Yasmani Grandal Rumors

Padres Acquire Matt Kemp

The NL West blockbuster between the Dodgers and Padres is finally a reality and outfielder Matt Kemp is on his way to the Padres.  The two teams officially announced the five-player trade that will send Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz to San Diego, with the Dodgers receiving catcher Yasmani Grandal, righty Joe Wieland, and pitching prospect Zach Eflin. The Dodgers will also include $32MM to help cover the $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract, which runs through 2019.

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The two teams agreed to the trade over a week ago but, with so many moving parts involved, things naturally took a while to be finalized.  The Commissioner’s Office has to approve the deal given the large amount of money involved, the Dodgers’ other pending trade of Jimmy Rollins also played a role (as Elfin is widely-rumored to be flipped to the Phillies in that deal) and all of the players had to take physicals.

This last point might’ve been the main holdup, as Kemp’s physical revealed arthritis in both hips, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.  The Padres asked the Dodgers to add more than $32MM in the deal but L.A. refused, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported, and the trade went through as originally planned.

The deal gives the Padres a big bat and star power for their offense, which produced just 535 runs last year, a poor total even in the tough hitting environment in San Diego. The team lost out on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas earlier this offseason, but Kemp, who hit .287/.346/.506 with the Dodgers in 2014, gives the Padres the dynamic offensive player they were hoping for. He’ll need to stay healthy, however — he missed significant time in 2012 and 2013 with a series of injuries, and he turned 30 in September. Kemp, who has struggled defensively in center field in recent years, could take one corner outfield spot for the Padres, with Seth Smith in the other. For the Dodgers, the deal clears salary and space in the outfield, where they also have Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke.

Federowicz, 27, should help the Padres compensate for the loss of Grandal. He has five seasons of team control remaining and is coming off a strong year in a good hitting environment at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he batted .328/.383/.555 in 329 plate appearances. He struggled, however, in a small sample of 78 plate appearances at the big-league level. He’ll likely share the Padres’ catching duties with Rene Rivera, whose unexpectedly strong season in 2014 gave the Padres a bit of flexibility at catcher.

Grandal, 26, will join A.J. Ellis in manning the catching position with the Dodgers. He hit .225/.327/.401 for San Diego last season and got good marks for his pitch framing. The latter characteristic is surely attractive to Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman, who employed framing specialist Jose Molina in Tampa Bay and tried to sign another excellent framer, Russell Martin, for the Dodgers earlier this offseason. Grandal also hit 15 home runs in 2014, a solid total for a young catcher, especially in PETCO Park. He can become eligible for arbitration next offseason and eligible for free agency after 2018.

Wieland, 24, had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and took a long time to recover, but he finally made it back to the Majors in September 2014. He posted good numbers coming through the minors (mostly in the Rangers system), but doesn’t have outstanding stuff and probably profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

The Padres drafted the 20-year-old Eflin (whose inclusion in the deal is not yet entirely certain) in the first round in 2012 out of high school. He posted a 3.80 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 128 innings with Class A+ Lake Elsinore in 2014.

The trade was just one of several major transactions for the Dodgers during a frenzied Winter Meetings.  Los Angeles also sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami in a seven-player deal, acquired second baseman Howie Kendrick from the Angels, signed righty Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal and agreed to acquire Rollins from the Phillies.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the deal was close. Dennis Lin and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the deal was finalized. Heyman reported (Twitter links) the final terms of the deal. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Padres Still Pursuing Kemp; O’s, M’s, Rangers Out

TODAY, 3:27pm: The Mariners and Rangers are also out on Kemp, Heyman tweets.

2:20pm: The Orioles are out on Kemp, sources tell Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore had concerns with Kemp’s long-term health and talks went nowhere after the Dodgers asked about young pitchers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.

1:20pm: Another name that has come up is 20-year-old righty Zach Eflin, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Wisler is not going to be included in any deal, Rosenthal now tweets, though righty Joe Ross could be.

12:05pm: The sides are still working hard on a deal and have made progress, tweets Rosenthal. Los Angeles is looking for another quality piece in addition to Grandal, with strong pitching prospect Matt Wisler being a “possibility,” per Rosenthal.

YESTERDAY, 10:53am: The talks have run “hot and cold,” a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. San Diego does have focused interest in Kemp, though Justin Upton could be an option as well. (Twitter links.)

10:27am: The Padres are the team that is most likely to land Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp via trade, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Recent reports had tied the two clubs in talks.

San Diego’s current offer includes Yasmani Grandal and another player, reflecting the prior reporting of FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that the backstop was in play. The talented 26-year-old would provide a platoon option with upside for the Dodgers.

Of course, with the Padres in the lead it still remains an open question just how likely Los Angeles is to move its star and, if so, how much money it is willing to eat on his contract. His market is complicated by the fact that several other right-handed power bats are available.


NL West Notes: Ethier, Grandal, Gregorius, D-Backs

While Andre Ethier took his transition to a bench role in 2014 in stride and without complaint, he told Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times that he’s communicated to the Dodgers, through his agent, that he wants to start in 2015, even if it means moving to another club. “It didn’t work,” said Ethier. “Let’s do something different. That’s the way I look at it. And I think a lot of people probably look at it that way, too.” Ethier explained to Dilbeck that he felt the 2014 Dodgers were well-positioned to win the World Series, and he didn’t want to “add another wrench” and complicate matters for the team by griping about playing time. Ethier continued, “I’d rather play every day and help this team win — or whatever team it is — to the best of my ability. I feel I can, if given a role. As I stand here today, I’m preparing every day to be a starting outfielder for the Dodgers, until I’m told otherwise.” Ethier is still owed $56MM over the next three seasons, so the Dodgers would likely have to include a significant amount of cash to offset that commitment for an acquiring club.

Here’s more on the National League West…

  • Yasmani Grandal may have more trade value than any Padres player at this point, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. As Lin notes, the market is flooded with pitching options but thin on quality catchers, and the Padres have a capable alternative in Rene Rivera, whom the coaching staff and pitchers love. In a second tweet, however, Lin quotes a Major League talent evaluator who feels it’s “quite a risk” to move the 26-year-0ld switch-hitter given his age, position and upside. Grandal is not yet arbitration eligible (he will be next winter) and has four years of team control remaining.
  • Didi Gregorius is headed to the Yankees following this morning’s three-team trade with the Tigers, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Yankees first tried to engage the D-Backs directly by offering Shane Greene (who is headed to Detroit in the that three-team deal) for Gregorius. However, the D-Backs weren’t interested in that swap, prompting the Yankees to reach out to the Tigers to help facilitate the move.
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Diamondbacks have narrowed the search for a new scouting director down to two names: Nationals special assistant Deric Ladnier and Reds national crosschecker Mark Snipp. Ladnier, who has previously served as a scouting director for the Royals, is expected to get the job, according to Heyman.


Latest On Padres’ Talks For Matt Kemp

The Dodgers and Padres are in continued discussions on the possibility of a Matt Kemp trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). One scenario that has been discussed would have Yasmani Grandal headed to the Dodgers (among other pieces, presumably) with Kemp and some cash headed back to the Friars. However, Rosenthal is also careful to note that the Dodgers are still discussing Kemp with multiple clubs, and a deal with the Padres isn’t necessarily any more likely than it is with a different team yet.

The Padres have made a number of attempts to add an impact bat to their ranks this offseason but have fallen short in pursuits of both Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas. They were also linked to Adam LaRoche before he signed with the White Sox. Adding impact  bats on the open market is difficult for the Padres due to the fact that Petco Park is known to greatly suppress offense and perhaps also due to the team’s poor finishes over the past four seasons (eight or more games under .500 in each).

The remaining five years and $107MM on Kemp’s contract is a likely hurdle the Dodgers will need to overcome in any deal, but it’s in the same ballpark as the Padres’ offer to Sandoval, and as Rosenthal said, the Dodgers can kick in some cash to ease the contractual burden. Kemp has also been recently linked to the Orioles and Mariners, though the most recent indication was that Baltimore had gotten “nowhere” in talks for Kemp.

Grandal, on the other hand, is said to be among the Padres’ top trade chips, and the team is reportedly pushing him more aggressively than fellow backstops Rene Rivera and Austin Hedges. In the event that Grandal is traded, I’d expect the Padres to look at additional catchers (or perhaps take on the contract of A.J. Ellis, should a deal with the Dodgers be struck), as Hedges likely needs further minor league seasoning.


Dodgers Notes: Outfielders, Ogando, Non-Tenders

The Orioles, Padres and Mariners have shown interest in Matt Kemp, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, one source tells Heyman that Baltimore has gotten “nowhere” in trade talks with Los Angeles. The Padres have spoken to the Dodgers about Kemp, and while the Dodgers may have some interest in top catching prospect Austin Hedges, Heyman feels San Diego is more inclined to move Rene Rivera or Yasmani Grandal. The Mariners may not have the budget after signing Nelson Cruz and extending Kyle Seager. Generally speaking, Heyman hears from rival executives that the Dodgers still seem reluctant to pull the trigger on any Kemp deal.

More Dodgers notes…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at how much money the team would have to eat to move Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. Rosenthal estimates each player’s market value and notes that teams aren’t going to part with prospects for the right to pay an overpaid player at his true market rate. Rather, the Dodgers will need to pay down additional millions of dollars, meaning that a player like Ethier, in Rosenthal’s estimation, could need to be accompanied by as much as $30-36MM to facilitate the deal.
  • The Dodgers will take a look at recently non-tendered right-hander Alexi Ogando, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (Twitter link). However, as Saxon notes, Ogando figures to draw interest from many clubs. The righty is rehabbing from an elbow injury but has previously proven himself to be a capable starter or reliever.
  • In a more general sense, Saxon spoke with GM Farhan Zaidi (Twitter link), who noted that there are a lot of pitchers with high ceilings that were non-tendered as they rehab from injuries, and the Dodgers will look into those arms to see if there’s a match. Among the top names from the non-tender class include now-former Braves righties Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy (as well as Ogando).

Padres Marketing Grandal More Aggressively

The Padres are becoming more aggressive in marketing catcher Yasmani Grandal on the trade market, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Previous reports have indicated that the interest in San Diego catchers is strong, with Grandal, Rene Rivera and top prospect Austin Hedges all said to be generating calls.

The 26-year-old Grandal had a slow start to his 2014 campaign but finished quite strong with a .242/.356/.440 batting line in 222 second-half plate appearances. Despite playing his home games in the pitchers’ haven that is Petco Park, Grandal swatted 15 homers, tying him for eighth in the league among backstops. He also rates as a solid pitch-framer, though ESPN’s Keith Law (who also hears that San Diego has become more aggressive in trying to move Grandal) tweets that he still has work to do on his receiving skills, as Padres pitchers preferred throwing to Rivera.

Grandal is controllable through the 2018 season. The switch-hitting former top prospect has yet to string together a consistent run of success in the Majors, but he has the talent to do so and should be an attractive trade chip in an offseason environment that is exceptionally thin on catching options. While Hedges isn’t ready to take over as the everyday catcher just yet, Rivera’s surprising emergence last season likely makes it easier to shop Grandal. The team doesn’t necessarily need to move him, but it’s possible that the Friars feel Grandal’s value is near its peak due to his strong finish, his remaining team control and the dearth of available catching options. Moving Grandal appears to be be a more palatable option than entertaining offers for controllable arms such as Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner.

Some teams that have been linked to catching upgrades include the White Sox, Dodgers and Cubs, and the Rockies are known to have been looking for improved catcher defense as well. The Cubs do have Welington Castillo behind the dish, and I’m personally of the mind that they were interested in Russell Martin specifically rather than catching upgrades in general


NL West Notes: Tomas, Padres Backstops, Kemp, Giants

The Giants were the runners up in the pursuit of Yasmany Tomas, who earlier today reportedly agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks, according to a Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). For their $68.5MM, Arizona is getting a player with undeniable upside, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes after speaking with three scouting sources.

  • The Padres are receiving a “ton of inquiries” on backstops Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, and Austin Hedges, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Each member of that trio has his own particular appeal, along with factors that hold down their trade value.
  • In other Padres news, Rosenthal notes (Twitter links) that he has received additional confirmation that San Diego had engaged with talks on Matt Kemp with the Dodgers. He hastens to add that these discussions were not “that recent” and that nothing is close to getting done, as the Friars continue to turn over a number of rocks in search of upgrades after missing on Pablo Sandoval and Tomas. Los Angeles would presumably have interested in arms and catching were talks to move forward.
  • The Giants will indeed seek to apply the money they hoped to spend on Sandoval or Tomas toward another top-end free agent, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning (before the Tomas signing was reported). As reported yesterday, the club is opening a broad search for a way to bolster its roster, aided by a bloated purse from winning the team’s third World Series in five seasons.

West Notes: Ethier, Andrus, Rangers, Padres

The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.

In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:

  • Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
  • Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
  • The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

West Notes: Mariners, Cruz, Padres, Haren

The latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • The Mariners have had conversations with Nelson Cruz and his agent since the start of the offseason, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. According to Morosi, Seattle does not have a club policy against signing players with past PED suspensions. A recent report stated that the team backed off of Cruz last year because of his recent Biogenesis situation, but it appears that will not be a roadblock this time around.
  • The Padres will listen to trade offers for their top three pitchers (Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross) as well as catchers, Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Presumably it would take quite an offer to part with Cashner or Ross, and Kennedy could be held and reassessed at the trade deadline. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old, former top prospect Grandal has yet to establish himself fully. Though he posted a solid 112 wRC+ last year, he also rated as one of the league’s worst defensive catchers. Rivera, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to post by far his most extensive and productive MLB season in 2014, slashing .252/.319/.432 over 329 plate appearances while grading out as one of the game’s best-fielding backstops.
  • Righty Dan Haren of the Dodgers has come up in trade chatter, but could retire if he is dealt away from Los Angeles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Haren exercised a $10MM player option to stay on the west coast, and Heyman indicates that he might prefer to hang up his spikes than pitch for any other club but the cross-town Angels.

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.