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Washington Nationals Rumors
We just took a look at the Marlins; now here are some notes on the rest of the NL East and their geographical counterparts from the American League:
- The Nationals rank as perhaps the league’s quietest contender approaching the trade deadline, in large part because it is difficult to see where the club might reasonably look to upgrade. We’ve heard previously that the team might target a young shortstop to plug into its pipeline, but one possibility for the MLB roster is a bullpen addition, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. While the Washington relief corps has been outstanding, and the club lacks apparent roster flexibility, Kilgore says that the Nats are interested in adding depth for the stretch run.
- This is my speculation, but if a new arm is added to the big league club, Washington could potentially stash rookie Aaron Barrett in the minors until rosters expand in September, though he has been quite solid (2.61 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 31 innings). More intriguingly, a pen slot could theoretically be opened if the team was to deal away former starter Ross Detwiler, though that would obviously result in a corresponding loss of depth.
- There have been several reports on Mets starter Bartolo Colon, who is earning $9MM this year and is promised $11MM for 2015. The club is “trying hard” to deal him, according to Danny Knobler (via Twitter), while Newsday’s Marc Carig tweets that interest is picking up but the Mets are disinclined to hold onto any of Colon’s salary in a deal.
- Moving the 41-year-old won’t be easy, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post, because his future salary is both what New York wants to offload and what other clubs will want to avoid. Meanwhile, Sherman refutes reports suggesting that the Giants have engaged the Mets on Colon (Twitter link), writing that San Francisco would only have interest if it can avoid paying for a significant portion of Colon’s 2015 salary. Like Carig, Sherman hears that is not the Mets’ preference.
- The Blue Jays have shown interest in bringing back outfielder Alex Rios, currently with the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Toronto shed Rios and his big contract by declining to revoke an August waiver claim back in 2009, but the veteran has turned things around and now comes with only a $14MM team option left for 2015. Of course, there remains some doubt as to whether the Jays would be able to take on the remainder of Rios’s $12.5MM salary for the current season.
- Red Sox starter-turned-reliever Felix Doubront is not enjoying his current role with the club and hopes to see more action — in Boston or elsewhere — reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The 26-year-old lefty has been mentioned before as a trade candidate, though it is not clear whether Boston will be inclined to move him as the club tries to get back in the mix, especially with talk that Jake Peavy could be dealt. Doubront will be eligible for arbitration for the first time next year.
- The Yankees acquired third baseman Chase Headley with the expectation that he will be a two-month rental, GM Brian Cashman told reporters including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link). The deal came together today after about three weeks of discussions, Cashman added.
- Headley will likely not be the last addition for New York, Cashman indicated in further comments, via Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. “I have more work to do,” he said. The GM explained that larger moves could be in the offing: “We’ve got high-end stuff, without a doubt, players that other teams like. And those players would be available, or will be available, in the right circumstances. These are the deals that I can present to you that we were able to conclude, but we’re talking much larger type deals, [and] clearly much smaller, incremental upgrades.”
White Sox starter John Danks is permitted to designate six clubs for no-trade protection under his five-year, $65MM extension. His list for 2014 includes the Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, and Blue Jays, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports on Twitter.
Though Danks has reportedly drawn some interest, including from the Yankees, his contract certainly limits his appeal. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted in breaking down the potentially available starters, Danks is due about $34MM through 2016. However, the 29-year-old lefty holds some value after working back from shoulder surgery, as he has shown the ability to produce over stretches. Through 124 innings on the year, Danks owns a 4.35 ERA with 6.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9. But he had lowered that mark to 3.99 before getting hit hard two days ago by the Astros.
Of course, it is far from clear that any of those four clubs would be interested in adding Danks (and, in particular, his contract), so the clause’s impact on Danks’ market may be limited. The A’s and Nats appear to be set in their rotations, while the Jays are reportedly interested in adding a pure rental and the O’s may likewise prefer not to take on that kind of commitment after promising $50MM to the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez before the season.
The Nationals have signed first-rounder Erick Fedde for a $2,511,100 bonus, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter). That amount represented the maximum the team could allot to Fedde without forfeiting future draft picks.
It went right down to the wire yet again for Washington and a first-round choice being advised by Scott Boras. But, as usual, the deal was made. Things were obviously complicated in this case by several factors, including Fedde’s recent Tommy John surgery (which caused his drop) and the Nats’ inability to ink two of the club’s picks from the first ten rounds.
In the end, the Nationals will take over the rehab process of a pitcher who looked destined for the first ten rounds before tearing his UCL. Of course, the Nationals have plenty of experience dealing with TJ recovery, with a rotation headed by two recent patients and a farm system led by a player in Lucas Giolito whose draft situation closely resembled Fedde’s.
2:22pm: The team’s second-round pick, Andrew Suarez, has announced that he will return to the University of Miami rather than sign via his Instagram account. The Hurricanes also tweeted an announcement that the left-hander will be returning.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that with the Nats not signing Suarez or ninth-round pick Austin Byler, the max amount they can give Fedde without losing a first-round pick is $2,511,100.
2:08pm: Fedde’s signing bonus will be between $2.5MM and $2.6MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
1:32pm: The Nationals are nearing a deal with first-rounder Erick Fedde, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (on Twitter). A deal between the two sides will “almost certainly” get done in advance of today’s signing deadline, which is just two and a half hours away.
Fedde was projected as a potential top 10 pick in the draft before the difficult news that he would require Tommy John surgery caused him to slide. The Nationals, never ones to let an injury scare prevent them from drafting a high-end talent (they also selected Lucas Giolito in the first round in 2012), snatched the UNLV ace up with the 18th overall pick, which carries a slot value of $2,145,600. As Kilgore noted in a previous piece, there were teams in the late first round that had expressed interest in going as high as $3MM on a signing bonus for Fedde, making his negotiations with the Nats complicated, to say the least.
Fedde’s operation caused him to slide down pre-draft rankings. Keith Law ranked him 27th at ESPN.com, while Baseball America had him ranked 24th, and MLB.com’s duo of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked him 33rd.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Mitch Lively has opted out of his contract with the Giants and inked a minor league deal with the Nationals, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). He can opt out of his new contract on September 1, Cotillo adds. The 28-year-old had spent virtually all of his career in San Francisco, though he has yet to make a big league appearance. He began working as a starter last year after six years throwing exclusively from the pen. At Triple-A this season, Lively owns a 5.08 ERA through 90 1/3 frames (including 15 starts and seven relief appearances), with 8.0 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9.
- The Brewers have signed catcher Hector Gimenez after his recent release by the Blue Jays, tweets Cotillo. The 31-year-old switch-hitter has seen only limited MLB action, but has been fairly productive in the upper minors in recent years. That has not held in 2014, however: in 127 plate appearances with Jays and White Sox affiliates, he owns a .177/.260/.292 triple-slash.
- The Red Sox have acquired lefty Ryan Verdugo from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations, Kansas City announced on Twitter. The 27-year-old has only one MLB start under his belt — it did not go well — and has spent most of the last four seasons in the upper minors. Through 46 2/3 frames over 9 starts this year, he owns a 4.24 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
The National League representative in the World Series will cede the right to home-field advantage as a result of tonight’s All-Star game, which the American League took 5-3. Here’s the latest out of the NL:
- The Mets still do not know whether they attempt to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). Of course, that would presumably also require a decision that the team will pursue contention; New York is seven games back in the NL East at the break.
- If, instead, the Mets turn into sellers, one name that has drawn some attention is hurler Bartolo Colon, but Puma reports that the club has not yet received interest in the veteran righty. The 41-year-old owns a 3.99 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9 through 121 2/3 innings. He is playing on a $9MM salary this year and is guaranteed $11MM for 2015.
- Another popular name in trade circles is Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who also has been rumored as an extension candidate as he enters his final season of arbitration eligibility. Murphy says that the team has not yet engaged him in extension talks, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). At age 29, Murphy owns a .294/.342/.413 batting line with seven long balls and 11 stolen bases.
- Dodgers starter Zack Greinke says that he will be paying close attention to the coming free agent market as he assesses whether to exercise his opt-out clause after the 2015 season, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “What happens with [Jon] Lester and [Max] Scherzer will say a lot,” said Greinke. Though the righty notes that salaries seem to still be on the rise, he also says that he is aware of the fact that teams tend to be “paying more for future performance” than past results. As Shaikin notes, Greinke will have the right to choose between another bout of free agency and the $71MM over three years that he’ll have left on his deal otherwise.
- One notable recent draftee that has yet to sign is Nationals first-rounder Erick Fedde, who fell to the 18th slot (with its $2,145,600 bonus allocation) after undergoing Tommy John surgery. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, there is a growing belief that a deal might not get done. Like several other recent Nats choices whose signings have come down to the wire, Fedde is a client of agent Scott Boras. The high-upside righty wants $3MM, says Kilgore, which he was apparently told he could get by teams picking after Washington. The collegiate junior is said to believe he could still land that level of bonus next year; as Kilgore notes, he will not throw a pitch in the meantime regardless.
- Per the MLB.com draft signing tracker, Washington has saved a total of $358.2K on its remaining selections from the first ten rounds, with second-rounder Andrew Suarez ($987.8K slot) and ninth-rounder Austin Byler ($145.9K slot) still unsigned, and the latter reportedly unlikely to do so. By my math, assuming the Nats sign Suarez at slot value but cannot ink Byler, they could chip in an additional $278,990 (5% above total slot for signed players, which comes with a 75% overage tax) before hitting penalties that would require the sacrifice of a first-round pick next year. Added to the other savings and Fedde’s own slot allocation, that would mean D.C. could pay Fedde as much as $2,782,790.
Rafael Soriano needs 32 more games finished to cause his $14MM club option to vest, but the Nationals closer says that vesting option or not, he wants to return to Washington in 2015, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. Soriano would need to get up to the 62-finish mark (a career high) to make it, though with the Nats in a tight pennant race, they’ll undoubtedly need their closer as much as possible down the stretch.
Here’s some more news and notes from around baseball…
- Scouts for the Indians have been told to focus their attention on Rays minor leaguers, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports, and Cotillo wonders if this could suggest that Cleveland is revisiting talks for David Price. Cleveland and Tampa discussed a Price trade during the offseason, as Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, that involved Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar going to the Rays. (Tampa Bay also had interest in Francisco Lindor but the Indians consider Lindor virtually untouchable in any trade.) A new trade package, Cotillo speculates, could be Santana/Salazar for Price and a couple of Rays prospects, hence the Tribe’s interest in scouting Tampa’s farm system.
- Also from Cotillo, the Angels made the same three-year, $15.75MM offer to both Joe Smith and Edward Mujica this past offseason and told both pitchers that the contract would go to whichever accepted first. Smith took the deal first and is enjoying a strong season, even moving into the Halos’ closing job. Mujica, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $9.5MM deal with the Red Sox and has struggled to a 5.45 ERA in 34 2/3 IP.
- The Giants are still without agreements for five of their top 10 draft picks, a situation Cotillo believes could be due to the club devoting their time and draft pool resources to signing first-rounder Tyler Beede, who couldn’t negotiate until after the College World Series.
- Despite the number of recent stars to come out of Cuba, teams are still relying on very little or no scouting information when signing these players, Danny Knobler writes for Bleacher Report. Knobler’s piece explores the future of the Cuban talent pipeline while also delving into the limited data the White Sox and Dodgers, respectively, had when signing Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig to major contracts.
- While the Royals‘ farm system is still considered strong, it is short on prospects ready to help at the Major League level, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Thanks to a few thin drafts, the prospect package sent to Tampa Bay in the James Shields trade and the fact that many of their top prospects of recent years are already in the bigs, “between Omaha and their [Double-A] club, there’s nobody that looks like they’re going to jump up soon as a significant piece,” an AL executive said.
The Nationals are crossing their fingers after All-Star starter Jordan Zimmermann left today’s start with a right arm issue. Initial indications were positive, as the club said that Zimmermann was experiencing a biceps cramp and that hopes are it is not a serious issue, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington reports on Twitter.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- The Mets have not fielded much interest lately in second baseman Daniel Murphy, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. A club official also told Puma that trade talks have generally been rather quiet.
- Having “hit rock bottom,” it is time for the Phillies to deal, opines ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link). Olney posits that pitchers Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon could hold appeal to larger-payroll clubs, outfielder Marlon Byrd would draw interest given the dearth of available power bats, Chase Utley would be a good match for the Athletics or Giants. The market is shaping up well for Philly, Olney says, with the recent spate of significant injuries.
- While some have suggested that Phillies lefty Cole Hamels could be had by the Yankees, in part by a willingness to take on his substantial salary, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that is highly unlikely. The Phillies would only deal Hamels if one of the pieces coming back (among others) was a solid, young starter that could slot right into the rotation, says Murphy, and that is something New York cannot offer.
In response to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in which it was reported that the Nationals were looking to add shortstop prospects to their system, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post breaks down the reported offers to Ian Desmond and examines his contract situation. Desmond reportedly rejected an offer of $85-98MM over seven years this offseason, but as Kilgore notes, other shortstops with similar (or inferior) production have signed for more. Desmond has already said he feels financially secure — as well he should, having been guaranteed more than $23MM in his career — and he therefore doesn’t need to feel pressured to take a below-market deal, Kilgore writes. He concludes by noting that if Desmond finishes his career elsewhere, it’ll be because the Nationals let him walk, not because Desmond turned his back on the club.
Here’s more on Desmond and the NL East…
- Desmond spoke with MLB.com’s Bill Ladson and flatly said that he expects to be a National in 2016 and beyond. “I can’t picture myself other than this,” said Desmond. “I can’t picture myself in any other uniform, clubhouse and Spring Training complex. I can’t see myself with any other coaching staff or anything like that. This is what I know. This is what’s on my mind. This is home for me.” Asked about the aforementioned Rosenthal report, Desmond declined to comment but added that there’s no ill will between him and the organization, and he has tremendous respect for GM Mike Rizzo’s decision-making skills.
- In a second piece from Kilgore, he looks at the fact that three of the Nationals‘ top 10 picks in this year’s draft — including first-rounder Erick Fedde and second-rounder Andrew Suarez – are unsigned. The Nationals are unlikely to sign ninth-rounder Austin Byler, a source tells Kilgore, meaning the Nats will lose $145,900 from their bonus pool, further complicating their negotiations with Fedde — a Scott Boras client. Rizzo considers it a “cardinal sin” to leave a top pick unsigned, notes Kilgore, who expects both Fedde and Suarez to sign. He feels that negotiations could come down to the wire, however.
- The Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization are working on a buyout of minor league right-hander Yunesky Maya of the Braves, reports Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (on Twitter). The Cuban hurler was originally signed by the Nationals with much fanfare, but he never panned out in the Major Leagues. Maya, now 32, has a 2.63 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 85 2/3 innings this season for Triple-A Gwinnett.
- The Braves don’t have the financial wherewithal to take on Jake Peavy or any other significant salary, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. He notes that in 2011, when the team acquired Michael Bourn from Houston, GM Frank Wren included an additional prospect in the deal to avoid having to pay the remainder of Bourn’s salary.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade stock and a list of teams that will looking for bullpen help. He notes that there are a lot of excellent relievers on the market this year, all of whom make less money than Papelbon. Ultimately, he opines that a package of Papelbon and A.J. Burnett could be beneficial to the Orioles, though he feels the Angels and Tigers are other plausible destinations.
- Antonio Bastardo is the name that Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com hears the most in trade buzz (Twitter link). Entering play today, the 28-year-old southpaw had a 3.60 ERA with 50 strikeouts against 24 walks in 40 innings. Bastardo is earning $2MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this offseason. He is under team control through 2015.
Previous reports have indicated that Desmond rejected a seven-year, $85.5MM contract, but Rosenthal spoke to one source who said as much as $98MM was on the table over a seven-year period. Rosenthal notes that the Nats would clearly never trade Desmond or right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (also a free agent after the 2015 season) while the team was making a playoff push, but one or both could be on the market this winter.
The team isn’t likely to deal pieces from its Major League club this July, as they’re firmly in the playoff race. Instead, Rosenthal writes, Major League ready prospects like catcher Sandy Leon, outfielder Steven Souza and infielder Zach Walters could be used to entice teams instead (the mention of Walters is at least somewhat puzzling, as he is a shortstop himself, albeit one with poor on-base skills in Triple-A). Pitching prospects such as A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito figure to be off limits due to uncertainty regarding Zimmermann’s future with the team, Rosenthal adds.
The Diamondbacks naturally come to mind when reports indicate that a club is looking for young shortstops, as they have Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed in their organization. In the Nationals’ case, however, it seems likely that they’d be ok with targeting someone who is a bit further from Major League ready than that trio, as the team could simply retain Desmond for the 2015 season and give a younger shortstop another year to develop.