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Sean Manaea Rumors
The Royals added their second major rental piece via trade earlier today, acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Athletics in exchange for right-hander Aaron Brooks and minor league lefty Sean Manaea. It’s another steep price for the Royals to pay, as they’ve now parted with their first-round picks from both 2014 (Brandon Finnegan) and 2013 (Manaea) in addition to their 2013 second-rounder (Cody Reed).
Here are some reactions from around the web…
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with several Athletics players and GM Billy Beane about the move. “You’d rather be on the other end of it,” Beane told Slusser. “We’ve been on both sides in my tenure here, but you have to be realistic in evaluating your situation going forward. This season we had high hopes and we got off on the wrong foot….and it just snowballed.” Beane stressed that he has no plans to trade a player that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, Slusser adds. Beane said that Manaea wasn’t the type of player he thought he could get in a deal, but he’s happy to bring him on board. Athletics DH Billy Butler is familiar with Manaea from his time in the Royals organization. “I thought Manaea was untouchable,” said Butler, who praised Manaea’s “tremendous” arm.
- Brooks was assigned to Triple-A following the trade, but he won’t stay there long. Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area tweets that Brooks will start Saturday’s contest for the Athletics. A roster move will have to be made prior to that happening, of course, though Brooks is already on the 40-man roster.
- While Zobrist isn’t the player that he was a couple of years ago, he’ll still be a significant improvement over Omar Infante at second base (once he moves there upon Alex Gordon‘s return from the DL), writes ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required/recommended). Zobrist is at least a one-win upgrade, if not more, says Law, who finds the price paid by Kansas City a reasonable one. Manaea’s upside is tantalizing and Law has seen him at his best, but he also notes that he saw him unable to hold his velocity two weeks ago. Manaea’s injury history raises questions about whether he can handle the workload of a starter. If he proves durable enough, Law notes that Manaea can be at least a mid-rotation starter even with average velocity, or more if he can stay healthy and maintain his velocity deeper in games. Brooks fits the strike-thrower mold of Tommy Milone or Kendall Graveman he adds — a fringe rotation option for many teams that could succeed due to Oakland’s cavernous stadium.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (video link) broke down the prospects acquired in the trade, praising Manaea’s “solid first full season” but explaining that the lefty dropped off MLB.com’s Top 100 on their midseason update, in part due to missing the first half of 2015 with non-arm related injuries. Mayo feels that if everything comes together for Manaea, he can be “at least” a No. 3 starter, but “has a chance to be much more than that.” Brooks doesn’t come with a big upside but has average stuff across the board and four-pitch mix that can pitch as a fourth or fifth starter. The Athletics’ trade activity over the past week has done quite a bit to restore what had been a declining group of Top 30 prospects and deepen Oakland’s farm, Mayo adds.
- The Royals were pursuing Zobrist even before acquiring Cueto, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The team had, in fact, pegged Cueto and Zobrist as its two top targets entering the trade deadline, and they’ve managed to secure both pieces. As McCullough notes, last season, the Royals “spun their wheels” and tried for incremental upgrades at the deadline, pursuing deals for Marlon Byrd and Alex Rios without success. Riding a World Series berth and record attendance, however, the Royals have been able to take a win-now, all-in approach that the organization and its fans haven’t experienced before.
- One NL exec told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that Manaea was the most surprising prospect he saw traded today, calling him an “impact player” and opining that the A’s did well to acquire him in the deal (Twitter link). Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, tweets that he’s heard other teams praising the Athletics’ acquisition of Manaea as well.
- MLBTR’s Zach Links was among the reporters on today’s conference call with Royals GM Dayton Moore. As Zach wrote, Moore said he doesn’t foresee making any significant additions between now and the trade deadline, so it would seem that the heavy lifting for Kansas City is out of the way.
- Instagram users can check out our new @traderumorsmlb account for a glimpse of what Zobrist will look like in his new uniform when he joins the team, which will reportedly happen on Thursday.
For the third installment of a four-part series comparing the Indians and the division-rival Tigers, Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel spoke to both Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and Indians GM Chris Antonetti about the way in which their payroll allows them to operate. Dombrowski discussed how the financial muscle provided to him by owner Mike Ilitch allows for an aggressive approach that he didn’t necessarily have when serving as GM of the Expos and Marlins, or even earlier in his Tigers tenure. While a larger pool of resources hasn’t changed his philosophical approach to the game, per se, it has changed his approach to accomplishing his goals.
Antonetti, meanwhile, discussed the importance of acquiring and building around players in the “sweet spot” of their careers, as the Tribe GM termed it — players who are entering, or in the midst, of their peak years (and subsequently are in the early stages of arbitration). The young nature of Cleveland’s core made the team comfortable with adding only Brandon Moss and Gavin Floyd to the roster this winter, Antonetti added. “It’s a group that played its best baseball in the second half, and so as we looked at things, we felt very good about the group of guys we headed into the offseason with,” Antonetti said.
Some more AL Central notes…
- The Tigers announced yesterday that two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera has been cleared to begin non-impact baseball activities, which include hitting and throwing. Cabrera “will begin a running progression until full weight-bearing is achieved,” per the press release. While the Tigers neglected to give a specific timetable for his return, the release indicated that the club is “optimistic” that Cabrera will be ready come Opening Day. Cabrera underwent surgery in October to remove bone spurs from his right ankle and repair a stress fracture in his right foot.
- A report earlier this week indicated that the Royals watched Phil Coke throw recently, and Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals have not only watched Coke, but also Alfredo Aceves throw. Kansas City is still on the hunt for relief depth, McCullough notes. While Coke makes some sense as a lefty option in the K.C. bullpen, he’s reportedly seeking a Major League contract, whereas Aceves could certainly be had on a minor league deal.
- When the Braves and Royals engaged in Justin Upton trade talks earlier this winter, Atlanta wanted left-handed prospect Sean Manaea included in the deal, according to Peter Gammons in his most recent post at GammonsDaily.com. The 34th overall pick of the 2013 draft, Manaea was projected by many as a top 10-15 pick before questions about hip and shoulder injuries caused his stock to drop. The southpaw performed well in his first pro season, posting a 3.11 ERA, 10.8 K/9 and 2.7 K/BB rate over 121 2/3 IP in high-A ball. Gammons believes Manaea has a shot at being a late-season call-up this year, and compares him to another heralded left-handed prospect in Carlos Rodon.
$3.55MM is way above the $1.62MM draft pool recommendation for the No. 34 pick. But the Royals’ intentions to sign Manaea to an above-slot bonus became clear very early in their draft — they surprised many observers by selecting college shortstop Hunter Dozier with the No. 8 overall pick, then took Manaea, who is advised by the Boras Corporation and was regarded as one of the top talents in the draft before an injury-plagued junior season at Indiana State. The Royals then signed Dozier for over $900K less than his slot value, saving money to sign Manaea.
ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Manaea the No. 10 prospect in the draft, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America ranked Manaea No. 13 and No. 18, respectively. Manaea’s stock fell after most draft rankings were published, however, particularly when, shortly before the draft, he was scratched from a start with shoulder tightness.
Law writes that the lefty threw 96 MPH with an excellent slider during the summer of 2012 in the Cape Cod League, but both pitches took steps backward in the 2013 season, when Manaea threw 89-94 MPH with an inconsistent slider. He also throws a changeup.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports the Royals are "very likely" to sign Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea to a well-over-slot deal. The Royals, according to Passan, are confident that the torn labrum in Manaea's hip won't be a long-term issue. Kansas City is familiar with Manaea's maladay, as Alex Gordon suffered a similar injury in 2009 (Twitter links).
The Royals gambled on this year's draft, selecting Stephen F. Austin State University shortstop Hunter Dozier with their eighth overall pick with the hopes of signing him under slot and making a run at Manaea. Things have gone according to plan thus far, as Dozier signed for $938K under slot value.
Manaea, who is advised by the Boras Corporation, was thought to be a potential No. 1 overall pick following a dominant showing in the Cape Cod League last summer. His injury issues caused him to fall out of the first round, and the Royals promptly took him with the first pick in the Competitive Balance round (No. 34 overall). That pick carries an assigned slot value of $1.623MM, per Baseball America, but Scott Boras made it clear weeks before the draft that Manaea would not sign for a discount.
In addition to Dozier, the Royals have also signed second-round pick Cody Reed for full slot value ($1.198MM). According to Passan's sources, a deal between the two sides could be reached as soon as this week. The Royals have a draft pool of $8,290,700.
Every team would love to find a gem like Matt Harvey in today's amateur draft, and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman breaks down how the Mets scouted and eventually selected the promising right-hander with the seventh pick in 2010. "At the end of the day, we were hoping [Harvey] was going to be there," said Rudy Terrasas, then the Mets' scouting director. "There was a lot of luck involved….That's the guy we were hoping to get to us, and he fell into our laps. We weren't real happy with the other options."
There are the first of many of today's draft-related items…
- The Astros and Cubs seem to be "in quandaries" over who they will select with the first two picks, Peter Gammons reports. According to several GMs and agents, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow may wait until at least 3pm CST (three hours before the draft begins) before deciding between Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray or Colin Moran as the first overall selection. (Both links are to Gammons' Twitter feed.)
- Also from Gammons, the Rockies could be preparing to take high school first baseman Dominic Smith with the third overall pick. ESPN's Keith Law (Twitter link) has also heard rumors to this effect. It would be something of a surprise pick given that Smith hasn't been projected as a top-ten talent in most major rankings of draft prospects — Law ranks Smith 11th (ESPN Insider subscription required), Baseball America ranks him 14th and MLB.com ranks him 15th.
- Heyman chimes in with CBS Sports' ranking of the top 30 draft prospects, with Appel topping the list (Smith, incidentally, sits at #20 in this ranking). One AL scouting director has faint praise for this year's draftee, telling Heyman that the draft class “is not as bad as most folks are saying.''
- The Orioles like high school catcher Nick Ciuffo, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko writes, though the club usually tends to look for pitchers in the draft. The O's have the 22nd overall pick in the first round.
- The Orioles' draft needs are discussed by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo in conversation with Daniel Gallen of the Baltimore Sun. In general, Mayo says the Orioles are looking for players who can help them at the Major League level relatively quickly, with Kevin Gausman serving as "probably the best case scenario" in this regard.
- The Rays are the only team who has yet to produce a Major League player from their last five amateur drafts, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times illustrates. The main reason could be that the Rays tend to pursue players with the highest upside, rather than players who could make it to the Majors sooner but in less-impactful roles.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis' final mock draft predicts that the Astros will take Gray with the first overall pick. This is very much in flux, however, as Callis doesn't think Houston has yet decided on who it will select with the top pick.
- Also from Callis, left-hander Sean Manaea's medical records indicated a labrum tear in his hip. This latest injury concern causes Callis to drop the Indiana State product out of his first round mock entirely, though Callis has heard that teams with mid-first round picks like the Pirates or Phillies could potentially take Manaea.
- Law's final mock draft (ESPN Insider-only) and Mayo's final mock draft for MLB.com offer differing choices for the Astros' top pick.
It wasn't long ago that Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea was considered to be a potential No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. Manaea dominated the Cape Cod League last summer, and scouts were enamored by the big lefty's size, velocity, slider and command. This season, a hip flexor issue has led to less-than-stellar results, and it's caused his draft stock to slip. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo writes that Manaea could be the biggest wild card in the draft and makes the near-impossible task of creating an accurate mock draft that much more difficult.
Mayo also spoke with Manaea's advisor — the infamous Scott Boras. Boras told Mayo that teams will not get Manaea at a discount if he falls in the draft, because the hip issue isn't serious nor is it permanent:
"I’m going to put a value on these kids, because medically, I know they’re fine. It’s illustrated it’s temporary and will be resolved. There’s no shoulder or elbow problem. He had a hip flexor problem. He was instructed, you can go pitch, you’re not going to hurt yourself.”
Boras suggested that it would be "crazy" for teams to let this issue get in the way of drafting Manaea. As many have come to expect from the always quotable Boras, he even tried to spin it as a positive by pointing out that the injury limited the mileage on Manaea's arm by limiting his innings.
In Mayo's most recent mock draft, he had Manaea going to the Cardinals at No. 19 overall. The recommended bonus for that slot, he notes, is $2.0558MM, but if Boras' comments are any indication, Manaea will require a far greater bonus to sign.
If he falls far enough, Manaea strikes me as an ideal target for a team that drafts a player who can be signed significantly below slot-value with its first pick. Should Manaea fall out of the first round, a team could employ a strategy similar to that of the Astros last season, when they signed Carlos Correa well below slot value at No. 1 overall and then landed Lance McCullers Jr. in the supplemental round and Rio Ruiz in the fourth round. All of that, of course, is speculation. As Mayo noted, Manaea argubaly represents the draft's biggest wild card.
Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray's strong performance in the Big 12 conference tournament increased the likelihood that the Astros will pick him No. 1 overall, ESPN.com's Christopher Crawford writes (Insider-only). Crawford also quotes a scout who says that Indiana State's Sean Manaea — thought to be a top pick before the season — is "not a first-round prospect to me," and suggests Manaea may be best served by not signing and returning to school. Manaea was pulled from a recent start with shoulder tightness. Crawford's piece also contains details about Mark Appel and many of this draft class' top hitters. Here are more notes on the draft.
- Indiana high-schooler Trey Ball tops the list of two-way players available in this year's draft, Baseball America's Jim Callis says. Teams now prefer Ball as a pitcher, and it looks likely he'll be selected in the first 10 picks or so. Another two-way player is Cal State-Fullerton's Michael Lorenzen, who will be drafted as a center fielder, Callis says.
- If the Twins wish to avoid Scott Boras with the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft, their best bets are high school pitcher Kohl Stewart or high school catcher Reese McGuire, ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson tweets. Stewart is being advised by Derek Braunecker and McGuire by Matt Sosnick, Wolfson says.
Kevin Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, made his Major League debut for the Orioles last night. In a poll on Wednesday, roughly 39 percent of MLBTR readers agreed that Michael Wacha of the Cardinals would be the next first-round pick from last year's draft to make the leap to the big leagues. There are less than two weeks until the 2013 draft, and we'll keep track of today's draft-related news here…
- The first mock draft from Jim Callis of Baseball America had the Astros taking Mark Appel No. 1 overall, but his newest version has the Astros taking Jonathan Gray. That leaves Appel to go to the Cubs at No. 2, but it's not clear right now who the Cubs would take between the two pitchers if Houston winds up taking a hitter instead.
- Callis views Sean Manaea as a complete wild card in this year's draft (Twitter link). He likens the Indiana State lefty to Lucas Giolito, who the Nationals drafted 16th overall last year. Like Giolito, Manaea was once considered a possible No. 1 overall selection, but injuries have caused his stock to fall and it's highly difficult to predict where he'll land.
- Prep catcher Reese McGuire will have to make a tough choice between attending college and going pro, but he's eager for the draft nonetheless, writes MLB.com's Doug Miller. While McGuire has a great opportunity to play ball at the University of San Diego, he might not be able to resist the pull of the majors if goes as high as he is projected to. MLB.com currently has the catcher going No. 11 to the Mets.
- McGuire isn't the only high school catcher who is drawing interest from clubs at the top of the draft, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Behind him are Jon Denney from Oklahoma and South Carolina's Nick Ciuffo.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The latest on the draft, which is just over two weeks away…
- Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea was pulled from today's game due to injury before throwing a pitch, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The problem relates to the same hip issue that has plagued him this spring in conjunction with shoulder stiffness and Manaea could possibly pitch on Saturday instead, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com tweets. The left-hander is one of the top prospects in this year's draft.
- The outfielders in this year's draft have tremendous potential, Mayo writes. Georgia high schoolers Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows are the top outfielders in this year's class and they both offer different skill sets. One scouting director noted that while he is impressed with Frazier's strength, he is high on both players and is confident that they will be off the board inside of the first 12 picks.
- Click here to see who will be representing each team at the draft.
- ESPN's Keith Law redrafted the 2003 draft, taking Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler, and Aaron Hill with the first three picks rather than the reality of Delmon Young, Rickie Weeks, and Kyle Sleeth for the Rays, Brewers, and Tigers. Be sure to check out the entire redraft article.
The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies have the first three picks in the 2013 amateur draft, which takes place Thursday, June 6th. Draft gurus expect college righties Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray and college third baseman Kris Bryant to go within those first three picks, though the order seems tough to pin down at this point. The latest on the draft:
- Conor Glassey of Baseball America takes a look at the age spectrum among this year's BA Top 250 by splitting the list into high school and college players and examining the youngest and oldest in each group.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis asked four "top-level scouting executives" whether they preferred Appel or Gray. Three of them chose Appel, though it was interesting to hear that two of them questioned his makeup.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo talked to Nevada righty Braden Shipley, a converted shortstop. ESPN's Keith Law ranks Shipley the No. 6 talent in the draft, and predicted the Marlins will indeed take him in that sixth spot. Baseball America ranks him eighth, and predicted he'd go fifth to the Indians. Mayo went with eighth to the Royals.
- Mayo also writes that Shipley has elevated his stock thanks to consistent performance this season, while Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea and Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek have seen their stocks fall. Manaea has been bothered by a hip issue that has led to diminished results, while Stanek has had an up-and-down season as well. A scouting director told Mayo that he thinks Stanek will be the third pitcher selected in the draft. The upcoming conference tournaments will serve as a showcase for these college arms to gain some last-minute draft helium.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.