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Shelby Miller Rumors
A pair of intra-division matchups are on tap for the weekend as the Cardinals host the Cubs for a three-game series and the Pirates travel to Miller Park for a three-game set against the Brewers. The Reds, meanwhile, will host the Rays in interleague play and face a tough matchup in Tampa ace David Price tonight. Here's some news from around the NL Central…
- Shelby Miller has struggled in his first two starts of 2014, and as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron explains, Miller's problems began at the end of last season, which explains his near-total absence from the Cardinals' playoff run. An injury could be responsible for Miller's issues, "but this version of Shelby Miller isn’t very good, and unless he flips a switch sometime soon, [the Cardinals are] going to have to start looking for alternatives."
- Carlos Gomez's strong 2013 season and his red-hot start to 2014 has made his three-year, $24MM extension from the Brewers "look like a steal," in the words of Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe. Gomez's extension, signed in March 2013, kicked in this season and keeps the center fielder in Milwaukee through the 2016 campaign. As Jaffe notes, it's rare for a player to improve as much as Gomez has after amassing over 1000 PA in the Major Leagues.
- Jason McLeod, the Cubs' VP of scouting and player development, tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney that though the Cubs' system is somewhat lacking in blue chip pitching prospects, it doesn't mean the Cubs will specifically focus on adding a young arm with the fourth overall pick of the 2014 draft. “We’ve made no secret that we’ve tried to acquire as much pitching as we can….But if you look at our last two drafts, we’ve taken two position players with our first pick, because we felt Albert [Almora] and Kris [Bryant] were the best players at those picks," McLeod said. "That’s how we’re going to approach this draft as well. We’re not going to draft on need. We’re going to draft the guy that we feel will provide that long-term impact for us.”
The Orioles and Cardinals had trade talks revolving around Shelby Miller and J.J. Hardy, but the Cardinals told Baltimore there's no deal to be made, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Some have speculated that the Cards could consider trading Miller this winter despite his brilliant rookie season. However, there was no indication that St. Louis is thinking that way in this exchange.
Hardy is coming off of a season in which he hit .263/.306/.433 while belting 25 home runs. Of course, the Cardinals are aggressively pursuing an upgrade at the shortstop position, but this deal wasn't up their alley.
While the Cardinals believe in keeping an open mind to all opportunities, many at the GM Meetings are wondering why they would even think about trading the right-hander, Heyman writes. The Cards have recieved many inquiries about their wealth of young pitchers over the last couple of days.
The Max Scherzer trade rumors don't make much sense to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, who argues that a Tigers club built to win in 2014 can't afford to move an ace pitcher unless another team makes "an incredibly loony price" in a trade. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore hears from a source who flatly denies that Scherzer will be dealt, and Kilgore wonders if the Tigers' alleged willingness to trade may hint at concerns about Scherzer's future performance.
Here are some items about notable arms that could be had via trade or free agency this offseason…
- The Nationals have the minor league depth to acquire the likes of Scherzer or David Price, Kilgore writes. It could be more likely that the Nats pursue a younger pitcher who is under control for more years, a la the team's deal for Gio Gonzalez.
- Shelby Miller is "an under-the-radar potential [trade] target," a baseball official opines to Kilgore. Miller pitched just one postseason inning for the Cardinals due to concerns that he had a tired arm, though Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that were rumors that Miller was really being saved for a possible trade this winter. I'm not sure if I believe that theory; you'd think the Cards would've had all healthy arms on deck in pursuit of a World Series.
- The Cubs are interested in Masahiro Tanaka, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan on WGN Radio's The David Kaplan Show (Twitter link). "He's going to help somebody and we will be in on him," Hoyer said.
- Matt Sosnick, Josh Johnson's agent, says he has talked to "nearly every team" about his client, including the Rangers, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. The Rangers appeal to Johnson due to their winning ways because he lives in nearby Oklahoma, though since Sosnick says Johnson would prefer "at least a pitching-neutral ballpark," Rangers Ballpark might be a hindrance.
- The Angels' signing of starter Chris Volstad could spell trouble for starters Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles TImes. Volstad is cheap and young, and DiGiovanna says that the club may not see much difference between him and the club's pricier, pre-existing options. In his breakdown of the Halos' arbitration-eligible players, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes calls Hanson a definite non-tender candidate, and says Williams could also be shown the door.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden speculates about six possible David Price trades (ESPN Insider subscription required).
MLBTR's Jeff Todd also contributed to this post
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chicago Cubs | Chris Volstad | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Jerome Williams | Josh Johnson | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Masahiro Tanaka | Max Scherzer | Shelby Miller | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tommy Hanson | Washington Nationals
Ken Rosenthal shares a few hot stove-related items in his latest column for FOX Sports…
- The Padres are known to be looking for starting pitching, and Rosenthal notes that San Diego would prefer to pick up a younger starter who is signed beyond this season. An exception could be Ricky Nolasco, as Rosenthal repeated his suggestion from yesterday that Nolasco could be open to re-signing with the Padres given that the pending free agent hails from southern California.
- Astros right-hander Bud Norris is cited as one of the controllable younger arms that fits the mold of what the Padres are looking for, though one rival executive thinks Norris "isn’t the best bet to make a team leap forward. Will he help a team improve? Yes. Would I stamp him as a difference-maker? Not a definite.” Norris has been connected to the Pirates, Giants and Orioles in trade speculation and I profiled him as a trade candidate last month.
- While the Rangers could use some outfield help, the decision to use Jurickson Profar as an outfielder is somewhat risky, Rosenthal opines. Profar is learning a new position on the fly and has yet to deliver much at the plate in his brief Major League career. If he struggles, he'll lose some trade value if the Rangers decide to move him, and the team may also have more trouble convincing Ian Kinsler to eventually move to the outfield to make room for Profar at second base.
- The Astros had an arrangement in place to draft Shelby Miller with the 21st overall pick of the 2009 draft, Miller tells Rosenthal, except the Cardinals took Miller with the 19th pick. Miller, a Texas native, was also managed by a Rangers scout during a high school showcase event but the Rangers passed on Miller with their 14th overall pick in the draft and instead took righty Matt Purke, who never signed with the club.
- The Jordan Walden-for-Tommy Hanson trade is looking like "a steal" for the Braves, in the words of one rival executive. Walden has been a force (2.70 ERA, 10 K/9, 6.50 K/BB rate in 23 1/3 IP) out of the Atlanta bullpen while Hanson has battled injuries and posted a 5.10 ERA over nine starts with the Angels.
Hall of Fame and Cardinal icon Stan Musial passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Today, tributes are pouring in ranging from fans outside the Stan the Man statue at Busch Stadium (St. Louis Post-Dispatch video) to the White House (h/t MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch). Daniel Solzman of Redbirdrants.com even suggests the Cardinals name the playing field at Busch Stadium in honor of Musial. The Cardinals are holding their 17th annual fanfest this weekend and, while the Musial official memorabilia booth was closed today in tribute to the St. Louis legend, players still made their appearances and made some news.
- Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. says the club is prepared to increase payroll in the coming years, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold adds the 2013 payroll is around $115MM.
- Adam Wainwright, who is entering the final year of his contract, admitted the Cardinals approached him about a contract extension during the final month of this past regular season, Goold reports. Wainwright said he wanted to focus on the playoff stretch and "it wasn’t going to hurt my case to just wait it out and see where some of these guys signed."
- On the upcoming Wainwright extension talks, Goold, within the same piece, quoted GM John Mozeliak as saying, "It’s going to be long. It’s going to be expensive."
- Wainwright has become a mentor to pitching prospect Shelby Miller, Goold writes in a separate article. Miller, who will compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, says he doesn't know what he was thinking last offseason when he "was trying to be a beach bod" with his workout regimen. Miller's performance suffered and the club questioned the right-hander's conditioning. Enter Wainwright who exchanged texts with Miller throughout the season and challenged him to reach training camp at a weight that would help his strength and durability.
- While Miller has gained enough pounds to reach his playing weight, Jake Westbrook's outlook on the offseason is to copy last year's regimen in hopes of slimming down, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. "It worked out so well last year that I thought I would just do it again," Westbrook said.
- The injury reports on Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Rafael Furcal are positive, according to Langosch.
- Mozeliak says second base is Daniel Descalso's "job to lose," but he is open-minded about Matt Carpenter making a push for playing time there, writes Langosch.
- Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he only became the Cardinals' manager because of losses he sustained in a failed real estate venture. A Missouri judge recently ruled Matheny and his wife owe more than $4MM from that deal plus interest and court costs. Matheny will earn $750K in the final guaranteed year of his contract.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
Earlier today, MLBTR gave you the latest news and notes from the AL East and the NL West. Now, let's visit the NL Central, which could be in its final hours as the only six-team division in baseball.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow's vision to rebuild the franchise is a club that grows and develops its players but can spend when it needs to thanks to increased revenue from a new local cable partnership with Comcast, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
- There will be competition for at least one spot in the Cardinals' starting rotation, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. Goold theorizes that competition will pit incumbent Lance Lynn against Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller.
- In a separate piece, Goold named the seven best starting pitching prospects in the Cardinals' system that have yet to exhaust their rookie eligibility, including the aforementioned Rosenthal and Miller.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists five reasons for optimism and five reasons for concern for the 2013 Cardinals.
- After speaking with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the distinct impression that Ryan Braun will be penalized in the voting for NL MVP because of his failed drug test last year and subsequent successful appeal. Haudricourt also believes the failed drug test played a role in Buster Posey being named the NL winner of the Hank Aaron Award instead of Braun.
- The Cubs have hired Derek Johnson to become their new minor league pitching coordinator, tweets Baseball America's Aaron Fitt. Johnson was Associate Head Coach/pitching coach at Vanderbilt where he tutored six pitchers who were drafted in the first round including David Price and Sonny Gray.
Baseball has always been a game for the young and old alike and today captured that sentiment perfectly. First, the young. The Rangers' Jurickson Profar made his Major League debut a memorable one by becoming the second youngest player and only the third teenager to homer in his first career at-bat. Profar, a last-minute substitute at second base for Ian Kinsler, also doubled becoming the youngest player since Andruw Jones (1996) to hit a four-bagger and a two-bagger in his debut and the first AL player to do so since Ken Griffey Jr. (1989). Now, the old. The Astros celebrated Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton's 85th birthday with a bobblehead day and induction into the Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor. This year marks Hamilton's 59th and final season calling baseball games. Elsewhere around baseball:
- Stephen Strasburg will make two more starts for the Nationals with his final one coming September 12 against the Mets, tweets MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko. Manager Davey Johnson made the announcement following the Nationals' 4-3 win over the Cardinals. In separate tweets from Kolko, GM Mike Rizzo confirmed Strasburg's shutdown date saying, "That seems like the right number of innings to end his season. I don't think he's going to fight me on it. I know he'll be unhappy about it. He's an ultimate competitor."
- The Cardinals have decided to include top pitching prospect Shelby Miller in their batch of September call-ups this week, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Miller, the team's first round pick in 2009 who has created concerns over his conditioning and willingness to be coached, redeemed himself in his last ten starts at Triple-A Memphis amassing a 7-2 record, 2.88 ERA, 70 K's, and seven walks while limiting opposing hitters to a .217 average. Strauss says there is no plan for Miller to receive a start and will be used in mop-up situations. The Cardinals will have to add Miller to the 40-man roster before activating him.
- Brandon Inge will likely have season-ending surgery this week after re-injuring his right shoulder last night, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Inge says he wants to return to the A's next season in a utility role, if they will have him.
- Catcher Paul Phillips has decided to call it a career and become a coach at Lipscomb University, tweets the Colorado Sky Sox PR Department (Rockies' Triple-A club). Phillips spent 2012 playing for the Brewers' and Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliates. Phillips, who last appeared in the majors in 2010 with the Rockies, will finish with a slash line of .262/.298/.357 in 91 games over seven seasons with the Royals, White Sox, and Rockies.
The NL Central includes the Senior Circuit's most potent offense (the Cardinals) and its lowest-scoring team (the Cubs). The Cardinals outscore the Cubs by more than one run per game (4.88 runs per game vs. 3.69). Here are the latest links from the NL Central…
- The Astros are telling teams they're open to more trades, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Even Jed Lowrie, who has been on the disabled list with a sprained ankle for the past two weeks, is available.
- Brewers president of baseball operations Doug Melvin joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and explained how the Zack Greinke trade went down (audio here).
- The Brewers released Seth McClung, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The right-hander, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2009, appeared in 21 games for Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate this year, posting a 6.36 ERA in 103 1/3 innings.
- The Cardinals have never been more open to trading pitching prospect Shelby Miller, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports. However, at least one team has lost interest in Miller.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum will be surprised if Ryan Dempster isn't traded, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Click here for the latest rumors surrounding the right-hander.
- The Pirates have moved Kevin Correia to the bullpen to make room for Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and Correia isn't thrilled about it, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Angels could be interested in acquiring the California native, who says that he hopes to get back to being a starter.
- As it stands now, Greinke is scheduled to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday, but Nats skipper Davey Johnson doesn't expect to see the right-hander on the hill, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. "I'd be real surprised," Johnson said. "I know in the past if a ballclub's intent on making a move, you're not going to pitch him two days before the deadline."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com handicaps the most likely destinations for Greinke and the Rangers top the list with 9-5 odds. The Red Sox are categorized as a longshot with 100-1 odds.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) believes that someone will bite on the Pirates' Kevin Correia as he is owed just $1MM for the rest of the year. The Bucs are reportedly sending signals that they could part with Correia after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez.
- Teams have expressed interest in Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. However, the Brewers would be have to be overwhelmed to trade either player.
- Brewers relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Manny Parra and Kameron Loe had been drawing interest, but their value “tanked” following a poor showing in Philadelphia this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow suggested to Rosenthal that absorbing salary can help Houston obtain better prospects in trades. “In this environment, you’re limited in how much money you can spend on the draft, how much you can spend internationally,” Luhnow said, referring to the rules regulating amateur spending in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
- Pitching prospect Shelby Miller is available in trade talks, yet the Cardinals don't appear anxious to make an impact deal, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Between baseball's two Central divisions, at least six teams figure to be buyers, and more could emerge depending on how the coming weeks play out. The White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Reds, Pirates, and Cardinals could all add pieces prior to July 31, and here are some links pertaining to those clubs…
- The Tigers are telling teams that top prospect Nick Castellanos is unavailable in any trade "at least right now," according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports echoes that sentiment, tweeting that he'd be "very surprised" if the Tigers move Castellanos for a rental (Twitter link).
- The Cardinals were one of the teams in on Ben Sheets prior to his signing with the Braves, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who adds that the Cards continue to look for upgrades to their rotation.
- Cardinals top prospect Shelby Miller has struggled in 2012, but B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest quotes GM John Mozeliak as saying, "Clearly we're still very high on him" (Twitter link).
- The Indians announced that Trevor Crowe has been released from Triple-A Columbus (on Twitter). The former No. 14 overall pick is now 28 years old and has managed just a .736 OPS in parts of five Triple-A seasons. He batted .245/.295/.329 in three Major League stints.