Will Venable Rumors

Stark On Rays, Zobrist, Utley, Cubs, Padres

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and while things figure to get exciting over the next month and change, not everyone is drooling over what might be available.  “To be honest, I don’t see much out there,” an official of one contender told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. “Who’s even selling? And what are they selling? I know there will be guys to trade for. But where’s the quality?”  The whole column is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights from Stark’s latest..

  • The Rays front office believed that they had the talent to win it all this year and that optimism could play into how they approach the deadline.  The Rays aren’t selling and Stark writes that if they believe what they have can power them to a championship next season, they might stand pat and keep the band together.  Teams that have spoken with Tampa Bay see a fire sale as unlikely.
  • The Rays might listen on Ben Zobrist, but one exec who has spoken with the club gets the sense that it would be “really, really difficult” for them to part with him.  The exception to all of this, of course, is David Price.
  • The Phillies are expected to be open for business between now and the deadline, but they might not like the offers that come in.  “Look at their trade chips,” said an NL executive. “Even if they blow it up, dangle [Cole] Hamels and dangle all these other guys, each one of those guys has some reason it will be hard for them to get back what they want.
  • Meanwhile, one exec flatly said a Chase Utley trade is “not happening.”  The sticker price might not be met on Phillies like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins, but teams see Domonic Brown as someone whom the Phillies would like to swap for a different young change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Teams that have spoken with the Cubs expect them to move pitcher Jason Hammel in the next two weeks.  That could just be the warm up for Jeff Samardzija, but they continue to tell teams that they’d like to hammer out a new contract with him.  This week we learned that the Cubs ace rejected a five-year, $85MM+ offer.
  • While some teams are beating around the bush, the Padres are aggressively letting teams know that they want to sell.  All of their outfielders, except Cameron Maybin, are available, and that includes Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable.
  • Several teams report the Dodgers are telling them they’ll listen right now on every one of their outfielders except Yasiel Puig.
  • The Yankees have been asking almost exclusively about starting pitching in their preliminary conversations.
  • Teams that have talked with the Tigers say they’re focused on bullpen upgrades, not shortstop.
  • The Angels are in the bullpen market, but they’re looking hard at left-handed-relief options, not closers.
  • Things are murky around the D’Backs since no one really knows who is in charge their or what their goals are.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the Royals can add payroll, but clubs believe that he won’t get to go-ahead to spend until mid-July.  When and if KC starts buying, they are expected to target right fielders and bullpen arms since that is what they’ve been asking about in conversations.

Notes On Will Venable’s Extension

Yesterday, the Padres guaranteed one of their best players in 2013 would be around in 2014 and 2015 by locking Will Venable up to a two-year deal worth $8.5MM. Venable was already under team control through 2015, so the contract doesn't buy out any free agent years, but it does give San Diego some cost certainty. Here's more on Venable and his extension…

  • Padres GM Josh Byrnes told reporters, including Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, that he began discussing an extension with Venable's agent before Venable's recent surge at the plate. “When I began talking to Will’s agent (Rex Gary) about the extension,” said Byrnes, “Will had 12 homers.” Venable hit his 12th homer of the season on July 23, so talks likely began in late July.
  • Also from Center's piece, Byrnes said he considers Venable to be a "very young 30," because the outfielder didn't get serious about baseball until his sophomore season at Princeton.
  • MLB.com's Corey Brock has video from the press conference announcing the contract, which features quotes from Venable and Byrnes. Venable is happy to have been drafted by the Padres and happy that he switched his focus from basketball to baseball in college. He adds: "Even though [statistically] I haven't consistently been where I want to be, I feel each year I have taken steps toward being the player I want to be, with this year being the biggest step."
  • Eno Sarris of Fangraphs spoke with Venable at length regarding his approach at the plate and in the field. Venable said he hasn't made any drastic changes to his swing plane that would explain the boost in his power output, and he credits his success to staying in a rhythm at the plate. He also modestly says that he considers himself a corner outfielder after playing alongside a "true, elite center fielder" in Cameron Maybin, despite the fact that both UZR and DRS suggest that he's been solid in center. Sarris calls the contract a "no-brainer," noting that Venable has been a two-win player for several years before 2013's breakout.
  • Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune looks at the recent extensions issued by Byrnes and notes that in a best-case scenario, Venable's deal is a bargain, and at worst, he now forms a cost-effective platoon with Chris Denorfia.
  • My own take: It seems that Venable could have earned more on a year-to-year basis, but he chose the immediate security of a guarateed $8.5MM. That's no small sum for a player who had less than $6MM in career earnings entering the season. Venable's contract is one of many low-risk deals that Byrnes has issued since taking over as the Padres' GM and could save the team precious resources as they try to extend Chase Headley this offseason. Even if Venable's bat regresses a bit, his strong defensive track record and excellent baserunning will be more than enough to justify the modest commitment.

Padres Extend Will Venable

The Padres have officially announced a two-year contract extension for outfielder Will Venable. The new contract is reportedly worth $8.5MM and will buy out Venable's final two years of arbitration eligibility and pay him $4.25MM each season. Venable is represented by Rex Gary of Turner Gary Sports.  Venable-Will

Venable, 30, is in the midst of the finest season of his career. The Princeton product and lifetime Padre is batting .273/.315/.503 with a career-high 20 homers and 15 stolen bases (in 20 attempts). Always one to succeed away from Petco Park, Venable is getting the job done in San Diego this season for the first time. It may be due to a small sample or it may be due to Petco Park's new dimensions, but he's slashing .277/.330/.559 with 14 of his 20 long balls at home.

Venable is earning $2.675MM this year after avoiding arbitration for a second time as a Super Two player this past winter. Had he remained this productive in 2014, he likely could have exceeded a guaranteed $8.5MM from 2014-15, but in accepting this deal, Venable has more than doubled his career earnings, which likely made it a worthwhile compromise.

This is the second consecutive September in which Padres GM Josh Byrnes has hammered out an affordable multiyear deal for one of his outfielders. As I pointed out earlier today in examining recent September extensions, the Padres and Chris Denorfia agreed to a two-year, $4.25MM contract last September that looks to be a steal for the Friars now, given Denorfia's strong season at the plate and in the field.

As can be seen in MLBTR's Extension Tracker, the Padres have made a habit of extending their players since Byrnes took over as GM following the 2011 season. In that time, Venable, Denorfia, Carlos Quentin, Huston StreetCory Luebke, Cameron Maybin and Nick Hundley have all signed low-cost multiyear deals, though some have worked out better than others. Byrnes will have his biggest task this offseason as he looks to lock up third baseman Chase Headley just one year prior to his first taste of free agency.

MLB.com's Corey Brock first broke the news of the extension and provided the contract breakdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Padres Avoid Arbitration With Will Venable

The Padres have agreed to a one-year, $2.675MM deal with Will Venable, avoiding arbitration with the outfielder, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  This was Venable's second year of arb-eligibility, and he was projected to earn $2.5MM by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.  Venable is represented by Turner Gary Sports.

The left-handed hitting Venable hit .270/.339/.440 against right-handers last season and hit very well (an .875 OPS) overall away from Petco Park.  He also stole 24 bases in 30 attempts.  Venable, 30, will get the lion's share of at-bats as San Diego's right fielder next season with Chris Denorfia getting some playing time against left-handed pitching. 

With Venable and Kyle Blanks signed to 2013 contracts, MLBTR's Arbtracker tells us that the Padres now have seven remaining arbitration-eligible players: John Baker, Everth Cabrera, Luke Gregerson, Chase Headley, Clayton Richard, Joe Thatcher and Edinson Volquez.


Braves Inquired On Will Venable

The Braves asked the Padres about right fielder Will Venable, only to hear he’s not available, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (all Twitter links). It was reported over the weekend that Atlanta GM Frank Wren seeks depth for the infield and outfield.

The Braves would prefer to add someone who can play center field if they acquire an outfielder, Morosi writes. Venable has MLB experience at all three outfield positions, though he spent most of last season in right field. He has great speed for a right fielder to go along with outstanding range, according to The Fielding Bible Volume III. The Braves are reluctant to trade Kris Medlen for an outfielder, since they value the right-hander’s versatility.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here.  Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing.  Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints.  Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:

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Possible Destinations: Andruw Jones

Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.

The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.

What are some possible destinations?

  • Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
  • Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
  • The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
  • With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
  • And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.

One thing's for sure: those who believed Andruw Jones' career was over- a sad thing for anyone who saw him dominate baseball in his 20s- appear to have been premature.


Padres Fail To Acquire Luke Scott

UPDATE, 12-4-07 at 10:07pm: According to Ken Rosenthal, the Padres and Astros were unable to reach an agreement on Scott.

UPDATE, 12-4-07 at 9:15pm: Talks are ongoing.  Chase Headley and Matt Antonelli won’t be involved, but names like Nick Hundley, Will Venable, Josh Geer, and Wade LeBlanc have been mentioned.

FROM 12-4-07 at 2:39pm:

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Padres are nearing a deal to acquire Luke Scott from the Astros.  No word on the return yet.  I’m curious – Scott seemed like a solid bargain acquisition and it’s no surprise Kevin Towers got him.