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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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Zack Greinke Rumors
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman touched on many topics in his latest “Inside Baseball” column, and since we’ve already focused on Heyman’s notes about the Brewers, let’s look at some of his other hot stove info from around the league…
- The Astros will be looking to add one or even two starting pitchers, though Cole Hamels is “too pricey” for them, according to one team source. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored the case for Houston going after the Phillies southpaw, and 42.44% of MLBTR readers polled thought that the Astros should indeed pursue Hamels.
- Rival executives aren’t bothered by Hamels’ sub-par performance this season since all of this trade speculation is assumed to be impacting his work. Executives “seem to be split on” whether the Phillies are making the right move in holding out for a blue chip prospect or two in exchange for Hamels, or if they should just be looking to get his big salary off the books for a lower return of young talent.
- A.J. Hinch’s deal with the Astros is a three-year contract with a club option for 2018. The exact dollar figure isn’t known but Heyman reports that the average annual value is less than $1MM, which could end up being a bargain given how Houston has thus far played under Hinch’s management.
- While Zack Greinke is expected to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, Heyman doubts he’ll leave the Dodgers since they certainly have the money to sign him to a new deal.
- One scout suggests that Javier Baez might need “a change of scenery” to get back on track. Baez struck out a whopping 95 times in 229 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, and only has a .755 OPS at the Triple-A level this year. Baez is only a year removed from being considered an elite-level prospect, so while it seems early to consider trading him, Chicago is already deep in young middle infield talent.
- The Rangers are willing to deal Shin-Soo Choo, rival executives believe. This is no surprise given Choo’s huge contract and underwhelming performance in Texas, though obviously those same issues will make dealing him a tall order. Heyman notes that the Yankees were interested in Choo when he was a free agent two winters ago, though even if Choo turns it around, I’m not sure I see New York taking on a big contract when they already have a pretty full outfield.
- The Cardinals “will rue the day they made that trade” of Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jorden Walden, in the words of one scout. Heyman feels this is a bit of a stretch, even though Miller has been outstanding for the Braves and Heyward has struggled for the Cards (and Walden is on the DL).
- Veteran Andruw Jones isn’t yet planning to retire, though he won’t play in 2015. Jones has played in Japan for the last two seasons and expressed interest in a return to Major League Baseball this winter, drawing interest from at least two teams, including the Indians. According to Heyman, Jones turned down minor league contract offers from multiple teams.
The Dodgers acquisition of Brandon Beachy could lead to a trade, writes Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Beachy will open the season on the disabled list, so his presence could be purely for depth purposes. However, if everybody is healthy when he’s ready to contribute, the team could consider dealing Zack Greinke or Hyun-jin Ryu. Greinke may opt out after the season which could make him expendable. A trade of Ryu seems unlikely since he can void his contract if dealt (via Twitter). Here’s more from out west.
- The Dodgers and catcher Ali Solis have split ways over a contractual issue, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Details are unknown at this time. Solis was a non-roster invite to the big league camp. He’s appeared briefly with the Padres and Rays, accruing 11 plate appearances in the process. He’s a career .243/.291/.363 hitter over his nine season minor league career.
- Padres pitchers Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow are familiar with rapid rebuilds, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Both players were with the Blue Jays in 2013 when they were picked to win the division. The team fizzled and finished last in the AL East. Johnson also experienced the 2012 rebuild of the Marlins. Both players point to chemistry and cohesiveness as an important missing element. Only time will tell if the Padres can bond together.
- Every team has a player in the best shape of his life. One such to watch may be Mariners slugger Jesus Montero, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo. The once-prospect dropped 45 pounds from the hefty 275 he weighed last spring. Per manager Lloyd McClendon, “I think he’s in a much better place as a human being…The baseball skills, we’ll see.”
Despite coming off their third World Series title in five years, many pundits aren’t expecting much of a title defense for the Giants, which Tim Hudson tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is just fine by the clubhouse. “I think the guys in here embrace the underdog role. It’s like they say, ‘OK, everybody is picking us to finish mid-pack again. We’re gonna show ’em.’ I think it’s great,” Hudson said. “I would rather be the underdog than the favorite. The pressure is on the favorite all the time.” Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters (including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register) that he likes the team’s internal options as replacements for the injured Kenley Jansen. This said, the Dodgers are “open-minded” about free agent additions, Friedman said. L.A. is known to be looking at acquiring bullpen help, and are reportedly interested in Joba Chamberlain.
- Zack Greinke will, unsurprisingly, wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to exercise the opt-out clause in his Dodgers contract, the righty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick). Greinke reiterated that he enjoys pitching for the Dodgers and said he’s open to discussing a new contract with the team.
- The opt-out clause, Greinke said, is “all to your benefit. If things are going good, you can use it for more power. There’s no negative to it.” He also made some telling remarks about why he wanted the clause in the first place, seemingly based on regrets over his first multi-year contract when he pitched for the Royals. “I know you can’t really trust the front office and what they tell you. Guys have signed long deals and get traded the next year. It happens all the time,” Greinke said. “Teams do what’s best for them and you can’t fault them, but you can’t trust them to do what’s best for you. Their job is to do what’s best for the team.”
- Signing Rafael Soriano or Francisco Rodriguez to bolster the bullpen will be costly, though Steve Dilbeck of the L.A Times opines that the Dodgers shouldn’t shy away from using their financial resources now when a proven closer could help the team win a championship.
- According to recent reports, the Padres offered Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe to the Phillies in exchange for Cole Hamels. With the assumption that it was a legit offer that the Phillies rejected, and that no other players or money were involved, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan examines the proposal and feels that the Phils were probably right to turn it down. While “the offer seems in the vicinity of fair” and wouldn’t have been a bad return for Hamels, there are significant questions about Hedges and Renfroe’s long-term future as major leaguers. Sullivan thinks Philadelphia could find a better deal elsewhere, even if he doesn’t think they’ll be able to land a true blue-chip prospect for Hamels.
- In other NL West news from earlier today on MLBTR, Mark Trumbo won his arbitration hearing against the Diamondbacks.
You could say that Clint Barmes is something of a hipster. He signed his one-year, $1.6MM deal with the Padres on December 3rd – just before they became cool. “Being one of the earlier guys to sign over there, you hear from the GM that they’re going to try to make these trades and sign these guys,” Barmes said, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. “It happens every year. You hear a lot of that. But to have a guy do what he’s done has been pretty impressive. My agent said they were focusing on making some changes and bringing guys in. It’s definitely going to be exciting.” More from the NL West..
- Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke says that he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of his contract after the season, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. The 31-year-old would forfeit three years and $71MM if he opts out, but the recent deals landed by Max Scherzer and Jon Lester indicate that he can likely make even more. Still, the hurler was very complimentary of the organization. “I do know I have really enjoyed L.A. I don’t think you could get a better organization. The owners are amazing. Our front office is, by reputation, the best – or at least in the top three in the game. Our coaching staff is great too. There’s not really any better options anywhere besides here,” Greinke said.
- Change is coming for the Rockies, but it’s not necessarily coming right now. Colorado could look quite different in 2016, as Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post writes. GM Jeff Bridich didn’t make major moves despite saying that he was “keeping his eyes and ears open” for potential deals involving everybody this winter, but those trades could go down this summer. Saunders writes that come August, it’s conceivable that the Rockies could be without Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Justin Morneau.
- It’s been a crazy offseason for the Padres and Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego ranked the biggest moves made by GM A.J. Preller. The acquisition of Matt Kemp takes the top spot, followed by the trades made for fellow outfielders Wil Myers and Justin Upton, respectively.
The Padres are baseball’s most improved team, opines Jim Duquette of MLB.com. The additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris should revive an offense that has slumbered for years. GM A.J. Preller managed to overhaul the offense without dipping into his starting pitching depth nor by trading the team’s best prospects. For what it’s worth, I’m more impressed by the efforts of the Cubs, who Duquette lists as the fifth most improved club.
- Dodgers starter Zack Greinke has not decided if he will opt out of his contract following the 2015 season, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The 31-year-old signed a six-year, $147MM contract prior to the 2013 season, but he can opt out following next season. He’s averaged a 2.67 ERA over the last two seasons, which could set him up for another big, multi-year contract in free agency. In the past, we’ve seen CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez leverage opt outs with the Yankees to gain more guaranteed dollars and years. Greinke may take the same approach with the Dodgers. Per his comments, he seems comfortable in Los Angeles.
- Greinke doesn’t believe the Dodgers improved via “addition by subtraction” this offseason. Outgoing players like Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon, and Brian Wilson weren’t distractions in the clubhouse per Greinke. President Andrew Friedman has admitted the club might lose a little on offense, but the goal is to replace the runs scored with better defense and depth.
- Reliever Chris Withrow may be a long shot to help the Dodgers this season, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (via Twitter). The righty has pitched well in parts of two seasons with Los Angeles, with a 2.73 ERA, 11.41 K/9, and 4.98 BB/9 in 56 innings. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John and back surgeries. The back issue has slowed the timetable for his Tommy John rehab.
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 Giants, Royals, 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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | James Shields | Jed Lowrie | Jerry Dipoto | Justin Morneau | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Francisco Giants | Stephen Drew | Zack Greinke
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.
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.
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’ 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.”