07 HR/9). Latos was forced into action in Game 1 of the NLDS following an injury to Cueto and delivered four brilliant innings of relief, but he was unable to replicate that magic in his second appearance. So far this season, the former 11th round pick has a 1.83 ERA with 37 strikeouts and eight walks in 39 1/3 innings so far. He signed a two-year, $11.5MM contract in the offseason that bought out his first two years of arbitration. Assuming another successful two seasons, he'll likely earn well over $10MM in his final year of arbitration eligibility, although the Reds could pursue a long-term contract extension that would delay his free agency. Fangraphs pegs Latos' value to the Reds at 4.0 wins above replacement to this point.
- Yonder Alonso: Alonso was the No. 33 prospect in the game and the Reds' No. 3 prospect at the time of the deal, according to Baseball America. His first season with the Friars could be considered a disappointment by some due to his lack of power, but the former No. 7 overall pick was still an above-average bat (109 OPS+) thanks to a .278/.348/.393 batting line. He's already homered four times in 2013 after hitting just nine in 2012, so it seems that the alterations to Petco Park's dimensions and another year of experience have done the young slugger some good. Under team control through 2017, the Padres are counting on Alonso to be the first baseman for San Diego's next contending team. So much so, in fact, that they traded Anthony Rizzo less than a month after acquiring Alonso in the Latos deal.
- Yasmani Grandal: The No. 53 prospect in baseball and No. 4 in the Reds' system at the time of the deal (per BA), Grandal burst onto the scene as the Padres' everyday catcher last season. After raking to the tune of a .335/.443/.521 line in Triple-A, he hit .297/.394/.469 in 60 games for the Padres. That line would be impressive enough for any rookie, but it's particularly impressive for a catcher who spent half his time hitting at Petco Park. Of course, Grandal was slapped with a 50-game suspension this offseason due to an elevated testosterone level, so he has yet to join Alonso in the middle of the Pads' lineup.
- Edinson Volquez: Volquez's inclusion in the deal gave the Padres an experienced Major League arm to immediately fill Latos' void in their rotation. Volquez came with upside, as he was three years removed from a 3.9 WAR season. He didn't come close to that level, but he did provide 1.1 WAR by hurling 182 2/3 innings of 4.14 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate. He's been worse in 2013, though he did turn in a good start today. The 29-year-old Volquez, who was once traded for Josh Hamilton, will be eligible for free agency following the 2013 season.
The Prospect Side
- Brad Boxberger: Only Boxberger can still be considered a "prospect" in this deal, and that's a bit of a stretch as he appeared in 24 games for the Padres last season. He still has rookie eligibility, however, and was ranked 15th among Padres' prospects by BA and 18th by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Boxberger had a strong 2.60 ERA and 10.7 K/9 for the Padres in 2012, but he walked 18 batters in 27 2/3 innings and also hit two. BA writes that Boxberger's fastball sits 91-93 mph and tops out at 95 with hard cutting action. He favors his changeup heavily over his slider, and BA notes the Reds would like to see him incorporate the third pitch more often. Mayo feels that Boxberger has the stuff to eventually succeed as the Padres' closer, provided he can improve his command issues -- a feat which he did achieve in Triple-A last season (3.9 BB/9).
Overall, this trade has the makings of a win-win deal. Volquez has provided little value, but he was also the least significant part of the trade for the Padres, given his lack of team control. San Diego GM Josh Byrnes secured three prospects that he can control through at least the 2017 season in exchange for an established arm that will be in Cincinnati through the 2015 campaign. Based on the early results, Alonso and Grandal look like they will be mainstays in a rebuilding Padres lineup, and Boxberger has the chance to become at least a serviceable middle reliever with upside for more.
Latos has already played a role in giving Cincinnati one of Major League Baseball's best rotations, and given his age, he may have more to offer as his prime years set in. Reds GM Walt Jocketty couldn't have been thrilled about the concept of parting with Alonso and Grandal, but the Reds already had Joey Votto at first base and felt confident that Devin Mesoraco could become their everyday catcher. That hasn't happened yet, but Mesoraco is still just 24 years of age and catchers often take longer to develop offensively. Unlike some of the other trades I've examined in this series, both the Reds and Padres have plenty to feel good about following this swap.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here's a look at the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Chase Headley is probably going to be traded by the July 31st deadline. The Padres plan to spend the next two months determining whether they can lock up the third baseman long term, but there are two problems with that. For starters, Headley says he doesn't want to talk about a new deal during the season. Secondly, it would be surprising to see San Diego crack $100MM to keep him. Headley probably wants a better hitting environment and to play for a better team. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of teams that would like to add him as Rosenthal says there could be at least a dozen clubs in the market for a third baseman, including the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox.
- If Mike Napoli stays healthy and continues producing, the Red Sox first baseman will build his case for a multi-year deal in free agency. Of course, Boston reduced their three-year offer to Napoli to one-year after learning he had a condition in both hips. However, he's taking MRIs every three months to keep tabs on it and if the tests show that his condition is improved or stable, a team might be willing to extend a longer offer, especially since he's playing first base rather than catcher.
- Josh Johnson is the Blue Jays' most obvious trade candidate but if the season becomes a train wreck, they'll have the ability to move virtually any player. Jose Reyes is the only player signed beyond 2015 while most players on multi-year deals are signed at affordable prices and no one has a no-trade clause. Brandon Morrow might be an interesting name as the club has lots of young pitching coming. Of course, the Blue Jays have to fall out of things before considering such a move.
- It's bad enough for the Angels that shortstop Jean Segura is blossoming into a star elsewhere, but they've also traded away an entire rotation's worth of talent in recent years. The Halos sent Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs to Arizona for Dan Haren, Donn Roach to San Diego for Ernesto Frieri, and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal. On top of that, the Angels weakened their farm system by giving up their first and second round picks last year for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and their first round pick this year to ink Josh Hamilton. Their top pick last year was No. 114, this year it'll be No. 59.
Third baseman Chase Headley has become the face of the Padres franchise following a breakout 2012 season that saw him finish fifth in the NL MVP voting. Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 homers in his age-28 season, leading to a great deal of extension rumors.
Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler -- part of the team's new ownership group -- told reporters yesterday that the team was preparing to make a franchise-record offer to Headley. Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to mention that fact to Headley, leading to a puzzled reaction and a reiteration from their star third baseman that he doesn't want to discuss an extension during the season.
While that may be true, it's certainly possible that the allure of $75MM or more would change Headley's stance on negotiatons. There's also the possibility, as noted by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, that Headley's reluctance toward a midseason extension increases the likelihood that he will be traded.
For what it's worth, Headley had great things to say about San Diego and added that he hopes extension talks can be revisited after the season. Whatever the outcome, it stands to reason that the Padres will have resolved the situation by Opening Day 2014. If he's reluctant to discuss an extension this season, it's even less likely that he'd want to do so in his contract year. And, if the Padres elect to trade Headley, he will need to be with his new team for the entire 2014 season to qualify for draft pick compensation.
Athletics GM Billy Beane is in favor of recognizing teams with the best regular-season records, NBC Sports' Joe Posnanski reports. Beane, who was quoted in Moneyball as saying his "s*** doesn't work in the playoffs," calls the postseason a "gauntlet of randomness."
"[W]e allow small sample sizes and random events to determine the champion. That’s how it is in baseball," says Beane. Each team plays 162 games in baseball, an enormous number, and both Beane and Posnanski feel that stellar performances in the regular season shouldn't be completely washed away by a bad performance in a short playoff series.
Posnanski suggests a system in which the playoffs and World Series still exist ("The playoffs are a great thing for our sport – I want to make that clear," Beane says), but Major League Baseball presents separate, and meaningful, awards for the teams with the best records in each league. It's an interesting idea, even if, as Alex Remington at FanGraphs points out, there's no chance it will happen. Here are more notes from the West Coast.
- New Padres owner Ron Fowler told the media that the team planned to offer Chase Headley a contract extension, but Fowler never mentioned that to Headley, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. That led to a surprised reaction from Headley, who said, "To be honest, this is not something we've discussed."
- The Dodgers have not yet extended the contract of manager Don Mattingly, who has only a team option in place next season, and Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles wonders why. But team president Stan Kasten says it's a non-issue. "The team has its option some time next fall. What’s wrong with just leaving it at that?" says Kasten. "The answer is nothing and it’s stupid to suggest otherwise. If he had a 10-year contract, but we weren’t happy with his performance, he wouldn’t be here next year, because they’re unrelated." The Dodgers are off to a 13-14 start this year.
12:55pm: Headley tells MLB.com's Corey Brock that he is "flattered" by the concept of an offer and loves playing in San Diego, but makes it clear that he and his agent do not want to negotiate an extension during the season:
"We made it abundantly clear [before] that we didn't want to talk about it during the season. I didn't think that for me and for the team that it was good to get caught up with all of this during the season."
Headley made a point to say that he hopes the two sides can revisit negotiations after the 2013 season, citing a love of the fans, the city and the way he's been treated by the organization since he was drafted in the second round in 2005.
11:01am: The Padres aren't a team that is known for issuing massive contracts, but it appears that the team's new ownership is willing to change that perception in order to retain Chase Headley. Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told Bill Center and Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune that by midseason the team offer Headley a multi-year contract that would make him the richest player in franchise history:
"Will it be 10 years? No," said Fowler. "We're not going to do something like that. But we will do an offer that will be the largest offer we've ever made to a player in San Diego history and think it will be very close to some of the numbers I read in the press."
Jake Peavy currently holds the Friars' franchise record for largest contract with a three-year, $52MM deal signed back in 2007. That was on top of a pre-existing $14.5MM contract with an $8MM club option, bringing the total Peavy commitment to $74MM for the 2005-12 seasons.
Headley is further along in his arbitration years than Peavy was at the signing of his extension, so the Padres will need to pay closer to market value for Headley's free agent years. The 28-year-old Headley is controlled through the 2014 season but told Center and Jenkins that an extension will require a lengthy commitment:
“A three-year deal would put me in the same position I am now in about a year and I don’t want to do this again,” Headley said.
I agree with the Union-Tribune duo in speculating that any extension for Headley would need to cover at least the next five seasons. Comparables for a Headley deal could include Evan Longoria and David Wright, both of whom signed extensions this offseason that valued their free agent seasons at roughly $17MM each. Assuming a $13MM salary for Headley's final arb year, an extension covering the 2015-18 seasons would cost $81MM at that rate. If Padres GM Josh Byrnes is able to secure a club option at $17MM for the 2019 season with a $4MM buyout, a five-year $85MM extension similar to the one Andre Ethier signed a year ago seems feasible.
Headley's agents at Excel Sports Management could push to make him the Padres' first $100MM player by increasing the guaranteed commitment to six seasons with a hefty buyout on an option for a seventh year. While Headley lacks the track record of most $100MM players, he's continued his 2012 production early this year. Another two months of elite production could help the case.
Back in August, majority owner John Moores sold the Padres to a group headed by Fowler and several members of the O'Malley family, who previously owned the Dodgers. It's possible that the new ownership, who purchased the team for $800MM, could use Headley as a way to begin a legacy and show the fans a commitment to winning.