Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures above his left eye and nose after being hit by a Salvador Perez line drive in a terrifying moment during tonight's Reds/Royals game. Chapman was on the ground for over 10 minutes while medical personnel attended to him, and the closer was eventually taken off the field on a cart and taken to hospital. Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters (including C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Chapman "never lost consciousness. He was able to communicate, he was able to move his hands, his feet, his legs." The Reds' official Twitter feed said that Chapman was staying overnight in hospital for further observation. All of us at MLB Trade Rumors send our best wishes to Chapman in his recovery from that horrific incident.
Here are some items from around baseball...
- The Pirates are open to dealing right-handed relievers Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports, though they'd prefer to keep Gomez since he can also start. Both pitchers are out of options, and with the Pirates facing a crowded bullpen situation, it's no surprise that they're listening to offers for Morris, Gomez and (as reported yesterday) Vin Mazzaro.
- With the Pirates shopping relievers and looking for catching, Davidoff notes that the Yankees match up as trading partners due to their catcher surplus. A rival talent evaluator feels that the bullpen may be the Yankees' "biggest concern" due to a lack of proven arms, though several of those young pitchers have performed well in Spring Training.
- Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos denied that the Jays' lack of offseason spending had anything to do with a new CEO at Rogers Communications, the team's parent company, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports. "There’s been no suggestion of any type of cutback, there’s no suggestion of anything other than support and of everything being positive," Beeston said.
- The Red Sox aren't particularly interested in trading Mike Carp, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (ESPN Insider subscription required). The Sox aren't sure if they "could get something particularly appealing" in a deal involving Carp. The Pirates, Brewers and Tigers have all been linked to Carp in rumors this offseason, and with Grady Sizemore's strong Spring Training, Carp could be an expendable piece on the Boston roster.
- Between Jarrod Parker's Tommy John surgery and injuries to A.J. Griffin and Scott Kazmir, MLB.com's Jane Lee feels the Athletics could be forced to look for external pitching help in the case of any more injuries or if any of their current starters struggle. Lee also addresses several other A's topics as part of her reader mailbag piece, including Hiroyuki Nakajima's status in the club's minor league camp.
- With the Barry Bonds and Melky Cabrera controversies still lingering in the franchise's recent past, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer told Henry Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle that his club is more inclined to avoid players with drug suspensions. "We don't have a blanket policy saying we'll never touch a player that has a PED history. But I'd say that for us, it's a larger mountain to climb than others," Baer said. The Giants will look at such players "on a case-by-case basis" (like recent signing Mike Morse, suspended for 10 games in 2005) but players like Nelson Cruz who were coming off PED suspensions and required draft pick compensation to sign seem out of the question. "Qualifying offer and a PED association - that's a bad combination. Brian [Sabean] and I both feel very strongly about that," Baer said.
For the Tigers, signing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew would make "a great deal of sense," Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Jose Iglesias looks likely to miss much of the season with a leg injury. The Tigers are lucky, in a sense, that a player as good as Drew is still out there to pursue. And though they would have to sacrifice the No. 23 overall pick in the draft to sign Drew, they need to focus on their goal of winning the 2014 World Series, Perry suggests. If Iglesias were to return at midseason, the Tigers could potentially move Drew to third base if Nick Castellanos isn't performing well there. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, however, has recently indicated that he is not interested in signing Drew. Here's more from the American League.
- The Blue Jays are building their 25-man roster with the purpose of keeping out-of-options players in the organization, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports. Brett Cecil, Jeremy Jeffress, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Todd Redmond and Moises Sierra are all out of options. Recent cuts Chad Jenkins and Neil Wagner might have received more consideration if the Blue Jays hadn't had the ability to send them to the minors.
- Orioles executive Dan Duquette has done a nice job finding talent on the fringes, writes MLB.com's Richard Justice. That includes pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who the Orioles signed from the Mexican League as a 27-year-old, and outfielder Nate McLouth, who the O's acquired after he was released by the Pirates and who played a key role down the stretch in 2012.
Few pitchers are given the opportunity to manage in the big leagues, but playing background appears to have little connection with success in helming a club, Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com writes. The 48 former Major League pitchers who have managed big league teams together have a .497 winning percentage, higher than the composite mark for the 113 catchers who have managed, despite the belief that the backstop job is best for preparing players for future managing careers. Ringolsby opines that many former pitchers simply need to be given an opportunity, citing Red Sox manager John Farrell -- one of just two former pitchers currently managing -- as an example. On to links from around baseball's Eastern divisions:
- Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara is reluctant to divulge the secrets of his devastating splitter, telling Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that he'd "have to kill you to tell you," but is willing to reveal that he employs three different grips. The slightly altered grips produce different movement but can still be thrown with the same arm action, making the pitch all the more deceptive.
- Some Blue Jays players are disappointed that Ervin Santana didn't end up in Toronto, but the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott writes that Santana wouldn't have made the Jays contenders.
- Spring Training under manager Ryne Sandberg has been a different experience for the Phillies, reports Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sandberg has focused heavily on fundamentals and drills so far this spring, a departure from longtime Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel.
Here are the day's minor moves, all via Matt Eddy of Baseball America unless otherwise noted:
- First baseman Mike McDade has agreed to a minor league deal with the Blue Jays, tweets Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. The 24-year-old had a tough run at Triple-A for the Indians and White Sox last year, slashing just .250/.313/.371 after posting superior on-base and slugging figures over his previous time in the upper minors. McDade will return to the organization with which he spent his first six years in professional baseball.
- The Angels have released lefty Andrew Taylor, who was looking to work back after missing all of 2013, tweets Eddy. The 27-year-old saw a cup of coffee with the Halos back in 2012, but has spent most of his time in the upper minors in recent years. In 2012, he thre 59 innings of 4.27 ERA ball at Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 8.5 batters per nine innings while walking 3.8 per nine.
- Towering Diamondbacks righty Brett Lorin has also been cut loose, Eddy tweets. The 26-year-old reached Triple-A for the first time last year, and posted a solid 2.96 ERA in 51 2/3 innings across the upper minors in 2013. Lorin came to the organization as a Rule 5 pick, and the team liked him well enough to work out a trade to keep him, but he never reached the bigs in Arizona.
ESPN analysts Jim Bowden, Buster Olney and Keith Law ranked all 30 Major League teams according to strength of their Major League roster, quality of the farm system, financial strength, management and mobility of contracts and aggregated the scores to come up with the latest edition of their Future Power Rankings (ESPN Insider required and recommended). The Red Sox currently top the list based on their strong Major League and minor league rosters as well as the fact that they've committed just under $14MM to the 2016 season currently, giving them plenty of long-term flexibility.
Here's more on the AL East...
- Grantland's Jonah Keri looks at the Red Sox' bright future and writes that the team is essentially playing "moneyball" but doing so while also being able to outspend their opposition. Writes Keri: The Red Sox have begun combining their substantial resources with the obsessive advantage-seeking mind-set of a small-revenue club, and in so doing have set themselves up to vie for championships in 2014 and beyond." Keri examines Boston's innovative approaches in four main areas: health, platoons, shifts and prospects.
- Entering camp, Ricky Romero didn't seem to be a legitimate candidate for the Blue Jays' rotation, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. However, Chisolm says that Romero's strong early performance has caught the attention of the club, and he's shown some flashes of the pitcher he used to be prior to his unexpected collapse. At this point, Romero's strong Spring Training has him in the mix for a spot in the rotation. Any form of resurrection for Romero would be excellent news for the Jays, as the left-hander is still guaranteed $15.6MM through 2015.
- Orioles top prospect Kevin Gausman is hoping to force the team's hand and work his way into the rotation out of Spring Training, but that probably won't happen, writes MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli. Gausman has added 12 to 15 pounds of muscle, cleaned up his delivery and begun wearing glasses while pitching, and the early results have looked good.
- MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reports that the Yankees are planning to give Alfonso Soriano a look at first base to improve his versatility, but there's been no talk of him seeing any time at second base.
A year ago, Jon Lester was coming off a poor season and his long-term future in Boston looked in doubt. Now, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes, Lester has rebuilt his career following a rebound season and another World Series ring, and it seems he's in position for a nine-figure contract from either the Red Sox or another club as a free agent next winter. Lester and the Sox have discussed an extension, and Lauber notes that the Sox (for all their promising young arms on the farm) have nobody who can replace Lester's 200 innings in 2015, so the club needs their star southpaw back.
Here's the latest from around the AL East...
- Yankees officials tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Tigers haven't asked about Ichiro Suzuki in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Sherman that his team is "not actively seeking a big move," though they haven't decided if they'll use an internal or external player to platoon with Rajai Davis in left.
- Ichiro, for his part, had "nothing to say about" the subject of whether or not he would want to play for another team that could offer him more regular playing time. “But as far as being part of [trade rumors], when I first came to New York, I knew it was something that happens here," Suzuki said. "You have to be emotionally ready and prepare yourself for it."
- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli seems somewhat torn between his desire for more playing time and his desire to remain with the Yankees. "I’ve been here forever. I don’t have that answer right now because this is, I feel like, my house," Cervelli told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. "But if somebody wants me to go over there, I’ve got to make the adjustment. I told you guys many times that my dream is to be a starting catcher. Right now, my role is a backup. That’s what I’m playing for. But I’m never going to stop because an opportunity is going to come again." Cervelli has drawn interest from several teams (including the White Sox and Diamondbacks) as one of Yankees' backup catchers could be traded to bring infield help to the Bronx.
- The Blue Jays' lack of success in obtaining starting pitching this offseason leads Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi to re-evaluate the team's decisions to not tender a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson and to pass on a potential trade for Brett Anderson due to medical concerns.
- According to some Red Sox players, Stephen Drew regrets not accepting Boston's $14.1MM qualifying offer, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Drew has lingered on the free agent market in his search for a multiyear deal, and while the possibility of returning to the Sox as a veteran alternative for Xander Bogaerts or Will Middlebrooks seemed to have potential earlier this winter, the club seems to have moved on. Red Sox veterans, Abraham writes, no longer feel the team needs to re-sign Drew after seeing how Middlebrooks has conducted himself during Spring Training.
- No matter how well the Rays perform on the field or how much they spend on payroll, Cork Gaines of Rays Index notes that the team can't seem to top an average of 23,000 fans per game at Tropicana Field. Gaines speculates that even a World Series title could only bump the Rays over that 23K attendance threshold for a season or two, at most.
Addressing his team's sudden and successful entry into the market for starter Ervin Santana, Braves GM Frank Wren said that he did not expect to be in the market for free agent starters, but felt Santana was the best option available going into the offseason. (Video of press conference via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.) It was Atlanta's good fortune that Santana remained unsigned when Kris Medlen walked off the mound with an injury on Sunday. Wren immediately made contact, knowing that he had to catch up quickly with other clubs further down the road on talks with Santana. "Once we started talking, we realized that Ervin was very interested in us as well, thought this was a good opportunity for him, and it was a perfect fit for us."
- For Atlanta, the message to the field staff and players was clear. "[The signing] means our GM and our front office want to win," manager Fredi Gonzalez said, as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets.
- The key for Santana was his desire to pitch in the National League, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed, saying that he was told Santana "had a strong desire to pitch in the NL and there was no way to compete with that." (MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm provides a transcript of Anthopoulos's chat with the media today.) The GM also emphasized that he was "very comfortable we did everything we could" to land Santana, who the club "viewed ... as an impact starter." Anthopoulos implied some disappointment with the way things unfolded, declining comment on several questions about reports that a deal was done last Saturday by saying that he was "trying to take the high road here."
- From the Twins' perspective, most talks were "very exploratory," assistant GM Rob Antony told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I think what they were looking at and were looking for was different from what we were thinking," explained Antony. "... We weren't necessarily looking for a one-year guy."
- Meanwhile, the Royals' short run with Santana is now officially over, but the team feels fine about how things worked out, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. "I think Erv's going to do very well," GM Dayton Moore said, "and we're going to get the pick. And it all worked out." Indeed it did: K.C. got a valuable draft choice and excellent season from Santana, all for the low price of $12MM and the rights to minor league lefty Brandon Sisk.
Here's the latest on Ervin Santana, whose free agency situation has been the most active in recent days among the three still-unsigned players who declined qualifying offers:
- The Braves are "making [a] legitimate run" to sign Santana, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
- Santana could be expanding the search for possible landing spots, reports Ken Rosethal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). An executive from an interested team told Rosenthal that Santana's representatives were "talking to everyone."
- The Orioles are standing by their previously-reported, one-year offer of around $13MM, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. A source tells Encina that the O's had been in touch with Santana's reps late this afternoon, and that Santana is likely to choose a destination within the next day or two.
- The Orioles and Blue Jays still look like the favorites, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Santana's interest in a one-year deal is genuine, reports Heyman, with the righty being motivated to prove himself on the field.
- Indeed, as MLBTR's Steve Adams noted earlier this morning, if Santana signs a one-year pact and throws well enough to earn another qualifying offer, he would stand to make nearly as much in two years as he could on the three-year offers he has reportedly received in the low-$30MM range. Or, he might find the substantial, multi-year deal that has seemingly eluded him to date. It bears recalling that Scott Feldman managed to get three years at a $10MM AAV earlier in the offseason, and that more comparable arms like Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez landed $50MM guarantees over four years. Betting on another good season and a market reset carries risk, but accepting a lesser multi-year deal would pretty much ensure that Santana could not reach his full earning potential.
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette called Santana's market "interesting," with more possible teams seemingly entering the fray as injuries change roster complexions.
- We learned that Braves starter Kris Medlen is getting a second opinion, but his MRI shows ligament damage. Atlanta has definitely been in touch with Santana, the same report provided.
The Braves are indeed very interested, with financial concerns the main limitation. Meanwhile, the Royals have put in a call on Santana. The Blue Jays and Orioles have standing offers out, Rojas adds.
2:21pm: O'Brien hears from a person connected to the Royals that the Braves may now be making a run at Santana (Twitter link). In addition to Medlen's injury, Brandon Beachy left today's Spring Training start with biceps tightness.
10:17am: The Braves haven't completely ruled out Santana in the event of a serious Medlen injury, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, but the financial and draft pick costs are definite factors. Atlanta would very much like to strengthen its crop of top prospects, and sacrificing the No. 26 selection in the draft would go against that thinking.
9:19am: Over the weekend it was reported that Ervin Santana has completely changed course and is now seeking a one-year deal with an eye toward a lucrative multi-year deal next offseason. With one-year offers of $13MM plus incentives and $14MM without incentives from the Orioles and Blue Jays, respectively, there appear to be a pair of clear favorites for Santana.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides some updates on the Santana sweepstakes this morning, noting that the Blue Jays' players are lobbying for Santana to come to Toroto. Santana has many friends on the club, including countrymen Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. One source told Rosenthal that several Jays players got together and texted Santana a picture of themselves holding a poster that read, "Come to Toronto."
One potentially game-changing factor to the Santana market could be the severity of the injury to Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, who left Sunday's Spring Training game with a forearm strain. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution touched on the topic this morning, wondering if the Braves could consider expanding their budget to bring him into the fold. Rosenthal writes that the Braves will get the results of an MRI on Medlen today. The draft pick loss wouldn't be as big for the Braves as some teams around the league, as Atlanta would surrender the No. 26 selection after already having received the No. 32 selection for losing Brian McCann to free agency. That forfeiture, however, would be the most significant of the specific teams mentioned in Rosenthal's piece.
Rosenthal also has some specifics on recent offers made to Santana; the Orioles' last three-year offer was believed to be in the $27MM range, while the three-year offer from the Twins was in the $30-33MM range. That offer was still on the table as of last night. However, as Rosenthal notes, Santana could earn nearly that much over the next two seasons by taking $14MM or so in 2014 and receiving a qualifying offer following the season, as next year's QO could jump to the $15-16MM range.
Here are some minor moves from around the league...
- The Angels have signed righty Joe Martinez to a minor league pact, per the club's official transactions page. The 31-year-old Martinez made a pair of appearances for the Indians last season, allowing one run in five innings. He has a 5.82 ERA in 55 2/3 career innings between the Giants, D'Backs, Pirates and Indians and a 4.75 ERA in 548 Triple-A innings.
- Right-hander Brandon Erbe has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, according to the team's transactions page. Erbe, 26, ranked as the game's No. 27 prospect heading into the 2007 season, per Baseball Prospectus, but 2010 shoulder surgery has stalled his once-promising career. The former third-round pick has thrown just 45 minor league innings over the past three seasons as he's battled back from a torn labrum.
- The Blue Jays signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted this weekend. The 30-year-old was once among the game's Top 100 prospects, per BA, but hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. Liz has spent the past three seasons pitching for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization and led the league in strikeouts last season with 188. However, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported (via Twitter) that he'll begin the season rehabbing a knee injury. Liz had a 7.50 ERA in 110 1/3 Major League innings with the Orioles from 2007-09.
- Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo tweets that the club has released right-hander Michael Olmsted. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with manager Ron Roenicke about the decision to release the 6'6", 282-pound right-hander. Roenicke said they simply wanted to give Olmsted a chance to get an opportunity elsewhere rather than releasing him later in the spring. Olmsted posted a 5.88 ERA in 59 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Brew Crew last season, but the 26-year-old has an excellent 3.02 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in his minor league career.