Wil Nieves Rumors

West Notes: Upton, Nieves, Mariners

Padres outfielder Justin Upton could be a linchpin for the club, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The former top prospect and MVP candidate is still just 27. GM A.J. Preller hinted that the club could extend Upton depending on how the relationship develops. “We made this deal with eyes open, knowing that this may be a long-term relationship and it may end up being a one-year relationship…We’re not really sure, but that’s the benefit of getting around a player like that that’s obviously going to command big dollars and big value on the open market.” MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Upton the top name in the 2016 free agent market. He implied that a $200MM contract is possible.

Here’s more from out West:

  • With Padres backup catcher Tim Federowicz sidelined for three to six months, the club could turn to veteran Wil Nieves, Lin reports. The 37-year-old claims to be in the best shape of his life with coaches and teammates supporting the assertion. He’s a career .243/.281/.317 hitter in over 1,200 plate appearances. However, the role of backup catcher is often more about defense and forming a rapport with the pitching staff. If GM A.J. Preller opts for somebody other than Nieves, he’ll probably have to look outside of the organization. Prospect Austin Hedges is major league ready behind the plate, but scouts say his bat lags behind his glove.
  • The Mariners are aiming to score 700 runs this season, reports Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The M’s are the only AL club to not pass the 700 run threshold since 2007. As Kepner notes, only eight teams scored that many runs in 2014, with five reaching the postseason. While the arbitrary threshold is not required for a playoff bound club, it would dramatically improve their odds. Seattle has to contend with the star-laden Angels and the pesky Athletics.

NL West Notes: Olivera, Morrow, Federowicz, McCarthy, Sandoval

Current Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart is a good friend of Kevin Towers, the man he replaced in that role. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes, Stewart really did want Towers to stay on as a special assistant, and Towers truly felt he owed it to his replacement to go against his wishes so as to avoid any difficulties down the line. It’s a fascinating story, all the more so since Stewart is currently rooming with Towers at the latter’s Arizona home during Spring Training.

  • The Padres, like the Braves, are not expected to spend up to the $70MM level that Hector Olivera is said to be seeking, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. San Diego is a great fit, as Rosenthal notes, but that is quite a price tag to tack on after an offseason of additions.
  • Brandon Morrow is hoping to break the Padres rotation and reestablish his career trajectory, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes. Morrow, who has battled numerous and varied injuries in his career, is battling with Odrisamer Despaigne for the fifth starter’s spot.
  • Padres backstop Tim Federowicz has suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his knee, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Surgery appears to be all but a foregone conclusion, which could sideline Federowicz for some time. Veteran Wil Nieves probably has the inside track to step into the backup role behind Derek Norris, though one wonders whether top prospect Austin Hedges could eventually get a look.
  • Newly-minted Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy says that he believes in his ability to provide value over the life of his four-year, $48MM deal, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports“I would kind of hope my 30s are where my career really begins,” says McCarthy. “As dumb as that sounds. I’ve spent a long time figuring [things] out — health being the biggest thing — and transforming as a pitcher.” President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman cited McCarthy’s inning load last year and “changes in his workout regiment” — along with his quality offerings from the mound — as reasons for optimism. A training program in his Dallas neighborhood improved McCarthy’s overall strength, aiding his return to form.
  • Pablo Sandoval says that he “knew early in Spring Training last year I was going to leave” the Giants, as Scott Miller of Bleacher Report writes. The one-time San Francisco favorite did not mince words, accusing GM Brian Sabean of not respecting his representatives in discussions at that time. “The Giants made a good offer [in free agency],” said Sandoval, “but I didn’t want to take it. I got five years from Boston. I left money on the table in San Francisco. It’s not about money. It’s about how you treat the player.”

Padres To Sign Wil Nieves

FEB. 3: Nieves will earn $850K if he makes the Major League roster, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

FEB. 2: The Padres have agreed to a minor league deal with free agent backstop Wil Nieves, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Nieves will receive an invite to big league camp and should have a chance to challenge for a backup job, says Brock.

Nieves follows Gerald Laird off the board, leaving few options left among the veteran free agent backstops who saw some MLB time last year. The 37-year-old spent last year as the Phillies’ second option behind the plate.

Over his eleven-year big league career, Nieves has compiled a .243/.281/.317 slash in 1,246 turns at bat. He has actually outperformed that mark in the last two years, averaging a .661 OPS over 334 plate appearances, although he had a much stronger line in 2013 and benefited from a .340+ BABIP in both seasons.



Phillies Sign Wil Nieves

2:39pm: Heyman reports that Nieves is guaranteed $1.125MM and can earn up to $500K in performance bonuses (Twitter link).

THURSDAY, 1:36pm: The Phillies announced Nieves' deal, which ESPN's Jayson Stark notes is a Major League pact.

TUESDAY: The Phillies are set to sign catcher Wil Nieves, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).  Nieves is represented by MDR Sports Management, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.

Nieves, 36, hit .297/.320/.369 in 206 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks last season.  Arizona retained the veteran with a one-year, $800K deal right around this time last year.  For his career, Nieves owns a .242/.283/.314 across ten big league seasons.


Angels Looking For Backup Catcher

SUNDAY: The Angels are said to like Chris Snyder and Ramon Hernandez with ex-Angel Bobby Wilson, in camp with the Yankees, an interesting possibility, tweets Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez adds Rod Barajas and Wil Nieves, both with the Diamondbacks, and Brett Hayes and George Kottaras, both with the Royals, as other possibilities.

FRIDAY: The Angels "have been out looking for a backup catcher," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.  

The team entered the spring hoping that former high-end prospect Hank Conger would lay claim to the back-up spot behind starter Chris Iannetta.  As Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times explored back in February, the team was also considering two journeymen, John Hester and Luke Carlin.  Still young at 25 and offering a natural complement to Iannetta's right-handed bat, Conger seemed the obvious choice if he could move past his history of inconsistency and injury.  

Despite Conger's excellent start on the offensive side of the plate this spring, however, he has struggled behind the dish.  While manager Mike Scioscia has previously expressed confidence that Conger would rein in his wildness in the throwing game, Conger made three errors with his arm last Sunday.  Entering his final option year, the Angels could elect to allow Conger to work out his issues back in Triple-A Salt Lake.  For their part, Hester and Carlin have limited track records at the major league level and are sporting anemic batting lines in pre-season action.

If the Halos are unwilling to let Conger test his arm in a real game, the club may be looking at limited options for an upgrade.  A glance at MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker reveals Matt Treanor as the lone unsigned, free agent backstop.  Barring a more significant trade, the Angels could consider dealing (or scouring the waiver wire) for a more established option as teams like the Diamondbacks and Rockies decide which of their veteran catching options will make their opening day rosters.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Diamondbacks Sign Wil Nieves

The Diamondbacks have signed Wil Nieves to be their backup catcher, reports Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (via Twitter). Nieves' deal will be for one year and $800K, according to Magruder.

Nieves had been non-tendered by Arizona last week, perhaps because the D-Backs thought they were adding Eli Whiteside. The D-Backs put in a waiver claim for Whiteside after he was designated for assignment by the Yankes, but the Blue Jays won the claim.

MLBTR had projected an $800K salary for Nieves through arbitration.


National League Non-Tenders

Here are today’s National League non-tenders. All decisions must be in by 11pm CT tonight. Be sure to track all tender decisions using MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. Related resources include our list of non-tender candidates, our projected arbitration salaries and our arbitration eligibles series.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Diamondbacks Claim Wil Nieves

4:08pm: The Diamondbacks announced that they claimed Nieves and placed Blanco on the disabled list.

1:51pm: The Diamondbacks are expected to add catcher Wil Nieves, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The Rockies designated Nieves for assignment last week.

Nieves appeared in 16 games for the Rockies this year, but has been sidelined since July 8th with turf toe. The 34-year-old posted a .298/.333/.404 batting line in 51 plate appearances this year. Nieves, a nine-year MLB veteran, has a career line of .226/.272/.296. Henry Blanco has been backing up Miguel Montero behind the plate for the Diamondbacks.


Wil Nieves Elects Free Agency

FRIDAY: Nieves has cleared waivers and rejected an assignment to the minors, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post.  Nieves is eligible for free agency on Saturday.

WEDNESDAY: The Rockies announced that they designated catcher Wil Nieves for assignment after reinstating him from the 15-day disabled list (Twitter link). Nieves appeared in 16 games for the Rockies this year, but has been sidelined since July 8th with turf toe. 

The 34-year-old posted a .298/.333/.404 batting line in 51 plate appearances this year. The nine-year MLB veteran has a career line of .226/.272/.296 that is likely more indicative of his abilities on offense.


Rockies Links: Guthrie, Scutaro, Betancourt, Nieves

The Rockies are one of the few teams in baseball who are firmly out of contention, and thus figure to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches.  Here's the latest on some of Colorado's top trade chips, courtesy of Troy Renck and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post…

  • Jeremy Guthrie's continued struggles are ruining the starter's trade value, writes Renck.  Guthrie has a 6.35 ERA in 19 games this season, including a whopping 9.50 ERA at Coors Field.  Renck suggests that the Rockies could limit Guthrie only to road starts in order to properly showcase him for any trade suitors.
  • Marco Scutaro has drawn interest from the Pirates and Rangers, reports Renck and Saunders, in addition to the Tigers' known interest in the veteran infielder.  Scutaro would be an upgrade over Clint Barmes at shortstop for the Pirates, and he would provide the Rangers with middle infield depth behind Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler.
  • The Braves and Red Sox have shown some interest in Rafael Betancourt.  We heard last month from ESPN's Buster Olney that the Rockies "would have to be overwhelmed" to deal Betancourt or Matt Belisle.
  • The Nationals have scouted Wil Nieves.  The catcher played for Washington from 2008-10 and has a .738 OPS in 51 plate appearances for Colorado after signing a minor league deal with the Rockies in December.  Nieves is on the DL with a turf toe injury.  The Nats also asked about Colorado's Ramon Hernandez as they continue to look for catching help.
  • Scouts say the Rockies want pitching back in any deal.