Wilin Rosario Rumors

NL West Notes: Leake, Upton, Padres, Rosario

Giants rental acquisition Mike Leake will miss his upcoming start with a hamstring strain suffered during routine workouts, reports Chris Haft of MLB.com. While the Giants and Leake are both hopeful that he’ll miss just the one outing, but says he won’t know until today. It sounds like the maximum amount of time he’ll miss will be two starts, and swingman Ryan Vogelsong will step into the rotation in his place. The Giants traded their top prospect, righty Keury Mella, to the Reds along with corner infielder Adam Duvall in exchange for Leake on July 30.

More from the NL West…

  • The Mets offered right-hander Michael Fulmer to the Padres in exchange for Justin Upton near the trade deadline prior to acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, ESPN’s Buster Olney first reported earlier this week. That, clearly, wasn’t enough to get a deal done, as Upton remains in San Diego and Fulmer was eventually traded to the Tigers (along with fellow righty Luis Cessa) for Cespedes.
  • Peter Gammons spoke to Padres GM A.J. Preller, who addressed the notion of buying and selling as well as the perceived inactivity of his club. “When someone said, ‘it’s easier to buy than sell,’ that did bother me,” Preller told Gammons. “That implies that we did little preparation. They don’t realize the three weeks to a month that so many of our scouts and baseball people were out on the road, going from town to town without seeing their families, trying to find the right players. They worked their hearts out for the Padres.”
  • Though Wilin Rosario‘s name has been kicked around in trade rumors for the better part of a year, he remained in Colorado at the trade deadline and apparently drew relatively limited interest. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post asked Rockies GM Jeff Bridich about the decision not to move Rosario and was told, “The trading queries were pretty quiet on Wilin.” Saunders says that sources outside the Rockies organization placed too much value on Rosario; the Rockies see him as a Major League talent, writes Saunders, but some other clubs view him as more of a fringe big leaguer.

Rockies Notes: Trades, Hundley, CarGo, Tulowitzki

Entering the All-Star break, just three teams — the Phillies, Brewers and Marlins — have fewer wins than the Rockies, who find themselves 11 games out of contention in the National League West. With Colorado looking more and more like a deadline seller, here’s the latest out of Denver…

  • In a mailbag piece, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that he can envision Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Wilin Rosario and John Axford being traded in the next two weeks. Though Nick Hundley appears to be a classic trade candidate — he’s hitting well in the first season of an affordable two-year deal — Saunders writes that he’s emerged as a strong presence in the clubhouse, which upper management may not want to lose. Blackmon would make an intriguing trade candidate, though his struggles against lefties and significant home/road splits throughout his career would seem like potential hindrances to his trade value, in my mind.
  • Gonzalez, who has battled injuries frequently throughout his Rockies tenure, tells the Post’s Nick Groke that he’s healthy for the first time in a season and feels that his surgically repaired knee finally has the strength to allow him to wait on his back leg to adjust to breaking pitches. CarGo hit .464/.483/.929 with four doubles and three homers over the final week of the first half.
  • Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has been in trade rumors for years, and he addressed the constant speculation at yesterday’s All-Star festivities when meeting with the media. Via the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin, Tulo told reporters, “Right now, I’m still a Rockie. I’ve dealt with [trade rumors] for a couple years now. I’m still in a Rockies uniform. It is what it is.” Tulo went on to say that he feels the Rockies can eventually put a winner on the field, citing promising young teammates such as Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu. Tulowitzki also went on to say that he takes “a lot of pride in staying in one organization.” Tulo called Derek Jeter his favorite player (the reason behind his No. 2 in Colorado) and discussed the possibility of staying Colorado forever. “Not too many guys get to do it in this day and age. It would be cool, when I am done playing, to say that I did that,” said Tulowitzki.

West Notes: Wandy, Rosario, Rockies

Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions on a quiet morning:

  • The Rangers will purchase the contract of lefty Wandy Rodriguez in time for him to make a start tomorrow, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Rodriguez will only earn a league minimum salary, but will begin marching towards up to $1.8MM in available incentives with his first appearance. He spent all of camp with the Braves, who released him rather than taking on what would have been a $2MM base salary.
  • The Rockies have optioned former starting catcher Wilin Rosario to Triple-A in spite of his hot start in limited action, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Rosario seemed a plausible trade candidate over the offseason, though he was coming off of a tough 2014 and probably would not have drawn a palatable return. He has been productive at the plate since transitioning out of the regular backstop mix, but was not able to earn much playing time. Rosario was clearly disappointed by the move, though he said he expects it will be short-lived. It is worth noting that Rosario entered the season with 3.023 years on his service clock, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could deliver an additional year of club control.
  • While the Rockies enjoyed a hot start, questionable pitching has dropped the team back to earth. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post argues that the club has continued to exhibit a “defeatist attitude” in the way that it approaches outside acquisitions. That explains why the team settled for Kyle Kendrick instead of going hard for James Shields, says Kiszla, who disputes the Catch-22 conventional wisdom holding that the Rockies must overpay to get starting pitching but that the team will never again be baited into doing so.


13 Role Changes That Have Impacted Earning Power

Each offseason, teams and fans alike spend the winter projecting a 25-man roster on paper in an attempt to plot out as accurately as possible the way in which a season will progress. Oftentimes, a roster is more or less set from an early standpoint. Those expectations fluctuate based not only on player movement — trades and free agency, of course, have a strong impact on roster construction — but also on elements such as spring performances, injuries and early season success/struggles. Rarely do rosters, and the roles occupied by the players on that roster, shake out the way in which most pundits expected.

In many cases, the changes within a roster can come with significant financial implications for the players who find themselves in a more prominent role. Those who find themselves receiving the short end of the stick, of course, can see their future fortunes diminished.

It’s early in the 2015 season, but already we’ve seen some shifts in role and/or playing time that will make some players considerably wealthier in arbitration, as well as some that figure to severely damage a player’s arbitration case.

Rising Earning Power

Adam Ottavino: Typically, players like Ottavino are the ones that the Cardinals find rather than let go, but St. Louis tried to get the now-29-year-old Ottavino through waivers in 2012 and lost him to the Rockies. Ottavino has been a revelation in the Colorado bullpen, boosting his velocity and ditching his changeup for a devastating slider that has turned him into a late-inning weapon. Ottavino was recently named the new closer by manager Walt Weiss, and he’ll have a chance to head into his second trip through arbitration with a bucket of saves under his arm. The difference between entering arb as a setup man and entering as a closer could be worth millions.

Jeurys Familia: The same role change that benefits Ottavino will do the same for Familia, who entered the season setting up for Jenrry Mejia. However, an 80-game suspension for Mejia and Bobby Parnell‘s recovery from Tommy John surgery have opened the door for Familia to take the reins in the ninth inning. He’s notched a 6-to-1 K/BB ratio in his first 4 2/3 innings this season, and while he hasn’t necessarily secured the job through season’s end — Parnell or Mejia could reclaim the job later in the year — a season resembling last year’s 2.21 ERA in the ninth inning would yield a significant arbitration payday. Zach Britton, for example, parlayed one elite season as a closer into a $3.2MM payday this year, though the two aren’t perfect comparables. (Britton was a Super Two and didn’t have multiple strong seasons under his belt, as Familia theoretically will.) Ottavino landed a $1.3MM salary his first time through arb after a strong season of setup work, however, giving a rough idea of the potential gap between the two roles.

Lorenzo Cain: Entering last season, Cain was the Royals’ No. 8 hitter and didn’t get into the lineup on an everyday basis, as he split time with Jarrod Dyson in center field. Cain didn’t hit higher in the batting order than sixth until June 17 last season, but he’s batted third every day and started in center each game for the Royals this year. Cain doesn’t have the power one would typically expect from a No. 3 hitter, but his preposterous defense will keep him in the lineup every day, and hitting in the heart of the order will lead to plenty of RBI opportunities. A Gold Glove and a career-high in RBIs (which wouldn’t be hard to come by, as it currently stands at 53) will go a long way toward bolstering his $2.725MM salary.

Evan Gattis: The transition from catcher/outfielder in the National League to DH/outfielder in the American League should afford Gattis with the opportunity to see more playing time and therefore accumulate more counting stats to pad his first arbitration case this winter. While it’s true that he probably has more value behind the plate — that type of offense from a catcher is indeed quite rare — defense isn’t as highly rewarded via the arbitration process as good old fashioned homers and RBIs. Gattis has struggled to open the year, but career-highs in home runs, RBIs and most other counting stats wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Leonys Martin: Martin’s role may not appear different on the surface, as he still figures to man center field on an everyday basis if healthy. However, Martin received just 40 games in the leadoff spot in 2014, spending the bulk of his time occupying the 7th and 8th slots in the Rangers lineup. Manager Jeff Banister declared Martin his leadoff hitter and voiced confidence in his ability to handle the role, even after struggling out of the gate in 2015. Martin’s dropped to eighth in each of the past two games, but Banister said that decision was “tinkering” to give the lineup “a different look,” rather than anything permanent. Martin averaged 3.76 plate appearances per game in 2014 but has averaged 4.4 per game in 2015. Over the course of 150 games, that comes out to an extra 150 to 155 games, that’d be an extra 96 to 100 plate appearances for Martin — a valuable increase in opportunities to boost his counting stats as he wraps up a five-year, $15.5MM contract and heads into arbitration for the first time.

Jordan Schafer: The former top prospect broke camp with the Braves as a reserve outfielder in 2014 and started just 13 games all season before the Twins claimed him on waivers in early August. Schafer impressed the Twins enough that there was never any real thought to non-tendering him (despite a marginal track record), and he outplayed Aaron Hicks in Spring Training to earn a regular role in center field to begin the season. Schafer is in a platoon with Shane Robinson, and he’ll have to hold off Hicks, Eddie Rosario and perhaps even Byron Buxton to keep his playing time, but he’s unquestionably been presented with a better financial opportunity than he was in Atlanta.

Declining Earning Power

Wilin Rosario: After spending the bulk of the past three seasons as Colorado’s everyday catcher, Rosario will now transition to a part-time role in which he’ll be used as an occasional first baseman against left-handed pitching. Rosario will also make sporadic appearances in the outfield and behind the plate. Rosario’s power has never been in question, but he’s regarded as one of the game’s worst defensive backstops and will be without a regular role of which to speak. The decrease in playing time is a critical blow to his earning potential, as his $2.8MM salary won’t be increasing by much if the early stages of the season are any indication of his playing time. Rosario has seven plate appearances in six games thus far.

Welington Castillo: Manager Joe Maddon can refer to the Cubs’ combination of Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo as his “three-headed catcher,” but Castillo, formerly Chicago’s starting catcher, and his agent would likely describe the situation much more colorfully behind closed doors. Castillo took home a $2.1MM payday in his first trip through the arb cycle this winter, but like Rosario, he’s seen virtually no plate appearances in 2015. Castillo has appeared in four games and picked up seven PAs. Now that they’ve been through the arb process once, the raises awarded to Rosario and Castillo will be based almost solely upon their 2015 results, so their pay bumps figure to be rather paltry in nature.

Brett Cecil: Cecil was tabbed to as the Blue Jays’ closer to enter the season, but he relinquished those duties to 20-year-old Miguel Castro almost instantly. Cecil’s diminished velocity played a role in that decision, and while he may work his way back into the ninth inning, he looks like he’s tabbed for a setup role in the immediate future. A full season of saves would be a boon for next winter’s arbitration case, but that looks unlikely now.

Ruben Tejada: The Mets have had a hole at shortstop since Jose Reyes departed, and while Tejada got the chance to fill the void last year, it’s Wilmer Flores getting that opportunity this year. Tejada started 105 games in 2014, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll come anywhere near that number in 2015, barring injuries around the diamond. Tejada’s light bat limited his earning power in the first place, but a lack of regular at-bats will further limit the raise he’ll receive on this year’s $1.88MM salary.

Peter Bourjos: Lights-out center field defense gave Bourjos a chance to pick up quite a few plate appearances early in his Cardinals tenure, but the club quickly departed from the notion of giving him more regular at-bats in 2014, promoting Randal Grichuk and giving more playing time back to Jon Jay. To this point, Bourjos has had just two plate appearances, though his glove has gotten him into five games. The complete evaporation of playing time makes a significant raise on his $1.65MM salary difficult to envision. Bourjos’ elite glove is strong enough that he could start for a number of teams, but it’s also a luxury and a late-inning weapon for St. Louis, so it’s difficult to envision them moving him into a more financially favorable situation.

Jesse Chavez: Despite the fact that he excelled in the rotation for Oakland last year, Chavez lost his starting spot midseason after the acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and, eventually, Jon Lester. Many, myself included, believed he had a strong case for the rotation heading into 2015, but the final three spots behind holdovers Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir went to Jesse Hahn, Drew Pomeranz and Kendall Graveman. Chavez’s 2014 breakout should indicate that he’ll be a perfectly useful reliever in 2015, but 20-30 starts would’ve done quite a bit more for his earning power.

Everth Cabrera: Cabrera’s fall in San Diego was somewhat remarkable, as he went from leading the NL in steals in 2012 and earning a 2013 All-Star nod to a 50-game suspension for PEDs, a dismal 2014 season and an eventual non-tender. He’s latched on in Baltimore and has been starting at shortstop with J.J. Hardy rehabbing from injury, but a reserve role is in the cards for E-Cab, making it difficult to envision a substantial raise on his $2.4MM salary, which was a slight decline from last year’s $2.45MM in the first place.

Note: This post isn’t including role changes for players who will not be arbitration eligible following the 2015 season. Players such as Carlos Martinez and Tony Cingrani, for example, will certainly see their future arbitration outlooks impacted if their recent role changes are permanent, but it’s difficult enough to know whether or not all of these changes will hold throughout the current season, let alone through the 2016-17 seasons.


NL West Links: Rosario, McKenry, D’Backs

Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley.  Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution.  Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.

Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period.  Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
  • Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made.  “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
  • From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada.  “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
  • Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres.  Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us.  I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.”  Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
  • Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.

Players Win Six Of 14 Arbitration Hearings

The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.

Player Team Player Amt. Team Amt. Player won?
Pedro Alvarez Pirates $5.750MM $5.250MM Yes
Jerry Blevins Nationals $2.400MM $2.200MM Yes
Alejandro De Aza Orioles $5.650MM $5.000MM No
Josh Donaldson Blue Jays $5.750MM $4.300MM No
Mat Latos Marlins $10.400MM $9.400MM No
Mike Minor Braves $5.600MM $5.100MM Yes
Jarrod Parker Athletics $1.700MM $0.850MM No
David Phelps Marlins $1.875MM $1.400MM No
Wilin Rosario Rockies $3.300MM $2.800MM No
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks $6.900MM $5.300MM Yes
Danny Valencia Blue Jays $1.675MM $1.250MM Yes
Neil Walker Pirates $9.000MM $8.000MM No
Tom Wilhelmsen Mariners $2.200MM $1.400MM No
Vance Worley Pirates $2.450MM $2.000MM Yes

A few notes:

  • Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
  • The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
  • Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
  • There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
  • In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.

Rockies Defeat Wilin Rosario In Arbitration

The Rockies have defeated catcher Wilin Rosario in the sides’ recent arbitration hearing, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. Rosario will, accordingly, take home $2.8MM rather than his filing figure of $3.3MM.

Colorado may have been able to sway the panel by pointing out Rosario’s defensive shortcomings and relatively poor 2014, because it drove the price down a fair sight shy of the $3.6MM that MLBTR/Matt Swartz had projected. Rosario has consistently received rather poor defensive marks (see, e.g., Baseball ProspectusFangraphs), and pitch framing metrics have not been kind (Baseball Prospectus; Stat Corner). That put an even less promising spin on Rosario’s below-average .267/.305/.435 slash, which was good only for a park-adjusted 86 wRC+.

Of course that kind of offensive production is still not bad at all for a catcher. And Rosario, who battled injuries last year, has shown the ability to do much more. Still just 25, Rosario slashed .282/.314/.507 and hit 49 total home runs over just 892 plate appearances from 2012-13.

In addition to saving half a million dollars against the alternative scenario in the binary arbitration decision, Colorado gets the added benefit of holding down Rosario’s earnings for the following two years of eligibility. The slugger will need to earn his playing time this year, though he may be afforded additional turns at bat by slotting in at first base or even the corner outfield.


West Notes: Rockies, Astros, Gallardo, White

Wilin Rosario‘s name has come up quite frequently in trade talks this winter, but Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that it now appears likely that the Rockies will hold onto Rosario heading into the 2015 season. GM Jeff Bridich explained to Saunders that he feels Rosario possesses the athleticism and work ethic to add first base and corner outfield to his repertoire, and he’ll still likely see some time behind the dish.

Here’s more from Saunders’ piece and more regarding other clubs in baseball’s Western divisions…

  • Charlie Blackmon has also been a popular name on the rumor mill of late, but Saunders hears that the Rockies haven’t initiated any trade talks regarding Blackmon. While they’ve talked to several teams over the past few months, they’ve been on the receiving end of those calls rather than openly shopping Blackmon.
  • Saunders also notes that a trusted Major League source informed him that the Rockies “unequivocally did not make [James] Shields an offer,” thereby squashing some speculation that it was Colorado who extended the previously reported five-year, $110MM offer.
  • The Astros‘ deal with Ryan Vogelsong looks to have fallen through, with the Giants reportedly making a serious run at re-signing the righty, but Houston GM Jeff Luhnow indicated earlier today that the team could still add another starting pitcher but is likely set from an offensive standpoint, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (All Twitter links). Luhnow also did not rule out trading away more of his own players. It seems like the Astros may not be quite done shaping the 2015 roster.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Luhnow about the Astros‘ abundance of strikeout-prone hitters, and Luhnow explained that the team is OK with the trade-off of strikeouts for power. “We probably will have a few strikeouts because of the types of players that we have,” said Luhnow, “but the flipside of that equation is we’re going to produce a lot of runs with those types of players. It’s up to our hitting coach to work on them to figure out when’s the right time to go for it and when to put the ball in play, and (manager A.J. Hinch) to figure out the lineup, so we don’t kill rallies by stacking up more than two or three of these guys at a time.”
  • More from Drellich, who adds some additional Astros notes in a late-night roundup, noting that Luhnow doesn’t expect to resolve the team’s only outstanding arbitration case (that of Marwin Gonzalez) in the near future. He also adds that the Astros’ acquisition of so many strikeout-prone hitters wasn’t due to a philosophy or belief that Houston knows something about strikeouts that other clubs do not; it just happened that the power bats they targeted came with strikeout issues.
  • In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the changes in Yovani Gallardo‘s arsenal of pitches over the past few seasons and wonders if the Rangers can receive better results from the 28-year-old by trying to revert him to his previous ways. Gallardo has switched from pitching primarily off a four-seam fastball to throwing  significant amount of two-seamers. The results, Cameron notes, has been an increase in grounders and a decrease in strikeouts. However, Cameron theorizes that part of the thinking behind the conscious shift from Gallardo was that Milwaukee catchers excel at expanding the bottom half of the strike zone. Meanwhile the Rangers ranked 29th in team ground-ball percentage in 2014 and typically emphasize four-seamers over two-seamers. Cameron wonders if the change in scenery could cause Gallardo’s strikeout rate to rise, which could pay significant dividends for Texas.
  • Logan White is invigorated by his transition from Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting to Padres senior adviser/professional scouting director, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock. White spoke at length about the differences between working on the amateur side of the game and working the pro side and the aggressive approach that the Padres will be taking to scouting: “We’re going to see anyone and everyone in pro baseball. We’re going to get after it on the back fields, make sure we know the makeup of these guys, talk to coaches, watch BP and early work. …  Some of the best decisions you make is because you work a little harder, not because you’re smarter than everyone else.”

NL West Notes: Padres, Maurer, Rockies, Rosario

Padres GM A.J. Preller deserves much of the credit for the club’s surprising offseason, but ownership should get its due too, writes Matt Calkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While the decision to fire former GM Josh Byrnes prior to the trade deadline was roundly lampooned, it opened the door for Preller to prepare his staff for a flurry of offseason moves. Additional support from ownership, including an expanded payroll, helped to fuel Preller’s moves.

  • New Padre Brandon Maurer blossomed in a relief role last season, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Maurer features a 95 mph fastball and a biting curve. The Padres may give him a chance to start, but he appears to have the floor of a late innings reliever.
  • If the Rockies don’t make some bold moves, another 90 loss season could be on the horizon, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says a couple moves were “close-ish,” but hasn’t yet found a major move to his liking. Saunders would target the rotation and bullpen for remodeling.
  • In a quick analysis piece of the 15 NL clubs, ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider required) opines that the Rockies need to trade Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The club has a lot of work to do before it can be considered a contender. From my perspective, I think they’re just waiting for the right offer, which may include both players proving themselves healthy and productive after their latest batch of injuries.
  • The Rockies and Rangers engaged in “significant” trade talks involving catcher Wilin Rosario, reports Saunders. However, a trade has yet to materialize. The Rockies are now saying they’re comfortable splitting Rosario’s time between catcher and first base, although that could be posturing.

NL West Notes: Hudson, Giants, Rosario, Padres

The Giants announced today that right-hander Tim Hudson underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. The 39-year-old Hudson has an expected recovery time of eight weeks, and the Giants believe that he will be ready to go come Opening Day. Giants VP and assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters, including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that Hudson felt increased discomfort in the ankle as he ramped up his offseason workouts. That ankle is the same ankle that was stepped on in a gruesome looking injury in July of 2013 that cut short what was shaping up to be another excellent season for Hudson. The longtime Athletic and Brave returned from that injury to post a solid first season with the Giants; Hudson worked to a 3.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 189 1/3 innings. The TWC Sports client is owed $12MM in 2015 as part of a two-year, $23MM contract inked last winter.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Evans also told Schulman that the Giants weren’t looking to add a Major League starter before Hudson’s injury, and that won’t change despite the surgery (Twitter link). However, he did note that the team is always on the lookout for depth, suggesting that a minor league addition or two could come in to serve as a safety net of sorts.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells MLB.com’s Thomas Harding that he’s had trade talks regarding Wilin Rosario, but “nothing that makes sense” for the club (Twitter link). If no deal is reached, Rosario will play some first base for the Rox in 2015, Harding adds. Rosario, of course, has seen the bulk of action at catcher for the Rockies over the past three seasons, but he grades out as one of the game’s worst defenders behind the dish and has reportedly been shopped for much of the winter. Michael McKenry and newly signed Nick Hundley figure to split most of the catching duties in 2015.
  • While the first offseason of A.J. Preller’s tenure as GM has shown the world that the Padres shouldn’t be counted out on any player, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes that the current roster is probably pretty close to what the final product will look like on Opening Day. “Especially on the pitching side,” manager Bud Black told Brock. “I don’t know how much more we can do with the pitching.” Brock writes that an acquisition of Cole Hamels or a signing of James Shields are at best “very remote” possibilities for the Friars at this point.
  • Already having introduced Matt Kemp, the Padres today introduced Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks at a press conference, and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune has some highlights. Preller said today that the addition of these players (and presumably Kemp) “is about trying to build a core group of players. … Guys we feel very good about putting with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and Jedd Gyorko and some of the other Padres players that are hopefully going to build a competitive team here for the next four years.” Norris told reporters he considers it a “privilege” to be part of such a dramatic roster reshaping. “You don’t see very many teams do things like this,” he added. “It’s just a pleasure to be part of it. I think it’s something special.” As Dennis Lin of the U-T tweets, Upton offered a concise take on his new club: “We’re gonna be pretty dadgum good.”