Washington Nationals Rumors
"We are certainly not giving up on this season," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Having won three in a row, the Nats are seven games back in the wild card. Rizzo would like to improve his current team, but plans to avoid rentals. "I'm not concerned that we need to go out and get a starting pitcher," he added in talking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rizzo also downplayed suggestions of a rift with manager Davey Johnson, after the GM's decision to fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein. More from the NL East...
- The Dodgers and Phillies have not discussed a Cliff Lee trade recently, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Though the Phillies are discussing lefty Lee with other teams, Rosenthal sees plenty of obstacles to a trade. One is his current stiff neck; it would definitely help if he jumps in to start Tuesday evening against the Giants.
- The Phillies are "marketing some players aggressively, including Michael Young," writes ESPN's Buster Olney, but not Lee or Chase Utley. Reportedly, the Phillies are currently trying to extend Utley.
- Retired closer Brad Lidge will sign a one-day contract Thursday with the Phillies and retire in their uniform, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- The Nationals do not want to part with high-end young pitchers such as A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray, and Sammy Solis, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:
- The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
- Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
- There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls."
- Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect.
Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report that Corey Black would he headed from the Yankees to the Cubs in this morning's Alfonso Soriano trade. Here's more from Sherman (all Twitter links) on a plethora of topics as the trade deadline continues to draw nearer...
- The Braves were already interested in Bud Norris prior to Tim Hudson's season-ending injury, and that loss has only intensified their pursuit, Sherman reports. Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Braves were in active pursuit of Norris.
- The Nationals are focusing their efforts on starting pitching with Taylor Jordan on an innings limit and concerns surrounding Ross Detwiler's injuries, according to Sherman.
- Sherman tweets that the Rangers and Pirates regularly check in with the Marlins in regard to Giancarlo Stanton but are turned away each time. The decision comes straight from ownership, as Jeffrey Loria does not want to see Stanton traded.
- The Cubs' plan this summer was to jump the starting pitching market early, before Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana were ready to be traded. Following their early trades of Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, the focus shifted to moving as much of Alfonso Soriano's contract as possible. With those goals accomplished, the Cubs will move bullpen pieces and are "definitely" listening to offers for right fielder Nate Schierholtz, Sherman reports.
Earlier today, the Phillies placed Domonic Brown on the seven-day disabled list with concussion-like symptoms. The move was retroactive to July 24, meaning he'd be eligible to return next Wednesday. As general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. noted to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the speed with which Brown can return will have an impact on the team's decision to buy or sell heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here's more on the Phillies and the rest of th NL East...
- Also from Salisbury's piece, Amaro was hesitant to discuss reports that he and his staff are working on an extension for Chase Utley. Salisbury writes that if the Phillies don't think they can sign him long-term, they'll probably move him. When asked if Utley will be a Phillie after the deadline, Amaro replied, "I would think so."
- Many teams are keeping an eye on Marlon Byrd whether they admit to it or not, a Major League executive told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Mets are still planning to hang onto both Byrd and Bobby Parnell, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported today. Martino cites a source "with direct knowledge of the Mets' plans" as saying the pair will remain with the team unless they receive an offer they simply can't turn down.
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post examines the uncertainty that surrounds the Nationals' bullpen, noting that it's possible the team could option former closer Drew Storen to the minors to rediscover himself. Storen has a 5.40 ERA and 1.46 WHIP with 9.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 41 2/3 innings this season.
- Kilgore also notes that it's likely the Nationals will trade one of their relievers this offseason. Rafael Soriano is set to make $14MM in 2014, while Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard will both receive raises on their respective 2013 salaries of $2.5MM and $4MM via arbitration. Kilgore notes that the Nats could do what would've seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago by trading one of their relievers now in order to maximize the return.
ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams. That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column...
- Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars. While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals. "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
- The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick. The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
- Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter. Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said. Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
- We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams. The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
- The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club. Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week. The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
- Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
- Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers. The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
- The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year. The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
- Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder. The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
- The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline. Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him.
- The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching. While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
- In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal. You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."
Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs is on the Yankees' radar as a possible trade target, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. If any deal were to take place, though, it might not happen in July, since the $25MM remaining on Soriano's contract means he's sure to pass through waivers in August. Soriano has a full no-trade clause, but says he will consider a trade to a contending team. Wittenmyer writes that the Yankees view another Cubs outfielder, Nate Schierholtz, as more of a platoon type.
- The Nationals shouldn't be buyers at the trade deadline, the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell writes. The Nats are now 48-50, and are now seven games back of the Braves in the NL East, as well as seven games back of the Reds for the second Wild Card. Boswell points out that their chance of making the playoffs is less than 20 percent, and for a team in that position, the value of a rental player like Matt Garza or Ervin Santana is questionable. Boswell argues that even if the Nats acquire a player who is also under contract for 2014, like Jake Peavy or Yovani Gallardo, they need to do so mostly because those players can help next year, not because they can help down the stretch this season.
- The Angels are now ten games back of the Athletics in the AL West, and it looks like they should sell at the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. (Note that Morosi isn't predicting the Angels will sell, only saying that they should.) If the Angels were to sell, Erick Aybar and Scott Downs are two players they could trade, Morosi writes. Aybar is in the first year of a four-year, $35MM deal, and he's hitting .287/.305/.388 as the Angels' starting shortstop. Downs, who is in the last year of a three-year, $15MM contract, has a 1.32 ERA, albeit with a more pedestrian 6.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
- The Dodgers have heavily scouted Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez recently, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports. Milwaukee also has two other veteran relievers in Mike Gonzalez and John Axford, and Knobler notes that the Tigers and Red Sox have also been scouting the Brewers. Still, the Brewers might opt not to trade any of their relievers before the deadline.
- The Yankees have signed left-handed pitcher Artur Strzalka, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues notes (via Baseball America's Matt Eddy). Strzalka is the first born-and-raised Polish player ever to sign with a Major League team. As Axisa notes, one likely purpose of this signing is to help the Yankees establish themselves as bidders for talent in a new part of the world.
Nationals starter Ross Detwiler's lingering lower back strain could lead the Nats to acquire a starting pitcher before the deadline, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, who says some rival executives have expected the team to try to acquire a starter since Detwiler hit the DL early this month. The White Sox's Jake Peavy could be a potential target, some close to the club say, as the righty is under control beyond 2013 and GM Mike Rizzo tends to avoid trading prospects for only a few months of a player's services. Some more Saturday evening Nationals links:
- Johnson confirmed that the club isn't interested in a rental, tweets Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com (link). Rizzo also adds that he plans to monitor Detwiler's progress for awhile longer before deciding on whether the Nats need to make a move. “If Detwiler is healthy, that helps me make any and all decisions we have to make," he said.
- Rizzo has no plans to acquire a replacement for struggling left-handed bench bat Chad Tracy via trade, Kilgore Tweets. "Tracy is a good left-handed pinch hitter," Rizzo said. "Theres no doubt about that."
- In an article for MASNSports.com, Dan Kolko suggests that Rizzo should try to put together a deal for a left-handed version of Scott Hairston, whom the Nats acquired from the Cubs earlier this month. Tracy's .149/.187/.276 line represents a significant drop from his production in 2012, when he hit .269/.343/.441 off the bench and provided the team with several big hits. "I'm a veteran guy, I've been through it before," Tracy said of his struggles. "I should be able to make the adjustment and I just haven't done it."
The Nationals have already made one minor acquisition this summer by landing Scott Hairston from the Cubs, but they're likely not done yet. Manager Davey Johnson said earlier this week he'd like another bench bat, and reports said the Nats could be in the market for rotation upgrades. Here's more on the second-place Nationals, who trail Atlanta by six games in the NL East...
- Scott Boras wants to talk with general manager Mike Rizzo regarding the future of his client, Danny Espinosa, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Espinosa, currently in Triple-A to refine his swing mechanics, is hitting .400/.451/.667 over his past dozen games. There's no immediate spot open for Espinosa, however, given the strong play of Anthony Rendon. Boras plans to discuss the service time being missed by Espinosa with Rizzo, but wouldn't take the bait when asked by Kilgore if he was implying that a trade was the best outcome for his client.
- Kilgore also writes that Ian Desmond received a ringing (and unprompted) endorsement from fellow shortstop Troy Tulowitzki over this week's All-Star break. Tulo called Desmond "one of the best shortstops in the game" before opining that the Nationals should give him an extension. Kilgore goes on to note that Desmond, who is controlled through the 2015 season, has the rare chance to become an elite shortstop who hits the market in the midst of his prime. As it stands, he's set to be a free agent shortly after he turns 30.
Tonight's American League All-Star starter Max Scherzer knows the best place for MLB players to find out if they're on the move. "It's crazy how that works. You're traded out of the blue, and the only way you find out is by MLB Trade Rumors. All of the media and all of your friends know, but you don't hear it from the people doing it," the Tigers righty told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Scherzer went on to describe himself as a "pretty fanatical fan" of this website, of which he is a near-daily reader. Be sure to check out Nightengale's article, which focuses on Scherzer's experiences with former slugger and current Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire. As Scherzer and other players prepare for tonight's All-Star game at Citi Field, here are your related links...
- We learned yesterday that nothing is cooking regarding a contract extension for Scherzer, who is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. Talking to Nightengale, Scherzer said, "It's funny, everybody wants to speculate on teams, and X amount of dollars, but if I go out there and pitch well, everything will take care of itself."
- How about National League starter Matt Harvey, who fronts the Mets' rotation and is also represented by Scott Boras? Joel Sherman of the New York Post talked to Boras, who said, "Usually the team will come to you, it is not up to the player to start negotiations. I would also say this, where the team wants to go in these situations and what the true value of the player is are not often that close." That's not terribly encouraging, but Mets fans can rest easy knowing Harvey will not be arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season, and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 campaign.
- Though he didn't make the American League squad, Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes took home the Home Run Derby belt last night, besting Bryce Harper. To learn about the journey Cespedes and his family took in defecting from Cuba, check out this article from Susan Slusser and Demian Bulwa of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Another good read is the harrowing story of Marlins All-Star Jose Fernandez, who also defected from Cuba. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince has it here, and Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald has another good look at Fernandez here. Fernandez has not yet reached the riches Cespedes has, as he was subject to the 2011 amateur draft.
- With 37 home runs at the All-Star break, the Orioles' Chris Davis is another of the All-Star Game's big stories. Davis treats Roger Maris' 61 home runs in 1961 as the record, discounting the six times it was bested from 1998-2001 by Barry Bonds, McGwire, and Sammy Sosa. Yahoo's Jeff Passan surveyed 15 All-Stars and found that most treat Bonds' 73 as the record despite his PED ties. The Reds' Joey Votto was most critical of Davis' stance, telling Passan, "If Chris feels like 61 is the home run record, maybe he’s just selfishly pegging that number as the home run record so if he passes it he can wear a crown or something like that. There would be a lot of money in that."
- The Nationals were highly interested in Davis when the Rangers made him available in 2011, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Instead, Davis joined the Orioles along with Tommy Hunter in a July 2011 deal for reliever Koji Uehara and $2MM.
- More than half of the 78 All-Stars were acquired by their current team through the draft, an international signing, or a trade while still in the minors, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal in his analysis.
National League All-Star starter Matt Harvey has become a well-known name around baseball...though not necessarily a well-known face. Harvey personally explored his relative anonymity in a comedy bit tonight on The Late Show With Jimmy Fallon (YouTube link). If it makes Harvey feel better, I rarely hear, "Hey, are you Mark Polishuk from MLB Trade Rumors?!" when I'm strolling around New York. Here's some news from around baseball on the eve of the All-Star Game...
- Jeff Wilpon promised that the Mets are willing to spend in 2014, the team COO said in an interview on WFAN radio (and partially transcribed by Newsday's Neil Best). The Mets will be helped when the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts expire this winter, which will by themselves free up $43.625MM in payroll space. "We haven't set a payroll for next year, but I can tell you we're ready to invest with those big contracts coming off the books," Wilpon said. "We have the money to invest. We're going to invest it prudently. Sandy [Alderson] is going to set a path."
- The Rangers could avoid giving up top prospects for White Sox right fielder Alex Rios, depending on how much of Rios' contract Texas is willing to eat, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes. Rios is owed roughly $4.85MM for the rest of 2013, $12.5MM in 2014 and a $13.5MM club option for 2015 that can be bought out for $1MM. The Rangers are one of several teams interested in acquiring Rios, though his trade stock has dipped due to a six-week slump.
- “A lot of teams you think might normally would be breaking things up aren’t,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There just aren’t a lot of players that are truly available. That could change. That’s my observation today.” The Cardinals are known to be interested in acquiring starting pitching and have recently been connected to Matt Garza, though the Cards aren't too keen to trade within the NL Central and are unlikely to make a deal that would cost them one of their top prospects.
- Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Cecil all tell Sportsnet's Shi Davidi that the Blue Jays already have the talent to turn their season around. Bautista, for one, doesn't think GM Alex Anthopoulos necessarily needs to make any further roster additions. “Alex is not out on the field playing for us, we’re totally capable of playing a lot better baseball than we’ve shown, we just need to play better as a team,” Bautista said. If the Jays don't make any moves, Bautista "wouldn’t look too much into it" since Anthopoulos “made plenty of moves in the off-season to make our team the best team that he could put on the field.”
- The three prospects acquired by the Nationals in the Michael Morse trade have performed well for Washington thus far, MASNsports.com's Byron Kerr observes. Right-handers A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen have pitched well at high A-ball and Double-A, respectively, while southpaw Ian Krol reached the Majors and delivered a 1.80 ERA, 13 strikeouts and just one walk over 15 relief innings for the Nats.
- Chase Lambin turned 34 years last week and has played 12 years of professional baseball in the minors and in Japan, but the veteran has still yet to reach the Major Leagues. Kent Babb of the Washington Post profiles Lambin, who currently plays for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate.
- The Mets' infamous long-long-term deferred contract with Bobby Bonilla is actually a pair of contracts that will pay the retired slugger $42MM between 2004 and 2035, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. While the Orioles are paying part of Bonilla's ongoing salary, the Mets are solely responsible for another 25-year deferred payment plan, this one to Bret Saberhagen. The former two-time Cy Young Award winner has received $250K per year from the Mets since 2004.