- Simmons’ departure is a tough pill for Braves fans, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Simmons was a regular and was signed for several more seasons, and there was a good possibility he would make a brilliant defensive play in any given game. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith, O’Brien says, and there’s a parallel between the Simmons deal and the Padres’ regrettable decision to trade Smith in December 1981 after four years in San Diego as a light-hitting infielder. O’Brien also notes that the Simmons deal is likely to make the Braves less competitive as they open their new ballpark in 2017.
- The Braves’ rebuild will likely be painful in the short term, but is more likely to reap rewards in the long term than a more cautious approach, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider only). The Braves’ series of trades leaves them not only with a big collection of prospects, but also with the third overall draft choice next year and likely another top pick in 2017. The Braves are now at a low point in their rebuilding efforts (although perhaps not the lowest point, as Olney notes). The Cubs’ and Astros’ 2015 seasons, though, demonstrate the potential rewards of completing the task ahead.
- Braves GM John Coppolella says the team made the deal reluctantly, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “We didn’t want to trade Andrelton Simmons,” Coppolella says. “But we felt this was too good for us to pass up. We felt like we were getting so much talent back in this deal, that if we didn’t make this trade, it would be very tough for us to keep going forward with our plans.” Interestingly, Bowman implies that the Yankees pursued Simmons last offseason and offered a package that included top prospect Luis Severino.
- The Braves’ return for Simmons was merely a decent one, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (also for subscribers). The Angels did give up their top two prospects in Newcomb and Ellis, but they got a player in return who’s so good defensively that he’s valuable even if he doesn’t hit much. Simmons can also help the Angels win now, which is good, because their remaining farm system isn’t much to speak of.
- With the departures of Simmons and Jason Heyward, the Braves seem to be betting against their elite defenders aging well, FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron writes. Cameron finds, however, that great young defenders do tend to lose some defensive value from ages 26 to 30 (the age through which the Braves would have controlled Simmons), but that they compensate for that with stronger offensive performances (much as Smith did after moving from San Diego to St. Louis).
The Angels prefer to acquire a bat that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, but they’re warming to the idea of acquiring a rental, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com tweets. That includes Yoenis Cespedes, though the cost of acquisition will obviously be key to any deal. At the very least, he adds, they’d like to add a bench piece they’re comfortable starting a couple of times per week.
Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register also hears that the Angels are opening up to not only the idea of rental players, but also to the idea of adding a right-handed bat. (Previously, the Angels have been said to prefer left-handed bats due to the heavily right-handed nature of their lineup.) According to Fletcher, the only player that seems off limits in the Angels’ minor league system is Sean Newcomb. Pitchers Chris Ellis and Nate Smith — two of the club’s top-ranked prospects — could potentially be had. Fletcher adds (via Twitter) that Andrew Heaney is probably not available either.
Gonzalez wrote yesterday that the Angels are seeking both a leadoff hitter and a power bat to slot in fifth behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the batting order, though they may not be able to acquire both. In a followup tweet to the article, Gonzalez says he’s getting the sense that the Angels would prefer the power bat. David Freese has spent the bulk of the time hitting fifth in Anaheim this season but has batted a fairly pedestrian .240/.308/.409.
As for the leadoff role, Johnny Giavotella has assumed that spot lately but struggled there, and his .261/.315/.349 batting line is below the league average. The Angels, according to Gonzalez, are monitoring Chase Utley‘s rehab as a possible alternative. However, they’d only have true interest were the cost “minimal” and should Utley begin to show his old form at the plate. (Utley, of course, is a potential August trade candidate, as one would think his contract, injury troubles and lack of production make him a lock to clear trade waivers.)
Ben Revere has been oft-connected to the Angels in the past, as has Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce. Gonzalez speculates (on Twitter), too, that Gerardo Parra of the Brewers might be a nice rental piece for the Angels.
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.
The Angels and first-round pick Sean Newcomb have agreed to terms, according Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the exact figure is a $2,518,400 signing bonus. That number was the maximum amount of money the Halos could allot to Newcomb without exceeding their bonus pool. Newcomb was advised by and is now a client of the Legacy Agency.
The 6’5″, 240-pound Newcomb was electric for the University of Hartford this season, posting an 8-2 record with a pristine 1.25 ERA and a 106-to-38 K/BB ratio in 93 1/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .162 against him in 2014, albeit in a relatively weak college conference.
Newcomb fell to the Halos with the 15th overall pick — a spot at which the Angels assumed the left-hander would be off the board, scouting director Ric Wilson told DiGiovanna. Newcomb’s No. 15 overall slot comes with a value of $2,475,600, according to Baseball America, meaning he received about $42K over slot to sign with the Angels.
The Angels probably weren’t the only ones surprised to see Newcomb on the board with their pick. Keith Law of ESPN ranked Newcomb as the No. 7 prospect in this year’s draft, while Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com ranked him ninth, and Baseball America ranked him 11th. Law notes that many will compare him to Sean Manaea — another big lefty with good velocity from a weak conference. Newcomb’s upside might not be quite as high, Law writes, but his fastball consistently touched 96 mph, and his command improved in 2014 as well. BA notes that his breaking pitch varies between curveball and slider, but most scouts think his curve will be the better pitch. BA and Law both feel his changeup can be an average third offering, though he hasn’t used it often to this point.
The Angels are closing in on a deal with first-round pick Sean Newcomb, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times hears the same and spoke on the record with Newcomb’s advisor, Greg Genske of the Legacy Agency. “We’re certainly working toward a deal,” Genske told DiGiovanna. “It probably gets done. We’re pretty close, but nothing has been finalized.” Tomorrow afternoon at 5pm ET is the deadline for teams to sign their 2014 draft picks.
The 6’5″, 240-pound Newcomb was electric for the University of Hartford this season, posting an 8-2 record with a pristine 1.25 ERA and a 106-to-38 K/BB ratio in 93 1/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .162 against him this season.
Newcomb fell to the Halos with the 15th overall pick — a spot at which the Angels assumed the left-hander would be off the board, scouting director Ric Wilson told DiGiovanna. Newcomb’s No. 15 overall slot comes with a value of $2,475,600, according to Baseball America.
According to the Baseball America Draft Database, the Angels have $2,518,800 remaining to sign Hartford without exceeding their bonus pool (they’ve already signed picks No. 2-10). Of course, they can still exceed their pool by less than five percent and be subject only to overage taxes. If they exceed their bonus pool by more than five percent they would lose their first-round pick in the 2015 draft (in addition to paying a 100 percent overage tax). The maximum amount that the Halos can give Newcomb without losing future picks, per BA, is $2,807,500 — roughly 13 percent greater than his slot value.