Scott Kazmir Rumors

AL West Notes: Hamilton, Kazmir, A’s, Ichiro

Josh Hamilton could return from the DL as early as Monday, and he could be coming back to the Rangers as a center fielder.  As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes, Hamilton played center in each of his last two minor league rehab games and he could displace the struggling Leonys Martin from the starting CF job.  Hamilton has only played 13 games in center since the start of the 2013 season, and while his advanced defensive metrics have varied from year to year, Hamilton has below-average numbers (-8.4 UZR/150 and -16 defensive runs saved) over his career as a center fielder.  Here’s more from around the AL West…

  • Several clubs have been scouting Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir recently but, for his part, the veteran doesn’t want to leave Oakland, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes.  “I would love to stay here. This is a group of guys I love being around. When you go up and down the team, the organizational staff, there’s a lot to like. I’d like to stay here,” Kazmir said.  Hickey notes that scouts from the Astros and Blue Jays were on hand Saturday as the 31-year-old pitched against the Royals.
  • Also from Hickey, he questions why the A’s have kept Max Muncy on the MLB roster when there’s no obvious route for him to find any playing time, a situation that doesn’t help the team or the player.  Muncy has only played in two of Oakland’s last 11 games, and Hickey wonders if this rustiness might’ve contributed to a key throwing error Muncy made during today’s 5-3 loss to the Royals.
  • Could the Mariners look to reunite with Ichiro SuzukiGeoff Baker of the Seattle Times opines that Ichiro could be a good fit for the team, as he would add some defensive help to the outfield and also add a contact bat with a bit of on-base ability to the struggling M’s lineup.  Baker doesn’t suggest the club should give up anything too valuable for Ichiro, as the Mariners are already on the fringes of the playoff race.

Astros Targeting Cueto Over Hamels

In recent weeks, the Astros have been connected to Phillies ace Cole Hamels, but it doesn’t sound as though he’s their top pitching target.  Instead, it’s Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto that is atop Houston’s wish list, according to sources who spoke with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

One of the main reasons for their preference of Cueto over Hamels is that the Astros are seeking out a 2015 rental or possibly someone whose contract runs for one more year.  With a hefty contract that runs through 2018, Hamels simply doesn’t fit the bill.  Cueto, meanwhile, is only owed the prorated portion of his 2015 salary of $10MM, which is a little over $5MM the rest of the way.  Hamels, meanwhile, is set to earn the balance of his $22.5MM salary for the remainder of this season, $22.5MM in the next three seasons, and a $20MM option/$6MM buyout that can vest with good health and a certain number of innings pitched.

For his part, Hamels recently indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Astros.  Instead, it sounds like Houston has their attention focused on the Reds’ pitching, where other suitors include the Dodgers, Yankees, and Blue Jays, a source tells Drellich.  All in all, Drellich hears that the Phillies have been pumping up the perception of the Astros’ interest as negotiating leverage in talks about Hamels.

The Astros are casting a wide net in their effort to add a solid starter to their rotation to go with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Vincent Velasquez, and Lance McCullers.  In addition to Cueto and Mike Leake, the Astros are doing their homework on A’s lefty Scott Kazmir, Brewers right-handers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.


Cafardo’s Latest: Yankees, Leake, Craig, BoSox

While all five AL East teams have clear roster needs, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe observes that the division is so closely-packed (and overall mediocre) through two months that one team could break away from the pack simply by getting healthy and playing up to expectations, rather than by making a big trade or two.  Here are some hot stove items from Cafardo’s latest Sunday Notes column…

  • I don’t see us making a major acquisition for a pitcher [at this time] but I’m not going to say I wouldn’t do it,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.  As Cafardo notes, the returns of Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova could bolster the rotation, and prospect Luis Severino could also provide some late-season help.
  • Reds right-hander Mike Leake is considered by one AL scout to be able to “pitch in either league with no problem” and at the trade deadline, “there might be more action on him than any pitcher out there.”  The Reds could be looking to deal the free agent-to-be since they didn’t discuss an extension with him during the offseason.
  • Leake’s trade value may be improved by the fact that teammate Johnny Cueto and the AthleticsScott Kazmir (two more pending free agents) have recently been dealing with elbow and shoulder problems, respectively.  Teams will need to see a few healthy outings from both pitchers before their trade interest can be rejuvenated.
  • The Dodgers were scouting the Red Sox during their series with the Twins last week.  Cafardo notes that L.A. is looking for relief help.
  • With Matt Adams gone for possibly the entire season and the Cardinals in need of first base help, Cafardo opines that Allen Craig could be a possible trade fit.  Craig’s contract, of course, is a major obstacle, not to mention the fact that St. Louis felt comfortable dealing Craig away last summer.  Craig is hitting well at Triple-A but Cafardo writes that it might take “another two weeks of good hitting” for Craig to earn a call-up back to the Red Sox.
  • With Trevor Plouffe playing well as the Twins‘ regular third baseman, Cafardo wonders if Minnesota would consider a position change for star prospect Miguel Sano.  There has already been a lot of speculation that Sano might be not be able to handle playing third over the long term, though Plouffe is also not a great defensive option.  Of greater concern for the Twins right now is Sano’s recovery from Tommy John surgery, and the early results are pretty good, as Sano is hitting .247/.346/.488 over 191 Double-A plate appearances.


West Notes: Kazmir, Crisp, Saltalamacchia, Halos

The Athletics had somewhat of a scare yesterday when Scott Kazmir left his start in the third inning and underwent an MRI due to shoulder soreness, but MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets that the injury isn’t serious. Kazmir’s MRI revealed no structural damage, and the left-hander is expected to miss only one start before rejoining the Oakland rotation. It’s good news for the A’s on multiple fronts, as a healthy Kazmir will either be a key to a theoretical turnaround of their season or a highly desirable trade chip come July.

Some more news from the game’s Western divisions…

  • News on Coco Crisp, however, isn’t as encouraging for the Athletics, writes Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Doctors have recommended that Crisp receive an epidural injection to attempt to alleviate the chronic pain in his neck. The center fielder will be shut down from baseball activities for the next month or so, according to manager Bob Melvin. That, as Stiglich notes, would mean that Crisp would likely be out past the All-Star break, as he wouldn’t resume baseball activities until late June or early July.
  • The D-Backs are planning to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Triple-A Reno tomorrow, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter). Saltalamacchia signed a minor league pact with Arizona after being surprisingly designated for assignment and subsequently released by the struggling Marlins. Saltlamacchia has struggled some at Triple-A after a notable absence from playing in games — he was on paternity leave prior to his DFA, then waited 10 days before being released and another couple of days before signing — but he does have a pair of homers in nine games with Reno. The Diamondbacks will need to add Saltalamacchia to the 40-man roster before he can join the big league club.
  • The addition of Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn’t figure to be the only trade the Angels will make in the coming months, as GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, that the search for offense will continue for the next few months. “We’ll be looking for the remainder of the trade season,” said Dipoto, whose team surprisingly ranks 26th in runs scored, 29th in OPS and 26th in wRC+. Dipoto specifically states that he’s not interested in trading the pitching depth he worked long and hard to acquire — presumably referring to Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Sean Newcomb. He also doesn’t sound like a GM ready to act rashly. “Quite frankly, you try to fix something now, you cost yourself pitching depth, and many different things that could happen along the way would tell you that was the wrong way to go,” he adds.

AL West Notes: Kazmir, Angels, Mariners, Correa

Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir left today’s start against the Tigers with soreness in his throwing shoulder, and manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game that Kazmir is undergoing an MRI (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Jane Lee). It’s not known at this time whether or not Kazmir will require a stint on the disabled list, but as an impending free agent and a potential trade target, that status of Kazmir is one that could have significant impact on storylines around the game in the coming months. To this point in the season, Kazmir has been brilliant, notching a 2.93 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate in 58 1/3 inning. Kazmir is earning $11MM in the second and final season of a two-year, $22MM contract.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Following the Angels‘ trade for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Marc Krauss could find himself headed back to Triple-A, but the team could also place Collin Cowgill on the disabled list, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Gonzalez’s notebook post looks at several roster situations for the Angels, including the team’s uncertain second base situation and the injury status of right-hander Mike Morin, who doesn’t sound to be returning anytime soon. Morin will miss “weeks, not days,” per manager Mike Scioscia.
  • The Mariners have been operating with a six-man bullpen for a couple of days as a means of delaying the need to make a decision on the team’s veterans, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Delaying a move by even a few days gave the Mariners time to further examine trade possibilities, Dutton notes, but they’ll soon need to add a reliever to the mix. Candidates include Lucas Luetge, Mayckol Guaipe and Kevin Gregg, though Gregg would require a 40-man roster move and force the team’s hand even sooner. Players currently at risk, Dutton writes, are Rickie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. It seems highly unlikely that the Mariners would do something as drastic as designating Ackley for assignment, but if they’re truly exploring trade possibilities, he’d likely have the most appeal of the four players listed by Dutton. One way to buy a bit more time would be to option Chris Taylor back to Triple-A to make room for a reliever that’s already on the 40-man roster.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that there will be no second-guessing on when the team should have brought up top prospect Carlos Correa, regardless of how the season ends. Luhnow says that despite Correa’s gaudy numbers at Triple-A, he’s still benefiting from the time there, as he’s being exposed to more offspeed pitches than ever before and being forced to make adjustments within at-bats. Luhnow said that even in an extreme scenario such as missing the playoffs by one game, there would be too many factors — managerial moves, daily roster decisions, player performances — to say whether or not promoting Correa early would’ve altered the course of the season.

Cafardo On Trade Deadline, Maddux, Tulo

Here are the highlights from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe‘s latest column:

  • The Athletics, Phillies, Brewers, Rockies and Reds could have the best big-league talent on offer at the trade deadline, two executives tell Cafardo. Scott Kazmir is perhaps the top player the Athletics could have available, but there could be others, like Josh Reddick and Billy Butler. The Red Sox, Pirates and Blue Jays also could become sellers unless they play well over the next couple months, Cafardo suggests.
  • Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux would have interest in a managerial job, says Cafardo. In the past, Maddux frequently removed himself from consideration for such jobs because his children were younger and he did not want his family to have to move.
  • Executives believe the Rockies do have interest in trading Troy Tulowitzki, and feel they should have little trouble doing so if they’re willing to pay some of the $113MM remaining on his contract. “I think they’ll be able to move him,” says one GM. “Too good of a player to be out there without someone taking him.” Tulowitzki is hitting just .275/.291/.423 in 148 plate appearances and, for whatever it’s worth, his defensive numbers in a small sample so far this season aren’t nearly as strong as they typically are.

NL West Notes: Chavez, Weiss, LeMahieu, Uribe

There has been a great deal of trade talk surrounding A’s pitcher Scott Kazmir, but the Dodgers could have interest in another member of Oakland’s rotation, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. The Dodgers could circle back to Jesse Chavez this summer, a right-hander they discussed with Oakland in the offseason. The Dodgers could use pitching reinforcements and the A’s own the worst record in baseball, so there could be a match there between now and the end of July.

Here’s more from the NL West:

  • Some might wonder if Walt Weiss is on the hot seat given the Rockies‘ woes, but GM Jeff Bridich says that’s not the case. “There’s no issue there,” Bridich said, according to Nick Groke of The Denver Post. “Throwing around blame is a very dangerous thing to do. The manager and the coaches don’t step on the field and take a bat and step into the batter’s box, and they don’t take the ball to stand on the mound.” Knowing he has the confidence of his GM, Weiss says he does not feel any heat, “This is my third season, and we haven’t won. And I’m sure people ask about my security here, I’m sure that becomes a topic. But I have to tell you, honestly, I have zero fear of losing my job.” The Rockies enter play today at 16-25, the fourth-worst mark in MLB.
  • One bright spot for the Rockies this season has been the play of second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders is championing to make the NL All-Star team.
  • Juan Uribe could be the odd man out when Hector Olivera is ready to join the Dodgers, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group.
  • The Dodgers‘ best-pitched game of the season didn’t come from one of their high-priced top line starters or one of their multi-millionaire free agent pickups. Instead, it came from Mike Bolsinger, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks by the Dodgers’ new regime in exchange for cash considerations, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes.  Through four starts, Bolsinger now boasts a 0.71 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.
  • After a 10-5 start, the Padres have gone 10-18 and former U-T San Diego writer Bill Center (in a piece for MLB.com) wonders if it’s time for San Diego to act with urgency and shake up things.

West Notes: Street, Crisp, Athletics, Dodgers

Angels closer Huston Street spoke with Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca about his decision to ink a mid-season extension. Though he ultimately handed off the job of negotiating that deal to agent Alan Hendricks, much of the groundwork was laid by Street himself. He says the process was enjoyable, but noted that he learned from mistakes in how things were relayed to the media this spring. Street spoke at length about the compromises struck to reach the deal, explaining the “interesting crossroad to be fascinated by the money but also to not be driven by it at all.”

  • Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp is still struggling with the same neck issues that bothered him last year, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (links to Twitter) that surgery is off the table. Normally, that’s a good thing, but in this case the issue is that a surgical solution would very likely end Crisp’s playing career. Ultimately, Crisp may need another DL stint but is expected to be able to play with the injury.
  • The Athletics are not interested in dealing catcher Stephen Vogt and are not moving now on pitcher Scott Kazmir, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports“I’m not trading Vogt,” said GM Billy Beane. “Period.” As for the veteran lefty Kazmir, Gammons writes that Beane and co. had intended to make him a qualifying offer but could ultimately consider a deal — though they’ve not yet had any action in that area.
  • From the same report, Gammons says that the Dodgers are generating plenty of interest in their younger players from clubs that have pitching to deal. The PhilliesReds, and Athletics, among other teams, are “scouring” the Los Angeles farm, per Gammons. The veteran journalist also adds that some other executives think that L.A. could potentially make a run at Cole Hamels by dangling interesting utilityman Enrique Hernandez, pitchers Zach Lee and Chris Anderson, and catcher Julian Leon to Philadelphia. While Gammons does not make clear whether his sources suggest that package would be enough, it certainly seems at face value that Philly would demand a headliner to top things off.

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Managers, A’s, Reddick, Tulo, Astros

Earlier this week, in the wake of the Marlins’ managerial change, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the two skippers who were most obviously on the hot seat had now been dismissed. With Mike Redmond and Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke having been replaced, Rosenthal looks at four more managers who could eventually find themselves in danger of losing their jobs, listing John Gibbons (Blue Jays), Bud Black (Padres), Fredi Gonzalez (Braves) and Terry Collins (Mets) as the likeliest options. Gibbons can’t be blamed for the lack of quality relief arms he has at his disposal, Rosenthal notes, but bench coach Demarlo Hale has long been thought of as a managerial prospect and makes sense as a replacement option. Black’s Padres are struggling with pitching, and Mark Kotsay‘s name is floated by Rosenthal as someone who could be the next recently retired player to turn manager. Braves president of baseball ops John Hart isn’t as high on Gonzalez as president John Schuerholz or Bobby Cox, and there’s been some recent “internal finger-pointing,” Rosenthal hears. Collins nearly lost his job at the end of the 2014 season, he notes, and while the team is still in first place, the Mets’ managerial situation has long been volatile in nature.

Here’s more from Rosenthal…

  • In a new Notes column, Rosenthal looks at the Athletics‘ roster in the wake of a brutal start to the season. As many have pointed out, Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist — each a pending free agent — would all be logical trade candidates if the team is still underperforming in July. However, Rosenthal writes that there’s no way GM Billy Beane will act quickly and sell, as he’ll first want to see how the team performs with Zobrist and closer Sean Doolittle healthy and activated from the DL. One change that won’t be coming, Rosenthal adds, is at manager. Beane and skipper Bob Melvin have a strong relationship, and it’s “exceptionally unlikely” that Melvin would be dismissed, in Rosenthal’s eyes.
  • Another possible trade chip for the A’s could be Josh Reddick, who is earning $4.1MM after his second trip through arbitration this year. The Athletics, however, resisted trade offers for Reddick all offseason, Rosenthal hears.
  • Rosenthal recently called Rockies owner Dick Monfort to discuss the recent Troy Tulowitzki trade chatter. However, when Rosenthal began asking about Tulowitzki, Monfort “quickly hung up.” The bizarre situation lends credence to wide-spread belief that Tulo, his agent and even GM Jeff Bridich have little say in whether or not the Rockies trade the face of their franchise. Rather, it’ll come down to the team owner’s wishes.
  • The Astros are considering a long list of pitchers that either are or could become available, and they’ve recently been scouting Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen if the Astros would be willing to part with enough to get their hands on Samardzija, though. As Rosenthal notes, some rival execs feel that the tandem pitching system the Astros use in the minors devalues their pitching prospects, though one exec told him that it actually increases the value, as it suppresses the young pitchers’ inning counts.
  • Rosenthal believes the Rays should consider trading left-hander Jake McGee to either help their rotation or another area of the team. McGee, he notes, is earning $3.55MM this season and will see that price tag sail beyond $5MM in arbitration this winter.
  • Of course, as I noted yesterday when looking at this topic, using McGee in the ninth inning would help to keep down the future earnings of Brad Boxberger, who would benefit greatly from two full seasons of saves when he heads into arbitration following the 2016 season. And, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd mentioned to me earlier today when we were chatting, left-handed relief is an area of weakness for the Rays at this time. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if the scenario Rosenthal lays out came to fruition, and it’s hard to imagine that the Rays wouldn’t at least be open-minded to moving McGee.