Yasmani Grandal Rumors

NL Notes: Posey, Cabrera, Phillies, Braves, Grandal

With Derek Jeter‘s retirement and the Giants playing in their third World Series in five years, Buster Posey should be the next face of baseball. That’s the theme of separate articles by ESPN’s Jayson Stark and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Starks believes Posey is comparable to Jeter in making his team a perennial World Series contender with an understated, but intently competitive manner, the flowing awards and accolades, and his ability to move merchandise. Sherman theorizes Posey hasn’t already assumed Jeter’s mantle because of the position he plays, the market in which he plays, and a lack of a seminal playoff moment.

Here’s more news and notes from the National League:

  • It will be tough for other teams to copy “the Giants Way” because the Giants themselves can’t explain their success, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “That’s a tough question to answer,” General Manager Brian Sabean said. “Things develop over time.” Time has been on the Giants’ side, notes Shaikin, as Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball and his top lieutenants (Dick Tidrow and Bobby Evans, who told Shaikin he has never been interviewed for a GM opening) have been with the organization for two decades.
  • Earlier today, MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera will land a three-year, $27MM contract in free agency. CSNWashington’s Mark Zuckerman posits Cabrera’s best days are possibly behind him, so the Nationals’ interest will be based on whether there are better options available either via free agency or on the trade market.
  • The Phillies should have at least $20MM in payroll space this offseason which should be enough for a major signing or a few mid-level signings, provided they are committed to winning in 2015, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. A.J. Burnett declining his $12.75 option and dealing Antonio Bastardo and/or Domonic Brown could increase that amount, Seidman adds.
  • Braves President John Schuerholz indicated to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) the club’s first choice to be their full-time GM is John Hart; however, he will not force the timeline.
  • The first home run of the Dominican Winter League was hit by the PadresYasmani Grandal. Now a full season away from his 50-game suspension for an elevated testosterone level and knee surgery and possessing excellent plate discipline (13.1% walk rate in 2014), Grandal can become a breakout offensive force for the Padres in 2015, opines the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
  • The Dodgers are in good hands with Andrew Friedman aboard, writes Peter Gammons for Gammons Daily.

A-Rod, 12 Others To Be Suspended Monday

Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players will be suspended for their involvement with Biogenesis, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Earlier today, we learned Rodriguez is to be suspended through the 2014 season and Heyman names Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli among the Major League players also expected to be suspended, as well as minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, and Cesar Puello. Heyman adds there are also three players on the suspension list whose names have yet to become public.

Heyman writes Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, A's right-hander Bartolo Colon, and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal will not be suspended in connection with Biogenesis, as they have served 50-game penalties already. 

All or almost all of the other 12 players are expected to accept 50-game suspensions, though there could be an additional holdout or two for appeal beyond Rodriguez, reports Heyman. All the players have the option to appeal, but it is believed close to all of them have made agreements for 50-game bans with MLB, Heyman adds. Players who appeal are eligible to keep playing until their case is heard.

Cruz told reporters, including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, "I haven't decided what I'm going to do about anything. It's not just about myself, it's also about the team." Today is the 112th game played by the Rangers, so Cruz would be eligible to return for the playoffs (assuming Texas reaches the post-season), if he serves a 50-game suspension beginning Monday. Sullivan surmises the Rangers will recall an outfielder from the minors adding Manny Ramirez is not an option and manager Ron Washington is reluctant to use Jurickson Profar in the outfield. Regardless of what the Rangers end up doing, assistant GM Thad Levine acknowledges, "At this stage of the season, that's a difficult bat to replace."


MLB Preparing 50-Game Suspensions In Biogenesis Case

12:33am: Cruz has not decided whether he will serve his suspension or appeal it, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter).

7:17pm: Major League Baseball is preparing 50-game suspensions for Biogenesis-linked players who have not been disciplined in the past, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Players such as Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Jesus Montero and Francisco Cervelli are among those facing these 50-game suspensions, as are minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Cesar Puello and Fautino de los Santos. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that the vast majority of players connected to these 50-game suspensions — including playoff contenders Cruz and Peralta — are believed to be willing to accept the punishment rather than file appeals. Doing so will allow suspended players to play toward the end of September and into the playoffs, though their teams would be at a significant disadvantage down the stretch

Passan also tweets that MLB has threatened to double the penalty for players who do not cooperate with the suspensions, making cooperation a much more appealing option. Additionally, he adds that players who lied during the investigation could receive an additional 15 games on their suspensions, similar to Ryan Braun's case (Twitter link).

Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal are not likely to receive additional suspensions, having already served 50-game bans, according to Heyman. Both Heyman and Passan agree that Alex Rodriguez remains firm in his refusal to cooperate with a deal, as was reported earlier today. MLB would like Rodriguez to serve a suspension through the 2014 season but could pursue a lifetime ban if he does not cooperate.



MLB Preparing To Suspend At Least 20 Players In Biogenesis Scandal

9:46pm: Besides Braun and Rodriguez, "other major, major names" are also involved in the Biogenesis case, a source tells Bob Klapsich of the Bergen Record (Twitter link).

6:56pm: Major League Baseball is planning to suspend at least 20 players connected to Biogenesis, the Miami clinic under investigation for supplying performance-enhancing drugs, reports T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez and Mike Fish of ESPN's Outside The Lines.  Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and begin naming players, with suspensions possibly following within two weeks.

The list of possible suspensions includes Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez, Everth Cabrera, Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto, plus others who are named in documents that the ESPN team haven't had access to, or are known under code names.

MLB officials have also investigated a possible connection between Biogenesis and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, as the spokeswoman for Cano's foundation (Sonia Cruz) has had her name appear in some clinic documents.  Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez isn't expected to face suspension for his connection to Biogenesis since the products he obtained from the clinic weren't banned.

The league could look for a 100-game suspension (the penalty for second-time PED offenders) for Rodriguez, Braun and other first-time offenders since both the connection to Biogenesis and previous denials to MLB officials would serve as seperate offenses.  It is unknown how MLB would deal with players like Cabrera or Colon who already have PED suspensions on their record, though these players probably wouldn't face a lifetime ban as three-time offenders — their prior suspensions would likely count as their so-called "first strike," with this next violation putting them in line for 100-game suspensions as well.

Quinn/Gomez/Fish report that, as expected, the accused players will challenge any possible suspensions and it could be difficult for the league to obtain corroborating evidence in the appeals process beyond Bosch's testimony.


Transaction Retrospection: The Mat Latos Trade

The Reds used only six starting pitchers last season — an unheard of feat these days that serves as a testament to the quality and durability of their rotation. Todd Redmond was the only pitcher outside of the Reds' top five arms to make a start, and he made exactly one. Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Mat Latos combined to start the other 161 games. Each of those right-handers has been with the Reds organization since 2009 with the exception of Latos, who was acquired from the Padres in December 2011.

Latos never appeared on a Baseball America Top 100 list, but he wasted little time establishing himself as a front-line starter in San Diego. From 2010-11, he led the Padres staff by compiling 379 innings of 3.21 ERA ball with 8.9 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.

Latos' name had scarcely appeared on the rumor mill prior to December 17, when Ken Rosenthal broke the news that he'd been traded to the Reds. Cincinnati wound up paying a hefty price for four years of Latos by dealing prospects Yonder Alonso (24 at the time), Yasmani Grandal (22) and Brad Boxberger (23) as well as starter Edinson Volquez to the Padres. Let's examine each player in the deal and see how this one looks today…

The Major League Side

  • Mat Latos: Latos instantly became one of the Reds' top two starters alongside Johnny Cueto, and his first season didn't disappoint. Many questioned whether Latos, who is more of a fly-ball pitcher, could succeed in the confines of Great American Ball Park. LatosLatos answered them by pitching to a 3.48 ERA in 209 1/3 innings. He whiffed 185 batters against just 64 walks and allowed homers at a league-average rate (1.07 HR/9). Latos was forced into action in Game 1 of the NLDS following an injury to Cueto and delivered four brilliant innings of relief, but he was unable to replicate that magic in his second appearance. So far this season, the former 11th round pick has a 1.83 ERA with 37 strikeouts and eight walks in 39 1/3 innings so far. He signed a two-year, $11.5MM contract in the offseason that bought out his first two years of arbitration. Assuming another successful two seasons, he'll likely earn well over $10MM in his final year of arbitration eligibility, although the Reds could pursue a long-term contract extension that would delay his free agency. Fangraphs pegs Latos' value to the Reds at 4.0 wins above replacement to this point.
  • Yonder Alonso: Alonso was the No. 33 prospect in the game and the Reds' No. 3 prospect at the time of the deal, according to Baseball America. His first season with the Friars could be considered a disappointment by some due to his lack of power, but the former No. 7 overall pick was still an above-average bat (109 OPS+) thanks to a .278/.348/.393 batting line. He's already homered four times in 2013 after hitting just nine in 2012, so it seems that the alterations to Petco Park's dimensions and another year of experience have done the young slugger some good. Under team control through 2017, the Padres are counting on Alonso to be the first baseman for San Diego's next contending team. So much so, in fact, that they traded Anthony Rizzo less than a month after acquiring Alonso in the Latos deal.
  • Yasmani Grandal: The No. 53 prospect in baseball and No. 4 in the Reds' system at the time of the deal (per BA), Grandal burst onto the scene as the Padres' everyday catcher last season. After raking to the tune of a .335/.443/.521 line in Triple-A, he hit .297/.394/.469 in 60 games for the Padres. That line would be impressive enough for any rookie, but it's particularly impressive for a catcher who spent half his time hitting at Petco Park. Of course, Grandal was slapped with a 50-game suspension this offseason due to an elevated testosterone level, so he has yet to join Alonso in the middle of the Pads' lineup.
  • Edinson Volquez: Volquez's inclusion in the deal gave the Padres an experienced Major League arm to immediately fill Latos' void in their rotation. Volquez came with upside, as he was three years removed from a 3.9 WAR season. He didn't come close to that level, but he did provide 1.1 WAR by hurling 182 2/3 innings of 4.14 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate. He's been worse in 2013, though he did turn in a good start today. The 29-year-old Volquez, who was once traded for Josh Hamilton, will be eligible for free agency following the 2013 season.

The Prospect Side

  • Brad Boxberger: Only Boxberger can still be considered a "prospect" in this deal, and that's a bit of a stretch as he appeared in 24 games for the Padres last season. He still has rookie eligibility, however, and was ranked 15th among Padres' prospects by BA and 18th by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Boxberger had a strong 2.60 ERA and 10.7 K/9 for the Padres in 2012, but he walked 18 batters in 27 2/3 innings and also hit two. BA writes that Boxberger's fastball sits 91-93 mph and tops out at 95 with hard cutting action. He favors his changeup heavily over his slider, and BA notes the Reds would like to see him incorporate the third pitch more often. Mayo feels that Boxberger has the stuff to eventually succeed as the Padres' closer, provided he can improve his command issues — a feat which he did achieve in Triple-A last season (3.9 BB/9).

Overall, this trade has the makings of a win-win deal. Volquez has provided little value, but he was also the least significant part of the trade for the Padres, given his lack of team control. San Diego GM Josh Byrnes secured three prospects that he can control through at least the 2017 season in exchange for an established arm that will be in Cincinnati through the 2015 campaign. Based on the early results, Alonso and Grandal look like they will be mainstays in a rebuilding Padres lineup, and Boxberger has the chance to become at least a serviceable middle reliever with upside for more.

Latos has already played a role in giving Cincinnati one of Major League Baseball's best rotations, and given his age, he may have more to offer as his prime years set in. Reds GM Walt Jocketty couldn't have been thrilled about the concept of parting with Alonso and Grandal, but the Reds already had Joey Votto at first base and felt confident that Devin Mesoraco could become their everyday catcher. That hasn't happened yet, but Mesoraco is still just 24 years of age and catchers often take longer to develop offensively. Unlike some of the other trades I've examined in this series, both the Reds and Padres have plenty to feel good about following this swap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Yasmani Grandal Suspended 50 Games

Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal as been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a high testosterone level, the team announced.

"We were disappointed to learn of the suspension of Yasmani Grandal for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program," said the team in a statement. "We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing drugs from our game.  Per the protocol outlined by Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, we will not comment further on this matter.” 

Grandal, 23, hit .297/.394/.469 with eight homers in 226 plate appearances for San Diego last season, his first taste of the big leagues. He was acquired from the Reds in the Mat Latos trade. Grandal was slated to be the team's starting catcher next year, potentially freeing Nick Hundley up for a trade. Those plans — as well as a decision to potentially non-tender John Baker — may have to change.


Quick Hits: Forbes, Padres, Felix, Athletics

Forbes Magazine calculates the Yankees (unsurprisingly) as the most valuable franchise in baseball, worth an estimated $1.85 billion.  The second-place team on the list are (somewhat surprisingly) the Dodgers at $1.4 billion, up nearly 75% in value from last year as Forbes predicts the team's forthcoming sale and new TV contract will return it to top-tier status.  The Forbes list also reveals which teams lost value from last year and which didn't turn a profit in 2011, as well as looking at how cable TV deals are changing the economics of the game.

Some other news from around the majors…

  • Yasmani Grandal is happy that Padres teammate and fellow catcher Nick Hundley received a contract extension but isn't worried that Hundley's deal impacts his own future with the club, reports Dan Hayes of the North County Times.  "It doesn't matter if somebody got a deal or not. You never know what could happen," Grandal said.  "They could get traded or you could get traded. I'm not only playing for one organization. I'm playing for the 29 others that are out there. That's one way I see it, and if it's not meant to be it's not meant to be. If I don't make it to the big leagues with this club I can make it with any other team."
  • Hundley's reasonable contract could make him a strong trade candidate, opines Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, who the Padres could deal this summer if Grandal has a strong first half at Triple-A.
  • Felix Hernandez says he is asked about his future with the Mariners in almost every interview, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, and joked he might hang a banner reading "I'm not going anywhere" over his locker.
  • The Athletics are thus far very pleased with the four prospects (Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Derek Norris) they received from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade, reports Jeff Fletcher for the Washington Times.
  • Matthew Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
  • Vernon Wells thinks the Blue Jays could make "exceptions" to their policy of not offering contracts longer than five years, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  Ironically, Wells' seven-year, $126MM deal with Toronto in 2006 is no doubt a major reason why the current Jays management team has adopted this policy.
  • Some newly-hired bench bosses make FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal's annual list of managers on the hot seat, including Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Valentine.

Reds Acquire Latos For Alonso, Grandal, Volquez

The Reds wanted to boost their rotation this winter and the club wasn't afraid to part with a great deal of talent in order to get their man in Mat Latos.  The Reds acquired Latos from the Padres this afternoon for Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger.

Latos turned 24 just over a week ago, but already has more than two full seasons under his belt.  From 2010-11, the right-hander accumulated a 3.21 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and a 43.7% groundball rate.  Both FIP (3.09) and SIERA (3.33) like Latos quite a bit, and he's not arbitration eligible until after the 2012 season.  The promising young hurler will pair with Johnny Cueto atop the Reds' rotation.

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Alonso, who turns 25 early next season, turned heads with an explosive showing toward the tail end of 2011. He hit .330/.398/.545 down the stretch, albeit in a small sample size of 98 plate appearances. The Reds took Alonso seventh overall in the 2008 draft, and he's ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects each of the past three seasons. He's trended in the wrong direction, however, ranking 35th, 45th, and 73rd, respectively, from 2009-2011. In 192 Triple-A plate appearances, he owns a .296/.364/.478 triple slash line.

It's unclear as of yet where the Padres view Alonso fitting in, as they also have Anthony Rizzo as a first base option. Rizzo, 22, is considerably younger than Alonso, so it's possible that his struggles in the Majors have the Friars convinced he could use a full season of work in Triple-A, or he himself could become a trade chip. San Diego could also slot Alonso into a corner outfield spot, although scouts agree he's better suited for first base.

Volquez, 28, broke out in his first year with the Reds in 2008 but has not enjoyed the same success since that season.  Thanks to an elbow injury in 2009 and a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs in 2010, the right-hander logged just 112.1 big league innings during that two-year span.  Last season, Volquez turned in a 5.71 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 across 20 starts.  Volquez is arbitration eligible for the second time and will be a free agent after the 2013 campaign.

Grandal, who turned 23 last month, shot up the charts this season by hitting .305/.401/.500 and reaching Triple-A as a 22-year-old. Baseball America ranked him fourth among Reds prospects heading into 2012, writing that he projects as an above average offensive catcher with solid defense. "He has a balanced approach, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field… [he] still has work to do on his receiving and could use a full year in Triple-A."While it's difficult to give up a catcher with that kind of minor league production, the Reds also have Devin Mesoraco, and likely felt they were dealing from a position of depth.

Boxberger ranked 10th on the Cincy farm, according to BA. He struggled with his command all season but still posted a 2.03 ERA in 62 minor league relief innings. He walked 4.1 per nine innings but posted a whopping 13.5 K/9. BA writes that if he can control his pitches like he did in the Arizona Fall League this year, he projects as a setup man and possibly a closer.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted that Latos was headed to Cincinnati in a deal involving Alonso.  Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted that Volquez was also headed to San Diego in the deal.

Photo courtesy of Tony Medina/Icon SMI.


NL Central Rumors: Lee, Soriano, Cardinals, Brewers

The latest on several NL Central teams…

  • The Reds are talking about a lot of trade possibilities and talking about a whole range of players, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  It is a possibility the Reds use Yonder Alonso as a trade piece to fix other needs, manager Dusty Baker told Jim Bowden on MLB Netowrk Radio.  Baker indicated the Reds will keep prospects Yasmani Grandal and Devin Mesoraco, as well as star first baseman Joey Votto.
  • The Reds outrighted lefty Jeremy Horst, dropping their 40-man roster count to 39, according toMLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the Astros are letting teams know Carlos Lee is out there.  Lee, 35, is owed $18.5MM for 2012 and has ten-and-five rights.  A source close to the Astros' ownership tells Stark interim GM David Gottfried has autonomy to make trades this week.
  • Speaking of mistakes from the 2006-07 offseason, the Cubs are getting a bit of interest in left fielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  Soriano, 35, is owed $54MM through 2014 and has a full no-trade clause.  I think the Cubs would have to eat over $40MM to move Soriano.
  • World Series revenue is not a game-changer for the Cardinals, owner Bill DeWitt Jr. told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the team's payroll is expected to remain around $110MM.  The Cardinals have about $80MM committed to eight players under contract for 2012.
  • The Brewers are in on everyone at several positions, including shortstop and third base, but are not down the road at all on any of them, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  The Brewers are also known to be actively seeking relief help.

Reds To Sign Yasmani Grandal

The Reds will sign first-round catcher Yasmani Grandal to a major league deal worth $2.99MM, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Jon Heyman of SI.com also hears that Grandal will sign for $2.9MM (Twitter link). The University of Miami product becomes the first 2010 draftee to sign a major league deal and will receive a 40-man roster spot.

Grandal, still just 21, played on the 2009 USA Baseball national team. The Red Sox drafted him in the 27th round of the 2007 draft, but he did not sign.

Now 14 first-round picks remain unsigned.