Steve Cishek Rumors

NL East Notes: Hamels, Marlins, Prado, Wright

Though he admitted that he’s not privy to the front office’s discussions, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects ace Cole Hamels to be traded. “We’re not involved on the field,” said Mackanin. “But the whole point of this year basically is to see young guys, help us get ready for next year and beyond. If we can get good deals for Hamels and good deals for whomever else there might be out there, (Jonathan) Papelbon.” Hamels recently told Salisbury that he’s open to a trade to any club, including the Blue Jays and Astros. Previous reports had indicated that Hamels would block a deal to either club.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The Tigers are scouting the Marlins‘ starting pitchers, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There could be very little to read into here, as multiple teams are likely scouting the Marlins, and the Tigers of course are scouting other clubs. Nonetheless, a pitching matchup, at least on paper, does seem to exist between the two sides. The Tigers have seen Shane Greene lose his spot in the rotation and received little from Justin Verlander to this point. A solid addition to the rotation would make some sense, and the Marlins have a surplus now that Jose Fernandez is healthy. Fernandez joins Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation. Latos and Haren, though, are free agents at season’s end, and the team has internal replacements capable of slotting into the rotation in the event of a trade.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the Marlins are indeed willing to listen to offers on Latos and Haren. He adds Steve Cishek to that list as well and unsurprisingly says that the fallen closer likely will be non-tendered this offseason. Jackson, like other reporters, hears that the team isn’t entertaining the idea of moving Martin Prado at this point.
  • Mets captain David Wright is “extremely optimistic” that he can begin baseball activities next week, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Wright won’t begin hitting in that time, however. Previously, the Mets have expressed hope to have the third baseman back by the All-Star break, though that timeline is fast approaching and Wright is still quite a ways from a rehab assignment.

A Look At The Marlins’ Trade Chips

As others have noted today, the news that Giancarlo Stanton will miss four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone increases the likelihood that the Marlins will reach a conclusion that they might have reached anyway: 2015 doesn’t appear to be their year. Under owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have never been shy about change — they’ve traded players, replaced managers and changed organizational directions far more rapidly than other franchises might. Their 31-45 start already seemed likely to lead them to sell, even before Stanton’s injury.

In fact, this year’s Marlins team bears certain similarities to their 2012 club. The 2012 team headed into the offseason intending to make a splash. Instead, they flopped, and in July, they dealt Carlos Lee, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez.

What do the 2015 Marlins have to sell, though? This year’s team doesn’t appear to be primed for a complete rebuild, and thus it doesn’t have many top-quality trade chips like Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins still have Stanton and Christian Yelich signed to long-term deals, and Jose Fernandez is cost-controlled and is clearly an elite pitcher when healthy. The Marlins seem highly likely to keep those players, even though Yelich is having a disappointing season and Fernandez is only on the verge of returning from Tommy John surgery. Here’s a look at who the Marlins could consider trading.

  • Dan Haren and Mat Latos are eligible for free agency after the season, so they seem like obvious trade candidates. The question is what the Marlins will be able to get back. Haren is having a solid season, but he seemed mostly unwanted as of last winter, and his age (34) and stuff (Haren’s admirably self-effacing “Ithrow88″ Twitter handle isn’t even accurate anymore, since his fastball has averaged 86 MPH this season) suggest he won’t fetch much now, either. Still, useful starting pitching is useful starting pitching, and the Marlins might try convincing a team in a homer-suppressing ballpark to give up a prospect or two for Haren. The Phillies got two fairly good lottery tickets in Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin for Roberto Hernandez last year — that might provide a good template, even though the stock of both players has slipped in 2015. The Marlins might also have to convince Haren to play for the team they trade him to if it’s not a West Coast team, given that he considered retiring last offseason rather than heading to Miami.
  • Latos currently has a 5.49 ERA and missed time due to a knee injury, so his trade value would appear very limited. Since he would only be a rental, there would be little point in a contending team taking him on as a project, even though his peripherals suggest he should be somewhat better than that ERA. The curse of struggling teams trying to become deadline sellers is that they typically mostly have disappointing players to sell, and Latos is a case in point. It’s not impossible, though, that Latos could raise his trade value by pitching well over the next month.
  • As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman pointed out today, Martin Prado‘s versatility could make him an interesting trade chip next month, since he can play third base, second base and both outfield corners. First, though, he’ll have to show he’s healthy — he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He’s owed $11MM both this year and next, although the Yankees are paying $3MM in each of those years.
  • Pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand were both recently the subject of rumors. Koehler missed a start last week with neck and back pain, but his successful return today should help the Marlins’ cause if they choose to trade him. The problem is that neither Koehler nor Hand are the kinds of difference-makers most appealing to contenders — a contending team likely wouldn’t want either one of them starting a playoff game. And since they’re also cheap and capable of eating innings, they could have value to the Marlins as they retool. David Phelps, who has been solid but not outstanding in his first season in Miami, falls into the same category.
  • Mike Dunn isn’t having a good season by traditional measures, with a 4.68 ERA, but his strikeout rate (9.0 K/9 in 2015) and velocity remain intact, so a contender might view him as a sneaky way to upgrade the left side of its bullpen, especially since his contract is reasonable. He’s signed through next season, though, so the Marlins could also decide the better route might be to keep him around for another year and hope he rebounds.
  • Like Dunn, Steve Cishek has a poor ERA this year. Unlike Dunn, though, Cishek isn’t cheap, at $6.65MM, and his control issues are a key reason for his downturn in performance. It would likely be hard for the Marlins to deal Cishek without taking on salary, despite his closer pedigree.
  • Infielder Jeff Baker is a career .297/.352/.513 hitter against lefties, so he could conceivably help a contender in need of a right-handed bat. He’s mostly limited to first base at this point, however, so his utility is limited.

Other Marlins veterans, like Michael Morse and Ichiro Suzuki, probably have even less trade value than most of the players mentioned above. The Marlins could, of course, make outside-the-box trades involving some of their better, younger players (Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna), and given the Marlins’ history, it would be unwise to discount that possibility. (Relievers A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps would make very interesting trade pieces if the Marlins were to make them available.) Unlike the 2012 team, though, the 2015 Marlins don’t have many veteran trade candidates who appear likely to command a significant return.


NL East Notes: Marlins, Cishek, Phils, Strasburg, Fister

Despite what the standings say, the Marlins are not yet entertaining the idea of selling, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club is not interested in moving core players, says Frisaro, noting that dealing third baseman Martin Prado — who is under contract for next year as well — does not make sense, at least at present.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Skipper Dan Jennings says that the Marlins‘ decision to option Steve Cishek was motivated by a desire to get his mechanics in order outside the big league spotlight, Frisaro reports. Noting that Cishek’s velocity has improved of late, Jennings said he expects a short minor league stint: “I don’t see this being a long-term deal at all. I think he will come back and be the same Steve Cishek we’ve known in the past.”
  • The upcoming draft is an important one for a Phillies organization that is working to add as much impact talent as possible, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Johnny Almaraz will oversee the picking for the first time, and Salisbury suggests he’s likely to “stay away from project-type players, at least up high.” Philadelphia has struggled to produce draft talent in the not-so-distant past, but seems thus far to have hit on both of its last two picks: shortstop J.P. Crawford and righty Aaron Nola“It’s an interesting draft,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “There’s some depth. Maybe not tons of super difference makers, but there’s some good players out there.”
  • Medical analysis confirms that Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg has a strained left trapezius, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. For now, the plan is for Strasburg to rest, with the hope that he’ll be ready to resume throwing in relatively short order.
  • The Nationals have also received encouraging news on another injured right-handed starter, Doug Fister. As Wagner writes, Fister says his forearm tightness has “pretty much subsided completely.” The veteran went on to say that he has never been too concerned about the issue: “It was really just more tight than complete, utter mayhem. So I mean, it wasn’t a bad issue. It was more of just I really need a break for some reason, there’s so much tightness going on that we really need to address it.” As important as Fister is to Washington, his ability to recover and regain his effectiveness may tell even more on his free agent status. The 31-year-old has produced consistently excellent results over the last four seasons, but saw a dip in his velocity and strikeout tallies early this year.


Marlins Option Steve Cishek

The Marlins have optioned struggling former closer Steve Cishek to Double-A, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. It’s a startling turn of events for the righty, who had already been taken out of his 9th-inning role.

Cishek, 28, had been one of the game’s more effective relievers in recent years — good enough to be viewed as a building block in the pen. Despite heavy speculation, the Fish held off on dealing Cishek — despite his rising cost — and expected him to lock down wins for a contending team.

Now, 19 1/3 innings into the 2015 season, he’s headed back to the minors to sort out his problems. Cishek has worked to a 6.98 ERA thus far, and while advanced metrics suggest he’s been better than that, there’s no denying that he has produced at a below-replacement-level clip this year.

Cishek’s velocity is down by more than a full tick on both his fastball and slider, and even more on his little-used change. Once a heavy groundball pitcher, he’s continued a notable decline in inducing grounders that started last season. Meanwhile, the same pitcher who produced better than 11 K/9 and less than 3 BB/9 in the 2014 campaign has posted just 7.9 strikeouts against an even more-troubling 4.7 walks per nine innings.

As things stand, Cishek looks to be a near-certain non-tender after the current season. Though he comes with two more years of arbitration control, Cishek commanded a saves-fueled $6.6MM arb salary this year after qualifying as a Super Two the year prior. Even assuming a minimal increase, that’s a lot of money to invest in a reliever, and he’ll have to show quite a bit to earn another payday from Miami.

Of course, the news is also the latest sign of trouble in Miami, which has dropped nine of thirteen ballgames since switching managers. While the pen has actually been quite good as a whole, there are plenty of problems elsewhere. First and foremost is the rotation. Already performing poorly, the staff has now seen Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos join Jose Fernandez and Jarred Cosart on the DL.


NL East Notes: Span, Harang, Cishek

Nationals center fielder Denard Span is something of a wild card on next year’s free agent market. After battling through offseason core muscle surgery, his latest health issue, Span is somewhat quietly producing at a .292/.342/.514 clip. His power output is not likely to continue, of course, but it is good evidence that he is back to full strength and making hard contact. That’s all the more impressive given that Span has as many walks as strikeouts (six apiece) through his first 79 plate appearances. While defensive metrics continue to view Span more as an average center fielder than the very good one he used to be (and still is, in some eyes), he has a good chance of being the most appealing free agent center fielder if he can stay on the field and hit even at more typical rates — particularly since he is already coming off of a very strong 2014 campaign. As things stand, the 31-year-old seems on track to merit a qualifying offer from the Nats, which could potentially give the team four QO players (along with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Ian Desmond).

  • The Phillies player receiving the most concrete trade interest at this point in the season is not staff ace Cole Hamels, but veteran righty Aaron Harang, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince reports. Indeed, Philadelphia looks to have a rather useful trade chip in Harang, who is under contract for just one year and $5MM. While he is probably unlikely to keep his walk rate under 2 per nine for the first time in his career, and may be in line for some BABIP-related regression, Harang has undeniably been excellent: through 45 1/3 innings, he owns a 2.38 ERA. Plenty of teams could use an arm like that at the back of their rotation, and Harang’s low price tag should increase competition for his services — and with it, the return for the Phils.
  • Steve Cishek‘s difficulties have led the Marlins to decide on a shake-up of their ninth-inning roles, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club will seemingly use a mix of arms for the time being. Cishek, a 28-year-old sidearmer, inked a $6.65MM deal to avoid arbitration. With two more years of arb eligibility remaining, Cishek has lost over a tick off his average fastball and uncharacteristically walked eight batters in 11 1/3 frames. He does have plenty of time to turn things around, of course, but his hefty starting salary makes a contract tender look questionable even at this early stage.

Marlins Avoid Arbitration With Cishek, Gordon

The Marlins and closer Steve Cishek have dodged arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.65MM pact, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports adds that Dee Gordon has also agreed to terms on a $2.5MM deal for next season. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected respective salaries of $6.9MM and $2.5MM for the pair.


Arbitration Breakdown: Greg Holland, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Steve Cishek

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Four relievers enter their second year of arbitration eligibility this winter, with a chance to collectively make a huge impact on that market. Each will influence each other’s salary as they did last year, and will influence many players that follow in the coming years. Greg Holland, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Steve Cishek each became full-time closers during their second full seasons in 2012, and have dominated hitters since.

Becoming a closer so early was a rare feat just a few years ago. Teams used to give three-year or four-year deals worth upwards of $10 million per year for an “established” closer. Players like Francisco Cordero, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Brad Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and Jonathan Papelbon signed such deals that began between 2008 and 2012, and few of those worked out. As I wrote several years ago, teams were paying far more per WAR for relievers than any other position on the diamond by far. Obviously the measurement of WAR is tricky, but regardless of how it is measured, it was clear that allocating $10 million to a guy to throw 60 innings three years down the line was not working out for many teams.

Fortunately, something happened that gave a number of teams the opportunity to change their ways. An onslaught of talented young pitchers emerged onto the scene with incredible fastballs, and many were given the opportunity to be closers quickly. Craig Kimbrel is actually from the same service class as these four players but he signed a four-year deal last winter. However, that makes five teams who quickly established a young arm in the closing position and had some success with it. Of course, now that these guys have some experience, the price has gone up.

Holland had the best year of the foursome, with a 1.44 ERA and 46 saves. Jansen was no slouch with a 2.12 ERA and 44 saves, Chapman’s ERA was just 2.00 and he had 36 saves, while Cishek had 39 saves but a more pedestrian 3.17 ERA. As a result, the model predicted a $4.62MM raise for Holland, $3.5MM for Jansen, $3.1MM for Cishek, and $3.05MM for Chapman. The model weighs heavily on saves since the market for relievers has done so in recent years, so it has unsurprisingly ranked their raises by saves. Holland’s raise is actually subject to “The Kimbrel Rule,” which states that a player cannot beat the record for his role and service time by more than $1MM, so his projected raise is limited to $4.275MM (topping Francisco Rodriguez’s $3.275MM raise from 2007 by $1MM), which gives him a $8.95MM projected salary.

What makes these guys even more unique is the fact that so few teams have gone year-to-year in arbitration with their closers. Jason Motte, Jonathan Broxton, and Carlos Marmol have each gotten two-year or three-year deals in recent years. Obviously Kimbrel’s four-year deal meets those criteria as well.

In fact, the only closer with 30 saves in his platform season, 45 saves in his pre-platform seasons, and an ERA under 3.50 in the last five years who did get a one-year deal during his second year of arbitration was Jonathan Papelbon. He got a $3.1MM raise from the Red Sox in 2010 after putting together 38 saves and a 1.85 ERA. Before him, Francisco Rodriguez’s 2007 raise of $3.275MM is a possible clue (1.73 ERA and 47 saves), as could be Jose Valverde’s $2.7MM raise in 2008 (2.66 ERA, 47 saves), or Chad Cordero’s $2.05MM raise in 2008 (3.36 ERA, 37 saves). However, those last three cases are very old and are less likely to be considered in an arbitration case.

All four of the closers in question will basically have Jonathan Papelbon’s $3.1MM raise and whatever each other get as a reference. I think that there is a strong possibility that Chapman and Cishek do get right around their projected numbers, which are within $50K of Papelbon’s raise. I could see Chapman’s reputation pushing him a little higher, though. And I’m also inclined to agree with the model that Kenley Jansen and Greg Holland, with similar ERA’s and more saves than Papelbon, plus a few years of salary inflation behind their cases, are likely to top Papelbon’s raise. Jansen’s $3.5MM raise seems about right, and while I think the model’s estimate for Holland of a $4.62MM raise strikes me as unlikely, a Kimbrel rule-adjusted $4.275MM raise sounds reasonable.

If I had to guess, I think that these four guys will follow the model well. However, I think that they will either all collectively make the model look good, or the first guy will make it look bad, and the following three guys to sign will make it look worse as they affect each other’s cases. Without many historical comparables that look anything like this foursome, they will all become comparables for each other. Unless their teams follow the Braves and ink a multi-year deal, I would not be surprised if these four guys affect each other’s 2016 salaries as well.


Relief Market Notes: Buyers, Red Sox, Tigers, Phils, Cubs, Cishek

As usual, the relief market promises to be active in the coming days. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports via Twitter, one executive with a reliever to shop cited the Tigers, Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, and Pirates as clubs that are in the market.

Here’s more on possible pen moves:

  • While many teams have interest in shoring up their bullpens, many top relief targets might not ultimately be moved, Rosenthal also tweets. He names Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Joakim Soria (Rangers), and Joaquin Benoit (Padres) as quality late-inning hurlers who could stay put.
  • The Red Sox have received plenty of interest in both Uehara and southpaw setup man Andrew Miller, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but the pair is not going to be dealt at this point given the club’s recent winning streak, which reached five games tonight.
  • Among the most active buyers are the Tigers, who have scouted virtually all the available arms, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Detroit is showing interest in Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, though the team is indeed keeping its eye on a wide variety of possibilities. That includes fellow Philly Jonathan Papelbon, adds Morosi.
  • After shipping out their top two targets, the Cubs are receiving the most hits on lefty James Russell, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Two other pen pieces — southpaw Wesley Wright and swingman Carlos Villanueva — are also “in play,” says Wittenmyer.
  • Marlins closer Steve Cishek is a recent addition to the rumor mill, though MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro says that Miami has told opposing clubs that they do not intend to deal the righty. The 28-year-old comes with three more years of control through arbitration, though he’ll be well-paid after taking home $3.8MM as a Super Two. Meanwhile, with the Fish hoping to make a run at extending star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton after the season, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald cites a source who tells him that shipping out Cishek could have a negative impact on that effort.

Quick Hits: Cishek, Lee, Kendrick

Steve Cishek‘s name has begun appearing in trade talks, suggesting that the Marlins could be sellers, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Another Marlins reliever, Mike Dunn, might also be a trade possibility, although the Marlins still do not want to trade Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins had hoped to add talent at the deadline, but they’re now at 45-52 and would have a tough swim against the current to make it to the playoffs. Cishek, a proven closer who’s making just $3.8MM this year, would be a very desirable trade target. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Competitive Balance Lottery will take place in New York on Wednesday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis notes. Thanks to their market size and/or revenue pools, the Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals will each be in the running for one of six 2015 supplemental first-round picks. The Mariners, Twins and teams from the above list that miss on a first-rounder will each vie for one of six supplemental second-round picks. Callis notes that these picks are especially valuable under the current draft system, since each supplemental pick adds money to the pool from which a team is allowed to spend on picks from the first ten rounds of the draft. Teams are also allowed to trade competitive balance picks.
  • After missing two months with an elbow injury, Cliff Lee will rejoin the Phillies‘ rotation on Monday , giving interested teams a couple chances to watch him before the trade deadline, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Given his contract, Castrovince notes, Lee will need to pitch very well in order to be much of a trade asset. There’s also the chance Lee could be traded in August.
  • The Blue Jays could consider the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick if they aren’t able to make a higher-profile trade, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes. A Jays scout watched Kendrick as he struggled in his start against the Braves on Sunday. It’s unclear what sort of return Kendrick might fetch — he has struggled this season, posting a 4.87 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 over 125 2/3 innings. Kendrick is eligible for free agency after the season.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Price, Mariners, Indians, Pederson, Cishek

The Mariners and Indians have their eye on David Price, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com in his latest video. The Rays see Seattle as a team that lines up well for a potential blockbuster. With the Athletics and Angels already reaching into the trade basket, Seattle is under pressure to make a move.

  • Rosenthal identifies two potential barriers to a deal for the Mariners. With Price set to earn about $20MM in his final year of arbitration, ownership might not be willing to commit both financially and with prospects. Additionally, rival GM’s tell Rosenthal that M’s GM Jack Zduriencik is difficult to push across the finish line in trade talks.
  • The Indians would like to supplement Corey Kluber and possibly Justin Masterson with a pitcher like Price. However, even though the Tribe is keeping tabs on Price, one team employee puts the odds of a trade at less than one percent. Rather than focus on Price, they’ll probably look to acquire an ace from another source.
  • Don Mattingly prefers Joc Pederson in center field, but he’s not yet on the active roster. In Pederson’s favor, there’s little doubt that he’s the best defensive option. Some within the organization worry about his minor league strikeout rate, and believe he’ll benefit from further seasoning. If Mattingly gets his way, the Dodgers outfield will become even more crowded, further increasing the likelihood of a trade.
  • The Marlins are leaning towards selling. Closer Steve Cishek may be the most likely to be dealt. He’s earning $3.8MM this season and will only get more expensive in his next three spins through arbitration. The Marlins may prefer to rely on a less expensive closer and get something back in the process.