Yu Darvish Rumors

Andrus, Three Other Rangers Clear Waivers; Cotts Still On Wire

A group of high-profile Rangers players has cleared revocable waivers, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ace Yu Darvish, star third baseman Adrian Beltre, young shortstop Elvis Andrus, and recent free agent-signee Shin-Soo Choo have all cleared. (Outfielder Alex Rios has already cleared waivers.) Meanwhile, lefty Neal Cotts is still on waivers, with his period set to expire tomorrow.

Of course, just because that set of big names has cleared names does not necessarily mean that other teams do not want them, let alone that they are likely to be dealt. As Heyman notes, even if a team was interested in adding Darvish or Beltre, placing a claim would start a clock that could well be too short to complete such a significant deal. In the case of Choo, his down year and massive contract made it quite unlikely that another team would want to take his contract.

Andrus, on the other hand, is a more interesting case. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) does not kick in until next year. The 25-year-old has struggled to take the next step at the plate, and owns a .271/.326/.337 batting line over the 2013-14 time frame. Though he is a productive fielder and baserunner, that batting line has limited his cumulative value over that period to 4.4 fWAR and 4.9 rWAR. While his name has been mentioned as a trade possibility, the contract would certainly be a major complication, and it is perhaps somewhat telling that he was left unclaimed.

Ultimately, Cotts seems the most likely to actually change hands. Executives tell Heyman that the setup man will likely be claimed, in which case Texas will have the option of working out a trade, allowing his contract to be assumed by the claiming team, or pulling him back. The 34-year-old is earning just $2.2MM this year and will be a free agent at season’s end, making some sort of transaction seem rather likely. Though he has taken a step back from a stellar 2013 (1.11 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9), Cotts has still been fairly productive this year. He owns a 3.54 ERA and 9.6 K/9 versus 3.4 BB/9 over 53 1/3 frames, with peripherals that suggest he has pitched slightly better. The veteran has actually been somewhat more effective against righties (.673 OPS) than lefties (.731 OPS) on the season.

As a reminder, you can check here for MLBTR’s updated list of players who have cleared revocable waivers.


Injury Updates: Skaggs, Darvish, Tanaka, Fife

Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced to reporters today that Tyler Skaggs underwent successful Tommy John surgery this afternoon. News of Skaggs’ injury first broke on Sunday afternoon. While the Halos have yet to make a move to address the void in their rotation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make some kind of waiver transaction in the next two to three weeks. Skaggs is expected to be out until 2016, Scioscia said on Sunday.

Here’s more on some injury notes from around the league…

  • The Rangers announced tonight that ace Yu Darvish has been placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Sunday) due to inflammation in his right elbow. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Darvish will undergo further testing in the next day or two. Darvish apparently felt tightness when playing catch on Monday, and the discomfort failed to dissipate prior to a scheduled bullpen session on Tuesday. GM Jon Daniels tells reporters, including Grant (Twitter link), that doctors do not believe there is any ligament damage in the elbow. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets that team doctor Keith Meister feels that Darvish may be suffering from pronator flexor tendinitis. Darvish will undergo an MRI tomorrow, and in the meantime, the Rangers have selected the contract of right-hander Alex Claudio to take his roster spot. Daniels says the team is hopeful that Darvish will only miss two starts.
  • Injured Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka threw fastballs from flat ground today — a step forward from playing catch — tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Tanaka feels that he still has a chance to pitch in a Major League game again this season. Skipper Joe Girardi told reporters, including Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger, that the team also has hope that Tanaka is not lost for the year.
  • Yet another pitcher has fallen prey to the Tommy John scourge, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweets that Dodgers righty Stephen Fife will undergo the procedure. Fife, who started 10 games for the Dodgers last year and one this season, has a 3.66 ERA in 91 Major League innings over the past three seasons. It seems likely that the 27-year-old would miss most, if not all of the 2015 campaign.

Rangers Links: Injuries, Darvish, Gallo, Ortiz

In one of his latest pieces, Grantland’s Jonah Keri breaks down the historic injury woes that have ravaged the Rangers’ roster this season. Keri points to some research done by Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs that had pegged the Padres as the most injury-prone team from 2010-13, noting that in San Diego’s worst season, their players spent a total of 1221 days on the DL. The 2014 Rangers, Keri writes, are on pace for an unfathomable 1715 days on the DL. To compound matters, they’ve lost a number of key contributors for the entire season, including Prince Fielder, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez, while No. 2 starter Derek Holland has yet to pitch.

Here are some more links pertaining to what could be baseball’s unluckiest team in 2014…

  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reminds readers of a potentially dangerous clause for the Rangers in Darvish’s contract: if Darvish wins a Cy Young Award at any point in 2012-16 and finishes in 2nd-4th place in another of those seasons, the final year of his contract becomes a player option. Darvish finished second in last year’s voting, meaning that if he wins the Cy Young Award in any of the next four years, he can opt out of his deal one year early. As Grant notes, the team’s short-term gains could result in some long-term damage. Darvish fired his first career shutout last night to drop his ERA to 2.11.
  • In a second Grantland piece, Ben Lindbergh looks at the unparalleled career of Rangers prospect Joey Gallo, who has polarized scouts with his 80-grade power and his alarming propensity for swinging and missing. As Lindberg notes, the term “unique” is used perhaps too liberally when discussing players in a game with a history as long as baseball’s, but Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system can find virtually no player with a strong degree of similarity to Gallo. Lindbergh spoke with Gallo and many of his coaches and mentors — including Jason Giambi — in an examination of adjustments to his approach this season. Gallo was recently promoted to Double-A and has received very positive reviews for his improved approach and mechanics this season.
  • Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest shares a brief video of Rangers first-rounder Luis Ortiz stating that the opportunity to be drafted by Texas “means the world” to him, and he placed an emphasis on signing early to begin his pro career as quickly as possible.


West Notes: Darvish, Ubaldo, Hart, Fielder

Last night, the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez elaborated on reports that Michael Young is said to be weighing retirement, noting that if Young played in 2014, it can be considered a "safe bet" that it will be for the Dodgers. Young has been connected to a number of teams thus far, but to this point, there's yet to be a concrete indication as to whether or not he will play next season. Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions…

  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels said over the weekend at the team's fan fest that he would approach ace Yu Darvish about an extension "at the right time," writes ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. Daniels pointed out that Darvish is controlled for four more years, so there's no urgency in getting a new deal worked out. The team's current focus is on getting Darvish, who was unsurprisingly announced as the Opening Day starter, ready to make 33 starts in 2014. As Durrett reminds, Darvish's contract allows him to opt out of the final year if he wins a Cy Young or finishes No. 2-4 in the voting twice from now through 2016.
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post has still not heard of any interest from the Rockies in terms of a potential reunion with Ubaldo Jimenez (Sulia link). The relationship between the two sides ended poorly, says Renck, and it wouldn't make sense on Jimenez's behalf to spend the bulk of his career pitching at an altitude.
  • Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Mariners are comfortable using a rotation of Corey Hart, Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison at first base and DH, with Hart eventually getting more time in the outfield as his surgically repaired knees recover. Hart has been doing simulated ground-balls to work on his footwork and agility but has not yet progressed to taking fly-balls, he said at the Mariners' fan fest this weekend. The presence of all three first base/DH-type players led to trade speculation earlier in the offseason.
  • Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes that Prince Fielder will hit third ahead of Adrian Beltre in next year's Rangers lineup — a concept that caused Beltre to boldly proclaim that Fielder will win the American League MVP award. Though he's usually been the one in the No. 4 spot (behind Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera), Fielder said he's excited to hit in front of Beltre. New leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo's robust on-base percentage figures to help Fielder's counting stats as well, Fraley points out.

AL West Notes: Darvish, O’Flaherty, Angels, Mariners

In less than two years, Yu Darvish's contract went from a big risk for the Rangers to a major bargain, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes.  Between Darvish's posting fee and six-year contract (plus bonuses), Durrett calculates that Darvish will cost Texas roughly $111MM over the six years, a deal that looks very reasonable compared to the massive contracts signed by other ace pitchers around baseball since the 2010-11 offseason.  Masahiro Tanaka, for instance, is set to earn twice as much as Darvish over the next four seasons though most scouts concur that Darvish is the better pitcher.

Here's some more from around the AL West…


Red Sox Notes: Crawford, Ramirez, Beckett, Ellsbury

One year ago, the Red Sox shocked the baseball world when they hit the reset button with their massive blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.  Today, Boston finds themselves atop of the AL East, something that very few could have predicted after they shed roughly $270MM in payroll.  Alex Speier of WEEI.com has a fascinating article today on the trade that altered the direction of the club and the possible alternatives that could have also taken place.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • One rumor prior to last year's non-waiver deadline had the Red Sox considering a swap of Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez with the Marlins.  However, such a deal never came close.  One source familiar with the talks said that Boston would done the deal straight up, but the problem was the difference in salary.  Such a move would have required the Marlins to break out the checkbook as there was $37MM+ owed to Ramirez through 2014 and a whopping $110.5MM owed to Crawford through 2017.
  • However, there were other proposed deals that had legs, particularly ones involving Josh Beckett.  According to multiple industry sources, the Rangers and Red Sox explored a number of possible deals including one that had a framework of Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury going to Texas with the Red Sox getting left-hander Derek Holland.  However, Beckett told WEEI's Rob Bradford that the talks never gained enough traction for the team to discuss the possibility of him waiving his no-trade rights.
  • The Dodgers were among the clubs with interest in Beckett prior to the July 31st deadline and that was information that the Red Sox stored for later.
  • The club's previous free-spending ways handcuffed them from even considering a run at Yu Darvish after the 2011 season.  Of course, the blockbuster with L.A. gave them much more flexibility going forward.  GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that a trade deadline deal like the Jake Peavy trade this year simply wasn't possible given the payroll constraints that the team previously faced.
  • Boston considered using their prospects to help get out from under bad contracts, but they ultimately decided against that.  "We'd made the decision long term, we were just going to need to start holding on to [top prospects] and figuring out what they could do," said one team official. "Instead of picking the right guy, keep them all in the tub and let them decide for us. Back when we were good, that's what we did."  
  • Up until the Dodgers deal happened, Cherington says that he wasn't planning on making any significant moves in August.  There was some thought given to turning the Dodgers down and waiting until the offseason when they could revisit talks with L.A. and other clubs.  However, Boston didn't want to let the opportunity to start fresh pass them by. 

Quick Hits: AL Rookies, Nationals, Indians, Valentine

On this day in baseball history in 1941, Joe DiMaggio won his second American League MVP award. The runner-up was Ted Williams, who had batted .406 on the season and lost the award thanks to a writer who left him off the ballot. Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league…

  • The American League, more specifically the AL West, served as home this season to a talented crop of rookies beyond just Mike Trout, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Hagen points to Yoenis CespedesJesus Montero and Yu Darvish as players who have strong cases that would easily win AL Rookie of the Year any other year, but Trout's not only a finalist for being the top rookie as he looks to take home league MVP as well.
  • While the Nationals failed to collect the hardware that comes with winning the World Series, the team's manager, top rookie and ace look to make up for it this week as the BBWAA award winners are announced, says Amanda Comak of The Washington Times. Strangely enough, Washington manager Davey Johnson was fired the same day he last won a Manager of the Year award thanks to a contract dispute with the Orioles back in 1997.
  • Count the Indians among the teams interested in pursuing Jason Bay's services, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Beyond Bay, Hoynes suggests the team could be in play for Melky Cabrera as the pressure-free environment in Cleveland could help him rebound next season.
  • Bobby Valentine's future may not take shape in a dugout, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com believes the veteran manager would be an asset to Major League Baseball by working for commissioner Bud Selig.

Olney’s Latest: NL Trade Market, Darvish

In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney compares the current state of the trade market to shopping at an airport, where priced are designed to gouge customers. Buyers want more sellers and sellers want more buyers. Olney also previewed the NL trade market, so let's dive in…

  • The Mets are among teams looking for bullpen help and are waiting for the market develop. The division-rival Nationals are also in the market for relief help but do have Drew Storen on the mend. Olney wonders if they'll look for a starter given Stephen Strasburg's inning limit.
  • Executives expect the Padres to deal Carlos Quentin and Huston Street, plus they continue to get calls about Chase Headley. Olney speculates that the Reds could be a fit for Quentin.
  • The Braves are looking to add a veteran starting pitcher, but Olney says they're unlikely to swing a trade for Zack Greinke without having some kind of long-term contract agreement in place.
  • Olney wonders if the Diamondbacks could become surprise buyers for pitching help given Joe Saunders' injury and Trevor Bauer's early struggles. The Cardinals figure to jump into the pitching market given Chris Carpenter's season-ending shoulder surgery.
  • The Cubs, Astros, and Rockies are among the clubs in sell mode. The Brewers will wait a little longer before deciding to sell, and while Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and others could be on the block, Corey Hart will not.
  • Olney says the Blue Jays actually finished third in the bidding for Yu Darvish behind the Rangers and Cubs. No bid was within $35MM of the $51.7MM Texas submitted.

Rangers Notes: Darvish, Hamilton, Rodriguez, Miller

No team in baseball has scored more runs or allowed fewer runs than the Rangers, so it's no wonder they're 13-3. Here are some Rangers-related links as they prepare to host the Yankees…

  • GM Jon Daniels tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that the team didn't mind potentially overpaying during the bidding process for Yu Darvish. “We said, ‘Here’s how we evaluate him, let’s go to the top of our means, whatever we’re willing to pay,’” Daniels said. “It was not about getting the best possible deal. It was about getting the player. And we had to be O.K. with that.”
  • One MLB agent said told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has a strong case for an extension, despite his history of off-field and injury issues. "He's done nothing but perform for them, and nothing he's done has affected him there,” the person said. “He's always performed there, and he continues to perform."
  • Ivan Rodriguez and the Rangers have discussed the possibility of working together in the future, Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports. "It would be good for our organization and he wants to stay involved in baseball, so we're looking forward to working something out," CEO Nolan Ryan said of his former battery-mate. Rodriguez formally announced his retirement today.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Rangers have the best lineup in baseball and may be the best team in the game right now (video link). 
  • The Rangers released Justin Miller, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest tweets. The right-hander has a partial tear of his right UCL. Here's a complete list of the day's minor moves.

Arte Moreno On Pujols, Crawford, Reagins, Darvish

Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke to GQ's Nathaniel Penn about a number of the team's recent moves (and non-moves) in this Q&A piece…

  • Moreno isn't worried that he'll be paying Albert Pujols $30MM per season after he turns 40.  “If he's healthy enough and he's playing for us, then I'm gonna just say, ‘Merry Christmas to all baseball fans,' because we get to see one of the best players of our generation coming to bat," Moreno said.  The owner also noted that his wife played a role in the Pujols negotiations, as both she and Pujols' wife have ties to the Kansas City area.
  • The Angels didn't investigate rumors that Pujols is older than his listed age.  "Somebody starts checking on your age you start wondering, 'Do we really want to have a relationship like this?'", Moreno said.
  • The Angels never bid on Carl Crawford during the 2010-11 offseason.  Moreno stood by his criticism of Crawford's seven-year/$142MM contract with Boston since "I don't think anybody…was in the vicinity of that offer."  In Pujols' case, however, the team felt comfortable signing him to a massive contract since the Halos had lots of new funds coming in via their new TV deal.
  • "Still, I don't think in a perfect world we really thought Albert was going to be available," Moreno said. "They just won a championship in St. Louis, he had been there eleven years, and you think they're gonna make a deal."
  • Moreno wasn't keen to discuss the firing of former GM Tony Reagins, saying "I just think what happens is over a period of time you don't think you're going in the direction you want to go."  Moreno did hint that Reagins was fired due to the combination of the Halos missing the playoffs for the last two seasons and the thus-far disasterous results of team's deal for Vernon Wells.
  • Speaking of that deal, Moreno said his team's baseball staff felt Mike Napoli's throwing arm wouldn't hold up for an entire season of catching and he was about to get too expensive for the team's liking through arbitration.  Moreno praised Rangers manager Ron Washington's handling of Napoli and also noted "the book's not closed on Vernon, you know."  
  • The Angels didn't bid on Yu Darvish and Moreno said was never approached by his baseball staff about the Japanese right-hander, guessing it was due to the size of the required posting bid.