Washington Nationals Rumors
Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:
- The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
- After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
- Echoing previous reports, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
- Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
- Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
- After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade.
- The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
- Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.
Yesterday' Brad Lincoln acquisition by the Phillies is precisely the type of move that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to continue to make, opines CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman. "Lincoln for $600,000 or less is a better gamble than an Edward Mujica-type for three years," writes Seidman, who praises Amaro for buying low on a talented arm at "the perfect time." Here's more out of the NL East...
- The Marlins are making an effort to re-sign former NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, who they non-tendered on Monday, president of baseball operations Michael Hill told the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer (Twitter link).
- The Brewers are expected to pursue Logan Morrison as a trade candidate this offseason, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported earlier in the week. He notes that other teams like the Rays and Red Sox could jump into the mix as well.
- Now that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is on board, the Marlins' next target will likely be a third baseman, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke with reporters yesterday regarding the team's acquisition of Doug Fister, stating that Fister was one of their primary pitching targets from the get-go this offseason. The Nationals' scouts and sabermetricians both love Fister, and when those two agree as strongly as they did in this instance, "it's a good day in the Nationals' office," said Rizzo, according to Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.
The Tigers have officially announced a deal sending big right-hander Doug Fister to the Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Robbie Ray, utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, and southpaw reliever Ian Krol. Detroit adds young, cost-controlled talent in the trade, while the Nats will upgrade an already-strong rotation with Fister.
Fister, a 29-year-old righty who is represented by PSI Sports Management, is undoubtedly the biggest name changing places in this swap. He posted a 3.67 ERA last year for Detroit in a sturdy 208 2/3 innings. Over the last three years, Fister has racked up 13.3 fWAR, falling between David Price and Cole Hamels at ninth in baseball (as noted by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, via Twitter). He is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $6.9MM this year through arbitration, and is not eligible for free agency until 2016.
Heading back to Detroit are a series of youngsters with plenty of cheap years remaining. Ray is a 22-year-old southpaw who was a consensus top-ten prospect in the Washington organization. The 12th rounder signed for above slot in 2010, and rose to the Double-A level last year in his age-21 campaign, notching 58 innings of 3.72 ERA ball at Harrisburg. Lombardozzi has spent the last two seasons in the bigs with Washington after rising through the ranks with reportedly limited tools. Now 25, Lombardozzi posted a .259/.278/.338 line in 2013 and is primarily a second baseman, though he has played third and the corner outfield. Krol is a young, left-handed reliever who showed a power fastball in his jump to the bigs last year. That he constituted value in this deal was a win for Washington, which picked him up last year as the player-to-be-named-later in the three-team deal that also brought A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen to D.C. from the A's and sent Michael Morse to the Mariners.
The Tigers reportedly wanted fellow young hurler Taylor Jordan in the deal, according to a tweet from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, but the Nats refused to include him. Before acquiring Ian Kinsler, Detroit was offered Howie Kendrick from the Angels in a deal that would have included Fister, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez tweets, but declined that option.
As I explained in my breakdown of the Nats' off-season, the rotation was likely the single area where the club could make the greatest impact through a major addition. It appears that GM Mike Rizzo has done just that with today's trade. At first glance, the deal appears to be a major win for a Nationals club that has ample young pitching to deal from. Though Ray was certainly a well-regarded prospect, he was not the club's highest-rated minor league arm and was not expected to have a chance at a rotation spot this year. And while Lombardozzi and Krol were both useful players, neither seems to be irreplaceable.
Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter) first reported the deal, and was the first to report (via Twitter) that Ray and Lombardozzi were likely to be included in the package. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com first reported in a tweet that Krol and Lombardozzi would be included. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post first reported (via Twitter) that Ray was indeed the prospect headed to Detroit.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With tonight's non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We'll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR's 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz's projections in MLBTR's Arbitration Eligibles series.
- The Nationals announced they've avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf's deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $700K, tweets Rosenthal.
- The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed. Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
- The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned. The A's will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
- The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
- The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters' contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 -- all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.
It's offically Thanksgiving day on the east coast, so let's take a look at a few notes from the eastern seaboard:
- The stage is set for the market to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, even if it isn't celebrated in the same time or manner by our neighbors to the north. While things have been relatively quiet for many clubs, including the Blue Jays, that could change with Monday's non-tender deadline and movement in top-of-the-market situations around the league (including the Japanese posting system and its implications for Masahiro Tanaka, increasing activity on the Robinson Cano front, and the Yankees' apparent decision to begin spending).
- Could a problem with Red Sox free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia's medicals be the cause of a seemingly slow market for the backstop's services? In an appearance on WEEI's Mut & Merloni (writeup via WEEI.com), ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that possibility, while acknowledging that he has no specific knowledge of Salty's file. But Jim Munsey, the 28-year-old backstop's agent, flatly denied that speculation in comments to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, saying "there are no medical issues hindering [Saltalamacchia's] market."
- Interestingly, Munsey did note that the Cubs -- the team that Olney mentioned by name with respect to Saltalamacchia -- had decided not to pursue the backstop in part because they "don't believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty's market." More generally, he expressed that things were going just fine for his client: "Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you're not hearing it doesn't mean it's not happening."
- Another player who has yet to see a full slate of bidders, according to Olney, is another Boston free agent: shortstop Stephen Drew. Olney says that he believes Drew's decision to reject the club's $14.1MM qualifying offer was a mistake. He reasons that it is looking worse by the day, with the Cardinals now out of the market and the Mets seemingly hesitant to give up a pick to sign him at that level of value.
- As for the aforementioned Cano, Olney says (in an Insider piece) that the big question facing the star second baseman and the Yankees is what other teams might get seriously involved. While there is no obvious alternative suitor at this point, Olney's trip around the league leaves him with a list of the teams that are most likely to have the financial and roster flexibility to make a real run.
- Atop Olney's list of theoretically viable Cano landing spots, along with the Tigers and Rangers, is the Nationals. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore recently laid out the case for the club to chase Cano. While he says the club lacks a pressing need to tinker with its infield, and GM Mike Rizzo has not shown a particular desire to do so, the fact remains that Cano is unquestionably the best player on the market and the Nats have the pockets to bring him in. Though Anthony Rendon has plenty of upside and cheap team control, he is young enough to serve in a reserve capacity or could be cashed in with a corresponding win-now move.
- Meanwhile, the recent signings of Javier Lopez and Manny Parra have taken away two major possible left-handed relief targets from the Nats, Kilgore writes. Other targets certainly remain, with Kilgore saying the team is continuing to talk with Boone Logan and noting others like J.P. Howell, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton, and Michael Gonzalez. Of course, even after parting with Fernando Abad, the club could still rely on remaining internal options like Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno, and could move starters like Ross Detwiler and Sammy Solis to the pen.
- From my perspective, it is worth noting Rizzo's recent history with southpaw relievers. Over the last three years, the club has received its greatest contributions from hurlers like Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez, Sean Burnett, Zach Duke, and the previously noted Abad, Cedeno, and Krol. Each of these players was either picked up as a minor league free agent or in a relatively minor trade (or, for Krol, as the last piece of a somewhat significant trade). After letting Burnett walk for a seemingly reasonable price last year and declining to outbid the early market on Lopez and Parra, Rizzo may still prefer to avoid utilizing significant resources to add lefties.
The Mets surprised some observers when they gave outfielder Chris Young a one-year, $7.25MM contract to kick off their offseason. However, they weren't the only club with interest. Young says that the Cubs, Giants, Royals, and Red Sox all reached out to him, but the Mets were aggressive, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Here's a look at the latest out of the NL East..
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes the case for the Nationals to go after Robinson Cano. Some would argue that the Nats should go after a similarly high-impact player that will fill an actual hole for them, but Kilgore says that such a player may not come along for Washington in today's landscape.
- In today's inbox, a reader asks Joe Frisaro of MLB.com if there's a possibility that Dan Uggla could return to the Marlins this winter. Frisaro doesn't see the second baseman coming back to Miami since his cost and declining numbers over past two seasons raise red flags. Besides that, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second.
- The Marlins announced two additions to their baseball operations staff. Mike Berger was named Vice President/Assistant GM while Jeff McAvoy will take over as the new Director of Pro Scouting.
For the latest on negotiations between MLB and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball on the posting fee arrangement -- which has major implications, in particular, for highly-regarded starter Masahiro Tanaka -- check out this update from Ben Badler of Baseball America. We'll round out the evening with a variety of links from around the National League:
- Alexander Guerrero is dealing with a hamstring injury in his Dominican Winter League stint, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, and GM Ned Colletti indicated that the missed time could postpone the Dodgers' decision as to whether he'll play short or second next year. That decision -- or, potentially, the inability to make it -- could seemingly have an impact on Los Angeles' off-season shopping list.
- The Diamondbacks are down on the free agent market, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "I've spoken a little to our own free agents," said GM Kevin Towers. "But from the looks of where this free agent market is right now and where it's headed, it's not a place where I want to do a lot of business." Gilbert notes that the club has made an offer to infielder Eric Chavez, but that he is still mulling interest from other landing spots.
- The Rockies are implementing a new player development structure, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. In lieu of roving instructors, the standard in baseball, Colorado will employ "developmental directors" who will each be responsible for a given team and look to prioritize skill development rather than minor league game outcomes.
- Discussing the club's recent signing of Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak explained that a thin shortstop market left Peralta as the best fit for the club. While he said the club considered his PED suspension, he opined that "I don't think it's the Cardinals' responsibility necessarily to be the morality police on potentially future employment." As Peralta admitted his violation of the league's policy and paid his penance, said Mozeliak, "at this point in the game, there's nothing that says he can't go play or isn't free to go sign with another club."
- Mozeliak also said that the club looked around at possible trades, but found the cost prohibitive, tweets Stan McNeal of FOX Sports Midwest.
- In a well-argued set of responses to fan questions, Adam Kilgore and James Wagner of the Washington Post took stock of a wide range of issues facing the Nationals. Among the thoughts offered relate to the second base position. The Nats are well-situated to add Robinson Cano, says Kilgore, and the move makes some sense. But Kilgore explains that such a scenario remains largely unlikely. Meanwhile, fallen keystoner Danny Espinosa has relatively minimal trade value, Wagner offers. His value to the organization, in terms of upside and as a competitor/backup option to Anthony Rendon, probably outweighs what he'd return.
- The Marlins are mulling over a minor league offer to infielder Scott Sizemore, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. Certainly, Miami would figure to have the inside track on players looking for a legitimate chance to see big league time at second or third.
- Miami has not only lured "superscout" Jeff McAvoy away from the Rays, but sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that the club will add Mike Berger from the Diamondbacks in a vice president role (Twitter links). This makes for a quiet but outstanding off-season, opines Passan, who notes that the organization could look quite different if owner Jeffrey Loria gives new GM Dan Jennings more authority than was afforded predecessor Larry Beinfest.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on second baseman Irving Falu, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The 30-year-old switch-hitter has an impressive .337/.366/.427 batting line in an admittedly tiny sample size of 95 plate appearances. He's been solid but less spectacular at the Triple-A level, hitting .283/.342/.365. He received just four big league plate appearances in 2013.
- The Nationals announced that southpaw Tyler Robertson, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse. The soon-to-be 26-year-old began the 2013 campaign with the Twins but was claimed off waivers by the Nationals in June. Robertson posted a strong 3.04 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 47 1/3 Triple-A innings. He yielded a .296/.376/.407 batting line, however, and has yielded a .273/.415/.455 batting line to opposing right-handers in his brief time as a Major Leaguer.
- As can be seen in MLBTR's DFA Tracker, eight players are currently in DFA limbo.
The A's have acquried left-hander Fernando Abad from the Nationals in exchange for Class-A outfielder John Wooten, according to the MLB Network's Peter Gammons (Twitter link). Abad was one of two 40-man roster casualties last week when he and Tyler Robertson were designated for assignment in order to clear roster space for Sammy Solis, Michael Taylor and Aaron Barrett in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.
Abad will turn 27 in three weeks and is coming off a solid season in which he pitched to a 3.35 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings of work for the Nationals. Abad turned in a curious reverse platoon split, as opposing lefties batted .306/.338/.452 against him, albeit in a small sample size of just 65 plate appaearances. He also had a poor finish to the season, allowing 10 runs in his final 13 1/3 ininngs and serving up the only three homers he allowed all season.
Abad has two years, 73 days of service time, so he won't be eligible for arbitration until next offseason and can be controlled through 2017 should he excel in his new surroundings.
The 22-year-old Wooten was a 37th-round selection by the A's in the 2012 draft and had a solid season for Class A Beloit in 2012, batting .257/.333/.430 with 20 homers in 555 plate appearances. Though he's primarily a right fielder, Wooten also appeared in 10 games at third base, six at first base and one at second base. He did not appear on Baseball America's list of Top 30 A's prospects prior to the season, nor does he currently appear on MLB.com's list of Top 20 A's farmhands.
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.