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Yasmany Tomas Rumors
Howie Kendrick has been so impressive with the Dodgers in the early stages of the 2015 season that the team is very likely interested in discussing a long-term deal with Kendrick’s agents at Reynolds Sports Management, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney in his daily blog (ESPN Insider subscription required). As Olney explains, the team likely envisions Corey Seager manning shortstop in the long-term, and Hector Olivera could hold down the fort at third base, with Kendrick returning to the keystone on a multi-year pact. I’d note, however, that there are many who believe that Seager will eventually need to play third base, and in that scenario, Olivera would slide over to second base, so the fit isn’t exactly perfect.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- The D-Backs‘ handling of Yasmany Tomas has many pundits scratching their heads, but manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that he thinks being eased into the lineup will be beneficial to Tomas in the long run. “People are having a hard time believing it because he’s not getting at-bats every day, which is hard,” said Hale. “But he’s doing [work] offensively with our hitting coaches and then the strength coach; they’re really working hard to get him to where we think he needs to be to be an everyday player.” Tomas has the same translator, Ariel Preto, that worked with Yoenis Cespedes in 2012, when Hale was the Athletics’ bench coach, giving the two experience in helping a Cuban player acclimate to the Majors. Hale explained how difficult the transition became for Cespedes that year when he was thrown directly into the starting lineup, adding that he hopes the handling of Tomas will avoid that.
- Interestingly, Hale’s comments don’t line up very well with those made by Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart on a recent MLB Network Radio appearance (Twitter link). Stewart said that the most important thing for Tomas is to get at-bats and play regularly at third base, adding that his contract will not determine whether or not he’s in the Majors.
- Rockies players spoke favorably to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post about the tougher attitude and culture around the team as well as the front office’s emphasis on making tough decisions to improve the immediate on-field product. The Rox cut Jhoulys Chacin in Spring Training, for example, despite his long tenure with the team and status as a clubhouse favorite. Left-hander Rex Brothers was sent to Triple-A despite his big league experience, Adam Ottavino seized the closer’s role almost immediately, and manager Walt Weiss has requested and been provided with significant input from the analytics department to drastically increase the amount of infield shifting in Colorado. The change starts with new GM Jeff Bridich, according to Corey Dickerson, who spoke highly of Bridich’s knowledge of players. “There is no messing around, not with this group,” Carlos Gonzalez told Saunders. “We are here to win now. We are not here to be patient.”
Despite the high-profile signing of Yasmany Tomas this winter, the D-Backs will use him primarily off the bench in his first taste of Major League action, GM Dave Stewart told reporters, including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Tomas was promoted today, due in part to a lack of other options on the 40-man roster, Piecoro writes. Arizona had few other position players both healthy and on the 40-man, but despite that fact, Stewart said he didn’t consider transferring injured pitchers Matt Stites or Patrick Corbin to the 60-day disabled list. Stewart feels that each is close enough to being healthy that he didn’t want to risk a move to the 60-day DL. The GM also noted that he has not considered making a trade to alleviate some of his logjam of outfielders.
More on the D-Backs and their division…
- D-Backs prospect Peter O’Brien will go about a month without playing behind the plate, manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. O’Brien will see some time in left field and at first base but is apparently receiving a mental break from catching after developing an issue throwing the ball back to the pitcher late in Spring Training. Clearly, that’s not the type of issue that any team wants to see from a player it has dubbed the “catcher of the future.” Common consensus among scouts and other organizations has been that O’Brien isn’t a good enough defender behind the plate to remain at the position, though he’s certainly hitting well enough to garner some attention early in the year. Through a small sample of 28 plate appearances, O’Brien’s batting .333/.357/.519 with a homer and two doubles. Many felt Arizona should have traded for catching help this offseason, but Stewart stated on multiple occasions that such a move was not the plan, partly because the club believed O’Brien could handle the position eventually.
- Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy is nearing a rehab assignment, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Kennedy is slated to throw a bullpen session on Friday, and if all goes well, he’ll join a Minor League affiliate and look to throw 75 to 90 pitches in a rehab start. It’s possible that Kennedy will need a couple of rehab outings, though he’d probably prefer to return to the field sooner rather than later. As a pending free agent, Kennedy has quite a bit riding on his 2015 performance.
- Adam Ottavino has been named the new closer for the Rockies, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Manager Walt Weiss wasted little time this season in swapping the hard-throwing 29-year-old and former closer LaTroy Hawkins, who will now pitch in a setup or middle relief role. An effective season as a closer would do wonders for Ottavino in arbitration next offseason, as he’d stand to see a sizable raise from this year’s $1.3MM salary if he can accumulate a year’s worth of saves. Ottavino’s numbers over the past two seasons indicate that he can indeed thrive in the role, as he’s pitched to a 2.97 ERA with 158 strikeouts against 48 walks in 148 2/3 innings dating back to 2013. Of course, as a closer, he’ll be more exposed to lefties, who have given him trouble in the past, but Ottavino tells Saunders that he feels more comfortable against opposite-handed batters after making some adjustments and keeping them in check during Spring Training. Fantasy players, remember that you can keep up with all closer trends and performances by following @closernews on Twitter.
The Diamondbacks have called up recent Cuban signee Yasmany Tomas from Triple-A, the club announced. Tomas had opened the season in the upper minors despite inking a six-year, $68.5MM contract to join Arizona over the offseason.
Of course, Tomas is just 24 years of age and never really settled on a defensive position over the spring, making his early-season demotion more than understandable. While he did not do much with the 23 plate appearances he saw at the Triple-A level, Tomas also got over 70 plate appearances in the spring to prepare him for the season.
Tomas has shown largely the skillset that was expected: he has immense power, but may not reach base at a productive clip. He seems to be capable of hitting big league pitching, though precisely how well remains to be seen. Baseball America listed him as the game’s 57th overall prospect based largely on his bat, noting the possibility that he’ll strike out a lot, though BA is also fairly bullish on his ability to be an average player in other respects.
The real question, it would seem, is defense. An experimental effort to play him at third did not look very promising over the spring, and fellow youngster Jake Lamb has hit his way into playing time there. First base is a non-starter with Paul Goldschmidt installed. The likeliest scenario, then, is that Tomas will play in the corner outfield, though it remains to be seen how much time he’ll get there with Mark Trumbo, David Peralta, and Ender Inciarte all in the mix.
With the move, Tomas’s service clock will start in time for him to compile a full year of MLB service in 2015. Of course, that likely will not mean much to him. Tomas is under contract through at least 2018 and possibly through 2020, as his contract contains an opt-out clause after four seasons. It’s theoretically possible, then, that Tomas could end up in an arbitration scenario, though it does seem rather unlikely.
Regardless, the timing of the move seems odd, as the D-Backs have said that they would prefer Tomas see regular playing time in the upper minors before ascending. Though it is possible that he will see consistent action in the big leagues, that will send someone else to the bench — presumably Peralta or Inciarte.
For the Diamondbacks, the allure of a lineup including the right-handed power of Tomas, Trumbo and Goldschmidt is easy to understand, but that lineup would likely lead to a defensive alignment featuring Trumbo and Tomas manning the outfield corners. A.J. Pollock‘s defensive wizardry in center field notwithstanding, that outfield defense would likely serve as a significant hindrance to an already questionable pitching staff.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Former big league reliever Jose Capellan, who last pitched for the Rockies in 2008, died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack earlier this week, ESPNDeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas reports (Spanish language link). Capellan, just 34 years of age, tossed 123 1/3 big league frames over five years, working to a 4.89 ERA. MLBTR extends its condolences to his family and friends around the game.
Here are some notes out of the NL West:
- The Diamondbacks deserve credit for putting their best team on the field to start the year, regardless of contract status, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic argues. Arizona parted with Trevor Cahill and Cody Ross while moving Aaron Hill to a reserve role (in which it will be harder for him to build trade value). And the team has moved up the timeline of youngsters Jake Lamb and Archie Bradley, while also giving starting roles to Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed, rather than playing the service time game with those players.
- Yasmany Tomas just wrapped up his first spring with the Diamondbacks, but the club has already planned to institute a “weight goal” for the sizable slugger, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. “I think fitness-wise, he needs to get in better shape,” said manager Chip Hale. “He knows that. He worked really hard all spring. It’s not just working hard, it’s how you eat and learning a new country and all these things. I mean, it hasn’t been easy for him. For me he performed really well for where he was at coming to a new country.”
- The Dodgers are running a significant risk with their rotation, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. With Hyun-jin Ryu still very much a subject of concern for skipper Don Mattingly, the team is highly reliant on the health of Zack Greinke‘s right elbow.
The Mets and Lucas Duda have failed to reach an extension prior to the first baseman’s Opening Day deadline and have shelved negotiations, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. “No agreement was reached, so talks have concluded and Lucas will focus on the upcoming season,” agent Dan Horwits told Rubin. Duda will make $4.2MM in 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration two more times before becoming a free agent following the 2017 season.
In other National League news and notes:
- MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tweets he doesn’t expect the Reds and Johnny Cueto to agree to an extension before the right-hander’s Opening Day deadline.
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters, including Zach Buchanan of The Arizona Republic, Yasmany Tomas was optioned to Triple-A for regular at-bats. “Once he returns back here, we probably will be able to get him at-bats at third base but we’d like to get the majority of his work in the outfield,” said Stewart. “Probably, Yasmany’s long-term future is going to be in the outfield as he was when we signed him.“
- The Braves are still talking to teams about moves that could affect their roster plans, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
- The Diamondbacks may have one of the least talented clubs in baseball, but the presence of Paul Goldschmidt, Archie Bradley, Tony La Russa, and low expectations are reasons for hope in the desert, opines Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic.
It may seem obvious, but a study has now shown that concussions diminish offensive performance, reports Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times. The study appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. A total of 66 position players were included in it. The group hit .249/.315/.393 in the two weeks prior to injury and .227/.287/.347. Some of the players involved never went on the disabled list. Based on the Times article, it’s unclear if more detailed analysis was performed. For example, missing time for any reason would hypothetically reduce performance some unknown amount. So it’s probably incorrect to attribute the entire decline to concussions alone.
Here’s more from around baseball:
- ESPN’s Buster Olney has “real concerns about the Red Sox,” reports Nik Beimler on WEEI.com. Olney identified problems with four of the five members of the rotation. Rick Porcello was the one guy who didn’t draw a negative comment. While Cole Hamels is often connected to the Sox, Olney thinks they should wait on any trades. “I think there will be a lot of opportunities to trade for pitching during the course of summer.” Even with inconsistent pitching, the club could still hit enough to reach the postseason.
- The Rays may need to play roster roulette while they wait for Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Alex Colome to recover, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The rotation will affect the number of NRIs the club can add. Presently, Bobby Wilson, Jake Elmore, Brandon Gomes, and Everett Teaford are battling for one or two spots (pending a trade of David DeJesus). Teaford may have a temporary advantage since he can provide long relief or a spot start.
- Pirates pitcher Clayton Richard can opt out of his contract at the end of spring training, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Per Richard, he can opt out if not on the 40-man roster. He’s the latest in a long string of reclamation projects for the Pirates. His last successful season came in 2012 when he allowed a 3.99 ERA with 4.40 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9 in 218 innings.
- Based upon interviews of rival scouts and executives, nobody believes Diamondbacks third baseman Yasmany Tomas can remain in the infield, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Most cited his thick body type, although they also said he doesn’t have the hands for the position. If Tomas moves to the outfield, it will create a roster crunch for Arizona. The current plan is to share playing time in left field between David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, and Cody Ross. Of course, the club could option Tomas to the minors too.
The Dodgers have announced that they’ve shut down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation. He will be shut down for the next three days while the Dodgers determine the right course of action. Ryu had experienced shoulder tightness in his last start, during which his velocity was down. Ryu had similar shoulder issues last September, although he returned to pitch in the playoffs. There’s no indication yet that his current issues are serious, and Ryu (via a tweet from J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group) believes the injury should not keep him from being ready for the start of the season. The Dodgers could consider having him begin the season on the disabled list, however, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin tweets. The Dodgers don’t require a fifth starter until April 14. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Yasmany Tomas chose the Diamondbacks over other teams in part because he liked their front office, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Giants were the runners-up in the bidding for Tomas, writes Piecoro. “At the end of the day, he said, ‘I really like those people,'” says agent Jay Alou of Diamondbacks execs Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart, De Jon Watson and Junior Noboa. “These are baseball people. They get it. I think Yasmany appreciates that.” After committing $68.5MM for Tomas, the Diamondbacks now appear to be quietly considering having Tomas start the season in the minors, although they offer guarded praise for his abilities. “I really believe that a number of us in the organization believe that he could hit,” says La Russa. “If we were short and he had to play, at the end of the year he would survive.”
- The Athletics‘ seemingly incongruous addition of Billy Butler in the offseason actually makes sense, Tony Blengino of FanGraphs writes. While Butler’s 2014 season wasn’t a good one, his underlying numbers suggest a player whose ability is closer to his .289/.374/.412 2013 season. Blengino suggests Butler has a decent chance of being as good as or better than Nelson Cruz next year, although the two players’ offensive profiles are quite different.
- The Rangers‘ prospects give the team a bright future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The team still has Jorge Alfaro, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, Keone Kela and to power-hitting prospect Joey Gallo in big-league camp. “I think they are still getting something out of being here,” says GM Jon Daniels. “Some of these guys are not very far away at all.” Relief prospect Kela has wowed scouts with his stuff, Grant says — Kela can throw 100 MPH and now also has a quality breaking ball.
Here’s the latest out of the NL West:
- Though his early work at third for the Diamondbacks has done more to raise questions than to provide answers about his future as an infielder, Yasmany Tomas is drawing positive reviews for his attitude and bat, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort says he is pleased with the organization’s direction under new GM Jeff Bridich, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. “I don’t think Jeff set out to make a splash just to make a splash,” Monfort said. “I think when we first met, way back when, his job was to make this current team a winner. He’s not here just to start over and do what some people do. He did not come in to blow things up.”
- There is also some positivity coming from the Padres, where at least one rival scout says the new outfield trio of Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp has looked good, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. It remains to be seen what kind of defensive work that unit can produce over the long haul, of course, though Heyman notes that reserves Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin have looked good at the plate. It still seems that San Diego will need to do something to clear at least one outfielder, with Will Venable under contract in addition to that group.
While early word on Yasmany Tomas‘ work at third base was positive, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports now hears from scouts that Tomas isn’t cutting it at the hot corner (Twitter links). The result, then, could end up a significant outfield logjam featuring Tomas, A.J. Pollock, Mark Trumbo, David Peralta, Cody Ross and Ender Inciarte. Scouts feel that Tomas’ arm is accurate at third base, Passan adds, but are concerned with his lack of lateral quickness and athleticism. Manager Chip Hale told reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (Twitter links), that Tomas “needs to be better,” but he believes part of the problem is a lack of focus on Tomas’ behalf. It should be noted that the opinion of rival scouts doesn’t mean the D-Backs won’t use Tomas at third; most scouts think there’s no chance that powerful prospect Peter O’Brien can remain at catcher, but the D-Backs believe he can stick at the position so strongly that they forwent adding other catching options outside of Gerald Laird and Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez this offseason.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- The D-Backs announced today that Hernandez was removed from today’s Spring Training game due to soreness in his left wrist (Twitter link). While the team labeled the move precautionary, a significant injury to Hernandez would thin out the team’s paper-thin catching situation even more and could lead to Hernandez being returned to the Rays.
- Giants right-hander Jake Peavy received interest from at least six other teams before signing his deal to return to San Francisco, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers, Brewers, Twins, Royals, Marlins and Braves all had interest in the 34-year-old veteran, per Heyman, but the bond formed over a World Series victory was too strong to sign elsewhere, Peavy said: “When you’re World Series teammates, it takes you to another level relationship-wise.” The Giants engaged Peavy after missing out on Jon Lester and being spurned by James Shields in December, at a time when Peavy was giving consideration to both Miami and Atlanta.
- Pablo Sandoval recently said that he felt the Giants disrespected him and agent Gustavo Vasquez when negotiating an extension last spring, but Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the team offered a four-year extension with a vesting option worth just under $85MM in Spring Training 2014. Assuming the $85MM figure includes the vesting option, that’s $10MM and one year less than Sandoval was guaranteed on his five-year, $95MM deal with the Red Sox. It’s possible, however, that Sandoval was turned off by the Giants’ initial conversation-starter, which was said last April to be a three-year, $40MM offer. Evans adds that the Giants’ first offseason offer to Sandoval came the day after the World Series parade, though he didn’t disclose any details on that offer.
- Heyman also tweets that the Dodgers‘ new front office has been highly impressed by manager Don Mattingly thus far in Spring Training. Mattingly is under contract through the 2016 season, but it’s not uncharacteristic for new-look front offices to bring in a hand-picked manager, regardless of the contractual status of the incumbent.
- For those who didn’t see, earlier tonight it was reported that the Padres are considering making an offer worth “upwards of $50MM” to Cuban second baseman/third baseman Hector Olivera.
The Nationals haven’t managed to avoid the possibility of losing key members of their team due to free agency, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports. The Nats could be without Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister after the season because they haven’t managed to sign those players to long-term deals that delay free agency. That might not be entirely their fault, Svrluga suggests — they tried to sign all three players. In the meantime, though, they have another wave of core players (Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon) to whom they could turn their attention. Strasburg, Harper and Rendon are all represented by Scott Boras, who does not generally like long-term deals for pre-free-agency players. Some of his clients, such as Jered Weaver and Carlos Gonzalez, have signed them, however. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to have been traded away from the Rays to the Athletics and then from the Athletics to the Nationals, and he also wasn’t happy he’d have to move from shortstop to second base, the Post’s James Wagner writes. Escobar has changed his mind since then, however. “They’ve reached the playoffs two of the last three years,” says Escobar. “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything.” Escobar says certain aspects of playing second base, like turning double plays, are “confusing,” but says that he’ll improve that them with practice.
- Baseball is full of incredibly disappointing free-agent contracts, but Matt Holliday‘s current seven-year, $120MM deal with the Cardinals isn’t one of them, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I really wanted it to work out great for both sides,” says Holliday. “A lot of times with a long-term contract, you hear ‘They hope to get a couple of good years out of it.’ My goal from the day I signed was to get to the end of the contract and have everybody feel really good about it.” Holliday’s defense has slipped since signing, but he’s maintained a high standard offensively, and with just two years (plus an option) left on the deal, it looks like the Cardinals are going to get more than their money’s worth.
- When Cuban righty Yoan Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, he joined the organization he rooted for as a child, Carlos Torres Bujanda writes for Baseball America. “Since I was a kid, I followed the D-backs when Randy Johnson was on the team,” says Lopez. “To see the games or check the stats I had friends who worked in hotels with Internet access. They download the games so I can watch later, or see the numbers.” Lopez adds that he’s happy the Diamondbacks also signed another Cuban player this offseason, Yasmany Tomas.