Yoenis Cespedes Rumors

Latest On Mets’ Pursuit Of Offense

At least based on reports, the Mets appear to be one of the busier teams as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here’s the latest, mostly via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

  • The Mets tried for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but they believe Colorado isn’t interested in a trade.
  • The Mets have also looked into utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, but it appears likely that the Athletics will find better deals for both players, probably in two different trades.
  • New York discussed sending Zack Wheeler to the Reds in a deal for outfielder Jay Bruce, but talks went nowhere. Andy Martino and Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets had discussed potential Wheeler deals with multiple clubs.
  • The Mets and Brewers have had talks regarding Gerardo Parra, although it appears that there’s enough interest in Parra that the Brewers’ price has increased. That’s consistent with a tweet this afternoon from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, who wrote that the Brewers have had lots of interest in Parra and will have their choice of various offers.
  • The Mets are also interested in Yoenis Cespedes of the Tigers, but so far, they have nothing to show for it, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.

Angels Open To Adding Rental Hitters, Righty Bats

The Angels prefer to acquire a bat that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, but they’re warming to the idea of acquiring a rental, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com tweets. That includes Yoenis Cespedes, though the cost of acquisition will obviously be key to any deal. At the very least, he adds, they’d like to add a bench piece they’re comfortable starting a couple of times per week.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register also hears that the Angels are opening up to not only the idea of rental players, but also to the idea of adding a right-handed bat. (Previously, the Angels have been said to prefer left-handed bats due to the heavily right-handed nature of their lineup.) According to Fletcher, the only player that seems off limits in the Angels’ minor league system is Sean Newcomb. Pitchers Chris Ellis and Nate Smith — two of the club’s top-ranked prospects — could potentially be had. Fletcher adds (via Twitter) that Andrew Heaney is probably not available either.

Gonzalez wrote yesterday that the Angels are seeking both a leadoff hitter and a power bat to slot in fifth behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the batting order, though they may not be able to acquire both. In a followup tweet to the article, Gonzalez says he’s getting the sense that the Angels would prefer the power bat. David Freese has spent the bulk of the time hitting fifth in Anaheim this season but has batted a fairly pedestrian .240/.308/.409.

As for the leadoff role, Johnny Giavotella has assumed that spot lately but struggled there, and his .261/.315/.349 batting line is below the league average. The Angels, according to Gonzalez, are monitoring Chase Utley‘s rehab as a possible alternative. However, they’d only have true interest were the cost “minimal” and should Utley begin to show his old form at the plate. (Utley, of course, is a potential August trade candidate, as one would think his contract, injury troubles and lack of production make him a lock to clear trade waivers.)

Ben Revere has been oft-connected to the Angels in the past, as has Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce. Gonzalez speculates (on Twitter), too, that Gerardo Parra of the Brewers might be a nice rental piece for the Angels.



Central Notes: Cueto, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Garza, Cubs

At least one executive of a club with interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto saw significant concern in his latest outing, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Though he only allowed four hits and two runs, Cueto walked six and lasted just four innings, marking his second consecutive start of five innings or less. He also generated a season-low three groundball outs. Given Cueto’s status as one of the premium rental trade pieces on the market, and some pre-existing injury questions, his next appearance could be one to watch.

Here’s more from the game’s central divisions:

  • We heard yesterday that the Tigers were gearing up to sell, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes on Twitter that multiple GMs tell him they have yet to be informed that Detroit will sell. Per Rosenthal, it’s still up in the air whether the Tigers will move quality veteran assets such as David Price and Yoenis Cespedes.
  • The Pirates are not only looking at possible shortstop acquisitions but continue to seek an addition at first base, Stark tweets. Pedro Alvarez has provided only average offensive production while struggling mightily with the glove. Of course, the first base trade market is not exactly overflowing with obvious upgrade candidates.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti says his team plans to be an “opportunistic” and “open-minded” participant on the trade market, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. One thing the team likely won’t do, however, is deal from its array of quality, controllable starting pitchers. “We are not motivated at all to do that,” said Antonetti.
  • The Brewers will welcome back righty Matt Garza from the DL tonight, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. That means he ought to have two starts to show his health and regain some trade value, though Garza’s big contract makes him a viable August trade piece as well (since he’d very likely clear waivers).
  • The Cubs got promising news on the injury front, as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports (Twitter links). Backstop Miguel Montero has only a sprained left thumb, rather than something more serious, though he is still set to rest for two weeks before being evaluated again. And minor league infielder Javier Baez may appear in game action this week. That makes the high-upside prospect a more viable trade piece if the Cubs decide to pursue a significant upgrade.

Tigers May Deal David Price, Yoenis Cespedes

The Tigers are preparing for the possibility of dealing ace David Price and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

GM Dave Dombrowski tells Nightengale that the team has yet to reach a final decision. But other sources inside and outside the organization reportedly say that Detroit will market those free agents-to-be unless owner Mike Ilitch intervenes with a “veto.”

Dombrowski certainly left open the possibility of a sell-off in his comments to USA Today. “At this point, our focus is trying to win right now,” he said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to qualify for the playoffs. Things can turn dramatically over a 10-game period. But you have to play well, at some point, on a consistent basis. We’re at a point where we have to do what’s best in our heart for the franchise.”

The addition of Price and/or Cespedes to the trade market would certainly represent a dramatic alteration of the market. Both are 29 years of age and in the midst of highly productive campaigns.

Price is an undisputed ace, and would immediately join (and arguably displace) Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels at the top of the starting pitching market. He owns a 2.32 ERA over 132 innings, with 8.7 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9. Those numbers are right in line with — or, in the case of his bottom-line results, even better than — his outstanding career numbers.

Cespedes, meanwhile, is in the midst of the best overall campaign of his career. His 120 wRC+ paces any batting line he’s carried over a full season since his debut year. And he has earned career-best defensive ratings for his work in left. All told, Cespedes has already racked up 3.1 fWAR on the year.

It is not clear whether the Tigers will consider moving other players whose control is up after the year, to say nothing of longer-term assets. Closer Joakim Soria, starter Alfredo Simon, catcher Alex Avila, and outfielder Rajai Davis are among the members of the current roster who are slated for free agency. Soria and Davis have both enjoyed quality seasons, while Simon and Avila have been less productive, but all of those players would figure to draw varying levels of interest.

If Detroit moves some of its key veterans, it appears that it will do so with the intention of getting near-term value from those expiring assets. “We’re not thinking of rebuilding,” said Dombrowski, “but if we have to, it would be a case of regrouping.” The long-time executive emphasized that he believes the organization has a better stock of “good young players than people think,” making clear that he sees plenty of cause for hope in 2016.

Prior to the All-Star break, Dombrowski maintained that the team was focused on the present. But having entered play today ten-and-a-half games back of the division-leading Royals, the Tigers seem less optimistic of their immediate outlook. The loss of Miguel Cabrera for much of the second half, obviously, also tells large in that assessment.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Tigers, Yankees, Coghlan

The Mets appear to be keeping tabs on Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segurareports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Of the two, Ramirez is the more practical target for New York. He is expected to retire after the season and does not have a no-trade clause. The Mets are also interested in Ben Zobrist, but they believe other teams will outbid them.

  • The Tigers may not need to buy at the trade deadline due to the impending returns of Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Bruce Rondon, and Alex Avila. The lineup has struggled to push runs across the plate, but they lead the AL in OBP. When asked by Rosenthal, GM Dave Dombrowski said there are no scenarios under which the club could become deadline sellers. That means David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Alfredo Simon are unlikely to be traded.
  • The Yankees rotation may not be a priority at the trade deadline if the current starters remain healthy. In addition to the current options, Ivan Nova will begin a rehab assignment soon. Prospects Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell provide further depth. The club could still acquire a star like Cole Hamels, but GM Brian Cashman says some of their top prospects are untouchable.
  • The easiest position for the Cubs to upgrade is left field. Chris Coghlan is hitting just .224/.298/.421 on the season. An unusually low .245 BABIP explains his low average. The club could hope for BABIP regression or replace him in one of several ways. They could trade for somebody like Zobrist. Alternatively, Javier Baez could be promoted to man third base with Kris Bryant moving to the outfield.

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.