Taijuan Walker Rumors

Rosenthal On Padres, Upton, Smith, Nats, Haren

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has updates on a number of situations around the league in his latest pair of columns. Here are some highlights from his most recent work…

  • The Padres are interested in a wide array of hitters, but they’re “all over” Justin Upton, Rosenthal hears. However, now that they’re set to acquire Matt Kemp, the Padres don’t want to trade Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy or Tyson Ross, which might make a deal difficult to line up. They could possibly follow the Howie Kendrick-for-Andrew Heaney model and offer six years of a top prospect such as Austin Hedges or Matt Wisler.
  • Seth Smith is drawing interest from the Mariners and Orioles, among other clubs. Trading Smith would be an easier route for the team to take than moving one of Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin, neither of whom has much (if any) trade value. The Padres, however, gave Smith assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt this offseason when he signed a two-year, $13MM extension in early July. Then again, that assurance came before GM A.J. Preller had been hired.
  • The Nationals recently offered the Mariners both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, according to Rosenthal. However, the Mariners balked at giving up six years of Walker and five of Miller for just one year of Zimmermann and Desmond at a combined total of $27.5MM. Washington also discussed Zimmermann with the Red Sox.
  • The Marlins could look to trade Dan Haren if he doesn’t want to pitch for them in 2015, Rosenthal tweets. Haren made his preference to pitch on the West coast (specifically near his wife and two young children) clear when he signed with the Dodgers. At the end of the 2013 season, he discussed the difficulty of pitching across the country from his family with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and more recently he said he planned to retire if traded out of the area. Rosenthal notes that the Marlins spoke to Haren the night of the trade, and their preference is for Haren to pitch for their club in 2015. The Angels, who would represent one logical trade partner, given Haren’s geographic preference, have said they won’t be trading for him.

Quick Hits: Stanton, Mets, Tulowitzki, Miller, Mariners

The Marlins do not think they’ll have to pay out the entire $325MM balance of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract, Pirates president Frank Coonelly told a crowd (including the Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel) at PirateFest Saturday. Speaking very candidly for a team president, Coonelly recalled a recent conversation with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson: “They said to me, ‘You don’t understand. (Stanton) has an out clause after six years. Those first six years are only going to cost $107 million. After that, he’ll leave and play for somebody else. So, it’s not really $325 million.'” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Mets should trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Yes, Sherman says, Tulowitzki has $106MM on his contract and a long list of injuries, but if he were a perfect player, the Rockies would not trade him at a reasonable price. (In fact, they still might not trade him at a reasonable price.) And the time is right for the Mets, who have plenty of promising pitching but don’t have a shortstop. A trade for Tulowitzki could be just the risk the Mets need, Sherman writes, like their trade for Gary Carter 30 years ago. As for Tulowitzki, Sherman says that it’s “a poorly kept secret in the game is just how badly he wants out of Colorado now.” He doesn’t have a no-trade clause, but the Rockies’ front office would likely consult him about a possible trade, and Sherman thinks he would appreciate the chance to play for the Mets.
  • The Cardinals say they are not actively pursuing Max Scherzer, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Scherzer is from the St. Louis area, and he reportedly met with the team earlier in the offseason.
  • A Mariners official says the team doesn’t want to trade Brad Miller, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “[U]nderstand this: We’re not looking to trade him,” the official says. “I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it’s a lot less likely than some people seem to think.” Dutton adds, however, that Miller was part of a deal the Mariners proposed to try to get Matt Kemp from the Dodgers. The Dodgers then demanded the Mariners include either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. The Mariners declined, and the Dodgers agreed to trade Kemp to the Padres instead.
  • The Twins have shown interest in former Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. Hannahan was born in St. Paul and went to both high school and college in the Twin Cities. He played sparingly in 2014 and posted just a .470 OPS in 50 plate appearances, so as Wolfson notes, the Twins would likely have interest in him only on a minor league deal.

Mariners, Nationals Still Discussing Ian Desmond Deal

The Mariners are still “working” with the Nationals about the possibility of striking a deal for shortstop Ian Desmond, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports on Twitter. Seattle is balking at including top young arms Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, says Bowden.

A report yesterday from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested that the sides had been in talks on a deal that could deliver Brad Miller to the Nats. But he said at the time that little traction had been gained.

Of course, Desmond also remains an extension candidate for the only organization he has played for. Alternatively, Washington could let him play out his contract and plan to issue him a qualifying offer next year.



West Notes: Kemp, Cabrera, Kendrick, Upton

With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.

Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
  • The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
  • Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.

Mariners Still Seeking Right Fielder

Earlier today, news broke that the Mariners and Nelson Cruz had agreed to a four-year deal. While some assumed that he would serve in an outfield capacity, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the M’s prefer to use Cruz in a DH role and will still seek a right fielder from outside the organization. According to Dutton, two possibilities are free agents Torii Hunter and Alex Rios.

Dutton also reports that the Mariners still have interest in acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, but those talks have stalled due to Los Angeles’ insistence that one of Taijuan Walker or James Paxton be included in the deal. Additionally, he adds, the Orioles have shown increased interest in Kemp, presenting Seattle with competition to acquire his services.

One player whose name has surfaced in trade speculation is right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, as many feel he could be a fit for the Red Sox in a potential swap for Yoenis Cespedes. However, ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that Iwakuma is firmly unavailable, as the Mariners are looking to add to the club rather than subtract (Twitter link).

The Mariners feel they have the payroll flexibility to add Kemp (and thereby Hunter or Rios as well, of course) even after signing Cruz and working out a seven-year, $100MM extension for Kyle Seager. Kemp is owed $107MM over the next five seasons — a hefty investment for a power bat whose defensive skills appear to be diminishing as well.

Dutton’s report makes no mention of Justin Upton, although it would stand to reason that if Kemp is still in play, there would be continued interest in Upton as well, to whom the Mariners have been linked on multiple occasions. However, as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted after Cruz’s agreement, the Braves “almost certainly” would ask for Walker in exchange for Upton, so Seattle’s interest there figures to be limited until the asking price changes.

Both Hunter and Rios would provide a veteran right-handed bat to bring further balance to a lineup that was extremely left-handed in 2014. Hunter has recently been said to be considering the Mariners as well as the Rangers, Orioles, Royals and, to a lesser extent, the Twins. Rios, meanwhile, has yet to see his name surface in too many rumors, perhaps due to a down season at the plate (.280/.311/.398). The Mariners were said to consider him a fallback option earlier this month. Should the Mariners think on a larger scale, Melky Cabrera remains a free agent, and the price for parting with him is now slightly diminished, as Seattle would only need part with its second pick after forfeiting the No. 19 pick to sign Cruz.

In addition to the names listed, the Mariners do have a fairly strong in-house candidate in the form of Michael Saunders. However, Saunders is a left-handed bat and his relationship with the organization was strained after some postseason comments from GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon. The Mariners were said to be shopping Saunders as recently as last month’s GM Meetings, and those talks could of course be revisited at next week’s Winter Meetings.


NL Notes: Upton, Cardinals, Blanks, Padres

Braves outfielder Justin Upton is a hot commodity on the trade market, although the Braves are in no rush to move him, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. A deal involving Upton and top young Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker would appear to make sense, Heyman suggests. Walker was the key to a deal involving Upton between the Mariners and Diamondbacks two years ago, but Upton rejected the trade. Now, though, Upton doesn’t have the Mariners on his no-trade list. Last week, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweeted that Walker might be attainable in an Upton deal. Here’s more from the National League.

  • The Cardinals can afford to wait to find pitching help, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “We have the opportunity to go with [Carlos] Martinez or [Marco] Gonzales and we like a lot the future they both have,” says GM John Mozeliak. “You don’t stop looking for ways to improve, but as far as options go we think we have five quality starters, at least, to go with.” Mozeliak also characterizes the team’s reported interest in Jon Lester as merely due diligence. He suggests, however, that it’s possible the Cardinals could add a starter later in the offseason.
  • One potential addition for the Cards could be 1B/OF Kyle Blanks, who the Athletics designated for assignment in the wake of the Josh Donaldson trade, Goold tweets. The Cardinals could pair the righty-hitting Blanks with the lefty Matt Adams at first base.
  • The Padres were aggressive in their pursuit of free agent Pablo Sandoval (who ultimately ended up with the Red Sox), but did not pursue Yasmany Tomas nearly as strongly, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Padres GM A.J. Preller traveled to the Dominican Republic twice in pursuit of Tomas, but the team ultimately didn’t make an offer that was competitive enough. “As we went through the process, we felt comfortable with our evaluation and our offer,” Preller said. “There were no surprises at the end. We just weren’t able to connect.” With Sandoval and Tomas off the board, the Padres are likely to try to upgrade through trades.

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.