Vernon Wells Rumors
The Angels will make significant changes to their roster following a season that included many positive developments before ending in disappointment, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. The team enters the offseason with a number of top priorities: re-signing free agents Zack Greinke and Torii Hunter, adding at least one more starting pitcher, improving the bullpen and trading Vernon Wells.
The Angels will likely let Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen and Maicer Izturis go, DiGiovanna reports. Haren has said he’d consider returning for less than the value of his $15.5MM option. Santana recently suggested he’s prepared for a change if the Angels decline his 2013 option, as expected.
The Angels have “a tremendous interest” in re-signing Hunter, general manager Jerry Dipoto said. The GM confirmed that the Angels would “like to explore” contract talks with the agent for Greinke. Both players have significant leverage after playing well in 2012, but Dipoto pointed out that the Angels have “never been short of resources." Just don’t expect them to use those resources on relief pitchers. Spending lavishly on relievers "is akin to going to Las Vegas and throwing it down on double-zero green," Dipoto said.
The Dodgers lead the NL West by the slimmest of margins (half a game) over the Giants, but their American League counterpart isn’t so well-positioned. The Angels are just two games above .500 after losing four games in a row and they’re now 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leaders. Here's the latest on Los Angeles' two teams...
- Catcher A.J. Ellis explains how this year's trade deadline unfolded from the point of view of the Dodgers’ players in a guest column at Buster Olney's ESPN.com blog. Ellis acknowledges that players refresh MLBTR in search of news as the trade deadline approaches. "Few of us would admit to religiously checking websites like MLBTradeRumors and Twitter feeds looking for rumors, but we do," he writes.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times would not be surprised if the Angels try to engage the Red Sox in trade talks about a possible John Lackey for Vernon Wells deal this offseason (Twitter links). Wells, who has $42MM on his contract after 2012, could be a fit in Fenway Park, DiGiovanna writes. Lackey, who pitched in Anaheim from 2002-09, has $30.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012.
- The trade that sent Zack Greinke to Anaheim hasn't worked out as well as expected for the Angels, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. Greinke has a 6.19 ERA in five starts since being traded.
The Dodgers are considering trades for Josh Johnson and James Shields since they aren’t making progress with the Cubs regarding a possible Ryan Dempster deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Dodgers could check in on Zack Greinke, who will likely be traded this month. However, they view Cliff Lee’s contract as onerous (not that he's available).
The Angels continue to be involved in talks for Greinke, Shields and Johnson, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. They might like Greinke best, but Shields may be their most realistic target (Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that the Angels believe in Shields at a time that other clubs have doubts about him). The Angels would prefer to acquire a pitcher they can keep beyond 2012, so Shields’ contract options likely appeal to Angels executives. Johnson is also controllable, but the Angels have concerns about his health issues and $13.75MM salary.
The market for Zack Greinke appears to consist of the Rangers, Angels, White Sox and Braves, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. Rival teams say the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers aren’t involved on Greinke, and the Indians and Orioles have limited interest in pitchers headed for free agency, Stark writes. Here are more notes from Stark:
- The Yankees are exploring their third base options with Alex Rodriguez out, Stark reports. Marco Scutaro could be an option for New York.
- There’s an expectation that Chase Headley will be traded, but the Padres continue saying they’re happy to keep him, Stark writes. One team says the Padres are looking for a Mat Latos-like return if they trade the third baseman.
- The Phillies are looking for a proven, young setup reliever and a young outfielder or third baseman for Victorino, Stark reports. They’ve asked about relievers Brad Lincoln, Wade Davis and Logan Ondrusek in trade talks.
- It’s already been a busy month for the Astros, but they’re still willing to consider trades for anyone but Jose Altuve.
- The Indians and Cardinals have talked to the Rays about James Shields, Stark reports.
- The Angels are telling teams they’d rather trade Vernon Wells than keep him when he returns from the disabled list. They’re looking for a trade partner and saying they don’t want to eat all of his salary, Stark reports. It’ll be challenging to find a taker for Wells’ salary; he earns $21MM per season through 2014.
- The Indians aren’t likely to deal Chris Perez or Shin-Soo Choo, but they’ll listen on either player.
The Padres franchise is still looking for its first no-hitter, as Andrew Cashner's no-hit bid was ended after 6 1/3 innings tonight. It still ended up being a good night for San Diego, however, as the Friars rallied for a six-run ninth inning in their 7-3 win over the Astros.
Some notes from around the majors...
- Vernon Wells tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he has no plans to waive his no-trade clause since he enjoys playing for the Angels, though he may not receive much playing time once he returns from the DL. Morosi speculates that the right-handed hitting Wells could be a fit for the Dodgers, Reds or Indians. Any trade would involve the Angels eating the large majority of the approximately $53MM Wells is still owed through the 2014 season.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio covered many topics during a Q&A with local business owners (reported on by Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), such as the team's payroll, the change in how the Brewers are perceived around baseball and how the team is having "an uncomfortable time" deciding whether or not they're contenders or sellers.
- If Victor Martinez is able to play this season, it won't until mid-September at the earliest, Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand told reporters (including Chris Iott of Mlive.com). Martinez is recovering after tearing his ACL in January.
- The Mariners aren't on pace to contend before Felix Hernandez's contract is up at the end of the 2014 season, argues Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, and should thus explore trading the ace right-hander.
- With just a few days left before the July 2 international signing deadline, Ben Badler of Baseball America discusses some of the top prospects with various international scouting directors.
- The Cardinals are looking for both starting and relief pitching, and Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines whch is a greater need for the club.
- The Yankees announced that right-hander Adam Warren has been placed on the 25-man roster and signed to a Major League contract. In corresponding moves, Ryota Igarashi was also called up while C.C. Sabathia was placed on the 15-day DL and Andy Pettitte went on the 60-day DL. Warren, a fourth-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, has a 3.05 ERA in 79 career minor league starts and he'll make his Major League debut on Friday in Sabathia's rotation spot.
- The week's minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
- The Cubs are shopping starter Ryan Dempster to multiple teams, including the Dodgers. Chicago is willing to include significant amounts of cash in any trade in hopes of landing better prospects. Dempster has 10-and-5 rights, however, and thus can veto any deal, although he's willing to move to a contender.
- The Orioles are pursuing starting pitching and scouted both Dempster and Matt Garza this week, although the Diamondbacks' Joe Saunders may be a better trade fit for Baltimore.
- The Blue Jays are asking around for pitching help, although they may end up sellers before the non-waiver trade deadline.
- The Astros are willing to listen on "virtually all of their players." Younger players like Jed Lowrie and third baseman Chris Johnson are all in play, although it would take a huge offer to pry away second baseman Jose Altuve.
- The Indians are unlikely to make a move for a DH type like Vladimir Guerrero or Manny Ramirez. Their bigger need is a player who can play left field -- perhaps someone like Carlos Quentin -- but they first need to figure out where they stand with Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, who are both injured.
- The Marlins will have trouble bolstering their weak offense because of a depleted farm system. With Emilio Bonifacio injured, their most obvious need is center field. The Twins' Denard Span and perhaps the Phillies' Shane Victorino are potential targets.
- The Angels no longer have room in the starting lineup for the injured Vernon Wells now that Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout have solidified the outfield, and one rival GM thinks Wells could be released when he's ready to return from the disabled list.
- There's already moderate interest in Abreu, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Abreu doesn't have any hard feelings about his release, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “There’s not really any bitterness -- it’s just a tough situation here,” Abreu said. “I’m going to wait and see what happens. I’m going to talk to my agent, make some calls, see who’s interested. I’m going to keep working and be ready.”
- The Angels released the wrong player in dropping Abreu and keeping Vernon Wells, opines Fangraphs' Paul Swydan. Abreu is set to earn $9MM in 2012 while Wells is owed $63MM through 2014 but Wells' contract is already "a sunk cost." Swydan argues that Abreu is better suited for a pinch-hit role than Wells and, as a left-handed bat, Abreu brought balance to an otherwise right-handed Angels outfield.
- The Angels' busy Friday (releasing Abreu, calling up Mike Trout and elevating Scott Downs to the closer's job over Jordan Walden) is a sign that the team is already feeling the pressure of high preseason expectations, writes ESPN Los Angeles' Mike Saxon.
- Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog thinks the Yankees might have an interest in Abreu as at least a short-term fix while Brett Gardner is on the DL. New York tried to acquire Abreu for A.J. Burnett in the offseason, before Burnett blocked the deal to avoid playing on the west coast.
- Even once their new ownership group takes over, the Dodgers "might not be as active at the trade deadline as a lot of people think." While the team will now have the financial resources to absorb a big contract, the Dodgers' minor league system isn't very deep and they want to keep their few quality prospects.
- Peter O'Malley is "making a strong push" to buy the Padres and wants to have a deal arranged by the All-Star break.
- The Nationals would've preferred to give Bryce Harper more minor league seasoning but their hand was forced due to their lack of production in left field, plus Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse going on the DL.
- The Red Sox "aren't optimistic" they can convince Aaron Cook to stay put, as Cook is eager to pitch in the majors again. The veteran right-hander can opt out of his contract on May 1 if he isn't called up to the Red Sox Major League roster before that date. With Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront pitching well, Boston doesn't have a spot in the rotation for Cook unless, as Rosenthal notes, the club "does something" with Clay Buchholz.
- Bobby Abreu is only the latest high-priced member of the Angels to have his contract eaten by the team under Arte Moreno's ownership. The Halos have also let go of Kevin Appier, Scott Kazmir, Gary Matthews Jr. and Justin Speier in recent years, and those four plus Abreu amounted to around $60MM in dead money. This doesn't mean that the Angels will release Vernon Wells, however, as Wells' contract alone would cost the team more than those five players combined; counting this year, Wells is set to earn $63MM through the 2014 season.
Upon joining the Cubs, Theo Epstein will leave behind one contractual headache in John Lackey and acquire another one in Carlos Zambrano, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The difference between the two, as a National League scout pointed out, is that Zambrano could once again be a top-of-the-rotation hurler while some doubt if Lackey is even a No. 4 or 5 starter. The answer for both clubs could be a "garbage-for-garbage" deal that allows them to exchange one bad contract for another. Some prime candidates include Chone Figgins, Barry Zito, Vernon Wells, and Derek Lowe. Here more from Cafardo..
- While Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is an interesting free agent possibility for the Red Sox if they could get him on a two-year deal. The veteran could be their No. 5 starter or serve as a strong lefty in the bullpen.
- It's hard to tell if David Ortiz is serious about leaving the "drama" of Boston for the Yankees, but the veteran wouldn't be a fit in New York as they have no need for a DH.
- A.J. Hinch, the vice president of pro scouting for the Padres, could have interest from teams like the Red Sox, and possibly the Cubs with Epstein there. Las Vegas agrees, as oddsmaker Jimmy Shapiro placed Hinch as the odds-on favorite to get the Sox managerial job. Meanwhile, Josh Byrnes is currently a special assistant with San Diego and could depart for a bigger role with Epstein in Chicago.
- Mariners skipper Eric Wedge is a very interesting name that could be involved in the Red Sox’s managerial search. However, getting Wedge out of his deal in Seattle could be a problem as he has a good deal of personnel power there.
- Tony La Russa would be an interesting choice for Boston, but it appears he'll be staying in St. Louis or retiring. La Russa has always spoken fondly of the city, but it doesn’t appear at this stage of his career that he would want to deal with some of the issues in the BoSox organization.
- Brian Cashman's contract extension is nowhere near done. The Yankees GM’s deal expires at the end of the month, but neither side is feeling any pressure to get something completed.
- Meanwhile, Cashman's top two assistants, Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer, are being interviewed by the Angels for their GM job. Cashman told the paper that he feels both men are absolutely qualified to take the next step. Recently, our own Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke with Oppenheimer about the possibility of becoming a GM.
- Cafardo wonders if history will be kinder to Dan Duquette now that the Theo Epstein era is concluding in Boston. Duquette never won a championship as the Red Sox's GM but the 2004 team certainly had his fingerprints on it. Now working as a business consultant, the longtime MLB exec never got the chance to be a GM again, but hasn't ruled out doing so in the right situation.
Brad Pitt says he now feels "a little bit romantic about the A's" after portraying GM Billy Beane in the Moneyball movie, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's the latest from Oakland's division...
- Vernon Wells, who could opt out of his contract this offseason, told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he doesn't expect to walk away from the three years and $63MM remaining on his deal. It will be a shock if he opts out given his .219/.252/.406 season line.
- The Mariners named Joe McIlvaine an assistant to GM Jack Zduriencik. The 64-year-old former Mets and Padres GM has spent the last 12 seasons working for the Twins. When MLBTR’s Howard Megdal ranked every GM in Mets history last October, McIlvaine placed fourth.
- Michael Young was the subject of near-constant trade rumors last offseason. He tells the Associated Press (link via ESPN) that he never really wanted to leave Texas, even after he requested a trade. The Rangers are glad they held on to Young, who has a .331/.374/.472 line with 40 doubles this year.