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Yasiel Puig Rumors
The Dodgers have informed rival clubs that they would be willing to move outfielder Yasiel Puig “in the right deal,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. Thus far, however, Los Angeles has received more trade inquiries on their higher-end prospects.
Puig was reportedly informed by the team recently that he would not be dealt. At the time, the report (from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com) indicated that the team was not engaged in any trade talks regarding the somewhat controversial, but incredibly talented, 24-year-old.
All said, it still seems unlikely that anything will come together on Puig. He’s not playing up to his prior levels, but still owns a productive .253/.327/.423 slash over 217 plate appearances.
With a meager $4.5MM salary this year and three more years of control remaining for just $19.5MM, Puig’s contract has long looked like one of the game’s best bargains. (He can opt into arbitration once he reaches three years of service, but that would only potentially impact the last two years of the contract, since he entered the season with 1.119 years of MLB service, and any additional raises would obviously reflect his performance.) But his less-than-inspiring play this year and a variety of off-field issues have raised some questions about his true value.
For the Dodgers, parting with a high-end young asset would seem to be a stretch. But the team does have a wide variety of options in the outfield, with Andre Ethier playing at a high level, Joc Pederson emerging as a young star, Carl Crawford finally returning to action, and several strong platoon candidates under control.
Los Angeles figures to make a move for starting pitching, and has been said to be involved in a variety of scenarios. The team is apparently unwilling to part with its best prospects — infielder Corey Seager and pitcher Julio Urias being the two blue-chip pieces — but would surely have to give up young talent to add a quality, controllable arm. Rental arms are also under consideration, of course, and it remains to be seen how the team will proceed.
The Dodgers have told star outfielder Yasiel Puig they will not trade him this summer, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Puig approached the Dodgers about his status amid whispers that he could be traded to the Reds or another team. It is, of course, difficult to say definitively that a player won’t be traded, but a source tells Heyman that the Dodgers currently have no trade talks in the works involving Puig.
The Dodgers have interest in a variety of top starting pitchers, although they’ve been unwilling to deal top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias to land an ace. Puig has had a disappointing (though still productive) season, batting just .259/.335/.434 in 212 plate appearances and missing six weeks due to a hamstring injury. There have also been reports that he’s had conflicts with teammates.
In spite of all that, it would be difficult for the Dodgers to get equivalent value for Puig, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal explained last night. Puig is 24 and is a highly dynamic player who posted 5.3 fWAR last season, and he’s under control at what should be reasonable prices through 2019. By way of explaining why trading Puig would be tough, Rosenthal reports that he heard a rumor that the Dodgers could deal Puig and prospects for Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. Rosenthal points out that would make little sense when one considers Cueto is a rental and Chapman will be a free agent after the 2016 season. Puig has much more value than most veteran players, thanks to his talent, years of control, and cost.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe backed Commissioner Rob Manfred’s optimism about possibly expanding. The last time baseball expanded was in 1998 with the additions of the Rays and D’Backs and Cafardo feels that MLB is due. Manfred recently acknowledged there’s been interest from a few cities, including Montreal (former home of the Expos), Charlotte, and Portland. Cafardo goes on to list other potential spots for expansion franchises, including Vancouver, Las Vegas, Nashville, northern New Jersey, and Brooklyn. Of course, with those last two, there are obvious territorial issues to consider. Here’s more from today’s column..
- If third baseman David Wright doesn’t look like himself when he comes back or if he doesn’t come back at all in 2015, the Mets will give some thoughts to acquiring a pair of hitters. One of those players, Cafardo writes, would likely be a shortstop. There’s currently a feeling in the organization that the Mets will make a move for a hitter in the coming days with pitcher Jon Niese being the outgoing asset.
- There is more and more talk of Yasiel Puig losing popularity with his Dodgers teammates, a major league source tells Cafardo. Puig was once viewed an untouchable player because of his talent, but the new regime does not feel that way at this time. Cafardo wonders aloud if they would move the slugger for a pitcher and pondered him as a match in a Cole Hamels deal with the Phillies.
- There’s “a buzz in the ownership/management community” that chairman Tom Werner could be more involved in the Red Sox‘s day-to-day operations, with president and CEO Larry Lucchino being less involved. Werner’s pace-of-play ideas have worked out well so far and he is being viewed as a more influential figure both in Boston and throughout the game. There have been rumblings of Lucchino losing power in Boston for some time now.
- Former Padres skipper Bud Black has a great relationship with owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia and Cafardo feels that talk of him becoming the Angels‘ GM bears watching.
- Meanwhile, Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak, he writes, may get strong consideration from both the Angels and the Phillies. He worked for Andy MacPhail in baseball’s Labor Relations Department, so he has an in with Philly. MLBTR wrote that Klentak was a strong GM candidate all the way back in 2011.
Dodgers president Andrew Friedman will entertain offers for any player, even Yasiel Puig, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. The right-handed outfielder is under club control through 2019. He’s paid just $4.5MM this season and $5.5MM in 2016. Puig, 24, provides necessary balance to a lineup that will include left-handers Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager. The Dodgers would like to add a top young starter, but it would take an awful lot for Puig to be included in a deal. My own personal spit balling – it would take a starter like Matt Harvey to open a conversation. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- The Royals rotation ranks 13th in the American League in ERA. Rival executives expect the club to acquire starting pitching at the deadline. Kansas City may have a narrow window for contention. Alex Gordon can opt out of his contract after this season. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are under club control through 2017. The club does have Danny Duffy and Kris Medlen on the rehab trail, but setbacks are always possible. Personally, I wouldn’t expect them to seek a top pitcher like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. However, I could see them targeting a guy like Aaron Harang.
- The Rangers could soon find themselves with a surplus of starting pitchers. The club promoted Chi Chi Gonzalez today. Meanwhile, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez are expected to return at some point this season. As Rosenthal points out, setbacks to that trio would not be surprising. Rather than trading a starter, the club might revisit their previous efforts to acquire Hamels. Texas is just one game below .500 entering this evening.
- The Athletics are unlikely to deal ace Sonny Gray. At the end of the season, he’ll have the same amount of service time as Josh Donaldson did last winter. However, the A’s still hope to build a contender – if not this season then next. Gray is key cog for Oakland.
Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles was forced to exit Wednesday evening’s start against the Angels after taking an Albert Pujols line drive off his pitching hand. Twitter reactions indicated that Lyles’ hand became visibly swollen in nearly instantaneous fashion (image via Vic Lombardi of CBS Denver on Twitter). Clearly, the struggling Rockies can ill afford to lose a reliable rotation arm such as Lyles for a significant amount of time. To date, the 24-year-old Lyles has a 4.30 ERA with a somewhat troublesome 21-to-17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings with the Rockies. He’s notched a characteristically strong 49.6 percent ground-ball rate as well. A serious injury would mark the second consecutive season in which a freak injury shelved Lyles, as last year he suffered a fracture in his non-throwing hand while covering home plate.
Here’s more on the Rockies and the rest of the division in what is an injury-tinted look at the NL West…
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post joined Sandy Clough and Scott Hastings of 104.3 The Fan in Denver (audio link) to discuss recent news in which Troy Tulowitzki‘s agent publicly mentioned that he and his client would consider requesting a trade. Saunders touches on the previous unwillingness of Rockies owner Dick Monfort to part with veteran players. Saunders offers a very candid take on his view of the state of the Rockies and how the team has handled Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the past, specifically wondering if the latter of the two has much of any trade value left. (At present, it would seem to me that he has very little, due to the remaining three years on his contract, his injury history and lack of productivity to begin the season.)
- Josh Johnson‘s return from Tommy John surgery had recently been slowed by some soreness, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the oft-injured righty has resumed throwing. The Padres are optimistic that Johnson can soon begin a rehab assignment, Morosi adds. Johnson returned to the Padres on a one-year, $1MM contract this winter after missing the entire 2014 season due to a torn UCL.
- Via FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder (Twitter link), Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said in a recent TV interview that the club is targeting a June 4 return for fallen ace Patrick Corbin, who, like Johnson, underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season.
- Yasiel Puig has experienced a setback in his recovery from a strained hamstring and isn’t expected to join the Dodgers anytime soon, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. An MRI taken Monday revealed that Puig’s hamstring strain has not yet healed, and Mattingly said that it would be “at least a couple weeks” that Puig will remain on the shelf. It seems fair to believe that Puig may be sidelined into June.
- In other Dodgers injury news, righty reliever Pedro Baez was forced to leave tonight’s game after he felt something in his right pectoral muscle, tweets the L.A. News Group’s J.P. Hoornstra. Baez is slated to undergo an MRI tomorrow. He’s been a highly useful member of the Dodgers’ bullpen, entering play Wednesday with a 1.88 ERA and a 19-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings.
- Giants right-hander Matt Cain threw his first bullpen session since his elbow surgery yesterday, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll have another session on Friday and will need three to four in total before moving onto facing liver hitters, Shea adds.
Rafael Soriano needs 32 more games finished to cause his $14MM club option to vest, but the Nationals closer says that vesting option or not, he wants to return to Washington in 2015, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. Soriano would need to get up to the 62-finish mark (a career high) to make it, though with the Nats in a tight pennant race, they’ll undoubtedly need their closer as much as possible down the stretch.
Here’s some more news and notes from around baseball…
- Scouts for the Indians have been told to focus their attention on Rays minor leaguers, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports, and Cotillo wonders if this could suggest that Cleveland is revisiting talks for David Price. Cleveland and Tampa discussed a Price trade during the offseason, as Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, that involved Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar going to the Rays. (Tampa Bay also had interest in Francisco Lindor but the Indians consider Lindor virtually untouchable in any trade.) A new trade package, Cotillo speculates, could be Santana/Salazar for Price and a couple of Rays prospects, hence the Tribe’s interest in scouting Tampa’s farm system.
- Also from Cotillo, the Angels made the same three-year, $15.75MM offer to both Joe Smith and Edward Mujica this past offseason and told both pitchers that the contract would go to whichever accepted first. Smith took the deal first and is enjoying a strong season, even moving into the Halos’ closing job. Mujica, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $9.5MM deal with the Red Sox and has struggled to a 5.45 ERA in 34 2/3 IP.
- The Giants are still without agreements for five of their top 10 draft picks, a situation Cotillo believes could be due to the club devoting their time and draft pool resources to signing first-rounder Tyler Beede, who couldn’t negotiate until after the College World Series.
- Despite the number of recent stars to come out of Cuba, teams are still relying on very little or no scouting information when signing these players, Danny Knobler writes for Bleacher Report. Knobler’s piece explores the future of the Cuban talent pipeline while also delving into the limited data the White Sox and Dodgers, respectively, had when signing Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig to major contracts.
- While the Royals‘ farm system is still considered strong, it is short on prospects ready to help at the Major League level, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Thanks to a few thin drafts, the prospect package sent to Tampa Bay in the James Shields trade and the fact that many of their top prospects of recent years are already in the bigs, “between Omaha and their [Double-A] club, there’s nobody that looks like they’re going to jump up soon as a significant piece,” an AL executive said.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has changed agents, hiring Adam Katz and Andy Mota of Wasserman Media Group, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). As shown in MLBTR's Agency Database, Puig had been represented by Jaime Torres.
As Rosenthal notes, Wasserman represents a host of high-profile players, including fellow Dodgers Hanley Ramirez and Kenley Jansen. The deal that Puig signed out of Cuba carries him through 2018 (his age-27 season), so there is little pressure to begin considering a new deal. Puig does have the ability to trade out his guaranteed salary for arbitration earnings once he's racked up enough service time to qualify. As Puig has only 119 days of service at present, that will likely not occur until the 2017 season.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) says that Mike Napoli would be a strong fit for the Rockies. Renck believes that the Rockies could land Napoli by doling out big dollars on a medium-term deal and suggests last year’s ill-fated three-year, $39MM pact as a starting point. Meanwhile, Colorado also likes cheaper alternative Michael Morse. More from the NL West..
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) that nothing is imminent pitching-wise. Right now he’s only discussing concepts of dollars and years with agents. Sabean added that he would go to three years for the right guy.
- Schulman (link) also spoke with Josh Johnson‘s agent who said that he only discussed a deal for his client with the Giants “in passing.”
- The Dodgers have made outfielders Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford available, but they’re also getting inquiries on Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Of course, of the four, the Dodgers are most reluctant to trade Puig.
Theo Epstein admitted that the Cubs "got a little ahead of ourselves" in signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52MM contract last winter. In response to a fan's question at a season ticket-holders event in Chicago, Epstein said the team “didn’t fully understand the scope of our situation, the overall situation with the timing of our business plan, the timing of our facilities and the timing of our baseball plan." (hat tip to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times). The Jackson signing was seen a surprise move for the rebuilding Cubs and it hasn't worked out thus far, as Jackson posted a 4.98 ERA over 175 1/3 IP in 2013.
Here are some more items as we head into the weekend…
- Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat) that he expects Jackson to be a positive for the Cubs next season, though he noted that the team plans to add more "quality" starting pitching this winter. "Every starting pitcher we acquire is someone we hope is starting Game 1 of the World Series for us," Epstein said.
- The Indians' biggest needs this winter are bullpen pieces and a complementary bat, Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti tells Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link).
- Scott Boras scoffed at projections that Stephen Drew would only find a three-year contract this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. "A three-year deal, for a 30-year-old free agent, really? Are these writers aware of what Elvis Andrus signed for?", Boras asked. The Andrus comparison isn't as entirely outlandish as it first appears, since Andrus' eight-year, $120MM extension with the Rangers is only guaranteed for four years and $62MM since Andrus has opt-out clauses. Still, even that price tag seems quite high — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted Drew for a four-year, $48MM deal this winter and that was with reservations about the fourth year and the draft pick compensation attached to Drew's free agency.
- Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan could be a better catching option for 2014 than Jarrod Saltalamacchia even aside from the financial considerations, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron opines (Twitter links). Hanigan actually has a higher career WAR than Saltalamacchia (8.3 to 6.9) and could be available in a trade, while "Salty" could cost a team around $36MM in free agency.
- The Dodgers should at least consider trading Yasiel Puig, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues. He would certainly net more in a deal than any club's higher-priced outfielders and the Dodgers could be selling high on Puig since it's unclear whether his style of play will age well.
- The Angels don't have much payroll room to make big changes for 2014 but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby thinks the Halos might only need a few tweaks to contend.
- The Tigers aren't likely to re-sign Ramon Santiago, MLive.com's Chris Iott reports, as the team has younger and cheaper utility infield options available. Santiago, 34, has played for Detroit since 2006 and spent 10 seasons overall with the Tigers as a backup or part-time starter in the middle infield.
The Dodgers have made outfielders Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford available, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. While the Dodgers may not yet be actively shopping any of the trio, the message they're putting out to other clubs is, “If you’re interested in one of them, make us an offer."
All three men are signed to expensive multiyear deals so L.A. would certainly have to cover some that money in any deal, a rival executive tells Rosenthal. The executive bluntly says that "none" of the players are particularly desirable since they carry question marks about their durability (Kemp and Crawford), production (Ethier) and age (Crawford is 32).
Rosenthal reported in September that the Dodgers were looking to clear space in the outfield by moving one of these four or even rookie phenom Yasiel Puig. While Puig would easily draw the biggest trade return, Rosenthal sees no chance that he'd be moved, plus L.A. has another young outfielder in Joc Pederson waiting in the minors.
Kemp posted MVP-type numbers in 2011 but has become almost an afterthought due to two injury-plagued years. Kemp hit only .270/.328/.395 in 290 PA for the Dodgers in 2013 and is owed $128MM through the 2019 season, but if L.A. agrees to eat a significant piece of that contract, Kemp's pedigree would surely draw attention on the trade market. Health, obviously, is the major concern about Kemp's future — I'd speculate that a Kemp deal could include a clause adjusting how much salary the Dodgers would cover in relation to how many games Kemp were to play in 2014 or beyond.
Ethier looked like he would be on the move earlier this season due to the lack of space in the Los Angeles outfield and a seeming issue with manager Don Mattingly. The Mets were seen as a logical fit for Ethier given their need for a big outfield bat, and if they don't choose to address that need with a major free agent signing, Ethier could be an option (as could Kemp and Crawford, for that matter). Ethier's inability to his left-handed pitching, however, could send the Mets and other teams looking elsewhere in search of a more reliable everyday option.
Crawford revived his career in 2013 following two disastrous seasons in Boston but still posted modest numbers (.283/.329/.407 in 469 PA, plus 15-for-19 in stolen base attempts) given his salary. The veteran's speed-based game may be on the decline given his age and hamstring problems and thus could have the lowest trade value of the three.