Yoenis Cespedes Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

Heyman’s Latest: Padres, Buehrle, Greene

The Padres declined to part with top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe in their deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  At the same time, the Braves weren’t sold on top catching prospect Austin Hedges and feared that his hitting might not develop enough. Ultimately, that left pitcher Matt Wisler as the key prospect in the deal.  Here’s more from Heyman’s column..

  • Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is considering retirement following the 2015 season, Heyman reports. While he notes that April retirement ruminations often prove to be inaccurate, there seems to be a strong possibility that the 36-year-old Buehrle will call it quits.
  • Tigers executives were shocked that they were able to pry right-hander Shane Greene away from the Yankees this winter, Heyman writes. The Yankees considered trading Greene “painful,” but the team was desperate for a shortstop, and New York scouting guru Gene Michael was a strong supporter of Gregorius.
  • Trading Ryan Howard seems less and less likely for the Phillies each coming day, Heyman writes, noting that one scout said that Howard simply looks “lost” at the plate. Heyman also notes that the stacked starting pitching class on next year’s free agent market may be hindering the Phillies’ ability to move Cole Hamels, as teams are content to wait to bid on the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others.
  • The Orioles checked in on Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro at some point late in the spring.  Navarro, who has been supplanted as the starting catcher in Toronto by Russell Martin, is hoping to go elsewhere and start.  The diplomatic Navarro spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links last month about the trade talk surrounding him.
  • One GM who has some interest in Elvis Andrus suggested to Heyman that it’d be hard for the Rangers to trade him now.  While Texas has infield depth, most of it is at the lower rungs of their system.  Meanwhile, they’ll be without Jurickson Profar for a second straight year.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has one year to go on his contract, but word is that the front office likes him and they mainly want to see progress from their younger players before extending him.  It’s said that Gonzalez won’t be judged on his win-loss record, but so far he’s doing pretty well in that department too.
  • The Red Sox made at least a preliminary offer to Yoenis Cespedes before trading him, which seems to poke a hole in the theory that Boston coaches “hated” the outfielder.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


AL Central Notes: Cespedes, Kluber, Hochevar

Last year, Zach Duke and Pat Neshek both entered Spring Training as non-roster invitees and parlayed their outstanding 2014 seasons into multi-year free agent contracts (three years, $15MM for Duke and two years, $12.5MM for Neshek). Who will be the NRIs to watch this spring? Andrew Simon for Sports on Earth tabs White Sox reliever Jesse Crain as the most intriguing NRI citing positive reports as he recovers from his 2013 biceps surgery, which has forced him to the sidelines for the past 20 months. If Crain can return to the form he showed in his previous stint with the White Sox (2011-13) where he pitched to a 2.10 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9 in 150 innings covering 376 games, Simon believes the 33-year-old could assume a prominent role in the White Sox bullpen.

In other news and notes from the AL Central:

  • Yoenis Cespedes told reporters, including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links), he can see himself playing for the Tigers long-term. “I would like to be in a Tigers uniform for a lot of years,” Cespedes said through his translator. “This is a good team now and will be for a lot of years to come.” Cespedes added he does not know whether his agent and the Tigers have engaged in extension talks.
  • Corey Kluber, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, is not concerning himself with the lack of movement on a contract extension, according to Zack Meisel of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s not for me to worry about,” said Kluber, who is slated to earn near the MLB minimum. “I’d rather just talk about pitching and not contract stuff.
  • Royals reliever Luke Hochevar blew out his elbow last spring with a curveball, but has been throwing the pitch in his bullpen sessions, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. “It’s not like you’re scared when you start spinning curves again,” Hochevar said. “You know your elbow is fixed. But still you think about it. You have to sort of stare down your demons.” Hochevar will face hitters for the first time off a mount tomorrow.
  • Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer are two former top prospects who are poised for a breakout 2015, opines MLB.com’s Michael Clair.
  • Earlier today, we learned of the passing of White Sox legend Minnie Minoso. Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com and MLB.com’s Phil Rogers both pay tribute to “Mr. White Sox” while Hayes and MLB.com’s Scott Merkin chronicle the reaction of White Sox players.


Tigers Notes: Price, Dombrowski, Cespedes

Left-hander David Price was among the players on hand at the team’s winter caravan kickoff, and he explained to reporters (including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press) that he’s adjusted to his new club.  Though there’s been a good deal of coverage on what some believed to be a rocky midseason transition to the Tigers, Detroit was “not somewhere that I disliked,” the 2012 Cy Young Award winner said. “I solely said that it was different, and it’s not different anymore…. Comfort comes with time, and I’ve had time here and I got to spend time with them last year on the field and away from the field, and it’s a lot more comfortable now.” 

Here’s more from the Motor City…

  • Price referred to the $210MM that former teammate Max Scherzer got from the Nationals as “surreal,” and while Price is intrigued by the possibility of free agency, he’s also “all ears” about a potential extension with the Tigers.  “Some of you does just kind of want to wait it out, but some of you wants to be like, ‘Well, if they’re open to doing something, you can’t close any doors,’ ” Price said.
  • GM Dave Dombrowski didn’t elaborate on any extension talks with Price, only telling reporters (including Fenech) that “we’ll just have to wait and see what takes place” and “we hope he stays a Tiger for a long time.”  Dombrowski also denied that the club explored trading Price: “I will tell you and I can safely tell you we’ve never had any trade discussions about David Price this winter.  People have talked, I cannot tell you that somebody had not inquired about him a time or two, but we were never in discussions to trade him.”
  • Elsewhere on the extension front, James Schmehl of MLive.com tweets that while Yoenis Cespedes did have some extension talks with the Red Sox, the outfielder has yet to engage in negotiations on a long-term deal with his new team. Cespedes will earn $10.5MM this year before hitting the open market next winter.

Red Sox Avoid Arbitration With Rick Porcello

The Red Sox have avoided arbitration with right-hander Rick Porcello with a $12.5MM agreement, WAPT’s Mike Perchick reports on Twitter. He lands just above the $12.2MM projection of MLBTR/Matt Swartz.

Boston acquired Porcello in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes earlier in the offseason. This is the fourth and final run through arbitration for the former Super Two player, who will hit the open market after the year.

Porcello, 26, is coming off of his best season as a pro. He logged 204 2/3 innings of 3.43 ERA ball, striking out 5.7 and walking 1.8 batters per nine.


AL Central Notes: Cabrera, Viciedo, Scherzer, Tigers

Melky Cabrera didn’t receive any four-year offers, so he chose to play in his preferred Eastern half of the country and sign a three-year pact with the White Sox, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com (link in Spanish). Cabrera became the latest splashy acquisition for the White Sox late last night joining Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Adam LaRoche, and Zach Duke in an effort to bring the club from 73 wins in 2014 to contention in 2015.

Here’s more on the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central Division:

  • The White Sox‘s acquisition of Cabrera could pay off for Jose Abreu, writes JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com.
  • The White Sox are sure to trade Dayan Viciedo after signing Cabrera and Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter) wonders if the Mariners could be a possibility. The Mariners were interested in signing Cabrera, but lost out when the White Sox offered $42MM over three years.
  • Tigers assistant GM Al Avila told Jim Duquette of SiriusXM (via Twitter) the club has had “no conversations” with Max Scherzer‘s camp. Last week, an industry source told MLB.com’s Jason Beck even though Scott Boras has openly said the Tigers won’t receive a chance to match an opposing team’s final offer for the hurler, Boras will, in fact, give owner Mike Ilitch a chance to match “at least as a professional courtesy.”
  • The Tigers have long coveted Yoenis Cespedes and would have made a stronger bid for him in 2012 had Victor Martinez not suffered a season-ending knee injury in January of that year, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski says right-hander Alex Wilson, acquired from the Red Sox along with Cespedes, is not just a throw-in but will compete for a bullpen spot in Spring Training, reports Fenech in a second article.

AL Notes: Cespedes, Mariners, Orioles, Howard

Trading Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier will likely cost the Tigers a draft pick, as MLive.com’s Chris Iott explains. Porcello and Cespedes are both free agents after the 2015 season, but the Tigers will not be able to extend Cespedes a qualifying offer. Cespedes will only have four years of service time, and so in order for his team to meet the requirement that he be a free agent after the season, he’ll have to be non-tendered. Non-tendered players can’t be extended qualifying offers. There are no such restrictions on Porcello (or most other pending free agents) being extended qualifying offers. So unless Porcello has a poor season (or re-signs with the Red Sox), the most likely outcome of the deal is that the Red Sox will get a draft pick as a result, and the Tigers will not. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks he’ll be able to add an extra outfielder or two this offseason, Shannon Drayer of 710AM ESPN tweets. “I feel confident we will get something done,” he says. “There may be more than one thing.” The Mariners have reportedly made Melky Cabrera a three-year offer, and they’ve also had serious trade talks with the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo. Justin Upton is another possibility.
  • Another team looking for an outfielder is the Orioles, who seem more likely to sign one than to trade for one, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Delmon Young and Michael Morse are possibilities, and so is Cabrera, but only if he’s willing to settle for less than four or five years. The Orioles were also connected to Colby Rasmus last week. Kubatko notes that the O’s spoke to the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but the Phillies offered a package that included Byrd and Ryan Howard. Howard, of course, is owed $60MM over the next two seasons, so taking on Howard’s contract just to get a good but not franchise-changing outfielder in Byrd would seem like a very tough sell for any team.

Quick Hits: Hamels, Forst, Rule 5 Draft, BoSox

We at MLBTR would like to thank our readers for their support during this memorable Winter Meetings.  Our 24/7 coverage over the last four days proved necessary given all of the news and major transactions that came out of San Diego, and our committed readership was right there with us by checking in with MLBTR at all hours of the day and night.  Here’s some more news from around baseball…

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark lists the teams he feels were the winners and losers of the Winter Meetings.
  • The Phillies‘ hopes of landing a huge return for Cole Hamels took a hit during the Winter Meetings, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers (the three teams usually cited as the top potential suitors for Hamels) all made moves to solidify their rotations, thus robbing the Phils of some leverage in trade talks.
  • Athletics assistant GM David Forst discusses his team’s offseason moves, the challenges of competing in Oakland and more as part of an insightful interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.
  • With the Rule 5 Draft in the books, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper looks at the scouting reports of the players taken and analyzes the prospects’ chances of lasting the entire season on their respective Major League rosters.
  • The Mets checked in on Yoenis Cespedes at the end of the season but were told by the Red Sox that it would take Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler to obtain the outfielder, Newsday’s David Lennon reports.  Needless to say, negotiations failed to proceed from there.  Rival teams are constantly asking the Mets about deGrom, Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, Lennon notes, while the club is instead trying to deal Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee from its pitching surplus.
  • The Red Sox need an ace to headline their rebuilt rotation, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.  From that same piece, Cafardo talks to an NL scout who believes the Sox got the better of the Wade Miley trade.  The scout calls the young left-hander an “unrefined [Jon] Lester right now, but he’s on his way to being a No. 2 [starter].  Not sure what the D’Backs are thinking on this one, except to get more bodies.”

Tigers, Red Sox Swap Porcello For Cespedes

The Tigers and Red Sox have officially agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit in return for starter Rick Porcello, as C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports and MLB Network first reported on Twitter. Righty Alex Wilson and lefty Gabe Speier are also heading to Detroit, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reported (Twitter links).

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals

In moving Porcello, who is arb-eligible a final time before reaching free agency (at a projected $12.2MM salary), the Tigers have made yet another stunning move involving the club’s high-powered rotation. He joins Doug Fister and Drew Smyly as former Detroit starters. The latter, of course, was part of the deal that brought David Price to Motown. Needless to say, Cespedes will add to an already-formidable middle of the order, while also filling an uncertain spot in the outfield.

For Boston, meanwhile, this swap closes a loop on last summer’s Jon Lester trade, which brought in Cespedes. The club added several other outfield pieces to a crowded situation, which made another deal of some kind seem inevitable. Bringing back an arm of Porcello’s quality would certainly be a nice consolation prize for missing out on a chance to bring back Lester. Cespedes is owed $10.5MM before he reaches the open market after the year, and will not be capable of receiving a qualifying offer due to a clause in his deal.

Lest anyone think that this trade settles things for these two organizations, preliminary reports, and common sense, suggest that both are angling for more additions to their staffs. For Detroit, the rotation now looks to be one arm shy, with ace Max Scherzer still available but the team insisting it is not maneuvering to add him. And for Boston, the addition of Porcello still leaves the team without the ace that it is said to be seeking.

With generally equivalent contractual situations between the two players — Porcello will cost slightly more, but comes with the possibility of a qualifying offer — this deal is a fairly straightforward talent swap.

Porcello, who is still not quite 26 years of age, had a breakout 2014 after years of promise. His 3.43 ERA was backed by his peripherals, even though his strikeout rate dropped, and ERA estimators have liked his work for some time. Porcello continues to induce grounders at about a 50% clip, and also went over 200 innings for the first time in his career. All said, he is a steady three-win arm that any rotation would be glad to have.

Cespedes, on the other hand, is himself only 29 and features plenty of power in his right-handed bat. Despite playing in Oakland for most of the last three seasons, Cespedes has hit more than twenty long balls in each campaign. But his ability to reach base has not been so consistent, and his overall production levels have fallen off since a huge rookie campaign back in 2011. On the other hand, defensive metrics are now more favorably inclined toward his work in left, leaving him — like Porcello — as an approximately three-win player.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the deal was finalized. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported early aspects of the swap (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Interested In Yoenis Cespedes?

2:37pm: The O’s have not had internal talks about acquiring Cespedes, a source tells Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).  There have been no true discussions between Boston and Baltimore regarding the outfielder.

1:47pm: The Orioles have interest in Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (via Twitter).  Nothing is “remotely imminent” on that front but the O’s view the slugger as a good potential fit.

Baltimore is in search of a power bat and Cespedes would undoubtedly fit the bill for them.  Whether they could hammer out a deal with their AL East rivals without paying a premium, however, remains to be seen.

Cespedes has found himself on the pages of MLBTR quite a bit over the past few weeks.  At one point, the Tigers were discussing a deal that would have involved Cespedes and Rick Porcello, but those discussions have apparently cooled off.  The Padres have also discussed Cespedes with Boston and the Reds have been connected to him, though GM Walt Jocketty denies talking with the Red Sox about him.

Cespedes has one year remaining before he hits free agency.