Seattle Mariners Rumors
On this day in 2007, Terry Ryan announced that he would step aside from his post as the Twins general manager at the end of the season. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted, Ryan's history was checkered at best at the time. Of course, as a read through this site's most recent post would indicate, Ryan is now back at the helm. Though the team has yet to post more than seventy wins in a season since Ryan returned in November of 2011, Minnesota stands at 15th in ESPN's latest future power rankings on the strength of its minor league system. While Ryan has long been said to have his job as long as he wants to keep it, some other GMs may not be so lucky ...
- There are four general managers around the league who could soon be replaced, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. According to Gammons, two of those -- Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Larry Beinfest of the Marlins -- have arguably been undone by meddling owners. (Gammons cites Arte Moreno's $365MM investment in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and Jeffrey Loria's propensity for "whimsically run[ning] everything.") Meanwhile, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik may not survive to see whether the team's top young pitching talent can drive a winner. And Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd -- the game's fourth-longest tenured GM -- has yet to figure out how to craft a squad that can win away from Coors field. (For what it's worth, O'Dowd was in charge for the franchise's lone season with a winning road record, when it posted a 41-40 mark in 2009.)
- It would be ridiculous to consider Rangers GM Jon Daniels among those at risk, writes Baseball Nation's Grant Brisbee. While he surely could have sacrificed future value to win at all costs this season, says Brisbee, Daniels was prudent not to and still delivered a team that should qualify for the post-season.
- Teams must determine whether to make outgoing free agents a qualifying offer just five days after the conclusion of this year's World Series, and those decisions will play a major role in setting the stage for the 2014 free agent market. For non-obvious candidates, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, an important part of the equation lies in valuing the compensation pick that the team would receive if the player declines the offer and then signs with another club. Working off of a rough valuation of international signing slot dollars, Cameron opines that teams could value the dollars spent on a comp pick as much as three-to-four times higher than money the team could spend outside the draft. As he explains, this would imply that there is substantial excess value in obtaining non-marketable draft picks, which could move the needle in favor of making qualifying offers in marginal situations.
- As we prepare to weigh a new class of free agents, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman ranks the best signings of 2013. His top three are a collection of veterans whose contributions have vastly outweighed the relatively meager financial commitments that they received: Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, and Athletics starter Bartolo Colon. Next on his list is Boston's David Ortiz, who as Heyman notes was the only player to accept a qualifying offer in the first year of the system.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli says he wants to return to the team next season, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. Since he has stayed healthy, Napoli has earned the maximum $13MM value of his one-year deal with Boston for 2013. Napoli thinks there's no reason he shouldn't get a multiyear contract this winter, given that his AVN (a condition that leads to degeneration of bone in his hips) has not progressed. "After last offseason, I can’t really [guess], because after going into last offseason thinking I’d get that multi-year contract, I did my time, I’m a free agent, finally got that time, and look what happened," Napoli says. Here are more notes from the American League.
- It's unclear what the Royals will do with Luke Hochevar next season, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. He has had surprising success out of the bullpen this year, but it's questionable whether a team like the Royals ought to continue to employ him as a setup man after he gets a raise on his $4.6MM 2013 salary in arbitration this offseason. Given that Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen will be free agents, the Royals could also use Hochevar in the rotation, even though he mostly struggled in his career as a starter. Dutton also raises the possibility that the Royals could trade closer Greg Holland and use Hochevar in that role.
- It would be surprising if manager Eric Wedge returned to the Mariners next season, but that doesn't mean the team's problems are primarily his fault, writes Dave Cameron of USS Mariner. In fact, Cameron argues, firing Wedge would merely be part of a larger pattern in which the team fires an employee in order to provide scapegoats for the organization's mistakes. And if the Mariners were to fire Wedge, qualified replacements would not see the position as an attractive one, due to the risk that GM Jack Zduriencik will be fired and his replacement would want to bring in his own manager.
Masahiro Tanaka's name continues to generate buzz with each game he pitches in Nippon Professional Baseball. The 24-year-old currently boasts a 20-0 record with a 1.24 ERA, 7.7 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 181 innings for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Here's more on Tanaka and the international prospect front...
- Ben Badler of Baseball America cites a story from Japanese media outlet Sponichi in reporting that the Diamondbacks, Braves, Mariners, Red Sox and Yankees were among the teams with scouts in attendance for Tanaka's most recent start. Tanaka whiffed 11 hitters in a complete-game effort, yielding two runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, Badler adds in his subscription-only game report.
- The Rangers signed 16-year-old Dominican infielder Yimmelvyn Alonzo for $350K, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez (Twitter link). Over at BA, Badler points out that because Texas is already 15 percent over their spending pool, the Rangers will have to pay a 100 percent overage fee, meaning Alonzo essentially cost them $700K. Sanchez writes that Alonzo has some of the best raw power in this year's class of international prospects, though scouts are split on whether or not he can stay at shortstop. Some feel he will ultimately end up in the outfield or even at first base as he continues to grow.
For the Red Sox, 2013 has increasingly taken on the feel of a triumphant return to glory. Now enjoying a seemingly insurmountable division lead, the Sox have engineered one of the greatest season-to-season turnarounds ever. Jonah Keri of Grantland looks back on each of the key free agent signings made by GM Ben Cherington, arguing that the team's "passel of midlevel free agents" were hardly the overpays that they were labeled. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Phillies are still interested in Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he's tried to trade for him "at least ten times," writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Unfortunately for the Phils, Marlins president Larry Beinfest has rebuffed them each time and made it clear that they're not moving him.
- A Mets source told Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter) that manager Terry Collins isn't being evaluated by wins and losses in September. "There's different criteria at different times of the year," the offical said.
- Alex Rodriguez's attorneys fear that the MLBPA won't fight hard for their client as he fights a 211-game ban, writes Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News. Sources say that the relationship between team A-Rod and the union is rather uneasy at this point.
- Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey needs 10.2 innings to reach a $100K bonus and manager Ron Gardenhire won't get in his way as he says that he never lets bonuses affect his decisions, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.
- Regardless of his light-hitting, Brendan Ryan left his mark on Mariners baseball, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The shortstop was traded to the Yankees earlier this week for a player to be named later.
- Three years after signing Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126MM deal, Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner says that he's still pleased about the deal, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Yankees have acquired shortstop Brendan Ryan from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later, according to a press release from Seattle. Of course, Ryan will not be eligible for postseason play as he was dealt after the August 31st deadline.
Ryan, 31, appeared in 87 games for the Mariners this season and hit just .192/.254/.265 with three homers. However, the veteran offers solid defense at shortstop, as evidenced by his career 11.7 UZR/150 at the positon. Ryan can help the Yankees fill the gap while Derek Jeter remains sidelined by offering a better defensive alternative to Eduardo Nunez.
Ryan cleared waivers in mid-August, clearing the way for Jack Zduriencik & Co. to trade him to any club, but nothing materialized over the next couple of weeks. The light-hitting infielder wasn't moved last month, but the M's did make a trade when they moved Mike Morse to the Orioles for outfield prospect Xavier Avery.
Monday's game between the Astros and the Mariners will feature Jarred Cosart and Taijuan Walker, two top 100 prospects who made their debuts this year, MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato reports. Before the season, Cosart was ranked the No. 73 prospect in baseball by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and No. 86 by ESPN's Keith Law. Mayo ranked Walker baseball's No. 4 prospect, and Law had Walker at No. 9. The game will also be Walker's first at Safeco Field, and his last of 2013. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Mets could pursue a free agent shortstop in the coming offseason, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. Stephen Drew might be a possibility, and Yunel Escobar could be as well if the Rays decline his option, Martino reports. It seems doubtful that Escobar will be on the free agent market, but Drew, who is making $9.5MM this season, might make sense. (Other free agent options include Jhonny Peralta and Clint Barmes; you can find the full list of free agents here.) Martino quotes a team official calling Ruben Tejada a "very disappointing kid," but it's still possible that Tejada could be the Mets' starting shortstop next year as well.
- Padres manager Bud Black says had at least some interest in veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt before Oswalt signed with the Rockies, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). Oswalt has struggled through four starts for Colorado this season.
- The difference between Xander Bogaerts and Derek Jeter mirrors the differences between the Red Sox and Yankees franchises in general, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Bogaerts, a dynamic young player, allowed the Sox to ship off Jose Iglesias (and three young players) in order to get Jake Peavy. Meanwhile, Jeter is declining and injury-prone. And more broadly, Sherman says, the Sox appear to have a well-stocked roster in place not only for 2013, but also for next year, whereas the Yankees' will feature a number of albatross contracts.
Recent Mariners callup Taijuan Walker's skin color is important for the future of baseball, as just 2.3 percent of the 648 pitchers who have thrown in the majors this year are American-born black players, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes. The rise of Walker, whose father is black and mother is half-Mexican, half-white; and the Rays' Chris Archer, who was born to a black father and white mother, "represents what the league desperately hopes is a trend and not an anomaly," Passan says. On to more Saturday night major league links:
- Over the last two seasons, National League starters acquired by the Rangers have failed to succeed in the AL West, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, posting a collective 4.72 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 1.37 HR/9. Though Grant rightly acknowledges that the sample is far too small to be conclusive, it is certainly true that both of the team's major trade-deadline acquisitions -- Ryan Dempster (2012) and Matt Garza (2013) -- have put up pedestrian numbers for Texas.
- Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison will have surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder on Monday, Grant reports. Harrison had the same procedure, in which a rib is removed, on his throwing shoulder in 2009. “Since I’m already shut down with the back issues for the year, I might as well get it taken care of,” Harrison commented. Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he believes Harrison will be ready for 2014 spring training, Anthony Andro of Fox Sports Southwest tweets.
- Blue Jays assistant GM Andrew Tinnish and scout Danny Evans were in Japan in August to scout Masahiro Tanaka, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports via Twitter. Clubs connected to Tanaka so far include the Twins, Giants and Yankees.
To round out the evening, here are a few links ...
- The Red Sox had an opportunity to acquire reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, reports CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler, but were unwilling to give up young third baseman Will Middlebrooks to do so. Leaving Rodriguez go to the division-rival Orioles, GM Ben Cherington determined that Middlebrooks could still contribute to the team this season. Of course, he has done just that, posting an excellent .972 OPS since being recalled on August 10th.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge says that his team has "a lot of guys that have a good chance to be good ballplayers," reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, but says he is not sure "we have any superstars." Wedge went on to praise the organization's "volume" of talent. Though intended as a compliment, says Baker, these comments make clear that the team needs to jettison its "risk-averse financial approach" and act boldly on the free agent market to produce a real contender.
- Nationals' starter Dan Haren had a second straight disastrous outing today, once more failing to hang in past the third inning. While Haren had a chance to end his rocky season on a consistent high note after a solid run through much of July and August, his free agent value seems unlikely to make a real recovery at this point. It will be interesting to see how the market values once-excellent starters like Haren, Josh Johnson, and Roy Halladay, each of whom have suffered through miserable seasons in their walk years.
Closer is "the most overvalued position in baseball," Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes, an opinion shared by no less an authority than Hall-of-Famer closer Dennis Eckersley. Kepner notes that teams often err in signing closers to expensive contracts and then end up using replacement closers that were already on their rosters in the first place. “I don’t want to take away anything from what I did, but it’s not as tough as you think," Eckersley said. “You could groom somebody to do it who’s on the staff, if you manage it the right way."
While the agents of this year's free agent stoppers compose their counter-arguments, here are some more news items from around baseball...
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts isn't planning any major payroll increases in the near future, telling Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that, "You can’t just throw money at the problem. We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now."
- Chris Perez will be shopped by the Indians this offseason, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts, and Pluto thinks Perez will be pitching elsewhere in 2014. Perez will earn a raise from his current $7.3MM salary in the arbitration process and Pluto feels the Tribe will want to move him rather than pay the closer that much. Perez's solid season could help his trade value, as Pluto notes that the Indians found only an "iffy" market for Perez when they attempted to deal him last winter.
- "In a strict, WAR sense, [Kendrys Morales] may not compute to be worth $14 million or more per season. But the real cost the Mariners will have to weigh is what it would be like without him," The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker writes. While Morales has slumped lately, Baker argues that the M's are still short of big bats and thus need to at least extend Morales a qualifying offer.
- Paul Konerko answered a simple "No" to questions about any decisions on his playing future, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. We heard yesterday that Konerko was telling friends he wanted to keep playing in 2014, but the White Sox captain reiterated his stance that he would wait until a later date to make a decision.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at which free agent hitters should or shouldn't receive qualifying offers from their current teams this winter.
- Neal Huntington would win a fictitious "MLB Comeback Executive of the Year" award, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes. The criticism faced by the Pirates GM has turned to praise as his recent moves have the Bucs on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 1992.
- Despite Ryan Vogelsong's tough season, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter) thinks the Giants will pick up his $6.5MM team option for 2014 if the righty remains healthy. Vogelsong has a 5.49 ERA in 14 starts, but entering tonight's action, Vogelsong had posted a 2.93 ERA over five starts since returning from the disabled list.
Where did the year go?
The 2013 minor league regular season is in the books, and the lucky few are currently competing in the playoffs. We've seen a lot of exciting moments during the year. We've also seen a lot of prospects significantly improve their values. To celebrate the best of the best, MLBTR is celebrating the 2013 All-Prospect All-Star Team, which features the top players in the minors at each position. Given the depth at some positions -- as well as the lack there of at others -- this was no easy task.
The players were chosen by considering a mixture of future potential and statistical results.
Catcher: Austin Hedges, Padres -- Because of his abilities on both defense and offense, San Diego's catcher of the future narrowly edged out the Yankees' Gary Sanchez. His abilities on both sides of the ball also impressed his employers, according to Padres Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald. "He has the tools and skill set to impact both sides of the ball... and we are excited about his future with the San Diego Padres," MacDonald said.
Hedges will probably never be the strongest offensive catcher in the league but he won't embarrass himself, either. Behind the plate, he's perhaps the best defensive catcher in the minors if you take everything into consideration: arm, receiving, blocking, game calling and leadership.
First Base: Dan Vogelbach, Cubs -- This position was the hardest one to find a deserving candidate. The Astros' Jonathan Singleton missed the beginning of the year due to a suspension and then struggled with his consistency. The Angels' C.J. Cron failed to consistently tap into his raw power. Vogelbach, just 20, performed well at two A-ball levels and showed the ability to hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a solid clip.
Brandon Hyde, the Cubs' director of player development, said Vogelbach's successes came from hard work. "It was an impressive season with raw power to all fields," he said. "He has an advanced approach for his age, and he controls the strike zone."
Second Base: Rougned Odor, Rangers -- Second base was another tough position to settle on the winner. The Angels' Taylor Lindsey, Cardinals' Kolten Wong, and Twins' Eddie Rosario also received serious consideration before the award went to Odor. The Rangers' prospect hit more than .300 between High-A and Double-A with a strong OPS and 32 stolen bases -- all at the age of 19. The left-handed hitter also popped 58 extra base hits, including 41 doubles. With all the middle infield depth in Texas, Odor could make things very interesting -- and crowded -- in short order.
Third Base: Miguel Sano, Twins -- Sano was the runaway winner at third base, although the Cubs' Kris Bryant could give him a run for his money in a year's time (assuming both prospects are still in the minors). The Dominican native launched 35 home runs and produced a .610 slugging percentage. However, he didn't hit for a great average after his promotion from High-A to Double-A, and he combined to strike out 142 times in 123 games, so there are some holes in his game that need to be addressed.
Shortstop: Javier Baez, Cubs -- There were five players that were considered in this slot, including Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Athletics) and Carlos Correa (Astros). Baez, though, came out ahead when considering his outstanding statistical results and the fact that he has a chance to be as good as any other player on the list. Just 20, he finished the year in Double-A and hit a combined 37 home runs with 20 stolen bases and a .920 OPS.
Hyde was impressed with Baez's ability to make adjustments after being promoted to Double-A. "He hit in the middle of the order on a prospect-laden team. He made huge strides defensively and with his plate discipline," Hyde said. "He has a unique combination of raw power, speed and off-the-charts instincts, especially for a 20 year old in Double-A."
Outfielder: George Springer, Astros -- Springer, 23, had an eye-popping season while playing at both Double-A and Triple-A. He narrowly missed becoming a 40-40 player (HR-SB) with 37 homers and 45 steals while playing at the highest levels of the minors. Springer's approach produces massive strikeout numbers, but he showed improvements in that area as the year progressed.
The prospect impressed the club's front office not only with his play but also his attitude, according to Quinton McCracken, the Astros director of player development. "George is an exceptional five-tool talent, and even better person. He has great makeup, work ethic, off-the-chart intangibles coupled with incredible athleticism... He's a very special player," he said.
Outfielder: Byron Buxton, Twins -- Buxton was the biggest no-brainer on this list. Just 19 and in his first full pro season, the five-tool outfielder played at two A-ball levels while hitting more than .330 and producing double digits in doubles, triples and homers. He also got on base at a .424 clip, stole 55 bases in 74 tries and played above-average defense in centerfield. The Twins have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball and could be a massive threat in two to three seasons.
Outfielder: Gregory Polanco, Pirates -- Polanco edged out a few other players because, at a very young age, he showed a five-tool approach and had an impact in numerous areas. The 21-year-old outfielder showed that he may one day develop into a 20-20 or perhaps even a 30-30 player. After beginning the year in A-ball, he ended the season in Triple-A.
Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said the most impressive thing about Polanco's growth has been his maturity. "He has fit into each clubhouse and added value to the culture of each club that he's been on," Broadway explained. "He continues to approach the game with a learner's mentality and is always looking to find a way to get better. He's not afraid to make a mistake in the process, which has allowed him to progress well in all areas of his game."
Starting Pitcher: Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks -- Bradley and Dylan Bundy grew up playing baseball together, but the former passed the latter on top prospect lists after the Orioles' prospect blew out his elbow. Just 20 years old, Bradley spent the majority of the year in Double-A and finished the season with a combined ERA of 1.84 and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings of work. He also allowed just 115 hits.
Starting Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mariners -- Utilizing a strong fastball and excellent breaking ball, Walker, who just turned 21 on Aug. 13, made older competition look foolish as he produced outstanding numbers in Double-A and Triple-A before earning his MLB promotion. The right-hander struck out 160 batters in 141 1/3 innings while allowing just 112 hits.
Chris Gwynn, the Mariners director of player development, said Walker is oozing talent but he's also an extremely hard worker. "Going into the offseason last year he realized there were some things he needed to work on to get better," Gwynn said, listing fastball command (down in the zone, to both sides of the plate) and improved secondary pitches as two of those things. "Coming into this season he was a man on a mission... and had a dominant season in Double-A and Triple-A didn't phase him. It shows he wants it really bad."
Starting Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, Mets -- Jameson Taillon (Pirates), Kevin Gausman (Orioles) and Robert Stephenson (Reds) also received consideration as the one of the top pitchers in the minors but the final spot went to the Mets' prospect. Syndergaard showed a rare combination of power (his fastball can tickle triple digits) and control when he struck out 133 batters in 117 2/3 innings and issued 28 free passes. Just 20, the Texas native finished the year with 11 starts at the Double-A level.
Reliever: Steve Geltz, Rays -- It's hard to find a worthy reliever because many of the best MLB bullpen aces originally come from the starting ranks. Geltz, though, is still only 25 years old and he was the hardest pitcher to hit in Triple-A (minimum 50 innings) by allowing a batting-average-against of just .152. That mark was actually the seventh lowest in the entire minor leagues. His strikeout percentage (31.3 percent) was good for 12th in Triple-A ball. Not bad for a player that went undrafted and signed with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in 2008.