Zack Cox Rumors
The Braves acquired Freddy Garcia from the Orioles in late August in a trade that generated few headlines, yet the veteran right-hander posted a 1.65 ERA in 27 1/3 September innings (three relief appearances, three starts). Now, Garcia will take the mound to save Atlanta's season in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, who is starting on short rest for the first time in his career.
Here are some notes from around the NL East...
- The bullpen was a disappointment for the Nationals in 2013 and improving the relief corps "is one of the Nationals' biggest offseason priorities," James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. The Nats will particularly be looking for left-handed relief help. Wagner suggests that the team could possibly trade setup man Tyler Clippard due to his rising price tag in the arbitration process. Clippard earned $4MM last season and has two more years of arb-eligibility remaining.
- Larry Bowa is close to a deal to become the Phillies' new bench coach, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. Bowa managed the Phillies from 2001-04, was a coach with the team from 1989-96 and played in Philadelphia from 1970-81, winning five Gold Gloves and winning a World Series in 1980. Bowa and new Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg were actually traded together from the Phils to the Cubs in 1982.
- Marlins third base prospect Zack Cox is profiled by MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff, who writes that Cox needs to show some consistency in 2014. Cox was taken by the Cardinals with the 25th overall pick of the 2010 draft, then traded to the Marlins for Edward Mujica at the 2012 deadline. Cox was ranked as amongst the top 100 prospects in the sport by Baseball America before the 2011 and 2012 seasons, though he has struggled over the last two years and has been surpassed by Colin Moran as Miami's third baseman of the future.
- This season, the Mets became the first Major League team to work with KinaTrax, a company that tracks pitchers' bio-mechanics via motion-capture technology, Metsblog.com's Matthew Cerrone writes. The purpose is to gather information on how their pitchers' mechanics develop over time, so the Mets can better evaluate their long-term health. The Orioles and Brewers are the only other MLB clubs investing in bio-mechanical evaluations of their players.
- Aaron Harang is a good fit for the Mets on a one-year deal, Metsblog.com's Michael Baron opines. Harang is the type of veteran pitcher that the Mets seem likely to pursue on a short-term contract, as MLBTR's Jeff Todd wrote in his Offseason Outlook entry on the Mets earlier today.
SUNDAY: The Marlins have designated Zack Cox, Gorkys Hernandez, Scott Maine, and Evan Reed for assignment, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel (on Twitter). In a related move, Jose Fernandez will make the club's Opening Day roster and start next Sunday vs. the Mets, tweets Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post.
Fernandez, 20, will make the leap directly from High-A ball to the majors to start the 2013 season. While clubs often delay the debuts of their most promising prospects, the Marlins will put Fernandez on the major league roster despite not being in a position to contend. In 25 Single-A and Advanced-A games last year, the right-hander posted a 1.75 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
We heard last week that the Marlins were exploring a trade for the out-of-options Hernandez, but it appears that they were unable to find a deal. The 25-year-old didn't do much in his 173-plate appearance big league debut with the Pirates and Marlins last season. In Triple-A, he hit .257/.353/.346 in 281 Triple-A plate appearances, playing mostly left field.
The Marlins acquired Cox last July from the Cardinals in exchange for Edward Mujica. In 108 games for the Cards' Triple-A affiliate and the Marlins' Double-A affiliate, the 25-year-old hit .254 /.301/.409 with ten homers.
Maine, 28, made 30 relief appearances for the Indians and Cubs in 2012, posting a 6.08 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9. Reed, 27, split time between the Marlins' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season, posting a 4.68 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
12:24am The Marlins' trade of Yunel Escobar to the Rays earlier tonight was prompted by the fact that Escobar approached the club saying he was not comfortable at third base just days after telling them otherwise, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said that Escobar's $5MM salary will be re-invested toward finding a suitable third base replacement, either via free agency or trade. Earlier today it was reported that the Marlins have interest in Mark Reynolds, and the team has also been linked to Jack Hannahan tonight, though Hannahan's salary certainly won't approach the $5MM mark. For now, the Marlins aren't close to anything, says Capozzi.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel notes, via Twitter, that Zack Cox will get a look in Spring Training but likely isn't ready. The Marlins acquired Cox in exchange for Edward Mujica this past July.
Mujica, 28, has a 4.38 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.38 HR/9, and 50.4% groundball rate in 39 innings for the Marlins this year. Mujica is owed $568K for the remainder of the season and will be arbitration eligible for the third and final time after the season. Mujica was part of the deal that sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres in November 2010.
Cox, 23, was the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2010. He's hitting .254/.294/.421 in 316 Triple-A plate appearances. Baseball America ranked Cox fourth among Cardinals prospects prior to the season, and was still willing to call him a "potential No. 3 hitter" at the time. It's a nice pickup for Mujica, even if Cox's star has fallen.
Photo courtesy of Steve Mitchell/US Presswire.
After suffering a three-game sweep in Milwaukee, the Cardinals sit a half-game behind both the Brew Crew in the NL Central and the Braves in the NL wild card race. Some notes from the Gateway City...
- St. Louis has enough payroll space to make a move before the trade deadline, but maybe just enough for one move, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach as part of a reader mailbag. He doesn't think the Cards would be able to acquire the likes of Jose Reyes, since "they have some prospects to trade, but not a truckload....My read is that they would upgrade another position with that 'one bullet,' such as the bullpen, rather than acquiring a shortstop," Leach says.
- Star prospects Zack Cox, Carlos Martinez (former known as Carlos Matias) and Shelby Miller are "considered untouchable" by the Cards in any trade talks this summer, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says he's heard a few names within the organization who are somewhat unexpectedly available in the right deal.
- The Cardinals have announced the signings of 27 picks from the 2011 amateur draft (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Twitter). Kansas State outfielder Nick Martini, a seventh-round selection, was the highest-drafted of the signed picks. Colby Rasmus' younger brother Casey, a 36th-round pick, also signed.
On a night when Brian Matusz stifled the AL West leaders, here are some news items...
- ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine looks at how the Cubs might replace Derrek Lee, whether it be going after a big free agent or by moving Aramis Ramirez or Tyler Colvin to first base.
- The Mariners are "starting to eye" Ted Simmons as a managerial candidate, according to Fanhouse.com's Tom Krasovic. Simmons, 61, is in his second year as San Diego's bench coach and has only three years of coaching experience overall, though he has spent 19 years in various front office positions. Simmons was an eight-time All-Star during a 21-season playing career with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta from 1968 to 1988.
- Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com predicts that Oakland is "likely" to pick up Coco Crisp's $5.75MM club option for next season.
- Royals owner David Glass adamantly denied rumors that he is thinking of selling the team, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Gil Meche is "ninety-five percent" sure that he'll pitch out of the bullpen next season, writes MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
- The Cardinals' contract with first-round pick Zack Cox is analyzed by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at the top five "free agent signings that worked" from the past winter. The Rangers' deal with Colby Lewis tops the list.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian talks to Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos about the GM's busy first year and his future plans for the Jays.
ESPN's Keith Law found yesterday's first round insane. To fully understand why you should join ESPN Insider and read his piece, which I heartily recommend. A few highlights:
- Law found it interesting that the Brewers snagged high school righty Dylan Covey at #14, because they are a team in need of more immediate rotation help. GM Doug Melvin explained to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that scouting director Bruce Seid deserves credit for not taking the easy path in the form of a college hurler. On yesterday's conference call, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that Covey feels there's a "really good chance" he'll sign rather than attend the University of San Diego.
- Law felt that the Reds took the best player available at #12 in college catcher Yasmani Grandal, and having strong catching depth in the system will not be a bad thing.
- The Cardinals drew praise for landing college third baseman Zack Cox, who surprisingly fell to #25.
- The Red Sox and Angels' many first-round picks were lauded by Law. College righty Anthony Ranaudo was an intriguing choice by the Red Sox. The Boras client was considered one of the draft's top talents before suffering a stress reaction in his forearm. WEEI's Alex Speier has more on Boston's three picks.
- The biggest surprise of the draft had to be the Cubs taking college righty Hayden Simpson at #16, who was not considered a first rounder by most draft gurus. Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken told Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune he had it confirmed that other clubs would've taken Simpson before the Cubs picked again at #65. The Yankees' selection of high school shortstop Cito Culver at #32 was another surprise.
- The Dodgers took a very tough sign in high school pitcher Zach Lee, who has a commitment to play football at LSU. Dodgers assistant GM Logan White insisted to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that the team did not purposely take an unsignable player to save money.
As Mike Rizzo recently suggested, for baseball's general managers and scouting directors, the Super Bowl isn't eight months away -- it's tomorrow. Here are a few more links in anticipation of the 2010 draft....
- Zack Cox is looking for "[Pedro] Alvarez money" which could cause him to slip in the draft, multiple sources tell Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (via Twitter). Alvarez, taken second overall by the Pirates in 2008, signed a four-year deal worth $6.355MM. On top of that, Cox is said to be seeking a major league deal, tweets ESPN's Keith Law.
- The Nats will take Bryce Harper No. 1, barring any drastic changes, GM Mike Rizzo told MASN's Debbi Taylor. If they do take Harper, Washington will move him to the outfield, according to a baseball source who spoke to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
- Despite not having a first round pick, the Tigers are confident they can find talent in the later rounds, writes MLive.com's Steve Kornacki.
- The Pirates have narrowed their choices to include Manny Machado, Jameson Taillon, or a college pitcher, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
- Don't be surprised to see the White Sox draft a college pitcher with the 13th pick, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson spoke with Rizzo, who once again said that they know who they'll select first overall. Rizzo says the player doesn't know he'll be selected, though it's tough to see them passing up consensus top pick Bryce Harper. Rizzo says the second through fifteenth rounds will determine the strength of a draft, and the Nats are "fired up" about it.
- The latest updates from Fanhouse's Frankie Piliere include the Mets' and Yankees' first-round targets, and more details on the deal the Royals are working toward with Yasmani Grandal. Industry sources tell Piliere it'll be worth "upwards of" $3MM.
- The Rangers own four of the top 50 picks in the draft, but they'll be on a budget, says Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- With the sixth pick, the Diamondbacks could be the wild card of the draft, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law (Insider-only). Their top two choices appear to be Barrett Loux and Chris Sale, who MLBTR's Mike Axisa profiled last week.
- A potential first-round pick could have already been a Phillie, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Karen Smith of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review conducts a brief Q&A with Pirates director of scouting Greg Smith.
A few links to check out with the draft less than 60 hours away...
- The Pirates still don't know who they're going to select with the second overall pick according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price. "But it's not going to be one of those things where all of a sudden you're going to say, 'I didn't see that one coming,' " said head scout Greg Smith.
- Bernardo Fallas of The Houston Chronicle says that Derek Dietrich, Brett Eibner, and Chad Bettis all signed releases allowing the Astros to re-draft them. Houston selected all three out of high school in 2007 but didn't sign any of them, and a player has to consent to being re-drafted by a club. All three are considered top 100 prospects by ESPN's Keith Law (sub. req'd) and Baseball America. The Astros hold three of the top 33 picks.
- Law echoes the report of the Royals pursuing a deal with Yasmani Grandal, and says it could push Chris Sale to the Diamondbacks and give the Mets their choice of Zack Cox or Matt Harvey (sub. req'd).
- He also hears that Grandal going to Kansas City would put the White Sox back on college pitching, and that the Giants have interest in Yordy Cabrera for the 24th overall pick.
- Law also mentions that the Padres have narrowed their options for the ninth overall pick down to Michael Choice and Kolbrin Vitek.
- Zachary Levine of The Houston Chronicle looks at five of the best high school hitters available, as well as the Astros' top picks by decade.
- Meanwhile, Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer reviews the Phillies' draft picks from the last decade.