Wil Myers Rumors
Several Rays players told MLBTR that the departure of mainstay James Shields in an offseason trade was easier to take than it might have been if the deal had happened in the middle of the year. That’s not the only way timing could play a significant role in determining how successful the transaction will become for Tampa Bay.
There’s always been judgment involved when a team calls up a prospect, like the four whom the Rays acquired as part of the Shields trade. Now, as teams try to balance their needs of the moment with worries about heading to arbitration a year too soon with a player they project as a star, there’s often a layer of decision-making that transcends on-field performance.
Rays manager Joe Maddon expressed confidence during spring training that the team’s front office would let baseball acumen alone determine when 22-year-old Wil Myers, the most coveted prospect in the Shields deal, makes his major league debut. Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman didn’t directly say whether that will be the case, but when MLBTR asked whether Maddon’s belief is correct, Friedman repeated comments he made recently to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com indicating that competitiveness and baseball readiness are his chief concerns.
“With any potential move there are a lot of factors to consider — the fit on our roster, what it means for our depth, and so on,” Friedman said. “We also have to be really mindful that our goal is to compete year in and year out in the toughest division in baseball with almost no margin for error. The AL East will expose very quickly any weaknesses that you have. So when we bring someone here, we need to feel that he’s ready to step in and help us win right away. As Joe has touched on already this spring, if we add someone who’s not ready, not only will it hurt the team but it can really set the player back as well.”
If Myers isn’t yet ready, it doesn’t seem like he’s far off. Last year the outfielder spent a third of the season at Double-A and the rest at Triple-A, and altogether he blasted 37 home runs with a slash line of .314/.387/.600. He opened the season as the No. 4 prospect on the Baseball America and MLB.com lists, though his 2013 performance has lacked sizzle so far. His OPS of .762 in 17 major league spring training games is similar to his .768 OPS in 10 games at Triple-A. Still, that’s significantly better than Tampa Bay’s AL-worst .569 OPS.
Ben Zobrist, one of the bright spots in the Rays lineup this year, told MLBTR he accepts the club’s decision to keep Myers on the farm for now.
“He’s going to be ready when he’s ready,” Zobrist said. “The organization’s going to make that decision. He’s obviously an exciting player. He’s done a lot of really good things so far in his minor league career, and I think if all goes well, he’s going to be an exciting player at the major league level, too, but he’s still got some seasoning to do, from their standpoint, and we’ll see what happens as the year goes on. But he’s definitely an exciting player to watch.”
Alex Cobb sympathizes with Myers. The right-handed starting pitcher improved his ERA each year in the minors after making his pro debut at rookie ball in 2006. As is often the case with young arms in the Rays organization, Cobb spent time at each level of the system, finally reaching the majors in 2011. Last season, at the age of 24, he made double-digit appearances in the big leagues for the first time. Still, Cobb came to embrace the club’s deliberate approach to call-ups, as he explained to MLBTR.
“I’ve been victim to it as much as guys in the past, but you understand it,” he said. “There’s pros and cons of being in this organization. That’s one of the minor cons of being a player in this organization. There are so many pros of just everyday life in and out of the clubhouse here. And so, when that does happen to you, you understand that you just have to pay your dues. Chris Archer’s going through it right now. It’s not a bad thing, once you’ve beaten that. It’s very discouraging while you’re going through it, and you try to put on as good a front as you can, but it is tough. But, going through it, it makes you a stronger person on and off the field. So, it’s only going to make you better between the ears when you get up here and finally do stick. You really do appreciate it.”
Cobb, who’ll be 30 by the time he’s eligible for free agency, certainly doesn’t hold any grudge against the organization for the pace of his ascent up the minor league ladder, and doesn’t think Myers or other prospects will, either.
“Initially, maybe, that’s their first instinct, is to get mad,” Cobb said. “But I think when your head cools down, you prevail from whatever the emotions you’re going through, and you realize that it’s a smart business decision. And it is, because from the outside looking in now, you realize how much they need to do those type of things to stay competitive. I think it’s become an understanding that now you pay your dues, and you do it, and you eventually become a better big leaguer for it, and you have a great career afterwards.”
Matt Harvey has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season, and the Mets hurler appeared on the Baseball Tonight podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney to discuss how he could have signed with the Angels out of high school (Harvey appears near the 28:50 mark of this audio link). Here's more from the Eastern divisions...
- Tim Wakefield is joining the Red Sox as a special instructor and the honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
- We're less than two weeks into the season, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times points out that's long enough for the Rays to delay Wil Myers' free agency by a season if they wish to call him up. The team will need to wait until June to prevent him from reaching Super Two status, however.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Ben Zobrist is one of the two best players in the game, dating back to 2009, according to WAR. Rosenthal spoke with Baseball-Reference.com founder Sean Forman and Zobrist himself about the statistic.
- The Marlins TV ratings are at an all-time low, according to Clark Spencer and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the ratings may see an uptick every five days when rookie Jose Fernandez starts, but the fans are simply too bored with the team to care most days.
- Denard Span and B.J. Upton of the Nationals and Braves, respectively, will be on the same field for the first of many times in the coming seasons on Friday, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Comak writes that there's a chance that this outcome could've come about with the pair's jerseys being flipped, had the offseason played out a bit differently.
by Chuck Myron for MLBTR
In December, the Rays parted with their all-time leader in wins, strikeouts and games started when they sent James Shields to the Royals in a blockbuster trade that brought back a package headlined by touted prospect Wil Myers. Shields, the only pitcher ever to notch a win in the World Series for Tampa Bay, was coming off the best two-season stretch of his seven-year Major League career, compiling a 3.15 ERA and 448 strikeouts in 477 innings across 66 starts. Myers is the jewel of the Rays’ haul, which includes two more minor leaguers who have won Baseball America and MLB.com top-100 billing within the past 18 months. Still, the four players heading to Tampa Bay as part of the deal have a total of two games of Major League experience.
The result is an obvious hole in the Rays rotation, as well as in the clubhouse. But many of the Rays who spoke to MLBTR during Spring Training believe the move wasn’t nearly as jarring as it could have been.
"I think it’s an easier pill to swallow when it happens in the winter, and you get to spring training and you have what you believe is your team," outfielder Sam Fuld said. "And ultimately that group of 25 guys is going to change, obviously, throughout the season, but when you lose a guy of that significance, it helps to do it before the season starts."
Many of Fuld’s teammates concurred, including righty Jeff Niemann, who was battling to inherit the open spot in the rotation that wound up going to Roberto Hernandez. Compared to a midseason trade, "it’s kind of almost like it never happened," Niemann said.
Left-hander Matt Moore, one of the starters who’ll be asked to step up in Shields’ absence, offered a dissenting view. He isn’t so sure the timing of the move made any difference.
"It’s just a part of what happens," Moore said. "Teams trade guys every year, so you know it’s going to happen."
Still, Ben Zobrist believes the players in the Rays clubhouse aren’t the only ones better off because of when the move occurred, pointing to Shields and fellow pitching staff mainstay Wade Davis, who also went to Kansas City in the trade.
"I guess it’s probably easier for them to transition to a different team," Zobrist said. "Every team coming in is going to be new and different, because there’s going to be new guys. So yeah, it’s probably easier on us and them, just knowing that that transition was happening in the offseason instead of right in the middle of the season."
Talk of a Shields trade wasn’t confined to the hot stove period. The Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, Indians, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Angels all showed interest in acquiring Shields in the days leading up to last year’s trade deadline. There were rumors about his availability before the 2011 deadline as well. Right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb, who acknowledged the team wouldn’t have won as many games the past two seasons if Shields weren’t around, is glad the team held off on a trade. Cobb, 25, is nonetheless confident that he and the rest of the team’s young players are ready to compete this year without their one-time ace.
"We’ve got Chris Archer on the verge from the Garza trade, (and) multiple prospects in the minor leagues on the verge of getting ready to help the big league club," Cobb said. "That’s just the way we operate around here. It’s obviously tough to let go of not only James, (but also) Wade, who’s been a great arm for us, both starting and relieving. But it’s one of the things that we have to do to keep competing in the AL East. We have to get rid of the older, more veteran-type guys and bring a new crop of young guys to do the job that they’ve done in the past."
Jeremy Hellickson, another 25-year-old right-handed starter, sees Cobb’s development as a key part of the club’s reloading effort.
"(Shields) was a big part of our rotation last year, but you know, Cobb’s going to step in this year, and he’s going to throw a lot of innings for us, so as good as (Shields) was, and as much as he saved the bullpen and all that, I like the guys we have," Hellickson said.
Of course, the effectiveness of the trade, regardless of its timing, will ultimately be judged by how the newly acquired prospects perform at the big-league level. In particular, Myers, who put up a .286/.333/.429 slash line in 35 spring at-bats before getting sent down to Triple-A, has his Major League teammates anxious to see him return.
"I know he swings it really well," Moore said. "I’ve seen a lot of solid contact and good plate appearances, so I’m excited for him."
"He was impressive," infielder Sean Rodriguez said. "Time will tell with him. He’s definitely got tools, he’s definitely got a good head on his shoulders, so we’ll see."
Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times expressed concern the Rays don't have enough power in their lineup to compete over the long haul. As if to add an exclamation point to Shelton's column, the Rays were stymied this afternoon by Jon Lester of the Red Sox, who was perfect for six innings (79 pitches, 53 for strikes) with six strikeouts. The Rays were on the verge of being the victim of a Spring Training perfect game until an infield single by non-roster invitee Jason Bourgeois with one out in the top of the ninth. In other American League news and notes:
- One solution to the Rays' power shortage could be Wil Myers, who was sent to Triple-A yesterday. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, that he believes the timing of Myers' recall will be a baseball decision and not based on service time considerations in order to avoid an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
- The Indians have yet to make a decision on Daisuke Matsuzaka even after a meeting this morning between manager Terry Francona and the front office, tweets the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. Francona could speak with Dice-K tomorrow.
- The Indians will approach Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley about contract extensions at some point this spring, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- The trade market for Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will be a free agent after this season, is not good, tweets the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.
- "The door's not locked. It may not even be cracked open, but it's not locked, either," a Red Sox source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com about the chances of Jackie Bradley Jr. making the Opening Day roster.
- The Yankees only signed Brennan Boesch because he has minor league options remaining, according to ESPN's Buster Olney in his Insider blog (subscription required). Olney added, given the apparent lack of interest in Boesch, the Yankees might have the ability, if he struggles in the next few weeks, to get him through waivers, take him off the 40-man roster, and outright him to the minor leagues.
- The Angels have acquired minor league pitcher Mike Cisco from the Phillies for no compensation. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com explains the Phillies had an excess of pitching in Double-A and Triple-A and they wanted to make sure he’d go somewhere he’d have an opportunity to pitch. The Angels liked him and have a spot for him in their system.
The Rays allowed the fewest runs of any MLB team in 2012, posting a team ERA of 3.19. Here’s the latest on the 2013 version of the club...
- Wil Myers probably won't start the season at the MLB level, but he's still expected to make an impact with the Rays in 2013, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com writes. Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he's hesitant to create oversized expectations for young players. “The first impression has been very strong. So we’re anxious to spend the next four or five weeks around him and continue his development,” Friedman added.
- The Rays will have extended control over Myers if they delay his debut, as I showed last week. The Rays acquired the 22-year-old in the deal that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.
- Bill Chastain of MLB.com notes that second baseman Kelly Johnson and shortstop Yunel Escobar will become the first middle infielders to start together for three different teams since Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino, who did it for the Mets, Indians, Giants and Astros. Johnson and Escobar also played together with the Braves and Blue Jays.
Wade Davis told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that he’s excited to join the Royals, since he’ll be asked to start in Kansas City. The right-hander said he’s been “champing at the bit” to start again after spending the 2012 season in the bullpen. Here’s the latest from Olney, starting with the recent Rays-Royals trade...
- One GM said Wil Myers is “not without his flaws,” Olney reports. The prospect struck out 140 times this past season and, as the GM notes, “holes are exposed at the next level."
- Olney suggests A.J. Pierzynski could be a fit for the Rays, but notes that rival evaluators don’t particularly like his defense. One agent predicts the White Sox will end up re-signing the free agent catcher.
- The Dodgers have interest in Joel Hanrahan, Olney reports. The Pirates have some interest in Chris Capuano, so perhaps there’s a match for the two NL clubs. Both players have one guaranteed year remaining on their contracts.
- Friends of Michael Young’s say he feels he was lied to repeatedly with the Rangers, according to Olney. The Phillies acquired the veteran infielder over the weekend after Young approved the proposed trade.
The Royals have bolstered their starting rotation for 2013 thanks to the addition of two quality pitchers. Kansas City has agreed to acquire right-hander James Shields, right-hander Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash from Tampa Bay in exchange for outfielder Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard, according to a team release.
Kansas City's continued commitment to acquiring veteran pitching talent as seen with Shields and Davis has the Royals with their eyes on competing as soon as 2013. Shields, soon to turn 31, brings a career 87-73 record and 3.89 ERA to the Midwest after finishing third in the AL Cy Young vote for the 2011 season. Beyond his stats, Shields brings leadership to the Royals clubhouse after mentoring young pitchers in Tampa Bay. Davis, 27 and fresh off his first season in the bullpen, enjoyed success with the Rays in 2012. With an ERA of 2.43 and his strikeout total of 87, Davis' combination for a reliever could only be matched by Angels right-hander Ernesto Frieri. As a starter, Davis has posted a 4.22 ERA in 64 starts.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the organization will have Shields under team control through the 2014 season ('14 as a team option) and Davis potentially remaining blue and white through 2017 (with '16 and '17 as team options) (via Twitter). The duo will join a starting rotation already home to Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar.
For the Rays, blessed with more than enough pitching to continue to call their rotation an asset, the addition of Myers provides Tampa Bay with another building block to complement their star player in Evan Longoria. Myers, who turns 22 on Monday, enters the 2013 season as the reigning 2012 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .304/.378/.554 in 99 games this season at Triple-A Omaha.
Beyond Myers, the Rays also acquired three prospects from the Royals who all check in at 23 years old or younger. Odorizzi, arguably the most talented of the bunch, took home his team's Pitcher of the Year award this past season while playing with Myers. The right-hander pitched to a 2.93 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over the course of 107.1 innings. He made his Major League debut in September where he had the opportunity to make two starts for the Royals.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first broke the details of the trade (via Twitter). Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Multiple teams remain involved in talks for R.A. Dickey, but it's still possible the Mets will extend the knuckleballer instead of trading him. The reigning National League Cy Young winner appears to seek two years and $26MM in addition to his $5MM salary for 2013. Here are the latest rumors about contract talks for Dickey and potential trades...
- GM Sandy Alderson repeated that the Mets might end up holding onto Dickey instead of trading or extending him, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Though that's not “necessarily the optimal result,” the Mets are prepared for that possibility. One competing NL official said it'd be a mistake not to trade or extend Dickey, however.
- The Royals seem "very interested" in Dickey, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (allTwitterlinks). However, they wouldn't be interested in sending top prospect Wil Myers to New York for the knuckleballer. Dickey, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson remain in play for the Royals, Dutton reports. However, it now seems unlikely that the Red Sox will move Jon Lester.
- The Mets view the Blue Jays, Royals and Rangers as the most likely trade suitors for Dickey, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). In Olney's view Dickey's contract demands may seem more reasonable based on some recent free agent contracts.
The latest on the Royals, who continue to seek a front-rotation starting pitcher...
- The Royals are exploring a group of free agent starters that includes Brett Myers, Kevin Correia, and Jair Jurrjens, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, which could be a backup plan if they fail to acquire a No. 1. Dutton has heard differently, saying he's been told the Royals have no intention for now of pursuing any pitcher who wouldn't front their rotation.
- The Royals' payroll pinch is tighter than initially believed, explains Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. In fact, the team appears to already be over budget. Regarding the Shields talks, a Royals official told Dutton, "It’s not like we’re going to bend over backward,” one club official said. “We’re not going to do that. We want to make a trade to get another starter, be it Shields or someone else, but we don’t feel we have to make a trade." The Rays are likely to wait to move Shields until Zack Greinke signs, writes Dutton.
- The Royals are still talking to the Rays about Shields, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, but currently the price of top prospect Wil Myers and then some is too much. Passan's source insists the Royals are not in on Anibal Sanchez, whose market price stands at five years and $70MM+ at this time.
- "The Royals are definitely not in on [R.A.] Dickey," a rival executive told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- The Royals may be at a critical stage in the decision whether to trade top prospect Wil Myers for a starting pitcher such as the Rays' James Shields, tweet Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Bob Dutton believes the Royals would not hesitate to trade Myers for Shields, but that it'd probably require more.
- The Royals are interested in a variety of free agent starters, tweeted Morosi earlier, and Anibal Sanchez appears to be their top choice.
- The team is focused on "just a few players," GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star today.
The Mets reportedly met with eight teams on Monday in Nashville to discuss potential R.A. Dickey deals, as we heard in yesterday's round-up of Dickey rumors. New York still hasn't made a final decision on whether to trade the Cy Young winner or extend him, but one report yesterday suggested the team was getting "serious" about finding a deal, so the focus appears to be on a trade for now. Here are Tuesday's updates on the knuckleballer, with the latest notes added to the top of the page throughout the day:
- A top Royals official dismissed the idea of trading Wil Myers for Dickey, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- The Mets remain undecided on trading Dickey, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. But if he is dealt, Martino's source says to keep a close eye on the Rangers, the team that drafted Dickey in '96 and had him for the first decade of his career.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who made that draft pick for Texas back in the day, told reporterstoday he spoke to the Mets about Dickey but "it doesn't appear to be a match." Names were not exchanged.
- Dollars, not years, are the stumbling block in extension talks between Dickey and the Mets, Dickey's agent tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Said agent Bo McKinnis, "There is something longer term that would appeal to us and something shorter term.
- Dickey's agent Bo McKinnis says little progress has been made with the Mets in extension talks, according to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal (via Twitter). "We're just talking in different neighborhoods in terms of dollars," McKinnis said.
- McKinnis wouldn't be surprised if Dickey is traded, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com
- The Mets are telling teams that they won't go the "Carlos Beltran route" with Dickey and just trade him for one prospect, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Because suitors would have Dickey for a full year rather than a half-season and would have a better chance of extending Dickey, the Mets are seeking multiple prospects (Twitterlinks).
- Extension negotiations between Dickey and the Mets are currently at a standstill, which is increasing expectations that the right-hander will be dealt, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM (via Twitter).
- The Mets continue to aim high in their talks with the Royals, pushing for top prospect Wil Myers, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin doesn't specify who would be going to the Royals in this hypothetical deal, but I assume it'd be either Dickey or fellow trade candidate Jonathon Niese.
- Andy Martino hears from a very good source that he thinks Dickey will remain with the Mets (Twitter link). However, the Daily News scribe cautions that there are a lot of balls in the air and things could change quickly.
- Although Alderson and the Mets would like to resolve the Dickey situation as soon as possible, they may still spend the week weighing trade offers and make a decision after returning to New York, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- Following up on yesterday's report that the Mets have spoken to at least eight teams about Dickey, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com lists the Royals, Orioles, Rangers, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Nationals as clubs in the mix. According to Heyman, the Nats are the least likely of those suitors to land Dickey, since the Mets would prefer not to trade within the division.
- One Mets insider predicted to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the team will hang on to Dickey this winter, with a deal only likely if another club decides to "seriously overpay." Rubin also hears that, in extension talks, Dickey is seeking three years after 2013, rather than two
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson is targeting a "difference maker" in Dickey negotiations, as Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. "It doesn’t have to be a catcher, it doesn’t have to be an outfielder, it doesn’t have to be anything," Alderson said. "But it has to be a difference maker, because R.A. is a difference maker.
- Addressing the notion that the asking price for Dickey is sky-high, one Mets source tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), "It should be. He won the Cy Young."