Taijuan Walker Rumors

Trade Notes: Porcello, Ramirez, Upton, Kendrick, Padres

It’s already been a fairly active winter on the trade front, as we’ve seen the Brewers acquire Adam Lind, the D’Backs acquire Jeremy Hellickson, the Tigers acquire Anthony Gose and of course the Cardinals/Braves Jason Heyward blockbuster. All of this has come before the Winter Meetings, so action on the trade front only figures to increase over the next month. Here are some of the latest rumblings from around the league…

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that in addition to Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and the Reds’ quartet of starters that are rumored to be available (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon), Rick Porcello is believed to be attainable in trades. Rival evaluators feel that many players that are set to be free agents a year from now could be had for the right offer. The Tigers, of course, are aiming to contend in 2015, but Porcello is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12.2MM in arbitration and could fetch a nice piece while freeing up some cash for GM Dave Dombrowski to address other areas of need.
  • Olney also hears (Twitter link) that the White Sox‘ asking price on Alexei Ramirez is “steep to the degree that you’d want to be buying in for two to three years.” Ramirez is guaranteed $10MM next season and has a $10MM club option for the 2016 season with a $1MM buyout.
  • The Mariners will surely make a run at either Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, if they haven’t already, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). O’Brien gets the sense that top prospect Taijuan Walker is not completely off the table in trade talks with Seattle, but it would probably take more than one year of Upton to acquire him.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that he’s had trade discussions regarding Howie Kendrick, but he’s in no way eager to move his second baseman. The Halos entered the offseason thinking they might be able to move Kendrick for a controllable, young rotation option but somewhat surprisingly did so by acquiring Nick Tropeano in the Hank Conger trade. “The only way we would move him is if we become a better club,” Dipoto tells DiGiovanna. “And it would take a heck of a deal for us to feel like we’re a better club by moving Howie.”
  • Though much has been made of the possibility that the Padres could trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner to bolster the club’s offense, the team is now strongly considering hanging onto both pitchers, sources tell MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Interestingly, Brock’s report mentions reported trade interest in Ian Kennedy but does not state that the Friars are similarly likely to hold onto the 29-year-old. Kennedy will be a free agent next winter.

Sherman On Papelbon, Duda, Mariners

Here’s the latest hot stove news from four pieces by Joel Sherman of the New York Post…

  • Jonathan Papelbon has told the Phillies that he won’t waive his no-trade clause to go to a team that will use him as anything less than a full-time closer.  Between the lack of teams looking for closing help and Papelbon’s large remaining salary, this is yet another obstacle that would hamper the Phils’ ability to trade their stopper, though they’re reportedly willing to eat at least some of Papelbon’s salary in a trade.
  • The Rays were one of several teams who tried to obtain Lucas Duda from the Mets over the years, yet the Mets held onto the young slugger and are reaping the benefits of Duda’s breakout season.  Playing largely against right-handed pitching, Duda has 18 homers and a .259/.356/.500 slash line over 365 PA.
  • The Mets and Yankees both sorely need to add some power, Sherman opines.
  • The Rays had talent evaluators specifically watching Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker‘s start against the Mets last week.
  • The Mariners have been linked to David Price, though one scout doesn’t know why Seattle is looking to add pitching and not hitting.  “Their rotation can do damage in the playoffs, but I don’t know if that offense can get to the playoffs,” the scout told Sherman.  “If you are going to trade a prospect as good as Walker, don’t you have to get the bat you so desperately need?”  Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, however, says it’s all about the caliber of talent available to be added to a team.  “If you consider David Price a [grade] A and the only thing available to you as a hitter is a C-plus hitter, you are better off with the A pitcher.  It really all depends what opportunity presents itself. What are you giving up to what are you getting back?“, Zduriencik says.
  • Speaking of Price, the Rays‘ recent hot streak has convinced one rival executive that the club will hold onto its star left-hander though the deadline.  Tampa can always re-open trade talks about Price in the offseason and in the meantime keep their ace and keep gunning for the top of the weakened AL East, the executive tells Sherman.

West Notes: Walker, McCarthy, Chavez, Rockies

Top Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker will make his 2014 big-league debut on Monday, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. (The Mariners optioned outfielder Stefen Romero to Triple-A Tacoma after today’s game, so it appears they’ll have space for Walker on their active roster.) Walker figured to be a key part of Seattle’s rotation this season, but he had shoulder troubles in spring training. Walker has made eight starts this season across three minor league levels, posting a 3.38 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Elsewhere in MLB’s West divisions:

  • Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy will receive a $1MM assignment bonus if he is traded, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Diamondbacks will likely have to eat that sum in any deal, Olney adds.
  • Eric Chavez says retirement is a “possibility” after being transferred to the 60-day disabled list by the Diamondbacks, writes MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “I’m just so close to the end, you know, where I’ve got to worry about feeling good for the rest of my life,” said Chavez, who is dealing with an injured left knee. “So surgery would be the worst-case scenario for me to kind of be going down that line.” 
  • The slumping Rockies have been hit hard by injuries with nine players currently on the disabled list, but are not yet ready to become sellers at the Trade Deadline, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post. “We’ll get to see our club whole, or closer to the point we know it should be,” Assistant GM Bill Geivett said. “At that point we’ll sit down and discuss where we’re at.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.



AL West Notes: Astros, Franklin, Walker, Reddick

The Astros have made the promotion of George Springer and DFA of Lucas Harrell official by announcing each move via press release. As Houston fans (and fantasy baseball players) eagerly await Springer's big league debut, here's a look around the rest of the division…

  • Springer won't be the only highly touted prospect to arrive in the Majors today; the Mariners will recall Nick Franklin from Triple-A Tacoma, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who expects Logan Morrison to hit the DL in order to clear a 25-man roster spot. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter), Franklin could see some time in the outfield. Franklin, 23, got off to a blistering .395/.469/.744 start in 11 Triple-A games after an offseason loaded with trade speculation.
  • Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker was scratched from last night's rehab start after complaining of stiffness in his arm, reports Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune. GM Jack Zduriencik said that Walker — who is a consensus Top 10 prospect — will be re-evaluated today. Seattle's rotation has been solid so far, but they've experienced a good deal of poor luck with injuries to Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton.
  • Jerry Brewer of Athletics Nation looks at Josh Reddick's struggles this season and tracks the history of pitches he's seen in two-strike counts dating back to 2012. Brewer notes that Reddick has long struggled against good fastballs and curveballs, while feasting on sliders and changeups. Pitchers are hammering Reddick with fastballs and curves thus far, and the result has been a 33 percent strikeout rate to go along with his .098/.196/.098 batting line. The A's are in a clear jam as they decide what to do with Reddick, Brewer writes. Reddick has a minor league option remaining, but he could see as much or even more velocity in Triple-A, which will contain no shortage of up-and-coming power arms.

AL West Notes: Walker, Mariners, Blanton, Fielder

The Mariners announced today that Taijuan Walker will be shut down for the next week due to shoulder inflammation. It's a precautionary move, it would seem, based on manager Lloyd McClendon's comments. Said McClendon (via the Tacoma News Tribune's Bob Dutton on Twitter): "This guy, we’re not just talking about 2014. Hopefully, we’re talking about the next 15 years." The injury doesn't appear major for the Mariners right now, but it's another reason for some concern in the wake of a finger injury to Hisashi Iwakuma. The Mariners will learn the results of his tests on that injury tomorrow. Here's more on the Mariners and the AL West…

  • Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio feels that the Mariners should sign both Ervin Santana and Kendrys Morales (ESPN Insider required). Bowden feels that the competitive nature of the AL East will make it too difficult for two Wild Card teams to come from that division. Assuming one Wild Card from the East, the Mariners could compete with the Rangers, Angels, Indians and Royals for the second spot, in Bowden's opinion. Adding that pair would also allow the club to hang onto Nick Franklin for the time being, allowing him to serve as a strong fallback option in the event of an infield injury.
  • The Angels aren't committed to carrying a long reliever in their bullpen, and as such they could trade or release Joe Blanton prior to Opening Day, writes Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Blanton could slot into the rotation in the event of an injury or should Tyler Skaggs need further minor league time, but his contract doesn't make him a lock for the roster in Shaikin's mind.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports discusses Prince Fielder's impact on the Rangers' lineup as he analyzes the merit of lineup protection. Morosi also acknowledges the statistical evidence that it may be somewhat of a myth. Morosi spoke with several executives and players in his in-depth piece, with Rangers backstop J.P. Arencibia specifically stating: "Robinson Cano  is a guy that, hey, we’re going to pitch around him, bottom line," when referring to the division-rival Mariners.

David Price Rumors: Thursday

There has been much speculation about a David Price trade this winter but very little hard information about interested teams.  CBS Sports' Jon Heyman explores the seemingly quiet Price trade market in his wrap-up of the latest news about the Rays southpaw…

  • "Five or six" teams have made offers involving Price but the Rays haven't seen anything that piques their interest.  The Rays "seem slightly shocked" that they haven't received better offers and people within the organization are now discussing keeping Price through at least the start of the season.
  • Taijuan Walker seems to be an untouchable for the Mariners, with a Mariners source telling Heyman that "Taijuan Walker will be on our roster come Opening Day."  Another M's source says Seattle would prefer to keep both Walker and James Paxton, and instead trade young position players for Price.  A Rays official hinted that Seattle could offer an acceptable trade package without Walker, with Heyman noting that Paxton and Mike Zunino would seem to be logical candidates.
  • "Tampa Bay's position is that they need one huge prospect or at least a trio of very good ones" for Price, so a Mariners offer based around the likes of Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin and Justin Smoak wouldn't be enough to get it done.
  • The Royals have "had mostly just internal talks on Price" and haven't exchanged any "meaningful dialogue" with the Rays about a possible trade.  That said, Heyman notes that Kansas City has the prospect depth to make a trade possible, though Price's rising salary through arbitration over the next two seasons makes a deal a "tall order," according to one Royals source.
  • Trading Price within the AL East is "not ideal," according to one Rays source, though the idea wasn't dismissed outright.  I'd guess that Tampa Bay would want an even higher premium for Price from a division rival than they would from a non-AL East club.

Mariners Could Be Nearing Payroll Limit

Mariners officials are signaling to agents and others in the industry that they could be nearing their payroll limit, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal opines that, if true, this makes the decision to spent the majority of their available funds on Robinson Cano shows that there was no plan in place for the Mariners.

Rosenthal adds that the Mariners could make exceptions "for the right player" and are continuing to discuss David Price with the Rays. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted in yesterday's 10 Degrees column that the M's are softening on their stance that righty Taijuan Walker is off limits.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik appeared on MLB Network's Hot Stove this morning and addressed the issue directly when asked by Rosenthal:

"We're at a point where I think we are trying to do a few more things. I'm not sure that anything is going to be a huge splash. We have some options out there that we can either make a trade or could add another piece to it. I think that if we go for another large deal, that obviously is going to have to go above my head. And at this moment we are where we are, and we're trying to make things work with what we have."

In addition to Cano, the Mariners have also added Corey Hart on a one-year deal, re-signed Franklin Gutierrez and acquired Logan Morrison from the Marlins in exchange for Carter Capps. However, the addition of Cano and Hart certainly wouldn't seem to be enough to fix a team that finished 12th in the American League with 624 runs scored.

The Mariners have been linked to big-name free agents such as Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo and Kendrys Morales, but each of those players figure to command a sizable payday that now could be beyond Seattle's financial capabilities.


David Price Rumors: Monday

Though he may not be traded at this week's Winter Meetings (and may not be traded this offseason at all), Rays ace David Price figures to be one of the most popular topics of discussion over the coming days. Last week, it was reported that the Mariners could push for Price in the wake of their surprising Robinson Cano signing. We'll keep track of today's rumors surrounding Price's availability right here…

  • The Mariners believe that they could land Price if they were willing to include Taijuan Walker in their offer, says Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). However, the M's have no interest in including either Walker or James Paxton, and believe they made a mistake by including Walker in their bid for Justin Upton nearly a year ago. Seattle would prefer to build an offer for Price around position players, according to Heyman.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post is hearing the same sort of rumblings as Stark (linked below). D-Backs GM Kevin Towers and another exec told Sherman that the Rays have yet to push Price onto the market, and that their plan may involve waiting for teams to miss out on their first or second options, then capitalizing.

Earlier Updates

  • Teams that have inquired on Price get the impression that the Rays aren't in any rush to make a deal, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. One rival executive believes GM Andrew Friedman will move deliberately in an attempt to get the price as high as possible, then perhaps pull back and waiting for interested teams to get even more desperate.
  • Rays manager Joe Maddon believes it's "probably less likely" that the team would wait until next season to move Price, as Stark writes in a separate ESPN.com piece.
  • The MarinersRangers and Dodgers are the three most serious suitors for Price at this time, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
  • The Dodgers and Rays may be matching up on a Price trade, tweets Bruce Levine of WSCR.
  • The Dodgers have made their interest in Price known to the Rays, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. However, Hernandez feels that Price is a "long shot" to end up in Dodger Blue. For one, the Dodgers lack the type of impact, MLB-ready prospects the Rays will covet, as their top chips are teenagers Corey Seager and Julio Urias. Beyond that, dealing names like Seager and Urias would go against their desire to rebuild what has become a depleted farm system.

AL West Notes: Zduriencik, Walker, Andrus, Anderson

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik responded to this weekend's Seattle Times report pointing to dysfunction in the Mariners front office. The full response can be seen here, courtesy of MLB.com's Greg Johns. While it's too lengthy to post here in its entirety, Zduriencik was quick to dismiss many of the allegations, specifically refuting that former manager Eric Wedge had no interest in a contract extension. According to Zduriencik, Wedge asked for an extension multiple times and even demanded an extension the day before he quit. Here's more on Robinson Cano's new team…

  • Top prospect Taijuan Walker's name has come up recently in David Price trade rumors, but Jack Z told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he expects Walker to be with the Mariners in 2014 (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers are still open to dealing Elvis Andrus even after trading Ian Kinsler, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, Rosenthal categorizes the chances as being a huge long shot, noting that Texas would need a significant return (Twitter links).
  • An executive that has shown interest in Athletics lefty Brett Anderson said that Brett Anderson is more of a "plan B" than "plan A" type of player (Twitter link). Sherman added in an appearance on the MLB Network that multiple teams are viewing Anderson in that light.
  • The Angels are still trying to figure out if there's a fit with the Diamondbacks as a trading partner, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. A report earlier today linked the D-Backs to Mark Trumbo.
  • Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that the Rangers are considering a $20MM bid for Masahiro Tanaka (assuming he gets posted) but are wary of other teams trying to drive up the price on the contract.

Mariners Could Push For David Price; Still Pursuing Free Agents

1:01pm: A source tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that any trade for Price would have to include Walker (Twitter link).

11:47am: In the wake of Seattle's historic ten-year agreement with Robinson Cano, one Major League executive told Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times that he is "convinced" the Mariners' next move will be to make a push for David Price (Twitter link). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners believe they have the prospects to land Price, and indeed, that would seem to be the case.

This is only my speculation, but Seattle could look to build a package around top prospect Taijuan Walker and the recently displaced Nick Franklin, who could be deemed expendable with Cano in the fold for the Mariners. The Rays, of course, will likely be open to moving Price this winter. He projects to earn $13.1MM in arbitration (per MLBTR's Matt Swartz) and is controlled through the 2015 campaign. It would make sense for the Mariners to aggressively pursue short-term upgrades in the early years of Cano's contract in order to maximize their chances while he is still in his prime.

Morosi also notes (on Twitter) that the Mariners are still in pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and other free agents. Morosi also reported earlier that the Mariners are one of the teams that is currently in on Mike Napoli, who reportedly has an offer in-hand from a club other than the Red Sox that Boston has yet to beat. It's not clear if that club is the Mariners, but their talks with Napoli are said to have been recent. An upgrade at first base, DH or in the outfield still seems likely for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, and the addition of Cano could signal to potential free agents that the Mariners are serious about winning.