St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
Here's tonight's look around baseball as Tuesday turns into Wednesday..
- Bud Norris knows that he's a prime trade candidate, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Norris tells Morosi that he feels it's critical to stay informed: “I don’t think you want to be blindsided by it: One day, you come to the park and, boom, you’re gone. I don’t pay too much attention to it, but I’m definitely in the loop." Norris goes on to say that being traded to the Giants, his favorite team as a child, would be a dream come true, but he would be excited to stay with the Astros and keep helping them as well.
- Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com wonders if an Andre Ethier trade is inevitable for the Dodgers. As it stands now, the only other alternatives are Yasiel Puig getting sent down, someone other than Ethier getting traded, or Ethier becoming the club's fourth outfielder once they're back to full strength. Puig is obviously going to stay in the Majors, and trades involving Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford are unlikely, making Ethier the most likely man to go.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the Blue Jays' options for making room on the roster when Jose Reyes returns to action. Their roster shuffling could lead them to expose someone to waivers and Emilio Bonifacio is a candidate.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch weighs the pros and cons of the Cardinals going after Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Ultimately, Miklasz concludes that Cards GM John Mozeliak won't take on Lee’s full salary commitment or surrender his best pitching prospects, even if there is a surplus.
MONDAY: The Cardinals officially announced today that Mercado has signed.
WEDNESDAY: The Cardinals have come to an agreement with each of their top three picks, as Baseball America's Jim Callis reports (on Twitter) that the team has agreed to terms with second-rounder Oscar Mercado on a $1.5MM signing bonus. Mercado, selected with the 57th overall pick, signed well above slot value. Baseball America reported earlier this year that the assigned pick value for the No. 57 slot was just $971K.
Callis adds, in a second tweet, that the $528,600 difference between Mercado's bonus and the assigned pick value is the most significant gap in any over-slot deal so far this year.
Mercado, a high school shortstop from Florida, is advised by Excel Sports Management -- the same agency that advises high school lefty Rob Kaminsky, whom the Cardinals selected 28th overall. Callis notes in the above tweet that Mercado is a potential Gold Glover at short, but scouts aren't as high on his bat. He ranked as the draft's No. 36 prospect according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and the No. 38 prospect according to BA.
Mercado has a strong commitment to Florida State University, making the over-slot deal a necessity for the Cardinals to sign him.
Now that the draft is over, teams are focusing more on bolstering their rotations with one more piece, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. No one more aggressive in the pursuit of pitching than Orioles GM Dan Duquette who knows that one veteran starter could make all the difference. While they're anxious to improve their starting five, it doesn't sound as if the O's will be in the mix for someone like Cliff Lee. “We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Astros will craft a game plan early this week for how to approach their veteran assets. Teams are already calling about Bud Norris, who has a cheap $3MM salary, but won't be cheap to acquire. The Orioles, Giants, and Pirates have kicked around the idea of acquiring Norris, but one National League exec says there will be about a dozen teams interested before all is said and done.
- It seems like a no-brainer for the A’s to pick up Coco Crisp's 2014 option for $7.5MM, but he'll be in demand if they don’t. Even though he's 33-years-old, there aren’t many top center fielder/leadoff hitter types out there. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the No. 1 guy in that department, but , one American League special assignment scout said Crisp might be a better low-cost option because “he can do everything Ellsbury can do. Neither of them have an arm, but Coco is still fast, a very good outfielder, and can still be a game-changer.”
- The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline and the Phillies are scouting those teams with a potential deal in mind. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies, but a Papelbon trade could help retool the club.
- Teams continue to nudge Javier Vazquez into coming back to pitch, but the right-hander seems to be content with staying with his family, according to a source familiar with Vazquez’s thinking.
- The Red Sox can trade Stephen Drew now that June 15th has come and gone, and they would have no problem finding a taker given the lack of shortstops around baseball. However, Boston firmly believes that Drew is their guy. One National League GM doesn't quite understand their infatuation with the shortstop. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5MM they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”
- If the White Sox decide to finally bolster their farm system, they could get some helpful prospects back by moving right-hander Jesse Crain. The reliever is becoming a top name on wish lists around baseball.
- While many baseball people remain focused on Giancarlo Stanton’s availability in a deal, 25-year-old Logan Morrison is now healthy and has returned to the lineup. The Marlins first baseman/outfielder is a big lefthanded hitter who will be monitored closely by scouts over the next month.
Earl Webb's Major League record of 67 doubles in a season has stood since 1931 but Orioles phenom Manny Machado could be putting that mark in jeopardy. Machado now has 30 doubles through 68 Baltimore games after collecting a pair of two-baggers in Friday's 2-0 win over the Red Sox. Only five 21st century players have come within even 11 doubles of Webb's record, one of whom was Machado's teammate Brian Roberts, who hit 56 doubles in 2009.
Here's the latest from around the baseball world...
- Yadier Molina's value to the Cardinals is immeasurable, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler writes, and for a team that has been comfortable letting many key figures go in recent years, the Cards made a point to lock their catcher up to a five-year, $75MM extension in March 2012. "[Owner Bill DeWitt and I] talked about players who were coming up on free agency, and we'd ask how do you replace them. He and I always felt that [Molina] was the one where we had no answer," Cards GM John Mozeliak said. "It was imperative that we kept him."
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels is waiting to see how his team performs over the next few weeks before determining what possible upgrades are needed at the trade deadline, Daniels said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Fitzsimmons and Durrett Show (passed on by ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett). Daniels also noted that the club may keep Jurickson Profar on the Major League roster even after Ian Kinsler is back from the DL, and that Profar could get some outfield time if he is in fact sent back to Triple-A.
- ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden lists 20 pitchers he feels could be traded this summer.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer felt Kris Bryant was "the best player on the board" when Chicago had the second overall pick in the draft, though Hoyer tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that pitching "is an organizational weakness....I don’t think it affects our timing, but it does mean that pitching will be an emphasis in future drafts and any kind of trades we might make, and in free agency.”
- The Yankees' makeshift lineup has remained in contention but ratings on the YES Network are down 38% from last season, leading Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal to speculate if the Bombers may feel obligated to acquire star players in order to maximize fan and business interest.
- Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel's elbow injury could endanger his season, and since Dotel is 39, MLB.com's Jason Beck wonders if the veteran's career could also be threatened.
- Andre Ethier isn't letting trade speculation bother him since "it's nothing you can have a say about except to go out there and play hard," he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Ethier could be expendable in the Dodgers outfield once Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return from injury, given Yasiel Puig's emergence.
- Baseball America's staff checks in on the progress of the 2012 first round draft picks.
Here are today's most notable signings from Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft (slot information courtesy of Baseball America)...
- The Royals signed fourth round draft pick Zane Evans, Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets. Evans signed for $400K, below the $450.4K assigned slot value for the 114th overall pick. Evans was both a catcher and a right-handed relief pitcher at Georgia Tech and Callis believes Kansas City will use him as a catcher.
- The Reds have signed third-rounder Mark Armstrong, Callis reports (via Twitter). Armstrong, a high school right-hander who had committed to Pitt, signed for exactly his assigned slot value of $496K.
- The Mariners have signed St. John's left-hander Ryan Horstman, Callis reports (via Twitter). Horstman, one of the few college freshmen eligible for the draft, was taken in the fourth round by the M's and signed for $550K, a significant bump up from his slotted price of $437.6K.
- Junior college right-hander Kenyan Middleton tweeted that he has officially signed with the Angels earlier today. Middleton, the No. 95 overall pick, is advised by Tripper Johnson of Sosnick & Cobbe. His slot carries an assigned pick value of $541K.
- The Cardinals signed third-rounder Mike Mayers for a little more than a $500K bonus -- about $58K below his assigned pick value -- according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mayers is a right-hander out of Ole Miss.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the Phillies signed fourth-rounder Jake Sweaney for $400K. Sweaney's deal is $21K below slot. The high school catcher was committed to Oregon and has a plus arm with power potential in his bat.
- The Twins signed third-rounder Stuart Turner for a $550K bonus that is well below the No. 78 pick's assigned value of $703K, Callis tweets. The Mississipi backstop was regarded as the best catch-and-throw college catcher in this year's draft, and Callis notes that he had a strong year at the plate too.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Cardinals have agreed to an over-slot deal with 10th-rounder Malik Collymore. The Canadian high school second baseman will receive a $275K signing bonus, which is significantly larger than the recommended $135K.
- Eleventh-round selection Spencer Navin also received a significantly over-slot deal, tweets Callis. The Dodgers gave the Vanderbilt backstop $300K -- three times the $100K maximum for draft picks after the 10th round. Players drafted after the 10th round don't count toward a team's bonus pool as long as they sign for $100K or less. In other words, the $200K excess to sign Navin will count against the Dodgers' draft pool.
- The Astros have signed fourth-round pick Conrad Gregor for a bonus of $482K, tweets Callis. The Vanderbilt first baseman has good patience and athleticism but has yet to tap into his power, Callis adds. Gregor signed for full slot value.
Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the Cardinals and first-round pick Rob Kaminsky have agreed to a $1,785,300 signing bonus. The prep left-hander out of New Jersey receives a signing bonus that matches the assigned pick value for his No. 28 overall selection that was reported by Baseball America earlier this year.
Kaminsky, who is advised by Excel Sports Management, ranked 21st on Baseball America's list of Top 500 draft prospects, ranked 33rd according to ESPN's Keith Law and ranked 38th according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. BA called him the "most advanced prep arm" in the draft, noting that his fastball sits 88-92 mph and touches 93-94. Kaminsky is just 5'11" and weighs 190 pounds, however, leading Mayo and to raise questions about his durability.
The Cardinals selected Kaminsky with the compensation pick they received for losing Kyle Lohse to the division-rival Brewers as a free agent, so his development will likely carry extra narrative within the NL Central. Interestingly, the Cardinals hadn't selected a left-handed pitcher in the first round since drafting Bret Wagner in 1994. In 2013, however, they took two within a span of nine picks, grabbing Gonzaga lefty Marco Gonzales with the 19th pick. Both southpaws have now signed, bumping the total of first-rounders to sign up to eight.
The Cardinals have signed first round pick Marco Gonzales, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter). The left-hander's bonus is worth $1.85MM, less than the recommended $2.056MM for the No. 19 pick on BA's list of assigned pick values.
The Gonzaga product is the most polished arm in the draft and boasts the best changeup of any pitcher in this year's class, in Callis' estimation. Gonzales, who is advised by Randy Rowley of Rowley Sports Management, is a polished hurler but doesn't have a terribly high ceiling, according to BA. There's no question that his changeup is his best attribute, and it grades as a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scale.
Gonzales ranked No. 28 on BA's top 500, 23rd on Keith Law of ESPN's top 100, and No. 14 on Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com's top 100. Remarkably, Gonzales is also the first left-handed pitcher to be selected by the Cardinals in the first round since Wake Forest southpaw Bret Wagner all the way back in 1994. St. Louis doubled up on lefties with their pair of first-round picks, selecting high school hurler Rob Kaminsky at No. 28 overall. Gonzales is the fourth first-round pick to sign so far.
Photo courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics/Torrey Vail.
Over the next several weeks, signings from this year's MLB draft will be pouring in. Here's Monday's rundown of significant signings (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America's list of assigned pick values)...
- The Athletics signed fourth-round pick Dylan Covey to a $370K deal, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America. The San Diego right-hander was taken by the Brewers with the No. 14 overall pick in 2010 but ultimately didn't sign after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
- BA's Jim Callis reports that the Brewers have signed third-round pick (No. 90 overall) Barrett Astin for a bonus of $584,300 (Twitter link), which is the exact amount of the assigned slot value. The Arkansas right-hander "was a force" as a reliever in 2012 but more average as a starter in 2013, Callis adds.
- Mets tenth-round pick Luis Guillorme tweeted that he has signed with the team earlier today (hat tip: Adam Rubin of ESPN on Twitter). Callis adds that Guillorme signed for $200K, noting that the slick-fielding high school shortstop has drawn comparisons to Omar Vizquel (Twitter link). Guillorme's bonus is over slot, as the recommendation for that pick was $136,400.
- Callis also tweets that the Marlins have signed sixth-round pick Ryan Aper for $225K. A junior college player from Illinois, Aper possesses a quick bat and has a plus arm and speed in center field. Aper signed about $30K under the slot recommendation of $257,400.
- The Rockies have signed right-hander Konner Wade for a $198,500 bonus, tweetsCallis. Wade was a seventh-round pick out of Arizona and features a solid fastball/changeup combo when he's at his best, Callis notes. Wade signed for exactly slot value.
- Callis also reports that the Cardinals have signed 16th-round pick Blake Higgins for a $100K bonus (Twitter link). Higgins attended Jackson Community College in Michigan and is forgoing a Michigan State commitment to sign. He's already had Tommy John surgery but was clocked at 95 mph prior to his injury.
- One more from Callis, who adds (also via Twitter) that the Brewers have signed Fresno State left-handerTyler Linehan for $125K. Milwaukee selected the 6'4", 240-pound hurler in the ninth round, and Callis reports that he sits 88-93 mph with his fastball. Linehan came at a slight discount, asthe slot value of his pick was $144,100.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The 2013-2014 class of free agent pitching is "grim," says Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. Hiroki Kuroda figures to be the best starting pitcher on the market, Passan says, but Kuroda is 38. A.J. Burnett is also pitching very well in his walk year, but he's 36 and has said he plans on staying with the Pirates or retiring. The likely recipient of the biggest free-agent contract for a pitcher next offseason is Matt Garza, who is 29. Garza ranks sixth, behind five hitters, in Tim Dierkes' recent 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. Kuroda ranks seventh, and Burnett eighth. Here are more notes from around the league.
- The Cardinals aren't interested in trading Matt Adams, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. Adams, 24, is hitting .313/.352/.552 as a bench player this season, and he's blocked by Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.
- Pirates coaches have more to learn about top prospect Gerrit Cole, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Cole is set to make his big-league debut on Tuesday. "I'll talk to [Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer] and ask if (Cole) is a guy you can converse with during the middle innings of a game, during the down time, or if he's a guy you have to stay away from and let him be in his own little world," says Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. Pirates GM Neal Huntington, meanwhile, says that the Pirates would have preferred to let Cole stay at Indianapolis for awhile, but injuries to Wandy Rodriguez, Jeanmar Gomez and others forced their hand. It's unclear whether Cole will stay in the Bucs' rotation after his start on Tuesday.
- The Twins' selection of Kohl Stewart with the fourth overall pick in this weekend's draft marked the first time since 1992 that the Twins have taken a high-school pitcher with their first first-round pick, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN. That 1992 pick was Dan Serafini, who struggled as a Twin and ended up a journeyman, with brief stints pitching for the Cubs, Padres, Pirates, Reds and Rockies, and also in Mexico and Japan. The Twins haven't had much more luck with other high-school pitchers taken in the early rounds, Mackey says, although it should help that Stewart was the fourth overall pick. "The odds are good that he's going to surface at the major leagues,"says Twins GM Terry Ryan. "Most of the first rounders surface at the major league level. Now, whether or not they become All-Stars or the types of guys that have the careers of a (Joe) Mauer, that is few and far between. But picking up at the 4-hole, certainly the odds are better than if you're picking at the 24-hole."
- The Rangers have signed 12 draft picks, including their fourth- through ninth-round picks, according to a team release. One of those signed was catcher Joe Jackson of the Citadel, who is the great-great-great nephew of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.
The Astros had scouted Mark Appel for two years before making the Houston native the first overall selection in the 2013 amateur draft, reports Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The Astros passed on the Stanford right-hander with the top pick in 2012, but Appel's stuff and performance were too much for the club to pass up this time around. Here's some more notes from the draft..
- The Red Sox expect to sign their first rounder Trey Ball (7th overall) and their second-round choice Teddy Stankiewicz (45th overall) to bonuses less than the slot recommendation, multiple industy sources have told WEEI.com's Alex Speier. This would allow the Red Sox to make an aggressive above slot offer to third-round selection Jon Denney, who was viewed as a likely first-round pick. Speier notes the high school catcher was invited to the day one broadcast of the draft on MLB Network and earned the distinction of being the only invited player not taken in the first two rounds. Denney, who has a commitment to Arkansas, was the 81st overall selection, which carries a slot recommendation of $671,200 (per Baseball America).
- The Diamondbacks prioritized advanced pitching and athleticism with their selections, writes Tyler Emerick of MLB.com. Diamondbacks scouting director Ray Montgomery was pleasantly surprised Braden Shipley was available when the club first picked at No. 15, since the Nevada right-hander was thought to go much earlier.
- The Cardinals focused on cost-certainty and upside, according to Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. The club approached the draft with a specific plan, and Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz was "thrilled" with the way things worked out, "Based on saving some money yesterday [Friday] through some more cost-certainty maneuvers, we could then translate that into some higher-upside guys early on [Saturday]."
- Although the Brewers did not have a pick in the first round as compensation for signing Kyle Lohse, the club was still excited about the pitching they found in the draft, notes Kevin Massoth of MLB.com. The Brewers selected high school right-hander Devin Williams with their first pick, No. 54 overall.
- Meanwhile the Padres like the hitting the club was able to snatch up over the last three days, reports Jamal Collier of MLB.com. The club used five of their first six selections on position players, including the 13th overall pick, Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.