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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
2:42pm: Goold explains (Twitter links) that the Cardinals needed to clear a spot for Gonzales to make the start while also keeping an extra arm in the bullpen. The club knew it could pull back Kozma if he was claimed on revocable option waivers.
1:07pm: Kozma has been removed from the club’s 40-man roster listing on MLB.com, which could suggest that a different transaction was completed. If, in fact, he was optioned, then he would remain on the 40-man roster.
1:01pm: It appears that Kozma was merely designated off the 25-man roster, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter that Kozma has cleared optional waivers and been optioned to Triple-A.
11:23am: The Cardinals have designated shortstop Pete Kozma for assignment, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Presumably, the move is related to the club’s call-up of young pitcher Marco Gonzalez, who will need a 40-man spot.
Kozma, 26, played a key role for the club in its 2012 NLCS run, taking over late in the year for the injured Rafael Furcal and posting a .952 OPS, and served as the team’s primary shortstop in 2013. He could not sustain the 2012 magic, however, as he slashed just .217/.275/.273 over 448 plate appearances last year. On the other hand, Kozma rated out as one of the most productive shortstops in the game on the defensive side of the ledger.
St. Louis ultimately went in a different direction, adding free agent Jhonny Peralta to take over up the middle. Apart from a brief call-up, Kozma has spent the year at Triple-A, where he owns a .234/.341/.372 triple-slash in 223 plate appearances.
Here are the day’s notable draft signings:
- The Cardinals have signed 29th-round choice Bryan Dobzanski with a $700K bonus, reports Scott Chappelear of NJ.com (h/t to Jim Callis of MLB.com). The righty, who had been committed to Louisville, fell down the board because of signability issues. $600K of his bonus will count against the total allocation for the Cardinals.
- Righty Spencer Moran, the 11th-round pick of the Rays, has agreed to a $390K bonus, according to John Manuel of Baseball America (via Twitter). As above, the amount over $100K will run against Tampa Bay’s tab. Moran was rated the draft’s 152nd-best prospect by Baseball America.
Here’s the latest out of the NL Central:
- If the Cubs trade Jason Hammel as expected, the 31-year-old says that he would be open to returning to Chicago in the winter. “I would assume they are pretty happy with my body of work so far and if a trade happens it happens,” Hammel said, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. “But I guarantee, say I was to go to another team, I love it here. I guarantee you they wouldn’t be opposed to bringing me back next year.“
- The Cubs‘ roster moves on Sunday will have long and short-term implications for the club, writes Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. The Cubs designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment and filled his spot on the roster with Tsuyoshi Wada. Wada, who had an opt-out clause in his deal, could be a replacement in the rotation when and if they trade Jeff Samardzija and/or Hammel.
- Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are about to promote another promising young arm in 2013 first-rounder Marco Gonzales. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote, the lefty (whose best offering is said to be the change-up) had been following the track of the man whose rotation spot he will occupy. Of course, that also means concern for St. Louis fans, as Michael Wacha will hit the DL (along with fellow starter Jaime Garcia). As Goold reports, Wacha is dealing with a “stress reaction” to his scapula, which GM John Mozeliak says the club will handle carefully since the injury “is not a very common injury to pitchers and one that we don’t have a ton of experience on how to deal with it.”
- The Pirates may soon be looking at some roster challenges as players filter back from injury, writes Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While the club can wait to settle on its rotation until after Francisco Liriano returns, which is still expected to be a few weeks off, the pending activation of Neil Walker could create a more immediate pinch. With Josh Harrison carrying a 131 wRC+ and offering immense versatility, Cook suggests that veteran Clint Barmes may be expendable for Pittsburgh.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Cardinals are down not one but two pitchers, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, after losing them both to shoulder injuries, MLB.com’s Jen Langosch writes. Wacha has what GM John Mozeliak called a “stress reaction,” and will miss several weeks. “He has been dealing with a little bit of shoulder irritation going back [four to five starts],” said Mozeliak. “Up to this point, we always thought it was manageable.” Garcia could not complete his regular bullpen session Sunday. The Cardinals are placing both pitchers on the disabled list, and they will announce corresponding moves on Monday. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- Grady Sizemore is likely to decide on a new team early this week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. Sizemore became a free agent Friday after the Red Sox designated him for assignment. In his first big-league action since 2011, Sizemore hit .216/.288/.324 in 205 plate appearances in Boston.
- The Blue Jays and Giants have had interest in Daniel Murphy, but the most likely outcome is that the Mets keep him, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. In a “mediocre” NL East division, Martino writes, the Mets do not seem to view themselves as sellers. That doesn’t mean the Mets won’t deal Murphy, of course — GM Sandy Alderson sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates last year soon after indicating the Mets wouldn’t deal him, so his actions can be hard to predict.
- The Yankees need a starting pitcher, but they probably won’t be able to get top trade possibilities like David Price or Jeff Samardzija, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Rays won’t want to trade Price to a divisional opponent. For Samardzija, the Cubs want a highly-rated young pitcher who’s close to being ready for the big leagues, and the Yankees don’t have that type of player. That means the Yankees could get someone like John Danks of the White Sox, Jason Hammel of the Cubs or Ian Kennedy of the Padres.
- As the trade deadline approaches, the Dodgers‘ greatest need is in their bullpen, but that doesn’t mean they can’t count on improvements from relievers they already have, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon writes. Kenley Jansen, in particular, has been working on his mechanics, and he pitched very well on Saturday and Sunday. In any case, Saxon notes that the Dodgers likely won’t let guaranteed contracts for relievers they already have (presumbably, players like Brian Wilson and Chris Perez, who have struggled) prevent them from adding talent on the trade market.
- The Tigers‘ bullpen has an unexpected look recently, with the additions of minor league veterans Pat McCoy, Chad Smith and Blaine Hardy. Hardy, 27, has pitched well in four appearances so far even though he hadn’t pitched in the big leagues before last week. “You’ve got to stick with it, and that’s exactly what I tried to do. Just keep playing, hopefully get the opportunity, and here I am,” the lefty told MLive.com’s Chris Iott. The Royals drafted Hardy in the 22nd round out of college, then released him during spring training in 2013. He pitched three scoreless innings against them in his first two big-league appearances last week.
- The Pirates‘ Andrew McCutchen is the best bargain in baseball, opines Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cook notes McCutchen is the 158th-highest-paid player this season and 77 players have richer contracts than the six-year, $51.5MM extension (plus a $14.75MM club option for 2018) he signed in March 2012. The 27-year-old is following up his 2013 MVP season with a slash of .313/.423/.527 with 11 home runs and a league-leading 52 walks.
- The Brewers are legitimate contenders, writes MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby, and their confidence was bolstered by the offseason free agent signing of Matt Garza. “When we signed Garza, I think that’s when we started to feel something could happen,” Jonathan Lucroy told Ringolsby. Added Ryan Braun, “It showed the front office and ownership felt we were a good team.“
- An under-the-radar free agent signing has also paid huge dividends for the Brewers, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Brewers inked Zach Duke inked to a minor league deal in January and the left-hander has been well worth the investment posting a 1.57 ERA, a K/BB ratio of 7.8 (39/5), and a 53% groundball rate.
- The Cardinals‘ priorities as the Trade Deadline approaches, according to the St. Louis Post-Disptach’s Joe Strauss, include finding an offensive upgrade at second base (or third base, if Matt Carpenter is moved to second), a bench bat, and determining whether Pat Neshek can be a reliable 8th inning option.
- Earlier today, the Cubs added Tsuyoshi Wada to their 40-man roster and promptly optioned him to Triple-A. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets Wada could slide into the Cubs’ rotation, if a starter is dealt between now and the Trade Deadline.
There may not be a more heavily-discussed player in the leadup to the July 31 trade deadline than David Price. Here’s the latest buzz about the Rays southpaw…
- The Dodgers are considered the favorites to land Price by many around baseball, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Cardinals have recently been scouting Price, and the Giants are also in the mix. The Marlins could have an interest in Price, and had scouts watching his start last Friday.
- Topkin also opines that the Braves, Angels and Indians make sense as possible suitors for Price. Cleveland scouts were present at Price’s most recent start.
- The Rays would prefer to trade Price to the National League, or if not the NL, at least outside of their own division. While an AL East trade isn’t impossible, Topkin believes a division rival would have to give up something beyond the already-large asking price the Rays are seeking for their ace.
- It helps both Price and the Rays if a trade is worked out sooner rather than later, Topkins believes. The Rays can get an early jump on the pitching market and Price seems to be getting frustrated by both Tampa Bay’s struggles and the constant questions about his future.
- While Price is only under contract through the 2015 season, a rival scout tells ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) that teams gunning for a World Series won’t hesitate to give up a big trade package for the lefty. “You worry about the cost of signing him later, and if he walks away, that’s the way it goes. But you’re adding a No. 1 starter who can be a difference-maker for two seasons,” the scout said.
Here are the day’s draft signings, with slot info courtesy of Baseball America …
- The Cardinals have agreed to terms with compensation round B pick Andrew Morales, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The senior righty out of UC-Irvine was taken 71st overall pick, which carried a $796.1K allocation. Morales will earn a $546.1K bonus, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com, meaning that the Cards will end up with exactly $250K in savings on the pick.
- Meanwhile, the Cardinals learned that they will not land third-round pick Trevor Megill, who instead will finish his college career, reports MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. That takes his $504.4K bonus value out of play for St. Louis, though the club will gain another pick in next year’s draft (immediately following the third round).
After the Reds’ agreement with Alex Blandino yesterday, 25 of this year’s 34 first-round picks have signed or at least agreed to terms on their signing bonus. Here are some of the latest draft-related (non-signing) news items from around the league…
- As noted by Baseball America earlier this week, the White Sox have $6.58MM that they can spend on top pick Carlos Rodon without losing future draft picks (Twitter link). Chicago’s situation with Rodon is somewhat similar to the one the Mariners faced with Alex Jackson, with whom they agreed to terms earlier this week. Both Rodon and Jackson are advised by Scott Boras, and both teams signed picks 2-10 prior to dealing with their first-rounder. Because picks beyond the 10th round don’t count against a team’s bonus pool (unless a team gives a bonus of more than $100K in rounds 11-40), that basically places a firm limit on what type of bonus they can offer. If anything, Jackson may have had more leverage as a high school player. MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently noted that he fully expects Chicago to sign Rodon, though he added that the Sox haven’t inked a notable Boras draftee since Alex Fernandez back in 1990 (Twitter links).
- MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the Marlins considered Tyler Kolek the top player in this year’s draft, even over No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Had Miami selected first overall, they’d still have taken Kolek, Frisaro reports. Had Houston taken Kolek, however, Aiken was No. 2 on their board.
- While the Mets and top pick Michael Conforto are in agreement on a signing bonus in the range of $2.987MM, as reported earlier in the week, there does appear to be a bit of work left to do before the deal becomes official, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It isn’t clear exactly what the holdup is at this time, he adds, stating that it could be an issue of language within the contract. Whatever the issue, his signing bonus doesn’t appear to be a factor anymore.
- Cardinals third-rounder Trevor Megill has decided to return to college for his senior season rather than sign with St. Louis, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Megill’s draft stock plummeted after he required Tommy John prior to his junior season at Loyola Marymount. MLB.com’s Jen Langosch noted recently that Megill would likely require an over-slot bonus or would return for his senior year.
JUNE 16: Weaver has officially signed and received the full slot value of $1.843MM, reports Jen Langosch of MLB.com (on Twitter). He will report to the Cardinals’ Gulf Coast League affiliate on Wednesday of this week.
JUNE 10: In an update late last night, Goold reported that the Cardinals do indeed have agreements with Flaherty, Weaver and Williams. Flaherty is expected to receive around $2MM, reports Goold, which is well north of his pick’s value of $1.65MM. Weaver and Williams are both expected to command slot money, he adds, which would come out to respective bonuses of $1.843MM and $834K.
JUNE 9: The Cardinals are nearing deals with their top three picks, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). Specifically, he notes that the Cardinals are nearing an over-slot deal with No. 34 overall pick Jack Flaherty. No deals will be announced until the completion of physicals, Goold adds.
In addition to Flaherty, St. Louis drafted Florida State right-hander Luke Weaver with the No. 27 overall pick in the draft and prep right-hander Ronnie Williams with the No. 68 overall selection the draft.
Flaherty, another high school right-hander, was committed to North Carolina and was thought to be a difficult sign, so it’s not entirely surprising to see that he’s nearing an over-slot deal. Baseball America ranked him 39th among draft prospects and noted that he was a third base prospect just one year ago before impressing scouts on the mound in 2014 and generating some potential late first round buzz. He’s touched 93 mph with his heater and has a changeup that has a chance to be a plus-plus pitch, while his slider could also be a plus offering that generates swings and misses, according to BA.
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
- Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
- The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
- Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
- The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.