Washington Nationals Rumors

Washington Nationals trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL East Links: Realmuto, Nats, Phillies, Kimbrel

Giancarlo Stanton connected on his first homer of the season tonight — a two-run blast off Mets righty Dillon Gee that marked the 155th round-tripper of his career. The home run had particular significance for Stanton, who now moves past Dan Uggla into sole possession of the Marlins‘ all-time franchise home run record. Given his 13-year contract, one can expect that Stanton will occupy the top spot on that list for quite some time.

Another Marlins item and some news from around the division…

  • Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto had two hits in the team’s win yesterday and started again on Thursday, and the top prospect could be ticketed for a more significant role on the team moving forward, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Manager Mike Redmond said he spoke with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is earning $7MM in 2015, about the division of playing time already. “I think it’s always a touchy situation anytime you have conversations with guys, and you have to give them a break,” Redmond explained. “…[W]e’re trying to win ballgames. If giving Salty a few extra days here or there helps him and helps us, then it will be worth it.”
  • The Nationals have had quite a bit of bad luck in terms of injuries early in the season, but Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets that GM Mike Rizzo is focusing on internal options to patch up the bullpen. Of course, Janes’ tweet did come prior to the announcement that Craig Stammen may be lost for the season, but the Nats likely were prepared for bad news on Stammen at the time of her tweet.
  • Without a left-handed reliever in the bullpen beyond Jake Diekman, the Phillies could use an upgrade in that area but are short on internal options, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. seemingly expressed a bit of frustration that lefty relief option Andy Oliver elected free agency rather than remaining with the club when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Zolecki writes that Oliver would’ve been on a short list of potential call-ups, and Amaro spoke candidly about the 27-year-old Oliver’s decision to leave: “We offered him a pretty good deal to come back. He just decided to go somewhere else. I think it was a very foolish move on his part, but that’s OK. He had a choice. He had that right.”
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth of MLB Network Radio about the conversations he had with president of baseball operations John Hart prior to the finalization of the Craig Kimbrel trade (audio link). Gonzalez learned of the strong possibility of a trade 48 hours prior to its completion, and he called that time “maybe the toughest two days.” Gonzalez said it was difficult to see Kimbrel leave because of his talent and what he meant to the organization, and he also discussed the conflict he felt as a manager. “I’m going to have to put on two different hats here,” said Gonzalez. “You’re asking me to trade the best closer in the game, and you’re asking me to win ball games and I’m in the last year of my contract. But then you’re telling me the reasons of why we’re doing it and why it’s going to help the organization. … I took a step back and digested for a day and a half — I think it was going to happen whether I said yes or no — but I said, ‘You know what John, this is what’s best for the organization. This is what we have to do.'”

Bullpen Notes: Stammen, Ramirez, Martin

The Nationals relief corps took another blow yesterday when righty Craig Stammen was placed on the 15-day DL with stiffness in his right forearm.  Stammen will undergo an MRI soon and he told reporters (including CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman) that he is at least somewhat worried that it could be a more serious elbow injury.  Nats GM Mike Rizzo also told the media, including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, that the club is going with internal bullpen options for the time being.  Rafael Martin and Taylor Jordan were called up to replace Stammen and the recently-designated Xavier Cedeno, and Martin made an impressive MLB debut Wednesday, recording five strikeouts over two innings of work against the Red Sox.

Here are some more bullpen items from around baseball…

  • Cubs righty Neil Ramirez could also be facing some bad injury news, as he left Wednesday’s outing after just three pitches with a shoulder problem.  Ramirez will undergo an MRI today, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports.  The reliever’s status has a bigger-picture impact on the rumored promotion of top prospect Kris Bryant on Friday.  If Ramirez needs some DL time, the Cubs could promote a reliever and continue with a 13-man pitching staff rather than call up Bryant and thin out an already heavily-worked bullpen.
  • Right-hander Cody Martin is off to a strong start, and the Braves rookie reliever tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he is partially motivated by the fact that Atlanta didn’t protect him in the Rule 5 Draft last winter.  “That was tough, but I knew I belonged [on the roster] and belonged in the big leagues….I took it as a challenge to prove them all wrong, especially all the teams that didn’t pick me in the Rule 5 Draft,” Martin said.  “It all worked out pretty good. I’m where I need to be right now.”
  • Arquimedes Caminero enjoyed a strong Spring Training and earned a spot in the Pirates bullpen.  As Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes, the hard-throwing Caminero might be another reclamation success story for Bucs pitching coach Ray Searage, who encouraged the righty to simplify his delivery.  The result has been the fastest average fastball in the game this season, as Caminero is averaging 98.9 mph according to Fangraphs’ measurements.

NL East Notes: Wright, Span, McLouth, Capps

Mets third baseman David Wright injured his hamstring on a stolen base attempt in the ninth inning of tonight’s contest against the Phillies and appears DL-bound. The team has announced that Eric Campbell is on his way to New York in case a roster move needs to be made, and both ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin (link) and Newsday’s Marc Carig (link) have indicated that a trip to the DL seems inevitable. Wright will have an MRI tomorrow morning before a decision is made, but he sounds likely to join a growing list of injured Mets. Michael Cuddyer, who left tonight’s game after being hit on the hand by a pitch, sounds like he may return to the lineup as soon as tomorrow, via Rubin (on Twitter).

More NL East news as today’s games come to a close…

  • Denard Span is on the comeback trail to the Nationals, as the team announced today that he began a rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg tonight. Span was expected to be sidelined until mid-May following core muscle surgery, but he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab. Teammate Nate McLouth also received some positive news, as an MRI showed no structural damage in his surgically repaired shoulder, tweets CSN’s Mark Zuckerman. McLouth has been cleared to resume a throwing program.
  • The reworked delivery of Marlins right-hander Carter Capps has caused some controversy, as the home plate umpire in his first appearance at Triple-A this year deemed it illegal and negated his first two pitches, stating that Carter broke contact with the pitching rubber too soon. As the Miami Sun Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez writes, the issue has been resolved, as the Marlins have contacted Major League Baseball to receive clarification, and Capps will be allowed to continue on with his delivery. The 24-year-old was recalled by the Marlins yesterday and made his 2015 debut with the team last night. (Those interested in seeing Capps’ delivery can check out this video from last night’s game coverage, in which the Braves commentators liken the delivery to that of former Atlanta righty Jordan Walden.)
  • Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron also examined Capps’ delivery and likened it to that of Walden, though he rightly notes that Capps’ hop-step brings him even closer to the mound than Walden does. Cameron points out that it doesn’t seem that there’s anything in the rulebook’s definition of “legal pitches” that would prevent Capps from doing this. Capps has long struggled against lefties, Cameron notes, and he wonders if the change in delivery will help with that problem, as his 97 mph average velocity, released closer to the plate, will certainly make it more difficult to pick up. Cameron speculates that if Capps can have success against lefties with this type of delivery, it may not be long before some fringy relief prospects begin emulating Capps and Walden, making the delivery more common.


Nationals Designate Xavier Cedeno For Assignment

The Nationals have designated lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno for assignment, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com tweeted earlier that Cedeno was not on the club’s lineup card.

Cedeno earned a spot on the team out of camp when fellow southpaw Jerry Blevins was surprisingly dealt away late this spring. The 28-year-old has made five appearances already in 2015, allowing two earned runs over three innings while striking out four and walking two batters. He has filled some temporary pen shortages over the last two years in D.C., but was out of options this season and so had to be added to the active roster heading out of camp. That seemed unlikely until the team traded Blevins.

Righty Rafael Martin will take his place on the active roster for the time being. Martin, 30, is a veteran minor leaguer who has yet to see any MLB action. The Nationals signed Martin out of the Mexican League in 2010, before his age-26 season, and he has bounced up and down the system since. He turned a corner in the upper minors last year, when he worked to a 1.39 ERA over 58 1/3 innings with 10.2 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. He was particularly nasty in 33 2/3 Triple-A frames, allowing just three earned runs and striking out more batters (42) than he allowed on base (27) by hit or walk.

Of course, the move will leave the Nats’ pen with just one lefty, Matt Thornton. The team does have veteran Rich Hill and well-regarded youngster Matt Grace available at Triple-A, however, and apparently feels comfortable with those options.


East Notes: Moncada, Zimmermann, Miller

Yoan Moncada made his debut in a Red Sox uniform yesterday, though it was not as publicized as the one he’ll eventually make in the big leagues. As David Dorsey of News-Press.com reports from extended Spring Training, Moncada’s coaches and teammates have been impressed with his work ethic early on. While literally only one fan was on hand to see it — Mr. Tony Medina of Fort Myers will have a unique story if Moncada lives up to his contract — the young Cuban banged a stand-up triple in his first plate appearance (video available at the above link).

Here’s the latest from the eastern divisions, featuring some other offseason storylines:

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed that he held offseason talks with the Red Sox about starter Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Nothing ever materialized despite what “looks like a reasonable matchup on paper,” said Rizzo, who explained that the teams had serious discussions over realistic scenarios. “I don’t think we laughed away any of [the offers],” Rizzo said. “We took them all serious. We were fortunate to be in a position where we didn’t have to move the player and if we would’ve got the right deal we would’ve. The right deal is in the eye of the beholder and we felt like we needed to get legitimate value for who Zimmermann was, and not the fact that he has one year left of control.”
  • The Orioles never pursued lefty Andrew Miller this offseason beyond a single “touch-base” conversation, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. That was, of course, not due to any dissatisfaction with Miller’s services down the stretch, but merely reflected the reality that he was going to (and did) command a significant commitment in free agency. Miller — who discussed his free agent experience on a recent episode of the MLBTR Podcast — has continued to dominate since joining the division-rival Yankees, including a lock-down 1 2/3 inning appearance last night at Baltimore.

Phillies Designate Cesar Jimenez For Assignment

The Phillies announced that they’ve designated left-hander Cesar Jimenez for assignment and selected the contract of right-hander Sean O’Sullivan, who will start today’s game against the Nationals.

The 30-year-old Jimenez pitched just two-third of an inning in the early stages of the 2015 season but has been up and down with the Phillies in each of the past two seasons. Jimenez has worked to a very strong 2.67 ERA in 33 2/3 innings dating back to 2013, though his ratios of 5.3 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 and 4.27 FIP tell a less favorable story than his bottom-line results. Jimenez has been more effective against lefties than righties, but he hasn’t exactly dominated same-handed hitters; lefties have batted .238/.310/.357 against him in 143 big league plate appearances.

Jimenez was the only lefty in the bullpen behind setup man Jake Diekman, and the loss of Mario Hollands to Tommy John surgery removed another option for Philadelphia. They’ll likely hope that Jimenez can clear waivers and remain in the organization — an outcome that has already happened twice in the past calendar year.


Quick Hits: Cubs, Kimbrel, Bryant, Pirates

Teams have quickly accepted the importance of the mental side of the game, reports the Associated Press in the New York Times. For example, the Cubs view mental skills coach Josh Lifrak as an equal to their hitting and pitching coaches. The article describes part of the process used by the Cubs, Nationals, and Red Sox, although all teams have probably adopted some form of mental skills development.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • Padres senior advisor Trevor Hoffman was thrilled by the team’s recent trade for Craig Kimbrel, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Kimbrel follows Hoffman (the all-time NL leader in saves) in a line of strong Padres closers. “We’ve been pretty fortunate to have a guy at the backend, even before I got here and continuing with Huston (Street) and Joaquin (Benoit),” says Hoffman. “The street cred [Kimbrel has] built in the game over the last four, five years really separates him from the rest of the group as one of the top-echelon closers in the game.”
  • The Cubs‘ decision to send Kris Bryant to the minors to start the season led to controversy, but now that he’s there, the team has him working on playing outfield, Gordon Wittenmyer writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). While many assume that Bryant will be activated as soon as next week, the Cubs may legitimately be concerned about finding him a defensive home.
  • If the Pirates have money to spend at the trade deadline this year, they could target an ace pitcher, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The payroll is cheap thanks to a number of young players and team friendly extensions. That could make Cole Hamels a potential fit. He, like Andrew McCutchen, has four years remaining on his contract. My thought: it’s at least conceivable that the Phillies would take on a large portion of his contract for the right prospects. To be clear, this is not to say that the Pirates have inquired about Hamels, only that a fit might exist.

Quick Hits: Lynn, Nationals, Tommy John

The Indians fell two batters shy of a combined no-hitter in today’s 5-1 win over the Astros.  Trevor Bauer (six innings), Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison (one inning each) kept Houston hitless through much of the game, but Nick Hagadone allowed a one-out solo homer to Jed Lowrie in the ninth to end the bid.  Cleveland’s last no-hitter came on May 15, 1981 when Len Barker threw a perfect game against the Blue Jays.  Here’s some news from around the baseball world…

  • Lance Lynn has brought “exceptional value to the Cardinals,” Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, especially in comparison to what the Red Sox just paid Rick Porcello in an extension; Miklasz considers Porcello an “overrated talent.”  While I agree that Lynn has been a good find for the Cards, I’m not sure his three-year, $22MM extension from earlier this winter is a good comparable for Porcello’s four-year, $82MM extension.  Lynn’s extension only covered his three arbitration seasons while Porcello’s deal was bound to be more expensive since it covered four free agent years, not to mention the fact that Lynn is over 19 months older than Porcello.
  • Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Nationals are well-positioned for long-term success even if they some key players in free agency this winter, he tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.  “I know a lot of the guys in here know there is a good chance that everyone is not going to be back.  If it was up to us, obviously, we want everyone to come back, but that’s not how the business works,” Zimmerman said.  “I think [the front office] has a done a really good job of drafting and getting guys up to take [their] place. I think whether it’s all of them, none of them or some of them, I think we are going to be good for a long time no matter what.”  Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann can all become free agents after the 2015 season.
  • The recent spate of Tommy John surgeries has drawn more attention to the procedure, and ESPN.com’s Stephania Bell delves into the numbers behind these surgeries.  Bell’s piece explores such topics as why TJ operations are becoming more frequent, how the surgery impacts pitchers’ future performance and how Major League Baseball is trying to determine if there’s a root cause to this increase in UCL injuries.

Offseason In Review: Washington Nationals

The Nats have enjoyed plenty of success but also plenty of disappointment over the last three years. While the club remains set up to challenge for championships in the future, 2015 is probably the last year it can do so with its current core fully intact.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades And Claims

Extensions

  • None

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

This offseason was obviously dominated by the team’s signing of Max Scherzer, who was installed as the Opening Day starter. But it’s hard to say that the move functioned to fill a need, so we’ll take a closer look at it below in the “Deal of Note” section.

Topping off the MLB rotation is not all the club did to bolster its future pitching ranks this offseason. The organization is loaded with arms for the post-Zimmermann era. After dealing away pitchers like Cole, Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone, Alex Meyer, Robbie Ray, and Nate Karns over the last several offseasons, the Nats did not shed any prized young arms this winter. Instead, after signing high upside Tommy John patient Erick Fedde out of the amateur draft, the Nats added well-regarded righty Joe Ross in the Wil Myers trade.

Then again, if the wisdom of the Rays’ front office is to be trusted, perhaps that trade will ultimately become known as the Wil Myers-Steven Souza swap. Or, if Rizzo has his way, the Joe Ross-Trea Turner deal. That last piece, Turner, was the key to the gambit from the Nats’ perspective, even if he remains an as-yet unnamed part of the transaction. The speedy young shortstop figures to be the long-term replacement for Ian Desmond, though he’ll need to show a lot in 2015 at the Double-A level to enter the big league picture for the start of next season.

To bolster things up the middle in the meantime, the Nats shipped one of the game’s most consistent set-up men, Tyler Clippard — yet another organizational stalwart in his final year of control — in exchange for the mercurial Yunel Escobar. The early relationship with Escobar has already seen some rough patches, with some positional consternation and injuries clouding the picture. But things seem to be going smoothly now, with Escobar voluntarily stepping in at third to open the season, and Washington will hope that he can return to being a quality defender and good-enough hitter to occupy one middle infield spot over the next two seasons.

With Clippard gone, the Nats had an opening in the veteran late-inning department, and added former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen on a deal that reflected his difficulties last year. The Nats will hope there is some gas left in the tank for Janssen, who is currently out with shoulder issues that are hoped to be minor. There are some up-and-coming young arms (Treinen, Aaron Barrett) that could see big innings as well, particularly if Janssen is limited or ineffective.

From the left-handed side, Rizzo continued to tinker. The Nationals will rely upon August claimee Matt Thornton and former minor league signee Xavier Cedeno. Rizzo dealt away Ross Detwiler, who has been a plenty serviceable starter in the past but who did not turn into the dominant reliever the club hoped. And he parted ways with Jerry Blevins after one forgettable year, sending him to the division rival Mets in order to bolster the team’s outfield reserves with Matt den Dekker.

As for den Dekker, he looks to be a useful option with the outfield in need of bolstering early this year and a spot in center clearing after the season. Importantly, he has an option year remaining. While Michael Taylor is the player that the club hopes will become the long-term answer there, den Dekker could represent an affordable backup whose left-handed bat will pair nicely with the right-handed-swinging Taylor. He also looks to be a nice fit with the aging Jayson Werth in left to afford extra rest when matchups or game situations permit.

Questions Remaining

This is one of the most complete lineups in baseball — when healthy. But the Nationals have some injury concerns to start the year, with Werth, Denard Span, and Anthony Rendon all on the DL (along with reserve Nate McLouth). The club will fill the void with players like Taylor, den Dekker, Tyler Moore, Reed Johnson, Dan Uggla, and Danny Espinosa. That is probably fine for a short stretch, but could lead to some consternation if Werth, Span, or (especially) Rendon take longer than is hoped.

Elsewhere, the team will be taking on some risk by shifting players to new positions. Escobar has mostly played short, which he seems likely to do again next year, but will play third until Rendon returns and he is bumped back to second. And longtime hot corner stalwart Ryan Zimmerman will move across the diamond to first to account for his balky shoulder. He has looked comfortable there this spring, but will need to lock down the position defensively — and provide a bat to match — to deliver a return on his big contract.

It is not hard to foresee a need arising behind the plate, though that is hardly what the club expects. Wilson Ramos has dealt with various injury issues over the years, and neither he nor backup Jose Lobaton hit much last year. Most teams would be pleased with this arrangement, so it isn’t exactly a concern, but could be an area to watch. The organization lost some depth when it was forced to part with the out-of-options Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano this offseason, but did trade for Dan Butler and sign Steven Lerud to bolster the ranks at Triple-A.

The pitching staff has ample depth, particularly in terms of starters, so there is not much to discuss there. Then again, the ninth inning has been an area of some concern in the not-so-distant past, and Drew Storen is now without the safety net that Clippard once provided. Then there is the fact that there may have been at least some financial motivation behind the departures of Clippard and Blevins. While Rizzo and company probably feel just fine with the club’s options, don’t be surprised to see some hand-wringing if injury or short-term performance problems arise at the back of the pen in the season’s early going.

Deal of Note

MLB: Washington Nationals-Photo DayNationals GM Mike Rizzo does not seem to act out of sentimentality. And neither, apparently, do longtime key players Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann. The clock has likely run on the possibility of extensions for that pair, whose rise to become highly productive big leaguers played an enormous role in the organization’s turnaround. Last year was probably the time to get a deal done, but neither player bit at the sizable numbers being dangled. It is hard to blame them for doing so, or to blame the team for not going as high as might’ve been necessary, with potential nine-figure free agencies beckoning.

If it wasn’t already, the writing was scrawled on the wall when Max Scherzer signed his monster deal to join a loaded Nationals rotation. While deferrals reduce the total cost to the team, the investment in Scherzer is enormous, and made new contracts for Desmond and (especially) Zimmermann seem quite unlikely.

Bold as the Scherzer contract is in the long run, it is all the more stunning in the short. Effectively, Washington has taken baseball’s best rotation from 2014 — every piece of which returns — and added the best pitcher from the league’s second best rotation of last year. If all goes according to plan, the Nats’ pitching will be dominant.

Indeed, looking ahead, if all the arms remain healthy — or, perhaps, if the team completely falls apart — it is not impossible to imagine the Nats dealing Zimmermann or Doug Fister over the summer to address other needs. Washington could still maintain a powerful group of postseason starters while filling in the fifth slot with Tanner Roark (the game’s most eligible sixth starter), Blake Treinen, Taylor Jordan, or A.J. Cole. More likely, one or more of those pitchers will be installed in the rotation next year as the club waits for younger, even higher-ceiling arms (namely, Lucas GiolitoReynaldo Lopez, and Fedde) to develop.

Overview

This is a win-now team, but not one that is structured to fall apart with its veterans. Washington has run its payroll up to over $160MM, near the top of the league (non-LA/NYC bracket). But its future commitments remain manageable even after signing Scherzer: $84MM next year and no greater than $59MM in the years that follow. The club’s top arb-eligible players for 2016 and beyond (Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Storen, Ramos, and, potentially, Rendon) have all seen their arbitration earning power suppressed to some extent, leaving additional room.

Likewise, plenty of young talent is filtering up and should soon be ready to plug into the MLB roster or deal away for more established players. By most accounts (including Baseball America) the Nats possess a top-ten farm system, representing a quick replenishing for a system that had lost a ton of well-regarded players to graduation and trade.

While the future still looks bright, it will be a tall order to meet or exceed the organization’s current situation. Not only are the club’s best young players and veterans alike at or near their primes — a difficult nexus to achieve — but the rest of the division seemingly features two still-advancing hopefuls (Mets, Marlins) and a pair of rebuilding outfits (Braves, Phillies). The window will still be open after this year, but probably not as wide.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL East Notes: Mejia, Phillies, Span, Braves

The Mets announced today that closer Jenrry Mejia will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 5, due to posterior elbow inflammation. Mejia’s injury adds another to a long list of pitching injuries for the Mets early in the season, but his injury does appear to be of the short-term variety. Jeurys Familia will step into Mejia’s spot in the closer’s role in the interim. (Fantasy players looking to stay on top of closer situations can follow MLBTR’s fantasy-focused @closernews handle on Twitter.)

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg explained to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki the team’s thought process in its final roster decisions at the end of Spring Training. Signing right-hander Dustin McGowan upon his release from the Dodgers was a welcome move for Philadelphia, as they’d had interest in him earlier in the offseason before he signed in L.A. Jeff Francoeur was selected for a roster spot despite others performing better in spring because the team wanted a right-handed bat on the bench and felt that Francoeur’s clubhouse presence would benefit the young players on the roster. Cesar Hernandez was outperformed by Cord Phelps, but the Phillies wanted a shortstop on the bench, and Hernandez was out of Minor League options, paving his way to the Opening Day roster.
  • Nationals center fielder Denard Span may be back from core muscle surgery sooner than expected, writes MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Span has already begun performing hard sprint drills and has played defense in a pair of Minor League games. Span tells Ladson that he he thinks he could potentially return to the lineup before the calendar flips to May, potentially putting him about two weeks ahead of schedule.
  • Freddie Freeman was among the Braves players to speak to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman about the difficulty of losing Craig Kimbrel as a teammate following Kimbrel’s trade to the Padres. “He got sent down from High A to Low A, and then all of the sudden became Craig Kimbrel,” Freeman reminisced. “It’s the craziest thing. When a guy gets traded, you think about all those stories in the Minor Leagues. … It’s definitely tough seeing him go. But I think everybody’s mentality in this clubhouse is to prove everybody wrong.” Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he felt the players handled the news well, and veteran Jonny Gomes worked to make sure that the trade wasn’t something dwelled upon as the team geared up for Opening Day, Bowman adds.