Tyler Clippard Rumors
B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman all homered for the Rays tonight as Tampa Bay defeated Boston, 9-2, in the opener of a big four-game series. The Red Sox now have just a three-game lead over the Rays (and a four-game lead over the idle Angels) for the AL Wild Card.
Some notes from around the league....
- If Drew Storen is traded, Tyler Clippard shouldn't become the Nationals' closer since he's proven to be invaluable as the team's go-to reliever, argues Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com. It could be a moot point, though, since Goessling says it's "unlikely" that the Nats deal Storen.
- The Rays were the first team to discover Jacoby Ellsbury, drafting him in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal talks to the scouts who pushed for Tampa Bay to pick Ellsbury, who instead decided to attend Oregon State.
- Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that no decision has been made about Alex Gonzalez's future with the Braves, but both the club and the shortstop sound open to Gonzalez returning in 2012. Gonzalez is popular in the clubhouse and would be an ideal bridge at shortstop to prospect Tyler Pastornicky.
- Mike Newman of Fangraphs profiles Braves minor league left-hander Ronan Pacheco, who "is simply too perfect an example of a pitcher who bucks just about every prospect stereotype on both the statistical and scouting sides to not discuss."
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps this week's minor league transactions.
- David DeJesus "appears the least likely to return" of the Athletics' three free agent outfielders, writes MLB.com's Jane Lee. Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp are also free agents this winter and Willingham said earlier today that he would like to stay with Oakland.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins tells Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he doesn't regret giving Bobby Abreu the $9MM option for 2012 that vested in July.
10:47pm: The Nationals are more likely to go after Span than Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton at this point, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the sides are in a "staredown" (Twitter link). The Twins want the Nationals to include Storen in their offer.
9:22pm: The deal is "no closer than any other day," an MLB official told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
6:31pm: A deal featuring Span and Storen continues to look close, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
5:18pm: There are lots of mixed signals about the talks, but no deal is close, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
3:28pm: The Nationals are making headway with the Twins on a deal for Span, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark. The Twins are insisting Storen be included along with a second player.
10:45am: The Nationals are pushing setup man Tyler Clippard on the Twins for center fielder Denard Span over closer Drew Storen, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports. He says the Twins won't trade Span for a setup man, however.
Aside from saves, Storen comes with one more year of team control than Clippard. Still, we're talking about 2015 and 2016, and there's no telling what can happen with relievers in the course of several years.
10:08am: The Twins are unhappy with the Nationals' offer, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Nationals are worried about Span's concussion.
FRIDAY, 9:23am: Talks between the Twins and Nationals are ongoing, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Span and Storen are at the center of discussions, with Roger Bernadina and others in play. The Nationals aren't talking exclusively to the Twins as they search for a center fielder, but Span appears to be high on their list of targets.
THURSDAY, 12:52pm: The Nationals are not willing to trade Storen for Span, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
WEDNESDAY, 3:20pm: The Nationals continue to target Span, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and Storen may be in play.
MONDAY, 2:03pm: The Nationals have talked to the Twins about Span, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Nationals are unwilling to trade Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard, though Rosenthal feels Ian Desmond could be of interest to the Twins.
1:30pm: Twins center fielder Denard Span is high on the Nationals' list of targets, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Span would fit the team's desire for a controllable center fielder/leadoff hitter, assuming there are no ill effects from a concussion suffered in June.
Span, 27, is hitting .294/.361/.385 on the season in 255 plate appearances. His center field defense has been a plus in recent years, according to UZR. His team-friendly contract has less than $15MM remaining through 2014, plus a club option for '15. It's not known whether the Twins consider Span expendable; Ben Revere has a .249/.287/.284 line filling in. The asking price would surely be significant.
In a conversation with Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino echoed John Henry's sentiment from earlier this week: Whether or not Boston makes a move at the deadline, the luxury tax won't be an issue. Lucchino said the Sox have paid the tax before, and would be willing to do so again if the right deal came along. Here are some other highlights from Cafardo's weekly notes column:
- The Rangers have made "a lot of inquiries" on Tyler Clippard. The Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox also have varying levels of interest in the Nationals' setup man.
- According to an Astros source, the team intends to hold on to Hunter Pence. However, Cafardo points out that could change in the offseason, with the new ownership group (and possibly a new GM) in control.
- Some Nationals people believe a change of scenery would greatly benefit B.J. Upton, and are considering "offering the moon" for him.
- There hasn't been a whole lot of interest in Brett Myers yet. "We’ve had a couple of bites from National League teams, but not much else," said an Astros official.
- Athletics lefty Craig Breslow is drawing interest from the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Nationals are listening on top relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but such a trade would have to fill a specific long-term need such as center field. Teams are calling on Storen, Clippard, and Todd Coffey.
Potential center field targets for Washington include B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus, and Denard Span, writes Rosenthal. He believes that a reliever alone probably would not bring back a center fielder, but the Nats could also trade shortstop Ian Desmond since some club officials would like to move Danny Espinosa to shortstop.
Storen is under team control through 2016, Clippard and Desmond through '15. Desmond would be an interesting name for teams seeking shortstop help, though he's limped to a .226/.269/.311 line in 361 plate appearances this year.
The Nationals also have starting pitching to spare, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that they will move Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez, and Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny is a bit of a surprise, as he's got strong strikeout and walk rates and is under team control through 2013.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has the latest on the Texas Rangers' pursuit of bullpen help and a few other items of note on the relief market.
- The Rangers are stocked with prospects and cash, and they are shopping for top-flight relievers.
- Texas' trade targets include San Diego's Heath Bell and Mike Adams, Oakland's Andrew Bailey and Washington's Tyler Clippard.
- The asking price for each of those relievers is high. The A's and Nats, in particular, will need to be overwhelmed to move Bailey and Clippard, respectively. Both right-handers will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason.
- For trade partners in need of offense, the Rangers have a useful trade chip in slugger Chris Davis, who is Major League-ready.
- The Padres are discussing their relievers with the Yankees, Phillies and other clubs.
Peter Gammons spoke with a host of scouts, general managers, and MLB executives, all of which is compiled in his latest piece at MLB.com, which is chock full of trade-related news:
- The Astros are asking for as much in return for Wandy Rodriguez as the Rockies are for Ubaldo Jimenez. General manager Ed Wade is in a difficult position, caught between an ownership change.
- Half a dozen teams are looking for right-handed offense, but the Rockies won't trade Ryan Spilborghs and the Cubs are holding onto Jeff Baker. Gammons says that reduces that market to Conor Jackson, Josh Willingham, Reed Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Jeff Francoeur. The Twins recently announced they won't trade Michael Cuddyer as well.
- The Dodgers want to shed salary, but don't have much to shed besides Jamey Carroll and Hiroki Kuroda. Gammons spoke with two East coast executives that said Kuroda, who has a full no-trade clause, won't accept a deal to an East Coast team.
- The Athletics will move veteran bats and probably a reliever or two.
- The Mariners won't have a fire sale, and aren't likely to get much for Erik Bedard in light of his injury.
- The Nationals are willing to trade Tyler Clippard, and have been continually pursuing Michael Bourn. They're also one of several teams who showed interest in Julio Borbon prior to his injury.
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is in a tough spot because he doesn't know which way owner Peter Angelos wants him to go, according to a rival GM.
- Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario make it possible for the Rockies to trade Chris Iannetta, but the Red Sox seem content wth their catching options.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post dishes all kinds of Yankees rumors today; let's check it out.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman admitted the team's weakness is left-handed pitching, but says, "I can't force it. I can't make it happen if it is not there." Another Yankees official said that a lefty would help, "But I don't think it is live or die." Sherman believes Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano might be the two best available southpaw starters, but both bring concerns. Relief-wise they could go for the Marlins' Randy Choate or consider higher-priced names in August like Brian Fuentes and Mike Gonzalez.
- In general, Cashman said he doesn't think he can trade for a starter better than Bartolo Colon or Phil Hughes or a reliever better than Rafael Soriano, and all three could be back in July. According to Sherman, the Yankees "have shown no interest in high-cost veterans with dubious stuff such as the Brett Myers, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Livan Hernandez, and Jason Marquis."
- Hoping for the Yanks to acquire Jair Jurrjens or Derek Lowe? We're not sure if either is available, but Sherman says "the Yankees' policy has become pretty much to run away from Atlanta pitching after having successful Braves hurlers blow up on them."
- The Yankees would not offer an extension to Hiroki Kuroda, if the righty were to make that a condition of a trade. We know Kuroda will require some form of compensation.
- The Padres "want to get out in the market quickly" with relievers Heath Bell and Chad Qualls, writes Sherman. The Yankees, however, prefer Mike Adams, who is considered much less available.
- The Nationals are willing to trade setup man Tyler Clippard, but are looking for a center fielder and have their sights on B.J. Upton.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels is having "active discussions with other teams" with the aim of improving his bullpen via trade, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Said Daniels:
"It's something that we're open to, but it's easier said than done. There are not a lot of clubs eager to move quality arms right now. We've got to be able to address it right now."
Sullivan names Koji Uehara, Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Joakim Soria, Kerry Wood, and Heath Bell as several relievers who could become available. He also notes that the Rangers have discussed Todd Coffey and Tyler Clippard with the Nationals. And the Giants are scouting Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden, so there could be a match.
There are indications that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts could be considering a management overhaul in Chicago, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks Ricketts would do well to hire as many Red Sox people as possible. Cafardo suggests that Allard Baird, Ben Cherington, and DeMarlo Hale are among the names that should be attractive to the Cubs. Here are some other highlights from the Globe's Sunday Notes:
- Matt Capps should draw plenty of trade interest if the Twins decide to move him. However, the closer likely won't become available until the Twins are absolutely sure they're out of the race, as the defending AL Central champs will be reluctant to give up on their season.
- If the Nationals are willing to deal him, there will be a strong market for setup man Tyler Clippard. Cafardo speculates that Clippard would be a good fit for the Yankees or Phillies.
- An AL GM on the Athletics' decision to replace manager Bob Geren with Bob Melvin: "[GM Billy] Beane made the move now because he thought there was something to salvage. They still have the pitching. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility."
- Any contenders with interest in Orlando Cabrera may be able to acquire him sooner rather than later, after the Indians' promotion of Cord Phelps reduced Cabrera to a part-time role.
- Jason Bay's most recent slump had the Mets' $66MM man out of the lineup this week. "His bat is slow and he’s just not himself," said one veteran scout. "The ballpark [Citi Field] isn’t good for him, but the way he hit his home runs, I never thought that was a big issue."