Yunel Escobar Rumors

Quick Hits: Upton, Greinke, Escobar, Managers

Stephen Strasburg may not be there, but the Nationals are going to the playoffs.  The Nats clinched a postseason berth with tonight's 4-1 win over the Dodgers and now have a magic number of eight to clinch the NL East.  This is the franchise's first postseason appearance since reaching the NLCS (as the Expos) in 1981, and the first time a Washington baseball team has made the postseason since the Senators played in the 1933 World Series.

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic talks to several executives and scouts about Justin Upton's trade value, with the general consensus being that the Diamondbacks can still command a high price for the outfielder, though Upton's disappointing 2012 campaign has hurt his value.  Opinion was split on whether the D'Backs or Rangers would have to add players in such a possible Upton-for-Elvis Andrus deal.
  • Upton discusses his season, his career development and his feelings about the trade rumors in an extensive profile by Robert Sanchez of ESPN The Magazine.
  • John Axford believes the Zack Greinke trade was the inspiration for the Brewers' surprising turn-around, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.  Since Greinke was dealt to the Angels on July 27, the Brewers have surged back into the NL wild card race with a 32-18 record, including today's win over the Pirates.  "Personally, I thought it was going to be more motivation for certain guys," Axford said. "There wasn't ever a thought on this team that this was a lost season. It was disappointing for a while….But there's no guy on this team that's going to lie down and give up. It's shown recently."  
  • "The sense now is that some teams would still be willing to take [Yunel Escobar] on provided he delivers a proper penance first," writes Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi.  Escobar is scheduled to return on Friday from his three-game suspension for wearing eye black that contained a homophobic slur.  This incident could spur Escobar's departure from Toronto, especially since the Blue Jays have promising shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the wings. 
  • ESPN's Jim Bowden lists ten of the top managerial candidates, a compilation that includes nine men who have never managed at the Major League level and two-time World Series winner Terry Francona.  Two names on Bowden's list (Tim Bogar and Dave Martinez) are reportedly the top candidates to become the Astros' new manager.
  • Jim Thome's quest for a World Series ring has surprisingly taken him to the Orioles instead of the Phillies, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, but the slugger has dropped hints that 2012 may not be his last season.
  • Derek Jeter told ESPN's Rick Reilly (passed on by Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News) that he would potentially be open to playing for a team besides the Yankees once his current contract expires.  "Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes," Jeter said. "It's a business. People forget that."  Jeter is under contract through the 2013 season with an $8MM player option for 2014; the shortstop turns 40 years old in June 2014.

Quick Hits: Mets, Reyes, Cardinals, Escobar

If you're among MLBTR's 202,000 Twitter followers then thanks for following. If you aren’t yet following, we’d recommend it. But you don't have to take our word for it. Sports Illustrated named @mlbtraderumors one of the 100 essential Twitter accounts for those seeking “news, information and entertainment from the sports world.” Here are today’s links…

  • MLB is nearing agreements with FOX and Turner Sports on new eight-year broadcasting contracts according to the AP (via ESPN). Revenue from the two networks is likely to double to $800MM annually.
  • Commissioner Bud Selig isn’t worried about the Mets, Newsday's Marc Carig reports (Twitterlinks). "I don't consider the Mets a problem in any way, shape or manner,” Selig said. “They're on the right track." Selig went on to express confidence in the Wilpon family and general manager Sandy Alderson.
  • The Mets should be open to trading Ike Davis this winter, especially if they can fill multiple holes by sending the first baseman to another team, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. The Mets have too many needs to rule out possible deals involving Davis.
  • The first year of Jose Reyes’ deal with Miami would have to be called a success, Davidoff writes. The Marlins shortstop leads the team with 147 games played despite previous concerns about his durability.
  • One well-connected person estimates the Cardinals are worth $1.5 billion, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch reports (on Twitter). The Dodgers recently sold for a record $2 billion in a positive development for other MLB owners.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Greg Brady and Jim Lang on Sportsnet 590 the FAN that Yunel Escobar’s decision to write a homophobic slur on his eye black was “stupid, selfish, shameful, insensitive.” Anthopoulos acknowledged that he thought about suspending Escobar for a year or releasing him (hat tip to John Lott of the National Post).

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Escobar, Orioles, Chavez

The Blue Jays announced that they’ve suspended Yunel Escobar for three games because the shortstop played with a homophobic slur written under his eyes in Spanish this past weekend. Here are today’s AL East notes, starting with the Blue Jays…

  • Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com suggests the Blue Jays will make Escobar available in trades again this coming offseason. Knobler expects Escobar will draw interest, despite his poor offensive performance and the perception that he can be a difficult teammate. The Blue Jays had planned to move Escobar to second base, but were apprehensive about having to deliver the message to the 29-year-old, Knobler reports.
  • When Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette got started in Baltimore, he said he wanted to improve his team's on-base percentage and acquire talented players who weren't getting opportunities elsewhere. As Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun explains, Duquette has found unexpected contributors, but hasn't improved the team's on-base percentage. Expect Duquette to look for players with above-average on-base percentages this coming offseason.
  • Endy Chavez's presence has made the Oriolessearch for outfield help less urgent, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).


Latest On Athletics’ Search For Infielders

11:18am: It doesn't look like the Athletics will acquire a shortstop today, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).

TUESDAY, 10:55am: MLB Network's Peter Gammons is a hearing a flat "no" on the idea of Drew going to the A's.

MONDAY, 6:03pm: Trade talk about a potential deal that would send Stephen Drew from Arizona to Oakland still has life, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). However, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reported today that the Athletics have backed off their pursuit of Drew and Yunel Escobar for now, (Twitter link). 

Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Athletics aren't favored to acquire Drew if the Diamondbacks trade him. Oakland is reluctant to match Toronto's asking price on Escobar, according to Rosenthal. Drew and Escobar are Oakland's top two choices for a shortstop upgrade, Jon Heyman reported today.

The A's looked into the possibility of acquiring Jimmy Rollins, but would have had to take on his entire contract ($11MM per season through 2014 with a vesting option for 2015) to complete a deal, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. The price in terms of prospects wasn't high, but there's no guarantee Rollins, a Bay Area native, would approve a trade to Oakland. The Dodgers are no longer a fit for Rollins, Knobler writes.


Heyman On Morneau, Dodgers, Athletics, Mets

The latest from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

  • The Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Giants "appear to have some interest" in Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.  Heyman notes that the Dodgers are looking at many offensive options, possibly as many as 10.  Morneau, 31, has somewhat bounced back to a .260/.322/.457 line after a 2011 season lost to concussion symptoms and other injuries.  He has $5MM in salary remaining this year and is owed $14MM in 2013.
  • The Athletics' top two choices for a shortstop upgrade are still Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks and Yunel Escobar of the Blue Jays.  The A's remain interested in Padres third baseman Chase Headley as well, but Heyman finds a match unlikely.
  • The Mets have talked about Geovany Soto of the Cubs, Kelly Shoppach of the Red Sox, and Ramon Hernandez of the Rockies, but the prices are too high on these catchers.  Heyman says the Mets may be willing to delay their catcher search until the winter.

West Notes: D-Backs, Drew, Yunel, Headley

It's been a busy weekend in baseball's Western divisions; the Angels have landed Zack Greinke, the Padres have extended Huston Street, the Giants have landed Marco Scutaro and the Diamondbacks have acquired Chris Johnson. There's still plenty of news and potential action out west, however… here are tonight's links:

  • The Diamondbacks may not be finished dealing yet, writes Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Arizona GM Kevin Towers told reporters on Sunday that he could pursue additional pitching prior to Tuesday's deadline. Towers also hinted that one of the club's infielders could be on the move: "As it stands now it will be tough to get them all at-bats, but we'll see what happens the next two to three days."
  • There's no guarantee that the Diamondbacks trade Stephen Drew, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The D-backs are currently deciding whether they want to give the bulk of the playing time at shortstop to Drew or Willie Bloomquist.
  • If they go with Bloomquist, the Athletics are not the favorites to land Drew; an unspecified mystery team would be most likely, according to Rosenthal's source.
  • Within the same piece, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics are reluctant to match the Blue Jays' asking price for Yunel Escobar.
  • The Padres are weighing several offers for Chase Headley, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but San Diego isn't sure if they want to move him.
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow felt that the high asking price on Headley had a beneficial effect on the market for Johnson, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

Quick Hits: Span, White Sox, Soriano

The Phillies acquired Hunter Pence from the Astros for prospects Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton and Josh Zeid and a player to be named later on this date last year. Here are the latest links as we look forward to yet another busy trade deadline…


Olney On Span, Shields, Johnson, Padres

A player’s contract status can affect his trade value substantially this time of year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Players under team-friendly contracts, like Denard Span, are much harder to acquire in trades. "It's really hard to place a value on a contract like that," one GM told Olney. Here are Olney’s latest notes from around MLB:

  • The Blue Jays say Yunel Escobar has been a good team guy for them, despite his reputation as a difficult player. Escobar is under contract for $5MM per season through 2013 and his contract includes two club options valued at $5MM each for 2014-15. That’s good value for a 29-year-old who handles an up-the-middle position and has a history of providing league-average offense, Olney writes.
  • There’s interest in James Shields, but the Rays could decide to hold their pitching staff together to make a run at the playoffs if Evan Longoria’s rehab assignment goes well. Some executives believe the Rays will trade Shields this month, according to Olney.
  • The Marlins aren’t especially motivated to trade Josh Johnson, Olney writes. They’re content to keep him if they don’t get the trade offers they’re looking for.
  • Anything the Indians do now will be done to help them win in 2013, not just in 2012.
  • The Padres aren’t far down the road in trade talks regarding Chase Headley, Olney tweets. San Diego might table trade talks until the winter, he suggests.

Athletics Notes: Escobar, Inge, Griffin

Here are some of the latest rumors out of Oakland as the A's look to be buyers and not sellers at the trade deadline…

  • Yunel Escobar's reported attitude problems have given the A's pause in pursuing the Blue Jays shortstop, but after talking to Toronto sources, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle "the sense I got was that Escobar has matured from his Atlanta days, when he was at his worst. Two people with the Blue Jays told me they really like Escobar and his reputation is overblown."  In terms of other possible shortstop upgrades, Slusser doesn't think Marco Scutaro "is a top option" for the A's and Stephen Drew might not be available if the Diamondbacks make other moves.
  • The A's are focusing on shortstop more than third base, opines Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News GroupBrandon Inge entered tonight's action with a .211/.269/.395 line since joining the A's, but Stiglich writes that Oakland values his defense and clubhouse leadership.
  • A.J. Griffin's "value is at an all-time high" and the rookie right-hander could be a "viable trade chip" to get the Athletics a shortstop, a rival executive tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Griffin, 24, has impressed since joining the A's rotation, posting a 2.25 ERA and 3.63 K/BB ratio in six starts.

Quick Hits: Gregerson, Rangers, Indians, Escobar

As usual, the market for relievers is developing late.  One name to watch, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter) is Padres right-hander Luke Gregerson.  The 28-year-old could appeal to clubs as he has a 3.05 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 on the year.  While Gregerson could be a valuable trade chip for San Diego, the Mets reportedly turned down a proposal that would have sent Gregerson to Queens for Daniel Murphy.  Here's a look around baseball as we burn the midnight oil on MLBTR..

  • One AL scout told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that if he were a betting man, he'd put his money on the Rangers landing Zack Greinke.  Meanwhile, if the Rangers or Angels land Greinke, the Rays could get the other club to overpay for James Shields.
  • After talking with Indians GM Chris Antonetti, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (via Twitter) believes that the Tribe is looking to add or stand relatively pat at the deadline rather than sell.
  • Yunel Escobar's clubhouse reputation has been a red flag for some teams and is hurting his market value, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.  The A's have been linked to the shortstop but are lukewarm on him as they are wary of disrupting their locker room atmosphere.