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Walt Jocketty Rumors
The Orioles could be preparing for Delmon Young to play more next season, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. “Delmon Young is an accomplished major league hitter who had a nice year with a lot of clutch hits in part-time duty in 2014,” texts Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We look forward to his return and contribution on our 2015 team. Depending on how the team is structured, he could have a more vital role this season.” Playing the right-handed Young more regularly could help make up for the loss of Nelson Cruz, although the Orioles continue to look at the left-handed Colby Rasmus as well, with an Orioles source telling Encina the odds that the team will sign him are “50-50.” Here are more notes from around baseball.
- About two dozen teams were expected to be on hand for Alexi Ogando‘s showcase yesterday in Tampa, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Ogando, 31, was non-tendered by the Rangers this offseason after he missed much of the 2014 campaign with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Although he had a rough time in 2014 with an ERA near 7.00, Ogando entered the season with a career 3.12 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 381 innings split between the Rangers’ rotation and bullpen. Given his track record of success as both a starter and reliever, it’s not surprising that more than two-thirds of the team in the league would want to get a look at him to gauge his health for themselves.
- Johan Santana is again plotting a comeback, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick updates his progress. The lefty is preparing to appear in a Venezuelan winter league game and hopes to sign before camp opens, agent Peter Greenberg says.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t want to handicap the odds of his club signing ace Johnny Cueto to an extension prior to his specified Opening Day deadline when asked by MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Jocketty says the Cincinnati front office has a lot on its plate right now, with arbitration cases for Mike Leake, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Cozart on the horizon. The Reds are also still pursuing upgrades for the bench and bullpen — a process Jocketty referred to as “slow.” Sheldon feels that given the Reds’ full 40-man roster, the most likely scenario would be a few additions on minor league deals with invites to big league camp.
SATURDAY: The deal is now official, Sheldon tweets. It’s a two-year extension through 2016.
FRIDAY: The Reds have agreed to a contract extension with GM Walt Jocketty for multiple years, Jocketty tells reporters including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (Twitter link). As John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported yesterday, both Jocketty and manager Bryan Price were expected to be retained, though the front office man was working on an expiring contract.
Despite a rough 2014 season, the Reds have generally flourished since Jocketty took the reins early in the 2008 season. Under his watch, Cincinnati has compiled three 90-win campaigns and two division titles. The club has, however, yet to win a playoff series in that stretch.
More importantly, several of the long-term commitments made under Jocketty are beginning to look questionable. The remaining portion of the contracts of first baseman Joey Votto (nine years, $213MM), second baseman Brandon Phillips (three years, $39MM), and starter Homer Bailey (five years, $96MM) all seem problematic looking forward, for various reasons (including injury and performance issues).
Jocketty does have plenty of pieces to work with in re-establishing an upward trajectory, but also faces plenty of challenges. Cincinnati entered last year with a team-record $114MM payroll, and already has $71MM committed to just ten players in 2015 — before accounting for Johnny Cueto‘s $10MM option, obligations to Raisel Iglesias, and some pretty significant arbitration raises. As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently explained, given the possibility of increasing payroll constraints, Jocketty may need to deal from the team’s set of solid rotation pieces who have only one more year of control.
Rusney Castillo will likely serve as the Red Sox center fielder, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. As Rosenthal points out, the Red Sox also need a center field quality outfielder for their spacious right field, but Castillo may not have the necessary arm strength for right. The club views Castillo as similar to Shane Victorino. He should be able hit second, sixth, or seventh while delivering power and good base running skills. Once he receives his work visa, the Sox plan to get Castillo some reps at the minor league level before exposing him to the majors in September.
- The Orioles are going to miss the presence of Manny Machado, who is sidelined for the remainder of the season while recovering from knee surgery. Chris Davis will slide to third with Steve Pearce at first. Club officials were peeved that news of the surgery leaked so quickly, since they believe it will affect their leverage in trade discussions.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty’s contract expires after this season, but he will remain in Cincinnati. He has “unfinished business” to resolve, including a rotation that is set to lose four of it’s five members following the 2015 season.
The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video. Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade. Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.
Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…
- Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason. Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
- Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.” (The two worked together in New York.) Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee. As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
- Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change. Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
- While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.” Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
- Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air. The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster. Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
- Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy? Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston. The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
- Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.
The National League Central saw a change atop its leaderboard as the Brewers fell out of first place for the first time since April 5 after a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Nationals. It could be temporary pending the outcome of the Cardinals’ game with the Dodgers tonight. Here’s the latest from the NL Central:
- Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty has several of his inner-circle baseball operations people on the road with him and is eyeing some additions, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen this month. “I’d like to add a bat,” Jocketty said, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “We just haven’t found anything that attracts us yet. It may not happen before the 31st.” Jocketty went on to say if the Reds acquire a bat, the preference would be for the player to play multiple positions.
- With Brandon Phillips on the disabled list, the Reds GM was asked about pursuing the recently released Dan Uggla. “We haven’t discussed that yet,” Jocketty said (as quoted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “I haven’t talked to our scouts that saw him. I don’t know. We’re going to meet tomorrow and go over some stuff.“
- In a chat with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter), Jocketty made it clear he’d like to acquire a middle of the order bat he could put into the Reds‘ lineup right away, not an injury risk type player. When asked about Rays‘ second baseman Ben Zobrist (link), Jocketty said, “That’s a good name. That’s all I’ll say.”
- The Reds have interest in the Phillies‘ Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
- The Cardinals‘ top Trade Deadline priority should be starting pitching and not a replacement for the injured Yadier Molina, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The Cardinals‘ due diligence with David Price is reminiscent of their pursuit of Matt Holliday in 2009, tweets Strauss’ colleague at the P-D, Derrick Goold (Twitter links).
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin has downplayed the prospects of making a major deal before the Trade Deadline citing the lack of playing time for a bat and the limited impact a reliever can have because of the few innings they pitch, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the ask is still high on the trade market, but the club has the payroll flexibility to make a move. “It’s the basic law of supply and demand,” Huntington said. “There’s not a lot of teams that are looking to sell, and there are a lot of teams looking to buy. There’s not a ton of players out there who are significant upgrades. There are some guys you think can be, so as a result asking prices higher than you’d like. It’s a balance of what do you give up for projected current wins for projected future wins.“
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Reds‘ quiet offseason included few depth signings, and now that lack of roster depth is being tested given the number of key players currently on the team’s disabled list. Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila that “there weren’t a lot of moves to make” and warned against too much roster turnover, though finances also played a part in the Reds’ uneventful winter. “It wasn’t just [will we have money later], it was also ‘Do we have enough money now?,’ Jockett said. “We’d have loved to have [Shin-Soo] Choo back, but we couldn’t afford him. And there really wasn’t anything else we felt we could do — that we felt we could financially do. Once your club is set, it’s pretty hard to make changes.”
Here are some more items from around baseball…
- Also from Laurila’s piece, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara wasn’t sure he was ready to pitch in North America when he was first eligible at age 24, though he would’ve liked to have arrived sooner than his age-34 season. The issue for Uehara was that his Japanese club, the Yomiuri Giants, didn’t post their players and instead required them to fulfill the entirety of their contacts.
- Right-hander Tyler Kolek regularly hits the 100-mph plateau and “is the hardest-throwing high schooler of the draft era,” scouts tells Baseball America’s John Manuel. Kolek has been widely predicted to be at least a top-three selection in this year’s amateur draft.
- As pitchers like Kolek are throwing faster and harder at increasingly young ages, evaluating these young arms has become “a convergence of fascination and fear,” for scouts, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writes. Teams are as interested in ever with hard-throwers, yet are also concerned with the injury risk attached with regularly throwing at such high velocities.
- Mets fans are losing patience with the team’s rebuilding plan and Sandy Alderson’s front office has seemed either unwilling or unable to spend to make the Amazins more competitive, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin opines. Even the low-cost moves that were supposed to be Alderson’s forte have backfired, Rubin notes in regards to the club’s struggling bullpen.
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler (BA subscription required) profiles five international prospects who have drawn the attention of the Yankees and Astros in the lead-up to the July 2 deadline. New York has been linked to catcher Miguel Flames, shortstop Diego Castillo and outfielder Jonathan Amundaray, while Houston is interested in outfielder Ronny Rafael and shortstop Miguel Angel Sierra.
- Should the Tigers use Robbie Ray as a much-needed southpaw reliever or send him back to the minors to get regular work as a starter? Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press argues the former point while MLive.com’s Chris Iott argues the latter.
- The revamped draft and free agent rules haven’t helped parity or benefited smaller-market teams, Peter Gammons writes for GammonsDaily.com. Tying the draft directly to the free agent compensation system (in regards to qualifying offers) has created flaws in both areas, Gammons argues, and the real purpose of the new rules was “to lessen the power of agents and limit the money paid to amateur prospects.”
2:03pm: Sizemore appears to be set to sign with a club other than Cincinnati, a source tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
WEDNESDAY, 1:32pm: In a radio appearance on 1450 ESPN in Cincinnati, Jocketty stated that "things have changed" and the Reds will not sign Sizemore (Twitter link).
SUNDAY, 4:19pm: "Some details have to be worked out," Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We hope to get something done next week." Jocketty also told Fay both Major League and minor league deals have been discussed with Sizemore.
2:53pm:The Reds are in advanced talks with outfielder Grady Sizemore, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The sources, however, caution other teams are involved and the 31-year-old free agent could go in a different direction.
This is not the first time the Reds have been linked to the three-time All-Star, who hasn't played since 2011 because of microfracture surgery on his right knee and back and sports hernia operations. Earlier this month, Reds GM Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon he believes Sizemore is healthy enough to resume his career and acknowledged there has been talks with his representatives.
Sizemore slashed .281/.372/.496 with 107 home runs and 115 steals from 2005-08 winning a pair of Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. He missed only nine games over the course of that four-year run, but has appeared in only 210 games since posting a line of .234/.314/.413.
Sizemore would provide insurance for the Reds, who plan on starting rookie Billy Hamilton in center after losing Shin-Soo Choo to free agency. The Astros have also been connected to the Joe Urbon client this winter while the Twins were interested but have since moved on.
The Reds spoke with Homer Bailey's representatives before the holidays about a new long-term contract for the right-hander, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. This isn't the first time the club has explored locking up Bailey, as the two sides reportedly discussed an extension last winter before settling on a one-year, $5.35MM contract to avoid arbitration.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told Sheldon that Bailey is the only one of Cincinnati's six arbitration-eligible players who is currently being considered for a long-term deal. Unsurprisingly, Jocketty sees Bailey as "probably the one guy that's going to be the most difficult [to sign] because of how well he's done and where he's at in this service class. Young pitchers are getting quite a bit."
"At this point, we really haven't discussed anybody but Homer to sign long term. Homer is the only one we've pursued, but we've had internal discussions on the other guys. We just have to see how it all fits in, financially."
Bailey is arb-eligible for the third and final time this winter, and MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that Bailey will earn $9.3MM through the arbitration process. Another strong reason for Bailey would almost surely net him a $100MM contract in free agency next offseason, and the mid-market Reds would be hard-pressed outbid richer clubs for Bailey's services on the open market. Even locking him up now would be an expensive proposition for the Reds — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes opined that it might take more than a five-year, $85MM deal to keep Bailey in the fold since he's so close to free agency.
If the Reds can't extend Bailey this offseason, they could explore a trade, though Jocketty has said that the team wants to keep Bailey in order to help them contend in 2014. I'd guess it would also be difficult for Jocketty to find fair value for Bailey in a trade considering a suitor would only have him for one season. Since Bailey would net Cincinnati a first-round compensation pick (for turning down a qualifying offer) if he signed elsewhere in the offseason, the Reds would likely only be motivated to move the righty if they could obtain something of greater value than a first-round pick.
Of the other arbitration cases, Leake and Chapman stand out as the only possible candidates for a long-term deal. Leake, picked eighth overall in the 2009 draft, has become a solid part of the rotation in his own right, with a 3.99 ERA and 677 1/3 IP over his first four seasons. This is Leake's second year of arb-eligibility and Swartz projects him to earn $5.9MM. Chapman is projected by Swartz to earn $4.6MM through his first year of arbitration eligibility (on top of the $3MM he earns from his original contract). It's probably unlikely that the Reds would look to make a long financial commitment to a closer, especially since the chance still exists that Chapman could be moved into the rotation.
The Reds have had preliminary extension talks with some of their arbitration eligible players, Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty acknowledged. "Nothing has gotten really serious yet,” the GM said, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. However, the Reds are interested in locking up Mat Latos and Homer Bailey to multiyear contracts.
"We've discussed that," Jocketty said. "We're taking a look to see if it works. If not, we'll go year to year. We'd prefer something long term eventually."
Mike Leake, Logan Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Heisey of the Reds are also arbitration eligible this offseason, as MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last month that the Reds had had some extension talks with Bailey and intended to discuss a deal with Latos.
Bailey, a Hendricks Sports client, projects to earn $5.1MM in 2013 as a second time eligible player, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Meanwhile, Latos projects to earn $4.6MM as a first time eligible player. Bledsoe Brothers represents Latos.
Today is the 63rd anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American player to win the MVP Award. This would be the only such honor during Robinson's Hall of Fame career. Here's the latest news from the Senior Circuit:
- Negotiations between the Nationals and Adam LaRoche are going slowly, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The source also says LaRoche's top priority is to return to the Nationals, but the free agent first baseman is thinking about his two children, which is why he wants a three-year deal and has talked with several teams.
- A five-year, $75MM contract might be accurate for B.J. Upton but expect Michael Bourn to seek more, tweets Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Despite the declining influence of home runs to change a game, as typified by the Giants winning the World Series after slugging the fewest home runs in baseball, the Phillies still need a power surge in 2013, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover.
- Centerfield is one position where the Phillies could seek to boost their power output. ESPN's Buster Olney breaks down their various centerfield options in his latest Insiders-only blog.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer sees the Reds' 2013 payroll being $92MM, but a team insider tells him the actual number could start with an eight. This would make it difficult, in Fay's opinion, to do anything in free agency except sign a closer or re-sign Ryan Ludwick.
- Within the same piece, GM Walt Jocketty says he will wait until after Thanksgiving to speak with Scott Rolen, who is contemplating retirement.
- The Cardinals' needs are simple for 2013, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team needs to reinforce a thin bench by adding some right-handed power and find a fourth outfielder who can generate some offense. Miklasz adds the health of shortstop Rafael Furcal is also a significant question.
- Blessed with the deepest of pockets, the Dodgers' desire to pursue an elite starting pitcher reveals myriad ways the team can approach the process, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Common sense, however, may still prevail at Chavez Ravine as Dodgers controlling partner Mark Walter once eloquently stated, "Pitchers break."
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.