Sean O'Sullivan Rumors
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. ... Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.
When players with significant Major League experience settle for minor league contracts, it's commonplace for these deals to contain opt-out clauses. If the player hasn't been added to the 25-man roster by a certain point, he can exercise the clause and seek employment with another organization. Such clauses aren't always made publicly available, but here's a list of some of the pitchers who have known opt-out dates that are nearing...
- Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees: Wang can opt out of his contract on May 31. In five starts spanning 31 2/3 innings at Triple-A thus far, the 33-year-old has a 2.84 ERA, 4.3 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. The Yankees have said they don't feel Wang's minor league success will translate to the Majors just yet, as they want him to rely more on his breaking pitches than just his sinker.
- Tim Stauffer, Padres: Stauffer can opt out of his deal "around June 1," according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He appeared in just one game for San Diego before needing season-ending surgery but posted a 3.24 ERA in 341 1/3 innings for the Friars from 2009-11. So far in Triple-A, the 30-year-old has a 3.16 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 42 2/3 innings.
- Sean O'Sullivan, Padres: Currently Stauffer's rotation-mate, O'Sullivan has the same opt-out clause in his contract (near June 1) despite being just 25 years of age. O'Sullivan has a 4.19 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 43 innings for Triple-A Tucson. He's had a rough time in the Majors, however, as evidenced by his 6.13 ERA in 193 2/3 big league innings.
- Jeremy Bonderman, Mariners: Bonderman's opt-out date is June 1, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Still just 30 years of age, Bonderman has been solid for Triple-A Tacoma. He's pitched to a 3.70 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in eight starts spanning 48 2/3 innings. Olney feels Bonderman will opt out if he's not called up in the next couple of weeks, and I'm inclined to agree.
- Jair Jurrjens, Orioles: Jurrjens has an opt-out date of June 15. After a drastic fall from grace in the Braves organization, the 27-year-old has looked sharp at Triple-A Norfolk in 2013. He's compiled a 2.62 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings.
All of the pitchers listed here have pitched well enough that they could make a case for helping a Major League team with a struggling rotation. It seems likely that by mid-June, each could force his way onto a Major League roster, even if it's with a new organization. If you see a notable omission with a known opt-out date, speak up in the comments section.
Commissioner Bud Selig says he wants his stewardship of the game to be judged by the value of MLB's franchises, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. He called the Dodgers' sale "stunning," and said that "every franchise is worth a lot more today ... because the game is healthy." Selig also weighed in on the DH, saying that "some cataclysmic event" would be needed to keep the bat out of National League pitchers' hands. Here are some more notes from around the National League:
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes is taking a hard look at the club's farm system to find a solution to the team's pitching woes, writes Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. According to Fangraphs, the Padres' rotation has put up negative 1.4 WAR thus far, a full .5 WAR worse than the second-to-last Astros staff. Jenkins says that the front office's "unwillingness or failure" to supplement the team's less-than-promising rotation over the offseason is to blame for the club's present difficulties.
- Two in-house options for San Diego are minor league arms Tim Stauffer and Sean O'Sullivan, both of whom possess similar out clauses in their contracts, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Center says that both pitchers can opt out around June 1 if they have not been elevated to the Padres' big league roster.
- The emergence of catcher Evan Gattis could ultimately have an impact on the Braves' plans behind the dish, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The team has benefitted enormously from his performance as stalwart Brian McCann works his way back from injury. But as Bowman says, the first-place Braves have every reason to try and work McCann back into his starting role, and still have Gerald Laird locked up for this year and next. On the other hand, with the Braves already unlikely to re-sign McCann after this season, Gattis's continued performance could make that decision much easier for the team.
- Meanwhile, Bowman says the Braves were interested in locking up outfielder Jason Heyward and first baseman Freddie Freeman during the offseason. Despite the team's efforts to initiate talks, however, they were rebuffed by the young stars. Heyward currently stands to reach free agency in 2016, with Freeman following him in 2017.
- Cubs starter Matt Garza suffered yet another setback, failing to make his first rehab start after suffering from what Cubs manager Dale Sveum called a "dead arm," writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute. Garza is, however, scheduled for long toss tomorrow and should be set up for a comeback start soon, David Furones writes for MLB.com. Of course, the Cubs would like not only to benefit from Garza's work on the mound, but to begin his audition for teams looking for rotation help at the trade deadline. In addition to the already-noted Chase Utley, Garza is one of several players that ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Insider) to keep an eye on as trade season approaches. Others include Mets catcher John Buck and Indians reliever Chris Perez.
Here are Wednesday's minor moves...
- The Rangers have signed Brandon Snyder to a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The 26-year-old former first round pick of the Orioles hit .277/.309/.446 in 69 plate appearances with Texas last year while playing first base, third base, and both corner outfield spots.
- The Padres have re-signed Juan Oramas to a minor league deal according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). The 22-year-old left-hander was non-tendered last month and is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- The Padres have also signed right-hander Sean O'Sullivan, infielder Gregorio Petit, and catcher Rene Rivera to minor league contracts, the team announced. All three players received invitations to Spring Training.
- The Twins have signed outfielder Brandon Boggs, infielder Ray Olmedo, right-hander Bryan Augenstein, first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez, right-hander Scott Elarton, right-hander Virgil Vasquez, left-hander Mike O'Connor, and left-hander Jason Lane to minor league deals according to MLB.com's Adam Berry. Boggs, Olmedo, and Augenstein received invitations to Spring Training.
The Blue Jays acquired minor league right-hander Sean O'Sullivan from Kansas City for cash considerations, the Royals announced. The marks the second time in two days that the injury-plagued Blue Jays have acquired right-handed pitching depth; they claimed David Pauley from the Angels yesterday.
O'Sullivan, 24, has a 6.75 ERA with 4.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 53 1/3 innings at Triple-A this year. He started ten games for last year's Royals team, posting a 7.25 ERA with 2.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 58 1/3 innings. The right-hander was originally drafted by the Angels in the third round of the 2005 draft.
The latest outright assignments from around MLB...
- The Diamondbacks outrighted left-hander Mike Zagurski, the team announced. Arizona acquired the 29-year-old from the Phillies last September. Zagurski owns a 6.82 ERA in 31 2/3 big league innings, all with Philadelphia.
- The Astros outrighted right-hander Henry Sosa to Triple-A, Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Sosa, 26, posted a 5.23 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 53 1/3 innings for the Astros in 2011, his rookie season.
- The Royals outrighted Sean O'Sullivan to Triple-A after the right-hander cleared waivers, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter). O'Sullivan, 24, started ten games for the Royals last year and posted a 7.25 ERA with 2.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 58 1/3 innings. His numbers were considerably stronger in 14 Triple-A starts, however.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star is reporting (via Twitter) that infielder Alberto Callaspo has been dealt from the Royals to the Angels in exchange for right-hander Sean O'Sullivan and minor league left-hander Will Smith.
Callaspo has a modest .275/.308/.410 line in 373 plate appearances this season, though that still represents a big upgrade over the .411 OPS of Brandon Wood, who has seen most of the action for the Halos at third base. Callaspo was originally signed by the Angels as a free agent in 2001, and spent four years in the club's system before being dealt to Arizona for Jason Bulger in 2006. With Callaspo now in L.A., it potentially opens up a spot at third base for Mike Moustakas should the Royals want to give their top prospect a look over the last two months of the season. Moustakas has an OPS of 1.067 in 326 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this season.
O'Sullivan, 22, has spent most of his year at Triple-A Salt Lake City, where he has posted a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts. A third-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft, O'Sullivan was the Angels' organizational pitcher of the year in 2007 and has a 5.15 ERA in 17 career major league games (11 of them starts).
The Royals rejected a previous offer for Callaspo two days ago that consisted of O'Sullivan and "a fringe prospect," so presumably K.C. was more attracted to Smith, a seventh-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft. Smith has a 4.24 ERA and a 3.47 K/BB ratio in 55 games (52 of them starts) in the Los Angeles minor league system, though his numbers have worsened this season as he's been elevated from high-A ball to Triple-A.