Seth Smith Rumors

Padres Extend Seth Smith

The Padres have officially agreed to a two-year, $13MM extension with outfielder Seth Smith, as originally reported by MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter links). Smith will earn $6MM next year and $6.75MM in 2016 before an option year in 2017, when the club will decide whether to pay a $250K buyout or $7MM salary, Brock reports on Twitter.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres

Surprising on several levels, the new contract for Smith will presumably keep him off the upcoming trade and free agent markets. Indeed, he has been assured he will not be dealt, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Smith, a 31-year-old who swings from the left side, was playing out his final year of arbitration eligibility in San Diego after being acquired for reliever Luke Gregerson before the season.

To be sure, Smith has been excellent thus far for the Padres. He owns a .281/.384/.506 triple-slash and 9 home runs through 277 plate appearances. Those numbers are good for a park-adjusted 158 OPS+ and 155 wRC+. Though his defense has never been a strong suit, Smith has still managed to put up 2.2 fWAR and 3.0 rWAR in just about a half-season of work in 2014.

On the other hand, that tally of wins above replacement is more than twice what he has produced on average over the past four seasons. Between moving out of Coors Field (after the 2011 season) and into Petco Park, Smith had slashed .246/.331/.406 with 22 home runs in 851 plate appearances for the A’s. It would be unrealistic to expect Smith to keep up his torrid current pace, of course, though projection systems ZiPS and Steamer like him to maintain a more-than-serviceable 120 wRC+for the rest of the season.

In terms of value, Smith will receive a deal that lands just north of several two-year contracts signed over the last free agent period. David Murphy got two years and $12MM from the Indians, while Rajai Davis and Nate McLouth received two-year pacts for between $10MM and $10.75MM. Put in those terms, the deal appears to be a fair one for both sides, with each avoiding the risk of shifts in second-half performance as well as the unpredictable nature of the open market.

The larger question, it would seem, is whether the contract makes sense for San Diego. Even after a recent run of good play, the club remains 10.5 games back in the NL West and 8.5 out of the Wild Card. Smith looked to be an attractive trade chip in the run-up to the deadline, with his pop from the left side of the dish already drawing calls. Then, of course, there is the fact that the Padres just fired GM Josh Byrnes, and are currently in the process of selecting a new steward while operating under a trio of preexisting executives.

 


Cafardo’s Latest: Morales, D’Backs, Kemp

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column

  • Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger.  It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
  • The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes.  Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy.  “We’re meeting on it.  Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
  • The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded.  Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
  • The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job.  Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
  • Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
  • Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston.  “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo.  “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.”  This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
  • While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder.  Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
  • The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available.  Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
  • Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing.  “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
  • The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.

Stark On Rays, Zobrist, Utley, Cubs, Padres

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and while things figure to get exciting over the next month and change, not everyone is drooling over what might be available.  “To be honest, I don’t see much out there,” an official of one contender told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. “Who’s even selling? And what are they selling? I know there will be guys to trade for. But where’s the quality?”  The whole column is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights from Stark’s latest..

  • The Rays front office believed that they had the talent to win it all this year and that optimism could play into how they approach the deadline.  The Rays aren’t selling and Stark writes that if they believe what they have can power them to a championship next season, they might stand pat and keep the band together.  Teams that have spoken with Tampa Bay see a fire sale as unlikely.
  • The Rays might listen on Ben Zobrist, but one exec who has spoken with the club gets the sense that it would be “really, really difficult” for them to part with him.  The exception to all of this, of course, is David Price.
  • The Phillies are expected to be open for business between now and the deadline, but they might not like the offers that come in.  “Look at their trade chips,” said an NL executive. “Even if they blow it up, dangle [Cole] Hamels and dangle all these other guys, each one of those guys has some reason it will be hard for them to get back what they want.
  • Meanwhile, one exec flatly said a Chase Utley trade is “not happening.”  The sticker price might not be met on Phillies like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins, but teams see Domonic Brown as someone whom the Phillies would like to swap for a different young change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Teams that have spoken with the Cubs expect them to move pitcher Jason Hammel in the next two weeks.  That could just be the warm up for Jeff Samardzija, but they continue to tell teams that they’d like to hammer out a new contract with him.  This week we learned that the Cubs ace rejected a five-year, $85MM+ offer.
  • While some teams are beating around the bush, the Padres are aggressively letting teams know that they want to sell.  All of their outfielders, except Cameron Maybin, are available, and that includes Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable.
  • Several teams report the Dodgers are telling them they’ll listen right now on every one of their outfielders except Yasiel Puig.
  • The Yankees have been asking almost exclusively about starting pitching in their preliminary conversations.
  • Teams that have talked with the Tigers say they’re focused on bullpen upgrades, not shortstop.
  • The Angels are in the bullpen market, but they’re looking hard at left-handed-relief options, not closers.
  • Things are murky around the D’Backs since no one really knows who is in charge their or what their goals are.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the Royals can add payroll, but clubs believe that he won’t get to go-ahead to spend until mid-July.  When and if KC starts buying, they are expected to target right fielders and bullpen arms since that is what they’ve been asking about in conversations.


Padres Could Make Organizational Changes Soon

The Padres are currently 10 games below .500 and 14.5 games behind in the NL West despite a pitching staff that ranks eighth in the Majors in ERA, and ownership is losing patience with the club, according to multiple reports. In an appearance with Darren Smith of Mighty 1090 radio in San Diego yesterday (audio link), Padres CEO Mike Dee said called the team’s current standing “unacceptable.” Dee notes that as an organization, “we’re all accountable,” but he made little effort to hide the fact that changes could be on the horizon.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I was not looking at everything and everybody in this organization from top to bottom … We increased payroll 25 percent. We got an enormous commitment by ownership to do that, and it’s not getting done. And when it’s not getting done, everybody and everything gets put under the microscope, and if changes are appropriate, changes will be made.”

While Dee declined to “put a shot clock” on when moves will be made (if at all), he went on to say, “Stay tuned. If it doesn’t turn around, invariably, we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.” Specifically, he was critical of the team’s offensive struggles. When asked if manager Bud Black was getting the most out of the roster, Dee replied by saying that even Black himself would answer “no” to that question, though he declined to place any significant amount of blame on the longtime San Diego skipper, stating “It’s not on Buddy, singularly, it’s on the organization. All of us are disappointed. All of us are accountable. The fanbase deserves more.”

This morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports exchanged emails with chairman Ron Fowler, who told him:

At this time, we will not be discussing our situation with any parties outside of our senior management circle. That said, we are terribly disappointed in the team’s offense this year and staying the course (waiting for a turnaround) is becoming less appealing as the ugly losses continue.”

Rosenthal speculates that hitting coach Phil Plantier might be the one who is in the most immediate danger. The Padres are, after all, last in the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, having batted just .216/.275/.344 as a team. Petco Park’s pitcher-friendly setting can’t even be blamed, as the Padres rank last in the Majors with a wRC+ of just 75, and that stat is both park- and league-adjusted. (In other words, Padres hitters have been, as a whole, 25 percent less effective than a league-average hitter, even when adjusting their hitting to account for a pitcher-friendly environment.)

Rosenthal points back to an article from the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee last month, in which Acee suggested that ownership was becoming impatient with Black. Within that piece, Acee noted that while the lack of offense isn’t necessarily Black’s fault, it is his problem. He went on to write that if the team doesn’t look better by season’s end, GM Josh Byrnes would also be a candidate to be replaced.

Rosenthal writes that Black is still among the game’s most respected managers when talking to rival executives, and he could land another managerial job in short order were he to be dismissed in San Diego. Beyond that, Rosenthal writes that roster changes could be on the horizon as well, noting that the team is expected to move multiple veteran pieces prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He lists Seth Smith, Huston Street, Ian Kennedy and Chris Denorfia as candidates to be shipped out.


Padres Avoid Arbitration With Seth Smith

The Padres have avoided arbitration with outfielder Seth Smith, the club announced on Twitter. Smith will earn $4.5MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected that Smith would merit a $4.3MM salary in his final trip through arbitration. 

The 31-year-old hit .253/.329/.391 in 410 plate appearances last year in Oakland, including eight long balls. He had hit at least 14 home runs in each of the previous four seasons, though three of those were spent at homer-prone Coors Field. Smith has been most attractive in a platoon role throughout his career, posting a lifetime .844 OPS against righties and just a .582 OPS versus same-handed hurlers.

San Diego acquired Smith from the Athletics back in December, in exchange for reliever Luke Gregerson. As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Pads have reached agreement with three arb-eligible players (Tim Stauffer and Eric Stults, in addition to Smith) and have six more to go: Kyle Blanks, Everth Cabrera, Andrew Cashner, Chase Headley, Ian Kennedy, and Tyson Ross. Swartz projects that group to command a total of $22.7MM, on top of the $8.85MM that the club has already committed through arbitration this year.


Padres, A’s Swap Luke Gregerson For Seth Smith

The Athletics announced that they have traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres in exchange for right-hander Luke Gregerson in a one-for-one swap.

Smith, 31, batted .253/.329/.391 with eight home runs in 410 plate appearances for Oakland this season. Always a better hitter against right-handed pitching, he continued that trend in 2013, posting a .748 OPS against right-handers and just a .621 mark against lefties. For his career, Smith has mashed right-handers to the tune of a .279/.357/.487 batting line. Smith's defense in left field has consistently graded out as a positive (+7.7 UZR/150, +2 Defensive Runs Saved), but he's limited to a corner position and hasn't received great marks in right field.

MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Smith to earn $4.3MM this offseason in his final round of arbitration. He's eligible for free agency next winter.

Gregerson, 29, is also a free agent following this season and projected to earn a comparable $4.9MM salary, per Swartz. He enjoyed yet another strong season in the Padres' bullpen last year, pitching to a 2.71 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 45.5 percent ground-ball rate. Gregerson is the second high-profile reliever added by the A's in the past 24 hours, as GM Billy Beane also acquired Jim Johnson from the Orioles last night.

The trade was first reported by Oakland-area blogger Chris Kusiolek (on Twitter).


A’s Avoid Arbitration With Jaso, Smith

7:46pm: Jaso's deal is worth $1.8MM, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).

6:24pm: The A’s announced that they have agreed to terms with catcher John Jaso and outfielder Seth Smith on one-year contracts for the 2013 season.  Terms of the deals are not yet known.  Jaso is a client of ACES while Smith is represented by Aegis Sports Management.

Oakland acquired Jaso just yesterday from the Mariners in the three-team deal that sent Mike Morse to Seattle.  The 29-year-old, who is first-time arbitration eligible this winter, is under team control through the 2015 season.  Jaso hit .276/.394/.456 in 108 games last season, his best offensive campaign to date.

Smith, 30, has a career .267/.345/.470 slash line across six big league seasons.  The A's acquired Smith from the Rockies for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman on Wednesday.  Smith, who will hit the open market after the 2014 season, earned $2.4MM from Colorado last season.

As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the A's have two arbitration eligible players left in Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss.


Olney On Red Sox, Mariners, Smith, Rangers

Most of the top available starting pitchers currently play in the National League, but there’s still lots of trade talk in the AL this summer. Buster Olney provides updates on the junior circuit trade market in today’s column at ESPN.com. Here are some highlights:

  • The Mariners won’t trade Felix Hernandez, but Kevin Millwood, Chone Figgins, Jason Vargas and Brandon League could be dealt.
  • The Red Sox have focused on adding starting pitching. Some executives believe the Rangers will make a big play for the best starting pitchers available.
  • Meanwhile, the White Sox have been asking around about relievers.
  • Teams have called about Seth Smith, but the Athletics will keep him. However, Kurt Suzuki could be available and the A’s will listen to offers for Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour.
  • The Indians figure to pursue right-handed bats and Carlos Quentin could be an option in Cleveland, Olney writes.
  • The Blue Jays plan to assess their chances at the All-Star break, and some rival officials expect Toronto to sell.
  • The Orioles need pitching, but Olney doesn’t expect the team to make a major addition. Similarly, the Twins figure to seek pitching in any midseason trades they consider.
  • Here’s MLBTR’s recap of Olney’s look at the NL trade market.

Athletics Notes: McCarthy, Balfour, Smith, Fuentes

The A's could be gearing up for a sale closer to the deadline, but for now Oakland sits at 37-40 as they enter tonight's game in Texas and may look to see how things play out.  In the interim, the club would like to move left-hander Brian Fuentes.  Here's the latest out of Oakland..

  • In addition to Fuentes, the A's will also be willing to move Brandon McCarthy once he is healthy, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The right-hander has a 2.54 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 through 12 starts this season.  However, Rosenthal notes that his injury concerns could require extra rest from which ever team may acquire him.  Sources add that the A's are under no financial pressure to make moves.
  • The A’s also are open to moving right-hander Grant Balfour, but will seek more in return than they would for McCarthy, Rosenthal writes.  Balfour is under control for 2013 with a $4.5MM club option.
  • A source also tells Rosenthal that outfielder/DH Seth Smith is unlikely to be traded.  Smith makes just $2.415MM this season and is and under club control through 2014.
  • Fuentes politely declined to comment when asked about trade rumors or whether he has requested a trade, tweets Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group.

Athletics Acquire Seth Smith

The Athletics acquired outfielder Seth Smith from the Rockies for righty Guillermo Moscoso and lefty Josh Outman, according to the Rockies' Twitter feed.  The A's are a somewhat surprising match for Smith, but they did need corner outfield help after losing Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to free agency.  Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp round out Oakland's outfield.

Smith

Smith, a 29-year-old left-handed hitter, batted .284/.347/.483 with 15 home runs in a career-high 533 plate appearances for the Rockies last year.  The corner outfielder has struggled against southpaws in his career.  Smith (pictured) is under team control through 2014, and MLBTR reported last night that he'll earn $2.415MM in 2012.  The Rays, Mariners, Braves, and Mets are among the other teams that showed interested in Smith this winter.  He became expendable after the Rockies signed Michael Cuddyer for $31.5MM in December.

Moscoso, 28, had his first prolonged big league exposure last year for the A's.  He posted a 3.38 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, and 26.8% groundball rate in 128 innings.  His flyball/pitch-to-contact approach might not play well at Coors Field.  Originally signed by the Tigers, Moscoso was traded to the Rangers in December of '08 for Gerald Laird and then to the A's a year ago for Ryan Kelly.  Prior to the 2010 season, Baseball America wrote, "Moscoso is ready for a big league role, either as a back-of-the-rotation starter, a long reliever, or a swingman."

Outman, 27, tossed 58 1/3 big league innings last year and another 78 1/3 at Triple-A.  He's been a useful starter in the Majors, with a chunk of missed time due to June 2009 Tommy John surgery.  Outman was drafted by the Phillies in 2005 and traded to Oakland in '08 as part of the Joe Blanton deal.  Prior to that season, BA said Outman profiled as a number three starter.  Now, he'll join Moscoso in what Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd called a "raging competition" for rotation spots.  The Rockies are actually close to adding a veteran starter to the mix for more depth, tweets Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.