Seth Smith Rumors

Padres Likely To Keep Trading, Could Deal Seth Smith

After reaching agreement on their deal to acquire Wil Myers, the Padres are likely to keep trading, and Seth Smith is one player who might be moved, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. As Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan notes, the Padres have a huge number of outfielders, with Myers, Smith, Matt Kemp, Will Venable, Cameron Maybin, Abraham Almonte, Rymer Liriano and Carlos Quentin.

Assuming the Kemp trade goes through as planned (which doesn’t appear entirely certain at this point), Smith’s role with the Padres, in particular, would seem to be open to question. Smith and Myers are almost exclusively corner outfielders, and while Kemp is nominally a center fielder, he is very weak defensively there, so an outfield headlined by those three players would leave the Padres vulnerable. Smith, though, was one of the Padres’ few effective offensive players last season, hitting .266/.367/.440 in 521 plate appearances and earning a two-year extension in July. Following that extension, Smith faded in the second half, hitting .243/.340/.346 after batting .283/.387/.508 in the first.


Rosenthal On Padres, Upton, Smith, Nats, Haren

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has updates on a number of situations around the league in his latest pair of columns. Here are some highlights from his most recent work…

  • The Padres are interested in a wide array of hitters, but they’re “all over” Justin Upton, Rosenthal hears. However, now that they’re set to acquire Matt Kemp, the Padres don’t want to trade Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy or Tyson Ross, which might make a deal difficult to line up. They could possibly follow the Howie Kendrick-for-Andrew Heaney model and offer six years of a top prospect such as Austin Hedges or Matt Wisler.
  • Seth Smith is drawing interest from the Mariners and Orioles, among other clubs. Trading Smith would be an easier route for the team to take than moving one of Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin, neither of whom has much (if any) trade value. The Padres, however, gave Smith assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt this offseason when he signed a two-year, $13MM extension in early July. Then again, that assurance came before GM A.J. Preller had been hired.
  • The Nationals recently offered the Mariners both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, according to Rosenthal. However, the Mariners balked at giving up six years of Walker and five of Miller for just one year of Zimmermann and Desmond at a combined total of $27.5MM. Washington also discussed Zimmermann with the Red Sox.
  • The Marlins could look to trade Dan Haren if he doesn’t want to pitch for them in 2015, Rosenthal tweets. Haren made his preference to pitch on the West coast (specifically near his wife and two young children) clear when he signed with the Dodgers. At the end of the 2013 season, he discussed the difficulty of pitching across the country from his family with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and more recently he said he planned to retire if traded out of the area. Rosenthal notes that the Marlins spoke to Haren the night of the trade, and their preference is for Haren to pitch for their club in 2015. The Angels, who would represent one logical trade partner, given Haren’s geographic preference, have said they won’t be trading for him.

Mariners Notes: Melky, Viciedo, Rios, Upton, Desmond, Smith

Here’s the latest on the Mariners heading out of the Winter Meetings, courtesy of Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune:

  • The Mariners and Melky Cabrera seem to have staked out their positions, with Cabrera after five years and upwards of $60MM and the M’s not willing to go past three and around $42MM.
  • Seattle is increasingly looking at other possibilities, though the idea of a Dayan Viciedo trade was downplayed by Dutton’s sources. The team does have interest in Alex Rios, though he seems to be waiting out other market moves.
  • The M’s still have interest in Justin Upton, but do not want to meet the Braves’ asking price. Meanwhile, the team is “cool” at present to the idea of dealing for Ian Desmond.
  • One alternative trade candidate is Seth Smith of the Padres, though Dutton notes that he would not be optimal since he swings from the left side.


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.