Tony Gwynn Jr. Rumors
The Padres have agreed to terms with Chris Denorfia on a one-year deal worth $800K, but two of San Diego's other outfielders may find themselves on the open market before long. MLB.com's Corey Brock hears that the Padres will non-tender Tony Gwynn Jr. and Scott Hairston (Twitter links).
Fenway Park has the Green Monster, Coors Field has the humidor, and Minute Maid Park has the Crawford Boxes. Lots of stadiums have quirks or tendencies that favor certain kinds of players and big league executives are well aware of it. MLB GMs say they prefer to have players whose skill sets match their parks, but that's just one consideration when constructing a roster.
The Tigers, for example, play 81 games per season in spacious Comerica Park, so GM Dave Dombrowski says he looks for outfielders who can cover lots of ground whenever possible.
"Fortunately we have an outstanding defensive center fielder now in Austin Jackson," Dombrowski told MLBTR last week in Orlando. "But you know you have to have an outstanding center fielder in Comerica Park who can really go get the ball or it’ll hurt you a great deal."
Jackson, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn will be in the Tigers organization in 2011, but longtime right fielder Magglio Ordonez is a free agent, so the Tigers may look to acquire a corner outfielder via trade or free agency. If they do, Comerica Park will be a factor.
"Even your corner outfielders, it’s hard to get just a guy who is a stationary type guy because our outfield’s big, so we take it into consideration quite a bit,” Dombrowski said.
Like Comerica Park, San Diego's Petco Park has a larger than average outfield. And Padres GM Jed Hoyer acquired former Tigers prospect Cameron Maybin partly because his athleticism should make the club better defensively.
"Having a big station to station team that plays poor defense doesn’t seem like a recipe for success given the ballparks we play in,” Hoyer said.
No team adds or subtracts players purely because of their ballpark and the Padres are no exception. But because of the unbalanced schedule, Hoyer is intent on fielding a team that can cover lots of ground at Petco.
"We play 81 games there, we play nine in AT&T Park, we play nine in Dodger Stadium, the outfield in Coors Field is huge so you start adding it up and the number of games we play in big fields is a lot and we need to be fast," Hoyer said.
Similarly, some teams in homer-friendly ballparks are inclined to acquire pitchers who keep the ball on the ground. Camden Yards has been one of baseball's five friendliest home run environments for four years running, according to ESPN's park factors, and the Orioles front office knows how their home stadium plays. As president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail points out, you can't hit a ground ball out of the park.
"We do pay attention to [ground ball rate], we definitely factor it in," MacPhail said. "All things being equal it’s a positive, but it’s not a sole driver in terms of what we do."
If the O's really did make decisions completely based on ground ball rate, they would not have signed Koji Uehara, who was effective in 2010 despite allowing 2.5 times as many fly balls as ground balls. Instead, park factors are one element of the team's decision-making process.
"If we think we can find the right guy even if he doesn’t have that [ground ball] number that would be ideal, we’ll [consider him],” MacPhail said.
Last year this time, Jed Hoyer was two weeks into his tenure as Padres GM. Now, he's attending the Orlando GM Meetings with a better sense of his club and a surplus of outfielders. He told MLBTR that he likes having outfield depth, but Cameron Maybin, Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Scott Hairston, Chris Denorfia, Aaron Cunningham and Tony Gwynn won't all end up on next season's Opening Day roster and Hoyer did acknowledge that a trade is possible.
"Whenever you have surplus, if a team asks about a guy, you're always going to be willing to listen," Hoyer said.
The Padres like Venable in right and Maybin in center. Tony Gwynn's 2011 role has been unclear since the Marlins sent Maybin to San Diego. He is a non-tender candidate (like Ludwick, Hairston and Denorfia) but Hoyer says Gwynn could be covering even more ground than usual at Petco Park next year.
"He's a guy we can use in all three outfield spots and going forward that's probably how we think of him," Hoyer said.
The Maybin trade left the Padres short on relievers, but don't expect immediate additions to the San Diego 'pen. The Padres are likely to replace the recently-traded Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica with other relievers later in the winter. As expected, Hoyer says the Padres will do a lot of their "damage" late in the offseason.
Even before they acquired Cameron Maybin, the Padres had more outfielders than jobs. Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Scott Hairston, Chris Denorfia, Aaron Cunningham and Tony Gwynn Jr. are all options in San Diego, but the Padres can't hand big league jobs to all of those players in 2011. Not only do they have limited roster space, they have limited payroll.
With more outfielders than jobs and a number of holes to address on a limited budget, GM Jed Hoyer will likely consider non-tendering some of his arbitration eligible players. Ludwick is one candidate to be non-tendered and Hairston and Denorfia are others, but today we'll examine the case for Gwynn.
A top defender, Gwynn fits in Petco Park for the same reasons the Padres acquired Maybin. Last year Gwynn stole 17 bases (21 attempts) and his career 18.4 UZR/150 is spectacular. However, he doesn't have the same offensive upside as Maybin. He has never posted an OPS above .700. and last year he batted just .204/.304/.287 in 339 plate appearances.
Gwynn, 28, is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and could be in line for a salary of $1MM or so. That's more than any team wants to pay for a fifth outfielder and the Padres don't have as much room for error as big market teams. That doesn't mean Gwynn will be non-tendered, though. The Padres could keep him and cut others or tender him a contract and flip him to a team looking for a defense-first outfielder. Click here to predict what the Padres will do and here to view the results.
Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.
The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.
What are some possible destinations?
- Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
- Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
- The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
- With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
- And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.
The Winter Meetings motor is getting revved up...
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star lists three misconceptions about the Roy Halladay situation.
- The Mets have added former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky to their front office, according to Ken Rosenthal's Twitter feed. Krivsky had been working with the Orioles.
- Corey Brock of MLB.com answers fan questions. Among other things, he believes Tony Gwynn, Jr. is a fourth outfielder, while Mike Cameron would be a good fit in San Diego.
- Despite the economic downturn, salaries went up league-wide in 2009.
Let's kick it off today with some odds and ends.
- RotoAuthority discusses responding to lame trade offers in your fantasy league.
- Reliever Mike MacDougal will join the Nationals tomorrow, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Who knows, he could be closing for them by next week.
- Talking to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune, Cubs GM Jim Hendry defended the Mark DeRosa trade. Here is my problem with it: it was a financially-motivated deal made by a big-market team, and did not bring back players who could help in 2009.
- According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the White Sox acquired journeyman minor league infielder Anderson Machado from the Pirates for a player to be named later.
- Padres exec Paul DePodesta explains the Jody Gerut for Tony Gwynn Jr. swap. DePodesta's third bullet point, money, had to be the overriding factor given Gwynn's negligible value around the league.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle sees Bobby Crosby as perhaps a more pressing trade situation for the A's than Matt Holliday.
- Dr. James Andrews found no structural damage in Brian Bruney's elbow, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Given the uncertainty, though, a bullpen acquisition would still make sense.
- It looks like the writing is on the wall for Astros manager Cecil Cooper. Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle lists his offenses.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is skeptical the Cardinals will make a big move.
- Kiley McDaniel of Baseball Prospectus agrees that the Pirates are the favorite for Dominican talent Miguel Angel Sano, and says the Rays, Cubs, A's, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rangers, and Twins are also after him. It's speculated by McDaniel and elsewhere that the Pirates could budget less toward their fourth overall pick in June to compensate for Sano. John Perrotto of Inside Pittsburgh Sports says they like Kyle Gibson, Aaron Crow, Bobby Borchering, and Wil Myers. Tanner Scheppers did not give the Bucs permission to redraft him.
Gerut, 31, had a fine comeback year in '08 but is off to a .221/.248/.381 start in 121 plate appearances this year. He's played center and right field for the Padres. His defense rates as a plus. Since he has decent service time he's up to a $1.775MM salary.
Gwynn cleared waivers in April, so the Padres could've had him for nothing at that time. He didn't hit much in Triple A last year.
1:24pm: Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel passes along a tweet from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash:
The Brewers will have a press release on a player transaction in the next hour.
That message was posted at about 1pm CST. Haudricourt says it is not Jake Peavy.
Joe Koshansky's time as a Ranger didn't last long. According to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, the Brewers claimed the first baseman today and optioned him to Triple A Nashville. Tony Gwynn Jr. will join him there, as he cleared waivers.
Koshansky, 27 in May (just like me!), hit .300/.380/.600 at Triple A in '08, enjoying the friendly Security Service Field in Colorado Springs. His road line was .253/.340/.515. Greer Stadium, home of the Nashville Sounds, is much different.
Gwynn, 26, hit .275/.328/.331 in Triple A last year. Baseball America liked his defense back in their '07 Handbook.
11:00pm: Gwynn has been placed on waivers.
2:24pm: Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt that there will be an announcement concerning Gwynn Jr. on Friday. It appears he will be placed on waivers.
1:33pm: According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers have signed outfielder Jason Tyner to their Triple-A Nashville roster.
Tyner, 31, has spent time in the majors with the Mets, Rays, Twins and Indians. He spent all of last year in Triple-A, where he hit .248 with 12 doubles, a homer and 18 RBI in just over 300 at-bats. Haudricourt surmises that this signing could result in the Brewers waiving Tony Gwynn Jr, who is out of options and unlikely to make the final roster.