Troy Tulowitzki Rumors

East Links: Jeter, Drew, CarGo, Gonzalez, Lester

Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be forced to play the bad guy role again as the club considers how they'll address Derek Jeter given the captain's age and durability issues, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Three scouts and three executives polled by Harper each said they believe Cashman will acquire an everyday shortstop this offseason, as they don't believe Jeter will be able to handle the position and the Yankees don't have acceptable alternatives. "He’ll be a 40-year old shortstop who already had limited range," one executive said, noting Jeter's injured ankle. "If you’re the GM, it’s your responsibility to make the tough decision for the good of the ballclub.” Here's more notes from around the majors' eastern divisions…

  • The majority of the six baseball people who Harper spoke with suggested shortstop Stephen Drew as a potential free agent acquisition for the Yankees. While Drew has posted a solid .249/.331/.436 line this season and would be a good fit for Yankee Stadium, signing with the Yanks would place him in a delicate situation. "Would Drew — or anyone else — want to sign on as the guy pushing an unwilling Jeter into a role where he would DH mostly and play short only occasionally?" Harper asks.
  • The Mets covet the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, and one executive familiar with the Rockies' thinking tells Harper they're likely to listen to offers for the star outfielder. However, a trade appears unlikely, as the Rockies want young position players and aren't interested in what the Mets can offer in that regard. Colorado may also consider offers for Troy Tulowitzki, Harper says.
  • CC Sabathia's 4.90 ERA would be the second-worst mark in Yankees history by a pitcher to surpass the 200 inning threshold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. “I have always been bend-but-don’t-break, and I have broken a lot this year,” Sabathia commented. Sherman says Sabathia has adjusted his delivery in order to better stay on top of the ball so that his fastball does not cut toward the middle of the plate. 
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson is on track to become the first GM in club history to post increasing loss totals in each of his first three seasons from the team he inherited, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The team clinched its fifth consecutive losing season in dropping today's game with the Marlins.
  • The Phillies have no plans for recent Cuban acquisition Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to pitch competitively this season, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer says. The team sees Gonzalez sliding into the third slot of their 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee"We just want to see where he's at," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We want to get him assimilated into our organization and be ready to go for spring training."
  • The Red Sox have yet to broach the subject of Jon Lester's next contract, GM Ben Cherington revealed in an interview with WEEI.com. "We just feel like those issues are better left for after we’re done playing, which hopefully is several weeks from now," Cherington said. We recently heard that the Sox are "all but certain" to pick up their $13MM option on Lester for next year.

Cardinals Notes: Tulowitzki, Wainwright, Pitching

Expect to hear a lot of rumors about the Cardinals' shortstop vacancy until Opening Day and beyond, as earlier today GM John Mozeliak left the door open for the team to pursue outside help if the Cards' internal options aren't up to the task.  Here are the latest items about the 11-time World Series champions…

  • The Cardinals haven't called the Rockies about Troy Tulowitzki, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets, though such a call would've probably been moot since Colorado has no interest in trading its star shortstop.  If St. Louis does acquire a new shortstop, I'd suspect it would be a player who comes at a much lower price than Tulowitzki, who is owed $144MM through the 2020 season.
  • Mozeliak suggested to reporters (including Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that both the Cards and right-hander Adam Wainwright would like to resolve discussions regarding a possible contract extension by Opening Day. Talks are ongoing, according to Mozeliak, who said yesterday that he’s optimistic about reaching a deal.
  • Losing both Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal for the season could turn 2013 into a transition year for the Cardinals, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  The Redbirds' biggest asset is its young pitching, but with the team still figuring out the best roles for its young arms, Gordon thinks the Cardinals might prefer to keep those pitchers for the short term rather than trade them for a shortstop any time soon.

MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post


Rockies Notes: Tulo, Giambi, Chacin, Volstad

Four years ago today, the Rockies avoided arbitration with third baseman Garrett Atkins by agreeing to a one-year, $7.05MM contract making him the second-highest paid player on the team behind only Todd Helton. The Rockies, however, didn't get their money's worth. After averaging a slash line of .301/.363/.480 the previous four seasons, Atkins' 2009 numbers dropped to .226/.308/.342 and was non-tendered that winter. He played just 44 games with the Orioles in 2010 before being released midseason and hasn't seen any MLB action since. Let's take a look at the news and notes coming out of the Mile High City today:

  • Coming off an injury-plagued 2012, Troy Tulowitzki was the subject of several trade rumors this offseason. "It was a weird thing – the first time I had ever had any trade rumors," Tulowitzki told MLB.com's Thomas Harding. "Any normal person is going to start to think, 'What if this? What if that?' But I can't control those things. Whatever happens, happens, but I definitely want to stay."
  • Jason Giambi has received calls from a few teams and is working out five days a week, as he is determined to continue his playing career, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
  • Better health of the pitching staff and improved defense are two reasons why fans should have hope for the Rockies, Renck writes within the same article. Renck cites Jhoulys Chacin as a prime candidate for a bounceback year because of his strong finish last season, his new two-year, $6.5MM contract, and a repaired relationship with the front office.
  • Renck feels right-hander Chris Volstad will receive a long look in Spring Training, especially with his former Marlins pitching coach Mark Wiley now working for the Rockies as their new pitching coordinator (via Sulia).


NL West Notes: Rockies, Ryu, Pagan, Scutaro

The Diamondbacks' agreement with Brandon McCarthy was the biggest news out of the NL West today, but here are a few more items from around the division…..


Rockies Not Planning To Trade Tulowitzki Or Gonzalez

While the Red Sox and Marlins have both completed major payroll-clearing deals over the last few months in order to rebuild, the last-place Rockies have no plans to deal either Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Rockies want to keep their offense strong and, while the team is desperate for pitching, their specific need for controllable groundball pitchers who can handle Coors Field leaves them with a limited number of trade options, even for All-Star talents like Tulowitzki and Gonzalez.

Both players signed major extensions within a three-month span in late 2010-early 2011 and appeared to be installed as franchise cornerstones for the next decade.  Tulowitzki had already been locked up through 2013 but his new contract guarantees him $144MM through the 2020 season, which includes a $4MM buyout of a $15MM team option for 2021.  Gonzalez is still owed $71MM through the 2017 campaign on the seven-year, $80MM extension he signed before the 2011 season.  Neither player has no-trade protection, though they will each receive a bonus (Tulowitzki $2MM, Gonzalez $1MM) if they are dealt.

Besides the salaries, both players carry some red flags.  Tulowitzki missed the last four months of the 2012 season due to a groin injury, while Gonzalez's success could be due to his hitter-friendly home ballpark — Gonzalez has a career 1.054 OPS at Coors Field and just a career .735 OPS on the road.


Rockies Notes: Hernandez, Gonzalez, Tulowitzki

Ramon Hernandez ruptured his left distal hamstring tendon and will miss the remainder of the season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. The 36-year-old will undergo surgery next week after playing in just 52 games. Here are more Rockies-related notes from Troy Renck of the Denver Post…

  • Hernandez would probably have been an offseason trade candidate, Renck writes (on Twitter). Completing a deal will now be more challenging because of Hernandez’s injuries and age. Hernandez will earn $3.2MM in 2013, the final season of the two-year, $6.4MM contract he signed last offseason.
  • The Rockies need pitching, but Renck repeated that he wouldn't trade Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez for arms (Twitter link). It's risky to assume pitching performances will translate in Denver, as Renck notes.

Quick Hits: Hamels, Athletics, McCarthy, Rockies

Stephen Strasburg looked almost human tonight, allowing two runs in six innings against the Astros to raise his ERA all the way up to 0.95 for the season.  Strasburg still picked up the win in a 6-3 Nationals victory and, as a bonus, got a hilarious new nickname for his curveball, courtesy of MLB Network's Jerry Manuel.

Here are a few odds and ends from around the Majors…

  • Matt Cain figures Cole Hamels' next contract (whether with the Phillies or on the free agent market) will earn the southpaw more than Cain's recent extension with the Giants, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  "History-wise, lefties have always brought more than a righty," Cain said. "It's just the nature of the game."  Cain said he was happy to sign his extension and remain in San Francisco for the long-term as free agency is "not always a beautiful thing."
  • The Athletics' stadium issue and possible move to San Jose will not be on the agenda at the next owners meetings, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Earlier today, Slusser reported that the A's were pushing to have the issue subjected to a vote of other owners so they could have the issue settled once and for all.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter) thinks the A's could explore a multiyear contract with Brandon McCarthy.  The right-hander has pitched very well in his time in Oakland, posting a 3.24 ERA and a 4.59 K/BB ratio in 28 starts.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes considered McCarthy as an extension candidate in February.
  • The Rockies' starting pitching woes could be solved by three southpaw prospects — Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Matzek, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • Also from Renck, he notes that Troy Tulowitzki's six-year extension from the Rockies in 2010 drew criticism at the time, but now could be seen as a bargain in the wake of the mega-deals given to Albert Pujols and Joey Votto.
  • The Reds are one of several preseason contenders off to a slow start, but Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News says it's far too early for fans to panic.

NL West Notes: Lincecum, Padres, Moores, Jimenez

Here's a look at some items out of the National League West..

  • The Giants offered Tim Lincecum at least $100MM over five years a couple months back, but it now it appears that the two sides are at least $75MM apart, with the right-hander looking for a seven- or eight-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • Jeff Moorad has withdrawn his application to be the controlling partner of the Padres, meaning that John Moores will own the team for the foreseeable future, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
  • Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres runs down the particulars of what this means for the future of the club.  Moorad will remain the Vice Chairman and CEO of the Padres while Moores will remain the majority owner of the team as he has since 1994-95.  Krasovic also writes that MLB is likely to approve the 20-year TV deal between the Padres and FOX.
  • Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez don't exactly see eye-to-eye with former teammate Ubaldo Jimenez on his dissatisfaction with the Rockies, writes Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.  The pitcher said that he was upset with the club in part because Tulowitzski and Gonzalez received lucrative new deals following the 2010 season while he did not.

MLB’s Newest $100MM Players: One Year In

Six players signed deals worth $100MM or more last offseason and they've now completed one year since finalizing their respective deals. Here's a look at how baseball's newest $100MM players fared in 2011 (in order of contract value):

  • Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, ten-year, $157.75MM extension – This deal, which was somewhat unexpected last offseason, is going as well as the Rockies could hope. Tulowitzki put together another tremendous season: .302/.372/.544 with 30 home runs at shortstop.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, seven-year, $154MM extension - Gonzalez led the American League in hits and nearly won the batting title in his return to the Junior Circuit. He posted a .338/.410/.548 line and hit 27 homers on his way to an MVP-caliber season. His seven-year extension officially kicks in next season, though.
  • Carl Crawford, Red Sox, seven-year, $142MM contract - Crawford posted a sub-.300 on-base percentage, saw his stolen base total drop by 29 and hit fewer home runs, triples and doubles than he did during his final season in Tampa Bay. The Red Sox still owe him $128MM, so they have to find a way to turn their left fielder's career around.
  • Jayson Werth, Nationals, seven-year, $126MM contract – Though Werth doesn't like the idea that 2011 was a lost season for him and the Nationals, there's no denying that his numbers fell off. He had a .232/.330/.389 line with 20 homers and 19 stolen bases.
  • Cliff Lee, Phillies, five-year, $120MM contract – We knew Lee was good, but it would not have been fair to expect this kind of year: he posted a 2.40 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 232 2/3 innings.
  • Ryan Braun, Brewers, five-year, $105MM extension - Braun could win the MVP after leading the league in slugging percentage (.597) and OPS (.994). He hit 33 homers and stole 33 bases, posted a career-high .397 on-base percentage and made his fourth consecutive All-Star team.

Crawford and Werth were sources of excitement for their respective teams when they signed free agent contracts and the outfielders have since become sources of concern. The other position players – Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Braun – have turned in MVP-caliber seasons, while Lee should be a top-three finisher in this year's NL Cy Young balloting.


Checking In On Colorado’s Offseason Extensions

The Rockies were one of the most aggressive teams in baseball in terms of extensions last offseason. They locked six of their players up on multiyear deals, including two contracts worth $80MM or more.

It’s still too early to say with much authority that the deals failed or succeeded, but Troy Tulowitzki’s contract doesn’t expire until 2020 at the earliest and that’s a long wait, so let's check in on the deals now. The early verdict? Nearly five months into the season, the Rockies’ new deals are going well, largely because their biggest investments are looking good. That in itself doesn't justify the moves, but it's certainly better than the alternative.

Tulowitzki (ten years, $157.75MM), Carlos Gonzalez (seven years, $80MM), Matt Lindstrom (two years, $6.6MM), Jason Hammel (two years, $7.75MM), Rafael Betancourt (two years, $8.02MM) and Matt Belisle (two years, $6.125MM) all signed long-term last winter. Conventional wisdom says multiyear deals for relievers and megadeals for players already under long-term control aren’t the most prudent ways of spending money, especially for a mid-market team. Nevertheless, the Rockies went ahead with the moves and they’re going well so far this year.

It would be hard to argue that Tulowitzki isn’t the best shortstop in the game. Gonzalez has boosted his walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate and, thanks to a recent hot streak that has included seven home runs in 12 days, raised his season line to .289/.360/.523. Betancourt, Belisle and Lindstrom (now on the DL) have each pitched at least 43 2/3 innings with at least 6.2 K/9, no more than 2.3 BB/9 and an ERA of 3.41 or below. Even Hammel, who just lost his rotation spot to Alex White, provided Colorado with three months’ worth of solid starts before faltering in July and August.

The extensions look good so far, despite the Rockies’ disappointing 63-68 record. At this point, that’s all Colorado could hope for. But every player they locked up could have been on the team this year even if GM Dan O’Dowd hadn’t inked them to long-term deals, so the final verdict on the 2010-11 offseason deals will have to wait for another decade or so.