Zack Greinke Rumors

Winter Meetings Rumors: Giants, Santana, Marlins, Morneau, Dodgers, Angels

Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:

  • The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
  • The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the GiantsRoyals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
  • The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
  • Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
  • Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
  • The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
  • After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.

NL West Rumors: Montero, Greinke, Ross

The Giants have fallen short on a few free agent targets this offseason, but they’re not worried, reports Henry Schulman in a series of tweets. Per Schulman, the Giants don’t feel a need to “win” bidding wars. They’ll stick to their dollar figure, which could affect their pursuit of Jon Lester. The club clearly wasn’t comfortable topping the $68MM offer to Yasmany Tomas or $44MM offer to Nick Markakis. In the case of another free agent they missed out on – Pablo Sandoval – the Giants reportedly made a comparable offer to the Red Sox.

  • Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that the D’Backs would need to be “overwhelmed” to move Mark Trumbo.  Still, the Mariners are among the teams that are monitoring the situation.
  • Earlier today, Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa said that contrary to reports, there was no agreed upon deal with the Dodgers that would have sent Miguel Montero to L.A.  When asked if a Montero-to-the-Dodgers deal could still happen, La Russa said, “The conversations are not what they were before. I think it’s less likely,” according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter).  However, La Russa added that ownership has not deemed Montero untouchable (link).
  • Dodgers president Andrew Friedman says that he’ll let the year play out before addressing Zack Greinke‘s opt out clause, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).  From the sound of it, the Dodgers don’t have extension talks with the pitcher on their agenda for this winter.
  • Friedman said he would have zero hesitation in trading players within the division, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Friedman went on to say (link) that he has not visited any free agents this winter.
  • Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter) doesn’t think that there’s much to the speculation that the Rangers will make a run at Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner.  Texas reportedly has more interest in Tyson Ross.

NL West Notes: Sabean, Padres, Dodgers, Gonzalez

Earlier today, we learned that the Dodgers are interested in adding a reliever, as well as a bench bat.  The club has already added two right-handed starters this month, acquiring Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia. Now, comes word Zack Greinke has skipped his between-starts side session with what manager Don Mattingly called “some soreness and things like that,” reports ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon. The Dodgers, who have lost starters Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu to the disabled list, are hopeful Greinke will make his next start Thursday.  Here’s more out of the NL West..

  • Giants GM Brian Sabean said he is skeptical making of any roster additions in August, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.  Heading into tonight’s slate of games, the Giants trail the Dodgers by 3.5 games in the NL West and hold a thin lead on the second Wild Card spot.
  • New Padres GM A.J. Preller has successfully pried veteran executive Don Welke away from the Rangers, two sources tell Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.  The Padres have confirmed the hiring announcing Welke will serve as their vice president of scouting operations.  The Rangers had the right to refuse but chose not to get in Welke’s way of taking a job with San Diego.  Welke, a long-time scout under Pat Gillick in Toronto, was in his eighth season with the Rangers after coming over from the Dodgers.
  • Earlier today, the Padres optioned right-hander Jesse Hahn to Double-A San Antonio as a way to taper his workload, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The 25-year-old has tossed 110 1/3 innings this season between San Diego and San Antonio and is expected to rejoin the parent club when rosters expand in September.
  • The Dodgers are having bullpen problems, but acquiring a quality reliever at this point of the season is downright impossible, writes MLB.com’s Sarah D. Morris.  The Dodgers’ bullpen has been performing below expectations all season long, but losing both Paul Maholm and Chris Perez weakened it even further.
  • Carlos Gonzalez underwent left knee surgery today (his third different operation this year) and says “everything went perfect,” reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The rehab, however, is expected to extend into Spring Training as the Rockies outfielder will be in a walking brace for three months and a determination on his status won’t be made for another two months after that.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



NL Notes: Mets, Colon, Murphy, Greinke, Fedde

The National League representative in the World Series will cede the right to home-field advantage as a result of tonight’s All-Star game, which the American League took 5-3. Here’s the latest out of the NL:

  • The Mets still do not know whether they attempt to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). Of course, that would presumably also require a decision that the team will pursue contention; New York is seven games back in the NL East at the break.
  • If, instead, the Mets turn into sellers, one name that has drawn some attention is hurler Bartolo Colon, but Puma reports that the club has not yet received interest in the veteran righty. The 41-year-old owns a 3.99 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9 through 121 2/3 innings. He is playing on a $9MM salary this year and is guaranteed $11MM for 2015.
  • Another popular name in trade circles is Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who also has been rumored as an extension candidate as he enters his final season of arbitration eligibility. Murphy says that the team has not yet engaged him in extension talks, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). At age 29, Murphy owns a .294/.342/.413 batting line with seven long balls and 11 stolen bases.
  • Dodgers starter Zack Greinke says that he will be paying close attention to the coming free agent market as he assesses whether to exercise his opt-out clause after the 2015 season, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times“What happens with [Jon] Lester and [Max] Scherzer will say a lot,” said Greinke. Though the righty notes that salaries seem to still be on the rise, he also says that he is aware of the fact that teams tend to be “paying more for future performance” than past results. As Shaikin notes, Greinke will have the right to choose between another bout of free agency and the $71MM over three years that he’ll have left on his deal otherwise.
  • One notable recent draftee that has yet to sign is Nationals first-rounder Erick Fedde, who fell to the 18th slot (with its $2,145,600 bonus allocation) after undergoing Tommy John surgery. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, there is a growing belief that a deal might not get done. Like several other recent Nats choices whose signings have come down to the wire, Fedde is a client of agent Scott Boras. The high-upside righty wants $3MM, says Kilgore, which he was apparently told he could get by teams picking after Washington. The collegiate junior is said to believe he could still land that level of bonus next year; as Kilgore notes, he will not throw a pitch in the meantime regardless.
  • Per the MLB.com draft signing tracker, Washington has saved a total of $358.2K on its remaining selections from the first ten rounds, with second-rounder Andrew Suarez ($987.8K slot) and ninth-rounder Austin Byler ($145.9K slot) still unsigned, and the latter reportedly unlikely to do so. By my math, assuming the Nats sign Suarez at slot value but cannot ink Byler, they could chip in an additional $278,990 (5% above total slot for signed players, which comes with a 75% overage tax) before hitting penalties that would require the sacrifice of a first-round pick next year. Added to the other savings and Fedde’s own slot allocation, that would mean D.C. could pay Fedde as much as $2,782,790.

Dodgers Notes: Wilson, Outfield, Guerrero, Greinke

Dodgers’ reliever Brian Wilson, who is playing on a one-year, $10MM deal that includes a $9MM player option for next season, showed a dramatic velocity drop in his outing last night. The usually hard-throwing Wilson only topped 90 mph on one fastball, though he was throwing in a blowout. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports (via Sulia), both Wilson and trainer Stan Conte have informed manager Don Mattingly that Wilson has no physical issues. Mattingly did say he was concerned with Wilson’s inconsistent production and velocity numbers, though he chalked it up to the fact that Wilson thrives in high-leverage situations. Wilson sports an unsightly 10.22 ERA through 12 1/3 innings, with 10.9 K/9 against 8.8 BB/9.

  • The long-discussed “problem” of having four viable outfielders has finally manifested itself in Los Angeles, with Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig all at full strength. (Indeed, the situation is only complicated further by fifth option Scott Van Slyke, who has outplayed all but Puig, and top prospect Joc Pederson, who has a 1.125 OPS at Triple-A.) Nevertheless, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, GM Ned Colletti still does not appear inclined to make a move. “It’s a situation we’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “But we’re always going to be one injury away from not having to deal with it. It gives everybody a chance to take a breath, get a day.”
  • In another area that could probably be classified as a rich man’s problem, Dilbeck asks whether Dee Gordon‘s improbably outstanding start to the year makes for difficulties with top free agent signee Alex Guerrero. While Guerrero is swinging the bat well at Triple-A (.326/.386/.554 slash in 101 plate appearances), Colletti says his “defense is still something that needs to get better.” A position switch could be considered in the future, though nothing is impending. “We’ll decide at some point in time if we need to add more versatility to his defense to give him a better chance of getting here,” Colletti explained. Dilbeck notes that Guerrero, 27, will need to see MLB time in the near future if he is to return value on his $28MM deal, and wonders whether that contract would be attractive on the trade market.
  • Starter Zack Greinke is well aware of the dangers of too much stress on his elbow, and has changed his entire approach in an effort to maintain his ability to throw into the future, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. In particular, Greinke has pulled back the use of his slider, saving it for more important situations. “In what I would deem a very important at-bat or a very important pitch, yes, I would throw the slider,” said Greinke. “But with the pitcher up and no one on, you might be able to strike him out with three pitches. DO you really want to throw three sliders to a pitcher? Is it really smart of me to expend full energy on a slider in that situation?” Interestingly, while Brown cites several pitchers who say they work at max effort all of the time (including Nathan Eovaldi and Clayton Kershaw), Greinke said he did not. “I don’t do that,” he said. “I don’t think I physically could. I pick my times.”

NL Notes: Prado, Johnson, Mattingly, Dodgers

Here are a few notes from around the National League:

  • When the Diamondbacks shipped young outfielder Justin Upton to the Braves, the biggest major league piece they got back was utilityman extraordinaire Martin Prado. Now, with the two clubs in the midst of their first series of the year, Prado has reflected on the deal. As MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports, Prado says he is happy for his former club: “The thing that makes me feel real good is that you know that you got traded and the [Braves] now look better. I’m happy because all of my ex-teammates can see that they gave up something, but actually got a better team. That’s what [Braves general manager Frank Wren] was looking for. He made a good move.” Having spent his entire career in the Atlanta organization, Prado explained that the shock of the trade took more than a month to wear off.
  • While Prado has hit below his career norms to start the year, one of the players he was traded for — third baseman Chris Johnson — is off to a stellar beginning of the season for Atlanta. As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets, Johnson says he is excited to be squaring off against his former club: "Any time you get traded, you want to come back to the place you got traded from and show them what they're missing." Johnson, along with platoon partner Juan Francisco, effectively took over for Prado as the replacement for the retired Chipper Jones. Now, Johnson is off to a career-best slash line of .324/.355/.486 over his first 110 plate appearances.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly may be the obvious choice to take the fall for his club's rough start, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says there is little to be gained from such a move at this time. For one thing, says Rosenthal, there is no obvious replacement who could get more production from the team. And with several major players seemingly likely to return soon from injury, Mattingly should get a while longer to try and manufacture a turnaround.
  • No doubt Mattingly's job security will depend in part on the form of top offseason acquisition Zack Greinke after he recovers from a broken collarbone. Mattingly says that Greinke will return to the mound tomorrow night against the Nationals, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports on Twitter.
  • Meanwhile, Los Angeles is continuing to undertake a major change in how it draws players into the organization, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Shaikin says that the Dodgers have signed 46 amateur ballplayers from Latin America since the new ownership group took over last year. The previous ownership group had "all but killed" the club's Latin America presence, says Shaikin.

The Implications Of Zack Greinke’s Injury

When the Dodgers spent $147MM on Zack Greinke this offseason, they were expecting 33 starts per season of an ace-caliber pitcher. Instead, Greinke will now find himself on the shelf for a significant portion of time following a brawl in the Dodgers-Padres game that broke out after he hit Carlos Quentin in the shoulder with a pitch.

Two things are clear here. The move has serious financial and roster implications for the Dodgers, and Quentin is a lock to be suspended. What does that mean, specifically, for the involved parties? It depends on how long Greinke is out for, first of all, which has yet to be announced. ESPN's Jayson Stark notes that recent history shows this type of injury has a recovery time of anywhere from one to three months (All Twitter links). Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis broke his collarbone in late February and is hoping to return in early May. Clint Barmes broke his collarbone in 2005 and was on the shelf for three months. The only pitcher Stark could find who suffered the injury was Chris Bosio, who missed a month.

Greinke is earning $17MM in the 2013 season, which is 182 calendar days long. Assuming a timetable of 30 to 90 days (roughly one to three months), the Dodgers figure to be out somewhere between $2.8MM and $8.4MM of this year's investment in Greinke. That's a sizeable chunk of salary, although they could have an insurance policy on the contract that will cover a portion of the injury.

This also means that the Dodgers' former surplus of starting pitching has likely been sorted out for the time being. With Aaron Harang now in Seattle, the Dodgers can place one of Ted Lilly or Chris Capuano in the rotation, with the other serving as a long reliever. It seems likely that it will be Lilly who is placed in the rotation; MLB.com's Ken Gurnick recently noted that he's been building up arm strength to throw 90+ pitches again and the Dodgers are concerned about how frequent warm-ups would affect his "delicate shoulder." Capuano, meanwhile, has already been in the 'pen for the early portion of the season. Both hurlers figure to be firmly off the trade market now.

As far as Quentin goes, the left fielder signed a three-year, $27MM extension with the Padres last year and is slated to make $9.5MM this season. In other words, Quentin is paid just over $52,000 per day during the season. So multiply that number by the amount of days in his eventual unpaid suspension, and it becomes a costly confrontation for him on a personal level as well.

Matt Kemp and Jerry Hairston Jr. also played roles in the altercation. Kemp was particularly vocal during the fray and eventually pursued Quentin after the game, leading to a confrontation that is chronicled here by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Hairston charged toward the Padres' dugout after the field had been cleared, later explaining to reporters that an undisclosed Padres player was mocking Greinke's injury. It's unclear at this time if there will be any punishment handed out for Kemp and Hairston, but presumably they're in line for fines as opposed to suspensions.


Quick Hits: Pettitte, Murphy, Soriano, Greinke

Cesar Carrillo, a right-handed pitcher in the Tigers system, became the first player listed in the Biogenesis documents to be suspended, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (twitter link).  As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and others have noted, MLB has "greater jurisdiction over minor leaguers like Carrillo than major leaguers who are protected by the players' union."  Here are some other notes from around the majors:

  • Mariano Rivera's retirement plans have fellow Yankee stalwart Andy Pettitte wondering how and when to end his own "long, strange journey," as Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal describes it.  Pettitte sees some merit to ending his career around the same time as those of his long-time teammates, but does not want to "stop playing until I know that I'm done."
  • Outfielder David Murphy is still waiting to work out a long-term extension with the Rangers after discussing that possibility with the club earlier in the offseason, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.  While Murphy reiterated that he wants to remain a Ranger and has no hard feelings for the lack of progress towards a deal, he added that free agency is a "privilege" and that "waiting another year is not going to kill me."
  • While the Cubs "feel the presence of teams watching Alfonso Soriano," nevertheless "no substantive talks have taken place yet," tweets Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.  Cafardo mentions the Phillies and Yankees as teams that are "on [the] radar" for a possible Soriano deal.
  • With Zack Greinke still dealing with elbow issues, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated that the right-handed starter is facing an ever-narrowing window to be ready for the start of the regular season, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.  As has previously been noted, Greinke's timeline could impact the availability of the Dodgers' excess starting pitching options, such as Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang.

NL West Notes: Dodgers, Hernandez, Rockies, Posey

Earlier today we heard that the Padres haven't settled on a long-term strategy for third baseman Chase Headley. They'll hold onto him for now, but could trade or extend him later in 2013. Here are more notes from the Padres' division…

Zach Links and Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Transaction Retrospection: The First Greinke Trade

Zack Greinke made quite a few headlines this offseason by becoming the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in Major League history (Felix Hernandez has since topped him). The former No. 6 overall selection in the draft signed a six-year, $147MM with the Dodgers.

Greinke has long been a high-profile arm, thanks largely to his 2009 American League Cy Young Award. His 9.3 wins above replacement (Fangraphs version) that season were the most by any pitcher since Randy Johnson's 2004 season.

So it's no wonder that Greinke had a long list of suitors when it became evident that the Royals were going to trade him. Nor is it surprising that Greinke commanded a young shortstop, a young center fielder and a pair of right-handers that had both been first-round picks.

On December 19, 2010, the Royals traded Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt to the Brewers in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar (24 years old at the time), center fielder Lorenzo Cain (24), right-hander Jake Odorizzi (20) and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress (23). Each player in the deal had recently ranked in Milwaukee's Top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America. Let's take a look at each on an individual basis… Greinke

The Major League Side

  • Zack Greinke: Greinke joined Shaun Marcum as one of two offseason acquisitions for the Brewers that offseason, as the team clearly had an "all-in" mentality entering the final season of Prince Fielder's contract. He broke a rib that offseason playing basketball, limiting him to 171 2/3 innings, but he pitched to a 3.83 ERA with an NL-best 10.5 K/9 when healthy. The Brewers ultimately finished with a 96-66 record, netting them an NL Central Division title. Greinke got his only taste of postseason baseball that year but allowed an unsightly 12 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. The Brewers lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals, who would go on to win the World Series. Greinke hurled 123 more innings for the Brew Crew in 2012, pitching to a 3.44 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 before being traded to the Angels. GM Doug Melvin landed Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena in that deal, but that's a whole different post.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt: Betancourt hit a paltry .252/.271/.381 with the Brewers but still totaled 584 plate appearances in spite of that sub-par production. His defense was also well below-average, and the result was a mere 0.4 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs. Betancourt did manage to swat 13 homers that season — the second-highest mark of his career — but his lack of plate discipline and poor glove mitigated most of that value. He would go on to re-sign with the Royals as a free agent the following offseason and is now in the Phillies organization as a non-roster invitee.
  • Alcides Escobar: Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect at the time of the trade (per BA) Escobar has blossomed into the Royals' everyday shortstop, posting fWAR marks of 2.2 and 2.6 in his first two seasons with Kansas City. He doesn't walk often (4.2 percent), but he's posted a respectable .274/.311/.368 triple slash line with Kansas City. That includes significant improvement from 2011-12, as his OPS+ jumped from 74 to 98 between the two years. He's developed into an elite base-stealer, collecting 61 swipes in 75 tries (81.3 percent). In 2012, he went 35-for-40 (87.5 percent). The Fielding Bible evaluates Escobar's defense at +12 runs during his time with Kansas City, while Ultimate Zone Rating feels he's been closer to average. Still just 26 years old, Escobar has room for growth.
  • Lorenzo Cain: Cain's arrival as Kansas City's everyday center fielder was delayed by the acquisition of Melky Cabrera. Groin and thigh strains have cost Cain 98 games between his two seasons with the Royals, but he looks poised to take the reins as the team's everyday center fielder in 2013. It's a small sample, but Cain has a .266/.315/.410 batting line in 267 plate appearances with the Royals. His seven homers and ten steals translate to a 162-game average of 17 homers and 25 steals — a well-above average combination of power and speed for a center fielder. In 726 1/3 career innings in center, UZR/150 rates him at 14.4 runs above average, and The Fielding Bible agrees at +15 runs. He's excelled in the Minors for the Royals and is in the midst of an impressive Spring Training showing, but he'll already be 27 on April 13. Kansas City needs to let Cain play in order to determine if they have a long-term piece this season.

The Prospect Side

  • Jake Odorizzi: Odorizzi made his big league debut for Kansas City in 2012, but totaled only 7 1/3 innings. Those will likely be the only innings he ever throws for the Royals, as GM Dayton Moore included the now-22-year-old in the James Shields trade. Odorizzi is BA's No. 92 prospect in all of baseball, and he ranks 45th on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's version of the same list. BA ranks him fifth among Rays prospects, praising his four average pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change-up) but noting that he lacks a true out pitch. Both BA and Mayo agree that Odorizzi has a chance to become a reliable No. 3 starter, but his ceiling is limited by average offerings across the board.
  • Jeremy Jeffress: Jeffress' star has fallen considerably since he ranked as BA's No. 100 prospect prior to the 2009 season. Now 25 years of age, the Royals traded him to the Blue Jays for cash considerations this past November. Jeffress pitched 82 innings for Kansas City's Triple-A affiliate and maintained his strong strikeout rate (9.3 K/9) but walked too many (4.7 BB/9) and allowed nearly a hit per inning as well. He received a pair of call-ups to the big league club but walked 24 batters in 26 2/3 innings. He has the potential to be a power arm late in games, but he'll now look to fulfill that upside elsewhere.

In the end, the Brewers got an ace-caliber pitcher and an NLCS berth in exchange for the four prospects they dealt. Greinke managed to net them a trio of prospects including a new, promising shortstop to replace Escobar. Kansas City turned Greinke into an everyday shortstop, a promising center fielder and a pitching prospect that helped them acquire a new ace-caliber pitcher (Shields). However, the Royals are better positioned to compete with this top-of-the-rotation arm than they were the last time they had one.

Both teams fell a bit short of their best case scenarios (Milwaukee didn't win a World Series, and Kansas City cut ties with Jeffress for next to nothing), but this is a trade that definitely reaped benefits for each side.

Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.