- Mariners, Rays Swap Erasmo Ramirez For Mike Montgomery
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Yasmany Tomas Rumors
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.
Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…
- As far as Corey Kluber knows, his representatives haven’t had any talks with the Indians about an extension, the Cy Young Award winner told reporters (including Zack Meisel of the Northeast Ohio Media Group). “That’s not my job to worry about that,” Kluber said. “My job is to go out there and pitch. I have agents that can handle that stuff for me when the time comes. My job is to get prepared to play this season.” Kluber is one of the game’s best bargains, as he’ll pitch the 2015 season on a near-league minimum salary, though he’ll be in line for a large raise when he is arbitration-eligible next winter. Cleveland has him under team control through the 2018 campaign.
- The Twins were granted a fourth option year on Oswaldo Arcia, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, so they’re in no danger of losing the outfielder on the waiver wire if he can’t find a place on the Major League roster. Eduardo Nunez and Jordan Schafer are the only out-of-options players on the Minnesota roster.
- Tigers assistant GM Al Avila told Mlive.com’s James Schmehl that the club had interest in Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas and discussed the Tigers’ pursuit of the two high-profile Cuban free agents. Detroit checked in on Tomas though the club only had a moderate interest. “We liked him a little bit, but I’d say not to the same degree as Castillo,” Avila said. “We liked him. But, unlike Castillo, where we got involved in negotiations, we didn’t with Tomas. We didn’t see him as a fit.” While the Tigers progressed to the talking stages with Castillo, however, his price tag escalated beyond the team’s comfort zone.
- For more Detroit baseball news, check out this collection of Tigers Notes from earlier today.
DECEMBER 9TH, 12:50am: Tomas will receive a $14MM signing bonus, salaries of $2MM, $4MM, $6MM and $10MM, and a one-time player option for $15.5MM for 2019 and $17MM in 2020, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports (all Twitter links). Tomas can also receive up to $2MM in bonuses.
DECEMBER 8TH, 5:32pm: If Tomas opts out after the fourth year, Arizona will be able to make him a qualifying offer, a source tells Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter).
4:05pm: The D’Backs announced the signing via Twitter.
NOVEMBER 26TH: The Diamondbacks have reached agreement on a six-year, $68.5MM deal with Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal includes an opt-out that can be triggered after four seasons and is pending only a physical, per Sanchez.
The overall guarantee lands just a hair over the $68MM that the White Sox promised Jose Abreu last year. Given changes in the market in the interim — largely driven, perhaps, by Abreu’s own incredible success — that price tag may feel low at first glance. Indeed, much attention has been given to the idea that Tomas, with his prodigious power and youth, could not only beat the Rusney Castillo contract (seven years, $72.5MM) but also reach nine figures.
Of course, the opt-out will play an important role in assessing this deal’s true value, especially once it is learned how much of the guarantee falls under the contract’s last two years. The 4+2 opt-out structure means that Tomas could reach free agency before his age-28 season. If his bat lives up to the hype, he’ll have another shot at a massive payday at that point. But the client of Jay Alou Jr. will have to prove it on the field first.
As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes wrote in his profile of Tomas, the 70-grade raw power is the right-handed hitter’s calling card. His other tools appear largely to be average or slightly below, and it remains unclear precisely what position Tomas will play and how his defensive ability will shake out. Though considered mobile in relation to his hulking frame, Tomas has drawn some concerns about his body and overall conditioning.
For Arizona, joining Tomas with Mark Trumbo potentially sets up a roster with unmatched right-handed power at the outfield corners. Of course, he may well need to spend some time in the upper minors before ascending to the big league roster, though that is an assessment that can wait for the spring. Arizona can also field David Peralta in a corner spot, and his left-handed bat would provide a nice complement when Tomas does make it to the show.
This move, like the Jeremy Hellickson trade, does not necessarily tell us precisely what else the Diamondbacks might look to accomplish for 2015. While the team’s new leadership structure — chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, GM Dave Stewart, and senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson — has indicated that it intends to field a competitive team next year, that does not mean that every move will be of the win-now variety. Entering his second-to-last year of club control, Trumbo could still be a trade chip, as could catcher Miguel Montero or other veterans such as Cliff Pennington and Cody Ross.
The likeliest course, perhaps, is a continuation of what the team has done thus far. Adding pitching will undoubtedly remain a focus, with Arizona possibly looking to deal from its outfield and middle infield surplus as a means of doing so. Before accounting for Tomas and Hellickson, the team’s 2015 payroll was over $20MM shy of last year’s team-record (assuming that all arb-eligible players are tendered). But now there may not be a ton of room to add current-year spending, given reports that the team is expected to spend somewhat less than last year. Of course, Arizona does have some possible means of moving salary through trade and is carrying fairly minimal future obligations.
Photo courtesy of Alyson Boyer Rode.
The Diamondbacks officially announced today that Nationals special assistant Deric Ladnier has been hired as their new scouting director (Jon Heyman of CBS Sports previously reported that the move was likely). The 50-year-old Ladnier has worked in scouting and player development for 24 and was the Royals’ scouting director from 2000-08, during which time Kansas City drafted Zack Greinke, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Billy Butler, Danny Duffy and Jarrod Dyson.
Some more D-Backs notes on a day that saw them complete a significant three-team trade…
- The Diamondbacks will not trade Mark Trumbo, GM Dave Stewart plainly told reporters, including FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder today (Twitter link). Though some have speculated that the Yasmany Tomas signing opens the door for such a move (myself included), it appears the D-Backs are in no rush to sell low on Trumbo after a down season in 2014. Stewart added that the D-Backs are still looking for a left-handed power bat to sandwich between Trumbo and Paul Goldschmidt in the team’s cleanup spot.
- One reason that the D-Backs feel they can keep Trumbo around without creating a logjam, manager Chip Hale told Magruder, is that their plan is to try Tomas out as a third baseman (Twitter link). While that may be alarming to many, Tomas has experience playing third base in Cuba and worked out for clubs at the position as well.
- The Reds, who are known to be seeking a left fielder, are interested in the Diamondbacks’ group of outfielders, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Former D-Backs GM Kevin Towers is now in Cincinnati’s front office Morosi notes, and David Peralta‘s name is one that has been mentioned internally. While it’s highly early for this type of speculation, a trade of Peralta to Cincinnati would allow the Snakes to play Tomas and Trumbo in the outfield corners, though that could have serious defensive downside, even with the excellent A.J. Pollock in center field. Peralta had a somewhat surprisingly strong rookie campaign despite the fact that he turned 27 years old in August. The D-Backs plucked him out of independent ball in 2013, and he batted .286/.320/.450 in 348 plate appearances in 2014.
The Phillies never made an offer for outfielder Yasmany Tomas, agent Jay Alou Jr. tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Alou said that the club was engaged throughout the process, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. gave the impression that he had to “clear salary” before he could put dollars on the table. “His hands were tied,” Alou said in reference to Amaro. For his part, Amaro said only that “it was clear the Diamondbacks valued him higher than we did.” The ownership group has not created any “impediments” to his baseball operations staff, he added.
More from the National League:
- With a line of quality pitchers queuing up behind Jon Lester and company, the Pirates are staying engaged with their own outgoing free agents, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Dejan Kovacevic recently reported that the club hoped to return both hurlers, even after adding A.J. Burnett.
- Indeed, Pittsburgh is making clear to agents of other free agent starters that Liriano is their top priority on the rotation market, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports. Though the Bucs would stand to give up the sandwich pick they would receive were Liriano to sign elsewhere, he has been quite a valuable contributor to the team’s winning ways over the last two seasons.
- The Marlins are unlikely to lock down any new extensions before the Winter Meetings, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets, though that does not mean that the team is not making a legitimate effort to work out more deals. With offers on the table or soon to be delivered to several young players, the team appears to be making a push to follow the model that the Braves pursued last year.
- Bryce Harper and the Nationals are headed towards a grievance in December to resolve the long-lingering question whether his contract permits him to opt into arbitration, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. (To understand the background, read this post from last November.) Rosenthal wonders whether the Nats would be better served not fighting the point, if the club hopes to have a shot at extending Harper.
- As the Braves continue to weigh their trade options, the team is more likely to deal Justin Upton than to move both he and Evan Gattis, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. The team has still not ruled out a scenario in which both players are traded, though that would obviously create quite a void in the middle of the team’s lineup.
- Interestingly, the Braves had extended discussions earlier this offseason with the Astros about Gattis, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Atlanta wanted Houston to take a pairing of Gattis and the struggling B.J. Upton in a trade, but that involved too much payroll for the latter to stomach. The Braves expressed interest in both Dexter Fowler and Carlos Corporan in the talks. Rosenthal says that the original line of discussion faded, but that other talks involving Gattis could arise between the teams in the future.
The Mets have plenty of good pitching, but now isn’t the best time for them to try to trade it, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Not only are there still plenty of good, or even great, arms remaining on the free agent market, but there are also plenty of potential trade targets, including players like Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Kennedy. “[E]very organization now thinks it has pitching,” says an NL executive. “Maybe not as much as the Mets, but more than in the past. No one can find bats. I just think the teams with bats are king right now.” Here are more notes from the National League.
- On the flip side, Sherman writes, plenty of top hitters are already off the free agent market, so teams willing to trade batters could soon find good markets for them. That includes the Braves, who still have Justin Upton to deal, as well as the Cubs and Red Sox. The Cubs had today’s hitting-poor market in mind as they collected their terrific group of young hitters, an NL executive tells Sherman. “The Cubs used the fourth pick [in June’s draft] to pick a pure hitter [Kyle Schwarber] without a position at a time when they needed pitching badly, and they are in as deep on [19-year-old Cuban wunderkind] Yoan Moncada as any team,” says the executive. “That is not by accident.”
- What kind of player might new Diamondbacks signee Yasmany Tomas be next season? FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan, writing for FOX Sports, looks at various scouting reports to compile a list of comparable players for Tomas. Sullivan suggests Tomas profiles as approximately a league-average player, with a bat similar to that of Yoenis Cespedes or Khris Davis. He might turn out to be Justin Upton if he’s a little better than anticipated, and Dayan Viciedo if he’s worse. At 24, though, Tomas could also continue to improve, and Sullivan suggests that as an average player, Tomas is more than worth the $68.5MM the Diamondbacks guaranteed him.