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Tampa Bay Rays Rumors
Dealing David Price is the Rays‘ “only chance for success,” executive Andrew Friedman tells the New York Times. He doesn’t seem to be saying that the Rays are duty-bound to trade Price, only that dealing valuable players is a crucial way for the Rays to add talent. “The trades that we’ve made, looking back, the only reason we got good players in return is because we traded really good players,” says Friedman. Nonetheless, Friedman is frustrated with the trade market — he needs to acquire young players for the Rays to succeed, and yet the market isn’t favorable to teams acquiring prospects. “The attrition rate and the hit rate isn’t factored in nearly enough or appreciated enough,” he says. “But it’s really our only chance for success.” Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Rival executives think the Rays won’t trade Price until close to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, writes CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. The Rays’ front office likes to be deliberative in its decisions. There is consensus, though, that the Rays will trade Price this summer, since the Rays’ season has gone poorly, Price has lots of value now, and he’ll have a hefty salary in 2015.
- The Cardinals are unlikely to trade, and should not trade, Oscar Taveras, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. With pitchers dominant in today’s game, offense is at a premium, and Taveras’ bat is too good not to keep, particularly for a veteran who might only be around for one or two seasons.
- Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy is bracing for a possible trade, FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder writes. “It certainly seems likely, but if I am still here at the end of September, then great,” says McCarthy. “Right now as a Diamondback, sometimes your best value is your future value and what they can get for you. I totally understand that side of the game.”
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Cardinals should not overpay to acquire David Price from the Rays by parting with Oscar Taveras. Rosenthal points to the decline of offense around the league and the rarity of controllable sluggers in opining that Taveras is too valuable a commodity to lose. He also notes that the Cardinals aren’t typically big spenders, but adds that the team could create room for Price’s remaining $7MM and roughly $18-20MM 2015 salary by electing not to re-sign free agents such as Jason Motte and Pat Neshek, as well as non-tendering arbitration eligible players such as Peter Bourjos. While St. Louis could put together a formidable package headlined by Carlos Martinez, he also notes that a team like the Dodgers could top such a package perhaps by including prized outfielder Joc Pederson.
Price’s name — and the names of several others — will be hot topics over the coming month. Here’s the latest on the pitching market…
- The Angels are interested in Price but don’t have the prospects to acquire him, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). He adds that Cubs hurler Jason Hammel is on a long list of alternative options for the Halos. Rosenthal also reports that the team would like to acquire left-handed relief, though landing a starting pitcher would allow them to use Hector Santiago in relief.
- In his daily blog post (subscription required/recommended), ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that several teams are looking at alternatives to the market’s two big-name starters — Price and Jeff Samardzija. Several clubs are interested in pulling off a deal similar to the Tigers’ acquisition of Doug Fister from the Mariners back in 2011. As such, the Diamondbacks are receiving interest in Wade Miley, and Padres righty Tyson Ross could become a target as well. Controllable arms like Miley and Ross will be highly appealing to rival clubs, as any team can afford them — regardless of payroll. He adds that the D’Backs and Padres might be years away from contention anyhow, and at that point, Miley and Ross will have become expensive via arbitration.
- Later in his post, Olney writes that the Giants will have a tough time lining up for a Price trade, as their 2015 roster is full of holes that will need to be filled – namely at third base, left field and second base. Price’s 2015 salary would prevent them from addressing their many needs, as would a Samardzija acquisition, albeit to a lesser extent.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports looks at three factors that will impact the Cubs’ ability to maximize their return on a Samardzija trade: Many contenders are hurting more for offense than pitching in 2014; interested parties will have Price as an alternative and may prefer to surrender more talent for the longer, more impressive track record; and Samardzija is seen by some GMs as unlikely to sign an extension regardless of setting. One interested GM confidently told Heyman, “No one’s going to extend him. He’s hitting free agency,” noting that Samardzija’s agency, Frontline Athlete Management, has a history of taking clients to the open market (e.g. Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Mike Hampton).
In an Insider piece yesterday, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden listed 21 hitters who could change hands over the trade deadline and handicapped their odds of doing so. Bowden says it is 50/50 whether the following players are dealt: Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer, Josh Willingham, Seth Smith, and Gerardo Parra. He puts better than even money on Chris Carter of the Astros (60%), Alex Rios of the Rangers (65%), and Ben Zobrist of the Rays (70%) landing in new uniforms.
Here’s the latest trade deadline chatter …
- Though he has increased his value with a recent string of outstanding starts, Mets hurler Bartolo Colon is not likely to be dealt, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The club is disinclined to sell, says Martino, and expects to have plenty of need for the veteran next year — even with the expected return of Matt Harvey and rise of younger arms.
- Brandon McCarthy of the Diamondbacks could be the ideal buy-low starting pitching target, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. While McCarthy’s results have not been encouraging (5.38 ERA), the opposite holds true of his peripherals (80:18 K:BB ratio, 56% groundball rate). In large part, McCarthy has been hurt by a bloated home run rate and batting average on balls in play. The righty could prove a bargain, says Nicholson-Smith, because he won’t require a major prospect return and Arizona may even need to pay part of his $9MM salary.
- The Phillies may ultimately decide to part with some veterans, but David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News questions whether they will get much in return. Marlon Byrd has a lower OPS and less home runs — and is owed a lot more money — than was the case last year when he was dealt for a less-than-overwhelming return. John Mayberry Jr. has been on the block for some time, and his hot start does not mean he’ll suddenly bring back a haul. And even Cliff Lee is not nearly as valuable as one might think, says Murphy, owing to his significant remaining guarantee and current arm issues.
- We heard recently that the Angels were looking to add a lefty and perhaps a closer to their bullpen. According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez and Matthew DeFranks, the club has or will look into Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, and Jim Johnson of the Athletics. “There are pieces here that are very functional in getting to a good bullpen, and I believe that we’ll get there,” said GM Jerry Dipoto. “But we are going to have to address some of that in July and help this group out.”
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said yesterday that he would be surprised if the club did not swing at least one deal in advance of the trade deadline, in an appearance on 1090 The Fan’s Steve Sandmeyer Show (Twitter links via co-host Jason Churchill). The club’s head baseball decisionmaker also left the impression that the club will be able to achieve some payroll flexibility in weighing acquisitions.
- One club with whom the Mariners are “expected to talk” is the White Sox, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Some or all of Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez, and Dayan Viciedo could hold appeal to Seattle, Morosi suggests. Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets that the M’s, who have scouted the South Siders recently, are intrigued by Ramirez and have had targeted Viciedo in the past.
The latest from ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee threw a bullpen session yesterday and is slated to return around the All-Star break, Stark writes for ESPN.com. Lee’s next step is to throw a simulated game this weekend before heading out on a minor league rehab assignment and returning either just before or just after the All-Star break. Rival teams tell Stark that they expect the Phillies to aggressively shop Lee, and they believe that Philadelphia would eat a significant amount of the remaining $50MM guarantee on Lee’s deal in order to net the right pieces.
- The Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays and Angels are scouting the Phillies this week, Stark tweets. The Phillies are telling other teams around the league that this week could determine their status as buyer or sellers next month.
- Stark also tweets that he asked an unnamed club official if any teams other than the Cubs are aggressively selling at this point and was told him that in addition to Chicago, the Rays are “definitely open for business.” Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, reported yesterday that the Rays would deal David Price “right now” if the right offer came along.
Here are the day’s notable draft signings:
- The Cardinals have signed 29th-round choice Bryan Dobzanski with a $700K bonus, reports Scott Chappelear of NJ.com (h/t to Jim Callis of MLB.com). The righty, who had been committed to Louisville, fell down the board because of signability issues. $600K of his bonus will count against the total allocation for the Cardinals.
- Righty Spencer Moran, the 11th-round pick of the Rays, has agreed to a $390K bonus, according to John Manuel of Baseball America (via Twitter). As above, the amount over $100K will run against Tampa Bay’s tab. Moran was rated the draft’s 152nd-best prospect by Baseball America.
While no deal is imminent at the moment, rival officials tell ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Rays are prepared to move David Price “right now” if the right offer presents itself (ESPN Insider subscription required and recommended).
Olney notes that the Rays’ litany of injuries and surprisingly poor performances from Evan Longoria and Wil Myers have buried Tampa in the AL East cellar. Waiting for another month or more to move Price presents the Rays with a great risk, he points out, using Matt Garza as an example. The Cubs intended to trade Garza two summers go but waited too long and saw their No. 1 starter go down with a season-ending injury. Olney goes on to write:
“The expectation of rival officials is that sometime in the days ahead, some team is going to call Rays GM Andrew Friedman with the right offer, with enough pitching included to fill Tampa Bay’s organizational need.”
Olney also highlights Price’s improved performance and velocity of late, noting that the league-wide need and his resurgence have made the conditions almost perfect to move the former Cy Young winner. Indeed, while Price’s velocity has been anything but consistent, Fangraphs’ velocity chart on him shows a gradual increase from the beginning of the season, and he’s averaged 93.4 mph or better in five of his past eight starts.
Tampa is said to prefer to trade Price to the National League — or at the very least out of the AL East — but the suitors for Price will be plentiful. Olney speculates on the Giants, Dodgers and Cardinals as possible fits. Other clubs that have been connected to Price in recent weeks have been the Blue Jays and the surprising Marlins. Miami’s NL East rivals, the Braves, are reportedly unlikely to join a pursuit of Price. That’s not surprising, given how much the team had to stretch payroll simply to accommodate Ervin Santana in Spring Training.
The Blue Jays continue to scout Jeff Samardzija, as pro scouting director Perry Minasian was in attendance for yesterday’s outing against the Reds, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Much of the chatter regarding Samardzija to this point has included speculation when it comes to Chicago’s asking price, but Morosi hears “strong indications” that the Cubs would deal Samardzija for a package highlighted by right-hander Aaron Sanchez, left-hander Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey.
Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has maintained that he won’t include all three of those prospects in a deal for Samardzija or any other available pitcher — even David Price — according to Morosi’s report. He also notes that as much as the Blue Jays like Samardzija, they may prefer Price and Philadelphia southpaw Cole Hamels (though the latter isn’t guaranteed to be available).
The Blue Jays reluctance to deal three of their top prospects lines up with previous indicators that they may be more interested in rental players than controllable players due to a strong desire to preserve some of their farm system. Toronto has dealt away some notable prospect value — including Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez and Anthony DeSclafani — to acquire the likes of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. One thing we do know is that Anthopoulos feels he will have ownership’s blessing to expand the team’s payroll if necessary.
As for the three prospects listed by Morosi, Sanchez entered the season with the highest stock of the bunch but has seen his star lose some of its luster after struggling to a 4.08 ERA and issuing 48 walks in 75 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Norris, on the other hand, has been electric, turning in a combined 1.62 ERA and 4.47 K/BB ratio in 72 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. Pompey ranked just 17th among Toronto prospects (per Baseball America) prior to the season but has boosted his value with a strong .312/.392/.460 batting line, six homers and 27 steals (in 29 attempts).
Five years removed from what seemed like his demise, David Ortiz remains the Red Sox‘s foremost game-changer, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I couldn’t even watch TV, any sports channel at the time, because it was nothing but, ‘He’s done.’ You’re struggling and people are saying that you’re done, it doesn’t help,” recalled Ortiz. “That’s when your mind has to start processing that and next thing you know, ‘I’m out.‘ ” Here’s more out of the AL and NL East..
- The Rays need to trade David Price as soon as possible, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays, of course, can’t afford to keep their ace long term and Price has grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s losing. Meanwhile, Topkin doesn’t see a trade within the division as an impossibility, but he says that it will require an additional premium for the Rays to even consider it.
- The Yankees have to explore their options for starting pitchers on the trade market, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Bombers have the phenomenal pitching of Masahiro Tanaka and a strong late-game bullpen working in their favor, but they feel they are one more rotation injury or significant dip in production from being in trouble.
- There’s no indication that the Nationals would trade someone like Denard Span to make it possible, but Ryan Zimmerman says that his preference is to stay in left field rather than move back to one of the corner infield spots, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Dan Jennings was a guest on MLB Network Radio’s Front Office show this morning, and the Marlins GM told hosts Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (as per Bowden’s Twitter account) that owner Jeffrey Loria is willing to “open the checkbook” to make additions before the trade deadline. Miami began the season with one of the league’s lowest payrolls at just under $46MM, yet despite losing ace Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery, the Fish began the day just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East. The Marlins could be looking to take advantage of their surprising good form, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported earlier today that Miami has been as aggressive as any team in scouting for upgrades.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- The Braves likely won’t be involved in the bidding for the Rays‘ David Price or the Cubs‘ Jeff Samardzija, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The team is already over budget and still has a solid starting rotation, despite the loss of Gavin Floyd.
- The easiest way for the Phillies to rebuild would be to trade Cole Hamels, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Despite Hamels’ big contract (he is owed approximately $107.5MM through the end of the 2019 season), he is younger and carries fewer health question marks than other veteran Phillies who could be available in trades. “If I were in their boat, I’d really hate to move [Hamels],” a rival executive tells Brookover. “But if you go back to question about which player is going to bring you the most value, you’re going to get the most for that guy. You have to get the most you can for a guy like that. If you don’t, you keep him. But you’re only going to get 1.5 pieces for someone else when you could get a lot more than that for him.”
- When Travis d’Arnaud returns this week, the Mets have the choice of either optioning Anthony Recker to Triple-A or exposing Taylor Teagarden to waivers, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes. Also, Teagarden has the option of becoming a free agent if he is outrighted again. Rubin explores several factors in the decision, such as whether the Mets would mind losing Teagarden, and the effect this roster move could have on catching prospect Kevin Plawecki‘s development.
There may not be a more heavily-discussed player in the leadup to the July 31 trade deadline than David Price. Here’s the latest buzz about the Rays southpaw…
- The Dodgers are considered the favorites to land Price by many around baseball, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Cardinals have recently been scouting Price, and the Giants are also in the mix. The Marlins could have an interest in Price, and had scouts watching his start last Friday.
- Topkin also opines that the Braves, Angels and Indians make sense as possible suitors for Price. Cleveland scouts were present at Price’s most recent start.
- The Rays would prefer to trade Price to the National League, or if not the NL, at least outside of their own division. While an AL East trade isn’t impossible, Topkin believes a division rival would have to give up something beyond the already-large asking price the Rays are seeking for their ace.
- It helps both Price and the Rays if a trade is worked out sooner rather than later, Topkins believes. The Rays can get an early jump on the pitching market and Price seems to be getting frustrated by both Tampa Bay’s struggles and the constant questions about his future.
- While Price is only under contract through the 2015 season, a rival scout tells ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) that teams gunning for a World Series won’t hesitate to give up a big trade package for the lefty. “You worry about the cost of signing him later, and if he walks away, that’s the way it goes. But you’re adding a No. 1 starter who can be a difference-maker for two seasons,” the scout said.