- Cubs Designate Russell, Soriano; Select Contracts Of Cahill, Berry; Recall Baez
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- Giants Still Discussing De Aza, Looking At Infielders
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- Mets Acquire Addison Reed From Diamondbacks
- Mets Claim Marc Rzepczynski On Revocable Waivers, In Talks With Padres
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Wilmer Flores Rumors
If team president Mark Shapiro departs to become president of the Blue Jays, Indians manager Terry Francona would not be likely to exercise an opt-out in his deal, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Francona’s opt-out allows him to leave the organization if Shapiro or GM Chris Antonetti were to leave first. He says he will not use that clause to try to land a job elsewhere. “When I came here, I think I was pretty honest about the fact that I came here because of Mark and Chris,” he says. “Since I’ve been here, my relationship with them has certainly grown, but also with the other people here, to the point where, I guess my point is I would never use that as leverage. That was not the spirit of the way it was written, nor would I use it like that.” Francona is currently in the midst of a deal that will carry him through 2016, at which point a new, two-year deal will kick in. That deal includes team options for 2019 and 2020. Here are more quick notes from around the league.
- David Price was not surprised that the Tigers traded him, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. “Just kind of understanding everything in the organization, not really,” said Price when asked if the deal caught him off-guard. “The Tigers are never sellers. They’re always buyers and they’re always making playoff runs and stuff like that. But at that time, I thought that was probably the best move.” Price describes his last few weeks with the Tigers as “just a weird time” in which it was unclear what direction the team would go at the trade deadline.
- Wilmer Flores has become a “cult hero” to Mets fans, as ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin notes. Flores openly cried upon hearing that he would be traded from the Mets to the Brewers. After the deal that was supposed to send Flores to Milwaukee and Carlos Gomez to New York fell through, the Mets have played brilliantly, and he’s become a symbol to Mets fans who love him for wanting so badly to stay with the team. “If you’re saying it has something to do with it, I don’t know. I can’t tell you,” says Flores about his crying on the field. “But since that day, it’s been really fun. On the road and playing at home, it’s been really fun. I can’t tell you it was because of that.”
As most are aware by now, the Mets and Brewers had agreed to a trade that would’ve sent Carlos Gomez to New York in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, but medical concerns derailed the agreement. Reports last night surfaced to say that Gomez’s hip was the issue, though agent Scott Boras issued an adamant denial to FOX Sports saying that Gomez is healthy and has never seen a hip specialist.
Some additional context to the situation as well as the latest on the trade rumors pertaining to both teams in the wake of the failed deal…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Gomez had an MRI three to four weeks ago for an abductor issue — not a hip issue — and the reports from that test said he had no issues with his abductor or his hip (Twitter link).
- Sherman also spoke to Brewers GM Doug Melvin (All Twitter links), who informed him that while the Mets have concerns over Gomez’s medical records, the Brewers do not. Said Melvin: “I don’t believe Carlos Gomez has a physical issue. Our training staff won best in baseball the last 2 years. We take a lot of pride in that. We don’t think anything is wrong with him besides any nick that happens to any ballplayer.”
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel hears that the ultimate issue in the trade may have been financial. A source tells Haudricourt that the initial scenario being discussed would have sent Juan Lagares to Milwaukee, but the Brewers were hesitant because of a publicly known elbow issue through which he is playing and because of Lagares’ $23MM extension, which kicks in next season. The next iteration of the trade became Wheeler and Flores for Gomez, but the Mets then asked that the Brewers include their 2016 Competitive Balance draft pick, which Milwaukee declined to do. Following that, the Mets asked for cash considerations to be included, but the Brewers were also unwilling to pick up any of the tab. It was at that point that the Mets backed out, citing Gomez’s hip, sources tell Haudricourt. (Sherman heard much of the same — Twitter links — though Haudricourt’s report provides much more context on the matter.)
- The Mets will remain active on the trade market, it seems, and Marc Carig of Newsday hears that the team’s “clear preference” is to get someone who can play center field (Twitter link). Given Lagares’ injury, it makes sense to see the Mets targeting help in that area. I recently broke down the trade market for center fielders, for those wondering what options could be available to New York.
- The Mets aren’t in on the Padres’ Justin Upton, partially due to his status as a half-season rental, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). The Mets would prefer to avoid rental players, he adds, though he does also note that the team has at least checked in with the Tigers on Yoenis Cespedes following the collapse of the Gomez deal.
- It’s unclear where this scenario leaves the Mets in terms of trade direction, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The team likes Gerardo Parra but was also unable to agree on a price point in discussions with the Brewers. New York also likes Jay Bruce, but he doesn’t fit their desire for someone who can handle center field. Bruce has just 285 big league inning in center — all coming in 2008.
9:58pm: The deal is off and won’t occur before the deadline, Mets GM Sandy Alderson tells reporters including Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (via Twitter).
EARLIER: The Mets have acquired Carlos Gomez, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He says the deal is done pending physicals. In exchange for Gomez, the Mets will send right-hander Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee, according to Bob Klapisch (Twitter link).
Now 29 years old, Gomez cut his teeth in the Majors as a 21-year-old with the Mets. Traded to the Twins as part of the 2008 Johan Santana blockbuster, Gomez spent two seasons in Minnesota and delivered mixed results before being flipped to Milwaukee in a one-for-one swap that sent J.J. Hardy to Minneapolis. His first few seasons with the team resulted in more of the same underwhelming results, but Gomez broke out into superstar territory with an explosive 2012 campaign.
That 2012 season saw Gomez bat .260/.305/.463 with a career-high 17 homers and 39 stolen bases to go along with his elite center field defense. Since that time, Gomez has paired a .276/.336/.475 batting line with some of the game’s best center field defense to deliver more than 16 wins above replacement for the Brewers.
7:54pm: The Mets and Brewers are now moving closer to an agreement, Martino reports (Twitter link).
7:47pm: Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter) that if a trade is agreed upon, Juan Lagares is expected to be sent to the Brewers in the swap. Lagares’ name has been “prominent” in talks between the two sides, Passan adds.
7:20pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Brewers have been asking the Mets for one of the team’s “top four” starters (referring to Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz). He adds that it might be tough to finalize the deal without Milwaukee dropping its asking price.
Rosenthal tweets that one scenario which has been discussed would send Wheeler and Flores to Milwaukee.
6:43pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets and Brewers have talked recently and not about Gerardo Parra (All Twitter links). The Mets do like Gomez, he says, but an insider tells him there’s nothing at the finish line yet. Sherman wonders if the Mets value the remaining one and a half years on Gomez’s deal to part with Zack Wheeler, whom Milwaukee likes quite a bit. Sherman also notes that the Brewers like Wilmer Flores, though he wouldn’t be the main piece in any deal.
Rosenthal tweets that the Mets are “working hard” to add a bat, but he was told earlier that the price to acquire him is steep.
6:36pm: The Mets and Brewers have indeed had recent talks regarding Gomez, according to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi (Twitter link), but no deal appears close at this time. The Mets are still looking at other hitters as well, per the FOX Sports duo.
6:10pm: The Mets are “very close to pulling off a big trade,” Marc Carig of Newsday reports on Twitter. There is momentum towards a deal for a “big bat,” Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first connected New York to the chase for a “big bat” earlier today. Adam Rubin of ESPN.com tweeted that the team was working on a fan-pleasing trade.
It seems as if a significant acquisition could be in the works, though it’s entirely unclear who that might be. As we covered in an earlier post, New York has shown interest in the past in Justin Upton of the Padres and Jay Bruce of the Reds, both of whom would certainly qualify as sluggers, though Rubin tweets that Cincinnati seems to be focused on moving pitching. The team is specifically said not to be pursuing the new-to-the-market Yoenis Cespedes, and prior reports indicated the same with regard to Carlos Gonzalez.
Braves assistant GM John Coppolella tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that the club is still working to put a winner on the field at present, though it won’t lose focus of its longer-term needs. “We don’t want to lose 100 games or put our fan base through any type of extended suffering,” he said. “We are trying to walk two parallel roads: making this team better and building for the future. So, it’s one eye on the present and two eyes on the future.” While that means that the club will weigh present needs in considering trades this summer, it still appears unlikely that Atlanta will be a significant buyer. Instead, it seems, the club may not be aggressive in moving veterans if it’s still in playoff contention — an easier decision, perhaps, given that the Braves moved their best shorter-term assets before the season. “When we get to the Trade Deadline, we won’t look to ship out everyone who is on a free-agent contract or everybody who is over the age of 30,” he said. “We’re going to look to make good solid baseball trades that will be made in the best interest of this franchise. I don’t know if we’ll be as active as we have been previously. We’ll see what comes up at the Deadline, but by no means will we totally gut this team.”
- The Mets‘ long-term plans at short probably will not involve Wilmer Flores, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests on Twitter. New York will either fill that slot via trade or turn to 24-year-old Matt Reynolds, who is currently in his second stint at the Triple-A level. Of course, it’s worth noting that the organization has an even younger option in Gavin Cecchini. The 21-year-old is enjoying his best season as a professional at the Double-A level, where he’s slashing .285/.340/.423 over 262 plate appearances.
- The Phillies‘ front office announcement today also revealed something about the club’s ownership situation, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. John Middleton — who owns the single largest stake in the club (48%) — was front and center during today’s press conference, putting a new face on the organization. “We spent $18 million buying our initial interest in this team,” Middleton explained. “We’re a long way from $18 million now, so you have to take a greater role in the team. You have to.”
- Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail emphasized that he is prepared infuse analytics into the organization’s decisionmaking, as Nick Suss of MLB.com reports. With Middleton noting the importance of updating the club’s use of data, including a customized system that the club expects to bring on line in September, MacPhail indicated that his aim is to harness statistical analysis with a focus on the people performing and utilizing it. “The more experience you have with it and the more you get a better sense of which formulas really are predictors of performance and which ones aren’t, it’s something that knowledge accrues over time,” MacPhail said. “But I think it’s absolutely essential that you marry that with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change. Weaknesses get exposed and they get exploited. People make adjustments. So you need to look at every single facet that is possible when you’re making player evaluations.”
Giants GM Bobby Evans has succeeded with subtly bold action, as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes in an interesting feature on the recently promoted executive. If you’re interested in learning how exactly one can make it to the top echelons of baseball decisionmaking without a professional playing career or other “in” to get you there, this is essential reading. Now 46, Evans got his start with an internship, worked in the commissioner’s office, and then jumped on an opportunity to join the San Francisco organization as a minor league administrative assistant. “He was very eager, obviously an intelligent kid, he had the intern experience in Boston and the commissioner’s office, and quite frankly, he was single and wide-eyed and willing to put the hours in,” said former Giants GM and current executive VP of operations Brian Sabean of Evans’s start with the club. “That’s half the battle. You have to be willing to punch the clock, and put up with the demands.” 21 years and a lot of hard work later, Evans was given the general manager’s chair as Sabean moved to a more senior post.
Here’s more from the National League:
- As it investigates Cardinals employees’ improper access of the Astros‘ computer system, the FBI is still working to determine precisely which personnel were responsible for the breach, Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reports. Per the report, the focus is on “a small group of Cardinals employees who specialize in statistical analysis and computer programming and had access to a computer in a residence” in Jupiter, Florida last spring. Given the potential criminal ramifications, several individuals under investigation have obtained representation, which necessarily constrains the fact-finding process. It appears that the intrusion came from a commonly-used computer, as the report indicates that a significant part of the puzzle involves the questions of when and for how long various Cardinals employees were utilizing a single machine around the time that the Astros’ databases were accessed.
- Though a lawsuit against the Cardinals by the Astros is not likely given the league rules barring such an action, and fines are capped at $2MM, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Cards could still face significant financial exposure. Namely, commissioner Rob Manfred could function as an arbitrator to award damages should Houston seek to prove that it suffered harm due to the actions of the St. Louis employees (and the public exposure of the information).
- The Mets shortstop saga may have a new chapter, as the team appears likely to move Wilmer Flores to second base when Daniel Murphy is activated from the DL, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. In that scenario, Murphy would play third (in place of David Wright), while Ruben Tejada would slide in at short for at least some time with Dilson Herrera moving to the bench. Hypothetically, of course, the club could seek an outside addition to take over for Flores while keeping his bat in the lineup at second. But it’s far from clear whether that is a realistic or wise option for the New York front office, particularly with the team sliding of late.
- Chase Utley‘s DL stint for a nagging ankle injury came as something of a surprise to Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. “In my communication with Chase throughout the season about playing he’s always been up and willing to go and no real reports of anything holding him back, so I was a little bit surprised by it in some regards,” Sandberg said. The skipper’s reaction is at least potentially notable because of the delicate situation that seems to be playing itself out in Philly. Sandberg had increasingly turned to Cesar Hernandez at second, but it has remained unclear what strategic direction the organization was taking with Utley, one of the faces of the team’s last great run. The veteran is already halfway (249/500 plate appearances) to triggering a $15MM vesting clause for next year. Given his recent injury history and marked production downturn this year, it would obviously behoove the club to avoid that obligation, but doing so will likely require some deft handling.
Despite shaky defense, Wilmer Flores will remain the Mets starting shortstop, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, one alternative is to trade Daniel Murphy, shift Flores to second base, and promote shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds. The move would instantly upgrade the Mets’ infield defense. Per Rosenthal, the club may prefer to promote Reynolds once David Wright returns to action.
As for trading Murphy, the club may look to acquire a prospect or reliever. Aside from Jeurys Familia and a couple role players, the Mets bullpen has been a little shaky. However, strong starting pitching has allowed the club to hide that shortcoming. New York relievers have thrown the fewest innings of any team. Conversely, their starters lead the league in innings pitched. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- Cubs second base prospect Javier Baez is on an 11-for-22 streak, leading to speculation that he could be promoted. The easiest way to insert him into the lineup would be to move Kris Bryant to the outfield and Baez to third. Since the club is juggling several important future pieces, they’ll want to be careful about how they handle the logjam.
- The Orioles are built to sell with eight players on the 25 man roster set to reach free agency after the season. Don’t expect a fire sale anytime soon. Baltimore is just four games back in a shaky AL East. Owner Peter Angelos is loathe to throw in the towel. He famously nixed a couple trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells during the 1996 season. The club later clawed its way into the postseason. It would seem the Orioles’ woes would have to get a lot worse before Chris Davis and others were shopped.
- Many speculate that Mark Trumbo will be available this summer, however the Diamondbacks have publicly resisted the idea. Per Rosenthal, the club believes they will contend next season once Patrick Corbin and other youngsters solidify the rotation. Trumbo is signed to a $6.9MM contract and has one year of arbitration remaining. Arizona could replace Trumbo with a platoon of David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas.
The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.
Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…
- The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
- Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
- Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
- Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
- Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
- It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
- The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
- In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.
Full Story | 42 Comments | Categories: Alexi Amarista | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Correa | Chicago Cubs | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Didi Gregorius | Hector Rondon | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Juan Uribe | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Noah Syndergaard | Oakland Athletics | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Troy Tulowitzki | Wilmer Flores | Yunel Escobar
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson is expected to miss three to six weeks after receiving good news from his MRI, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Because his hand fracture was “preexisting,” per the report, Johnson will not be out as long as originally feared.
Here’s more from New York and the rest of the NL East:
- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will qualify for ten-and-five rights tomorrow, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Howard downplayed the importance of that fact as regards his contract status, though he rightly noted that it was a worthwhile achievement standing alone. As Lawrence notes, there is little practical effect, as a modification to Jimmy Rollins‘ contract before his trade left Howard with virtually complete no-trade protection regardless.
- Despite a troubling start to the year defensively — he tacked on a seventh error tonight — Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores is in no danger of being replaced, as Rubin reports. The club thinks that the youngster will return to making the routine plays that are giving him fits right now, with GM Sandy Alderson saying that Flores has “plenty of room” to get back on track.
- Dilson Herrera did not do much in his first appearance of the year for the Mets, but New York is already considering what will happen if he’s as good as advertised during his call-up, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The present alignment will feature Herrera at second and Daniel Murphy at third. But when David Wright returns from the DL, something will have to give. GM Sandy Alderson would say only that “the plan” is for Murphy to return to second, adding that “at the moment” there is no movement toward keeping Herrera there. But sources tell Martino that the Mets would be increasingly willing to move Murphy, even for a lesser return and even well before the trade deadline, if Herrera seems ready.
- The Mets will soon face another decision on Cesar Puello, the outfielder whose outright was rescinded earlier in the offseason when he was found to have a back issue that required a DL stint. As ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin explains, Puello is likely to hit the waiver wire again once his rehab stint is finished.
This year will mark the first Spring Training of John Jaso‘s career where he won’t be working out as a catcher, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “It’s definitely going to be different,” says Jaso. “I have no idea. The Big Papi program? I don’t know. … This will be kind of the first time for me.” Topkin notes that the Rays could use Jaso at catcher if there’s an emergency, but he’ll spend most of the season at DH after having concussion issues in each of the last two seasons. The Rays acquired Jaso and two prospects from the Athletics in the Ben Zobrist deal last month, and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said at the time that he wanted to put Jaso “in the best position to succeed.” Potentially preventing injury by moving Jaso out from behind the plate would certainly help with that. The Rays could also use Jaso at first or in the outfield. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- GM Brian Cashman said on WFAN Friday that the Yankees had finished their “heavy lifting” this offseason, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com notes. Previous reporting had indicated that the Yankees might pursue in James Shields, but Cashman’s comments indicate that isn’t the case. As Kuty suggests, the idea that the Yankees won’t be a top bidder for Shields is consistent with their approach to the offseason so far — they re-signed Chase Headley and added Andrew Miller, but they’ve otherwise steered clear of top free agents after adding Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran last offseason.
- Wilmer Flores isn’t listening to criticism about the Mets’ shortstop situation, Matt Ehalt of the Record writes. The Mets didn’t add a shortstop this winter and are heading into the spring with Flores as their likely starter, leading to plenty of second-guessing from commentators and fans. “People doubt a lot of people,” says Flores. “I’m not worried about that. I’m just going to go out and play.” Flores hit .251/.286/.378 last season, but he’s hit well in the high minors, and the Mets like his offensive potential. His defense remains open to question, although UZR has liked his glove work in small sample sizes in his first two partial seasons in the Majors. As Mike Petriello wrote for Fangraphs last month, concerns about the Mets’ shortstop situation might be somewhat misplaced. The position is weak throughout the Majors, and Steamer projects Flores will be the 19th most valuable shortstop by WAR in the big leagues in 2015, ahead of some of the top options available this offseason, like Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew.