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Travis Snider Rumors
5:19pm: The Orioles have announced that they’ve actually designated Chris Parmelee, not Snider, to clear space for Parra. Parmelee, a lefty-hitting outfielder and first baseman, was hitting .216/.255/.433 in 102 plate appearances with the O’s. The Orioles signed him to a minor league deal last winter, and he hit well in 265 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk before being promoted in mid-June. Since then, his good power but low batting average and on-base percentage have been consistent with his performances over parts of four previous seasons with Minnesota.
Snider, 27, had been hitting .239/.318/.344 in 233 plate appearances since arriving in a trade last winter. He was coming off a good season in a part-time role in Pittsburgh last season, but didn’t provide enough offense in Baltimore, particularly given that he’s purely a corner outfielder. The hot-hitting Parra, who also bats lefty, made Snider mostly superfluous. He’s making $2.1MM in his second season of arbitration eligibility, and the Orioles will be responsible for most or all of that amount unless he’s claimed.
Cardinals starter John Lackey remains interested in re-working his contract for this season, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Lackey, of course, is set to make the league minimum salary this season due to an unusual clause in the contract he signed with the Red Sox several years ago. Lackey says he would “love to hear something from the Cardinals. I’d listen to any offers. The ball is in their court.” Last month, however, GM John Mozeliak explained why any new arrangement is unlikely. The Cardinals have no reason to restructure Lackey’s contract without adding a year or more of additional control, and the 36-year-old Lackey will likely want to explore free agency after the season. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Pirates appreciate outfielder Travis Snider‘s work with them in the past several seasons, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. The Bucs faced Snider’s new team, the Orioles, in Spring Training action earlier this week. “The last three months of the season, this guy performed very, very well for us at a time it was critically needed,” says Bucs manager Clint Hurdle. “Just well-liked, well-appreciated.” The Pirates traded Snider this offseason partly to clear space in right field for the younger Gregory Polanco (and also partly because going with Andrew Lambo or someone else on their bench gives them more flexibility than did Snider, who was out of options). “I didn’t take it personally,” says Snider. “I understand the potential of Gregory Polanco.”
- Outfielder Shane Robinson has an April 2 opt-out clause in his minor-league deal with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. He would be paid $550K at the big-league level this season. The longtime Cardinal hit .304/.380/.398 in 216 plate appearances with Triple-A Memphis last season and has had a good track record of getting on base at the Triple-A level in the past several years. He can also play all three outfield positions. Robinson has never really caught on in the big leagues, though, hitting .231/.303/.308 in parts of five seasons.
Here are the highlights of Pirates GM Neal Huntington’s long conversation today with Ken Laird and Guy Junker of TribLIVE Radio (podcast link):
- The Pirates traded Travis Snider to the Orioles in part because they didn’t envision a likely role for him beyond 2015, Huntington says. Also, because Snider was out of options, removing him from their roster gives them more flexibility.
- In the past, the Bucs had gotten great results with down-on-their-luck pitchers like Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, but they found those types of pitchers difficult to acquire this offseason, because they now require “$10MM to $12MM to $14MM annually” to sign. Huntington is presumably referring to pitchers like Brett Anderson and Justin Masterson, who looked, heading into the offseason, like they might be good fits for the Pirates. Instead, the Bucs went way under the radar to sign Radhames Liz (who’s pitched in the minors, in Korea, and in the Dominican Winter League in recent years) to a one-year, $1MM big-league deal.
- The development of the free-agent pitching market this winter demonstrates another reason the Pirates traded Snider, Huntington says — they acquired two pitchers in that deal, Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault, who could one day be big-league starters.
- Huntington speaks of the challenges of making decisions based on input from various voices within his front office and scouting staff. “I’m the first to realize that I don’t have the best evaluation skills within our organization,” he says. “I don’t necessarily always have to see it with my own eyes. It helps when I see what they’re seeing, and if I don’t see what they’re seeing, I can ask questions.”
The Pirates have acquired lefty Steven Brault from the Orioles, the Pirates announced. He will serve as the player to be named later from this January’s Travis Snider deal, joining another young lefty — Stephen Tarpley — to make up the final package for Pittsburgh.
Brault, 22, was floated as a possible name to change hands at the time of the deal, and will indeed be on the move. The southpaw has worked primarily as a starter, reaching the High-A level at the tail end of 2014. He spent most of the year in the Sally League, compiling a 3.05 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9.
Prospect watchers generally saw Brault as something like the twentieth-best prospect in the O’s system. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs explains that the southpaw will need to find consistent arm speed to reach the bigs as a back-of-the-rotation starter
Before a dinner event at the Orioles’ A-ball affiliate in Aberdeen this evening, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) about both his own tumultuous offseason and some other hot stove topics. Here are some of the highlights…
- Duquette doesn’t discuss ongoing negotiations for players, and that same logic led to his lack of comment about the rumors connecting him to the Blue Jays president’s job, and the discussions between the Jays and Orioles about a possible trade to free him from his Baltimore contract. “You know, these things happen in baseball. This is rare, but sometimes trades are made for managers, sometimes trades are made for executives and that’s the way it goes,” Duquette said. “It’s a part of the business. If there’s trade discussions that I have as an executive, I really don’t talk about those publicly, because you never know what’s going to come to fruition and what’s not.”
- Despite the Toronto situation, Duquette described his Orioles offseason work as “business as usual” and said he didn’t feel it necessary to reiterate his commitment to O’s upper management. “I’ve always done my job 24 hours a day and to the best of my ability,” Duquette said. “That’s a habit. We’re going to have another good ballclub this year. I’m confident of that.”
- The O’s have offered Nolan Reimold a contract, Duquette said, though he noted that the outfielder is also receiving interest from other teams. The Indians are known to be one of the clubs linked to Reimold this winter.
- Duquette said he is still looking to add a right-handed bullpen arm.
- The Orioles’ recent acquisition of Travis Snider gives the club added depth both offensively and defensively, Duquette said, and he thinks Snider’s bat is a good fit for Camden Yards. Duquette and Pirates GM Neal Huntington had originally discussed a Snider deal during the Winter Meetings, though talks were only rekindled a few weeks ago. “I had stayed in touch with Neal because we were still looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, so we continued our persistence and Neal made him available,” Duquette said.
8:23pm: Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link), that the player to be named later will be “similar” to Tarpley. It seems worth noting, then, that Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported earlier tonight that fellow Class-A left-hander Steven Brault was a possible name that could exchange hands.
7:32pm: It’s been a quiet offseason for the Orioles in terms of outfield additions, but the team announced today that it has struck a deal to acquire Travis Snider from the Pirates in exchange for Class-A left-hander Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later.
Snider, who turns 27 next week, represents the first outfield addition to an Orioles club that has already lost both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz this offseason (though the team did also re-sign Delmon Young). Where he fits into the overall picture for the Orioles is a bit less clear, as the team already has a pair of left-handed hitting corner outfielders in Alejandro De Aza and David Lough. However, Lough doesn’t have the same offensive ceiling as Snider and may be considered more of a fourth outfield option for the Orioles follwing this trade.
Snider, formerly a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball per both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, has not lived up to that billing nor his lofty draft status (14th overall in 2006), but he enjoyed a strong season at the plate in 2014 with Pittsburgh. After a slow start, Snider recovered to slash .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers in 359 plate appearances. Specifically, Snider was excellent after the All-Star break, hitting .288/.356/.524 in 188 plate appearances.
The Pirates and Snider have already agreed to a $2.1MM salary for 2015, thereby avoiding arbitration. Snider will be arb-eligible again next winter for the final time before hitting the free agent market in the 2016-17 offseason.
As for the Orioles, they’ll acquire a 21-year-old former third-round pick (98th overall in 2013) in the form of Tarpley. The Arizona native spent 2014 with short-season Class-A Aberdeen, working to a 3.68 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 66 innings of work (12 starts, one relief appearance). Tarpley recently ranked 14th on MLB.com’s list of Top 20 Orioles prospects and last winter ranked 21st on Baseball America’s list of Top 30 Orioles prospects. BA noted that Tarpley has the stuff to start, with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 96 at times in addition to a curveball and changeup. He previously had a slider in his arsenal as well, though the Orioles opted to scrap that pitch so he could focus on his change, per BA. MLB.com praised him as an arm with upside, touting not only solid curveball and a changeup that shows potential, but also his pitchability and size.
Even more recently, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Tarpley ninth among Orioles’ prospects, noting that one scout labeled his curveball as a 70 (on the 20-80 scale), but Tarpley is inconsistent due to both inconsistent mechanics and some maturity/makeup issues, though he looks to be coming around on that front.
Beyond that, however, are the implications for the Pirates’ 2015 roster. With Snider out of the picture, a path is likely cleared for top prospect Gregory Polanco to receive everyday at-bats in right field. Polanco got off to a blistering start in 2014 but quickly cooled and eventually lost time to Snider in the second half. The Pirates will surely hope that Polanco’s 2015 batting line will more closely resemble his .328/.390/.504 batting line from Triple-A than his .235/.307/.343 Major League triple-slash.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports then reported that an agreement had been reached, and Tarpley was headed to Pittsburgh (Twitter link). Connolly added (on Twitter) that a PTBNL would be in the deal as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
6:36pm: One name involved in talks, according to Connolly, is Class-A left-hander Steven Brault (Twitter links). Connolly gets the sense that if Brault and a second prospect are sent to the Pirates, the second player would be a hitter.
5:06pm: The Orioles are attempting to acquire Snider for “less” than two minor leaguers at present, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
4:42pm: The Orioles and Pirates have rekindled their previous trade talks regarding Travis Snider, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. While Connolly cautions that a deal is not complete, it seems that the general parameters have been discussed in some depth, as he adds that Snider would cost the Orioles one or two non-40-man prospects — at least one pitcher and possibly another player (that could also be a pitcher).
The 26-year-old Snider (27 next week), formerly one of the Top 10 prospects in all of baseball according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, never was able to live up to those lofty expectations, but he enjoyed a solid season in 2014. Last year with the Pirates, the former Blue Jays top pick batted .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers in 359 plate appearances.
Snider and the Pirates have already agreed to a $2.1MM salary this season, avoiding arbitration. He’s controllable through the 2016 season, as he currently has four years, 91 days of Major League service time. Previous talks regarding Snider involved Brian Matusz, according to Connolly, though he is not under consideration as a part of this deal.
The Orioles lost both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz to free agency this offseason and have yet to replace either, with the current starting outfield projecting to feature Alejandro De Aza in left field, Adam Jones in center and David Lough in right field. Both Steve Pearce and Delmon Young could serve as right-handed options at the outfield corners, though Young figures to spend most of his time at DH. The left-handed hitting Snider would give the Orioles a third lefty-swinging corner option, though perhaps the team feels that the defensively oriented Lough is best deployed as a fourth outfielder.
4:21pm: Pittsburgh has also settled with outfielder Travis Snider for $2.1MM, as Mike Perchick of WAPT was first to report (Twitter link). That is just $100K short of the MLBTR/Matt Swartz projection.
Pittsburgh has also reached agreement with reliever Tony Watson for $1.75MM, tweets Perchick. That figure falls a quarter-million shy of Watson’s $2MM projection. And Perchick also reports that Sean Rodriguez and the Pirates have avoided arb with a $1.9MM deal for 2015 — $100K shy of his projection.
2:52pm: The Pirates have agreed to a $5.4MM salary with closer Mark Melancon, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Additionally, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Josh Harrison will receive $2.8MM on the heels of a breakout 2014 campaign.
While Melancon falls shy of his $7.6MM projection, Swartz explained in an Arbitration Breakdown post that Melancon’s unique statistical profile “broke” his projection algorithm in a way similar to Craig Kimbrel last offseason (when Swartz first wrote about “The Kimbrel Rule“). As Swartz explained in that post, he personally considered Melancon to be a Kimbrel-esque exception to his model and expected a salary in the $5.6MM to $6.1MM range.
The 29-year-old Melancon was dominant for a second straight season in 2014, registering a 1.90 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 33 saves and 14 holds in 71 innings. That rare combination of ERA, saves and holds led the projection model to overshoot Melancon’s salary despite the fact that there’s no historical precedent for a raise of that magnitude for a relief pitcher (hence Swartz’s followup post and personalized expectations for Melancon).
As for Harrison, the 27-year-old broke out with a surprisingly excellent season that landed him ninth in NL MVP voting. Harrison batted .315/.347/.490 with 13 homers and 18 stolen bases, playing strong defense all over the diamond — second, short, third, corner outfield — before settling in at third base and displacing incumbent Pedro Alvarez. Harrison figures to man the hot corner on an everyday basis in 2015. He topped his $2.2MM projection by a hefty $600K.
A look at the AL East..
- The Orioles had preliminary discussions on a deal with the Pirates that would send Travis Snider to Baltimore for Brian Matusz, but there doesn’t seem to be much progress at the moment, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wishes he was given more opportunities to negotiate with Jon Lester in the spring, writes Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican. Still, he says that he does not have any regrets about his bidding this winter.
- The Blue Jays will look at short-term free agent options – meaning deals of 1-3 years in length – at second base, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Alternatively, GM Alex Anthopoulos could stay put and spend on relief instead.
The Cardinals have announced that they are cutting ties with Dr. George Paletta, an orthopedic surgeon who had served as the club's medical director since 1998, in favor of a relationship with Mercy Sports Medicine, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. GM John Mozeliak made it clear that the team expects to reap dividends from the move. "The Mercy Sports Medicine model allows us to improve the level of innovative care available to our team by tapping into a remarkable team of physicians who are leaders in sports medicine," explained Mozeliak. "The biggest change I see with the approach is that it is truly a team model — a model that leverages the strengths of multiple physicians within the Mercy Sports Medicine group. This is a strategic plan that will handle our short-term needs, but also focus on long-term goals." As Strauss notes, St. Louis has undergone a series of changes in its medical and training departments.
- One notable injury situation for the Cards is that of starter Jaime Garcia. As Strauss reports, Garcia says he has "never" been able to pitch with complete freedom due to ongoing elbow and then shoulder issues, but is ready to move forward as best he is able. "What I have to learn now is that fine line where you can go out and compete and the point where you can't," said the 27-year-old. "It's not about feeling 100 percent. It's not about feeling great. That's not the case. It never will be. It's a matter of finding something that allows you go compete."
- We learned earlier today that the Pirates could be looking to deal outfielder Jose Tabata and are willing to listen on reliever Vin Mazzaro. Also potentially available is outfielder Travis Snider, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review further reports. Though Biertempfel says that the willingness to deal Snider is somewhat surprising since he has looked good, dropped some weight, and brings some upside to the table, he notes that those factors also potentially increase his trade value. While clearing out corner outfield inventory would ultimately make way for the call-up of top prospect Gregory Polanco, Biertempfel says that the team is still likely to let Polanco spend some time at Triple-A and avoid starting his service clock soon enough for him to become a Super Two.