Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-07-05T00:55:36Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress TC Zencka <![CDATA[60-Man Roster Notes: Orioles, Phillies]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=201702 2020-07-04T16:20:56Z 2020-07-04T16:18:36Z As teams continue to get health and travel reports, many have slots left to fill on their 60-man rosters, so we’ll use this post throughout the day to track the minor changes.

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  • The Orioles added Evan Phillips to their 60-man roster, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. Baltimore gave themselves more leeway than most, however, and they still have 15 slots available on their 60-man roster. The Maryland native made 25 appearances out of the Orioles’ bullpen in 2019, pitching to a 6.43 ERA/3.96 FIP. Phillips joined the Baltimore organization from Atlanta as part of the Kevin Gausman/Darren O’Day trade from deadline day 2018.
  • The Phillies added two catchers to their 60-man roster, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Henri Lartigue and Logan O’Hoppe will bring the Phillies’ total number of catchers to five. Lartigue, 25, hit .136/.259/.248 in 78 games in Double-A last year. O’Hoppe, 20, went to the Phillies in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft. In Low-A in 2019, the New York native hit .216/.266/.407. The pair of catchers are presumably in camp to spread the defensive workload. J.T. Realmuto, Andrew Knapp, and Deivi Grullon are far better bets to see any game time once the season opens.
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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Heston Kjerstad]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=200238 2020-06-30T16:30:12Z 2020-06-30T16:08:42Z The Orioles have signed second overall draft pick Heston Kjerstad, per a team announcement. The University of Arkansas product will receive a $5.2MM bonus, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (Twitter link).

Kjerstad was expected to go near the top of the draft, but not with the second selection. The O’s obviously liked him quite a bit, but also saw an opportunity to save some bonus pool capacity to draft and sign other talented players in later rounds. The club was able to reapply over $2.5MM of the second overall slot value.

As things stand, the Orioles are known to have deals in place with five of their six selections. Jordan Westburg (30th overall) and Hudson Haskin (39th) secured at-slot bonuses. High schoolers Coby Mayo and Carter Baumler were lured with over-slot promises, though their deals aren’t yet official. That leaves Ole Miss infielder Anthony Servideo, the team’s third-round choice, left without a pact (so far as is publicly known).

Perhaps it’s easy to get caught up in the machinations and overlook Kjerstad’s own promise. While teams obviously see the appeal in spreading draft bonus pool availability over multiple players, they also aren’t generally inclined to spend premium draft choices on sub-premium talent.

All major draft pundits graded Kjerstad as one of the dozen or so top-available talents. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs had the highest ranking, listing him in the seventh slot.

Most agree on the profile here. Kjerstad is seen as a solid right fielder with big potential at the plate. He was drubbing high-end college pitching (.448/.513/.791) when the 2020 season was suspended. There are some concerns over his complicated swing and proclivity to strike out, but obviously the consensus is that Kjerstad will grow into a quality offensive performer at the game’s highest level.

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George Miller <![CDATA[Orioles Announce Initial 60-Man Player Pool]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=199869 2020-06-28T20:21:48Z 2020-06-28T20:21:48Z Today marks the deadline for teams to submit to Major League Baseball their initial spring training player pools, which can comprise up to 60 players. Players are not eligible to participate in either a spring training or regular season game until they are included in the pool. Teams are free to change the makeup of the pools as they see fit. However, players removed from a team’s 60-man (for reasons unrelated to injury, suspension, etc.) must be exposed to other organizations via trade or waivers.

Not all players within a team’s pool are ticketed for MLB playing time, of course. Most teams will include well-regarded but still far-off prospects as a means of getting them training reps with no intention of running them onto a major league diamond this season. A comprehensive review of 2020’s unique set of rules can be found here.

The Orioles’ initial player pool consists of the following players.

Right-handed pitchers

Left-handed pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Two Draft Picks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=199824 2020-06-27T22:36:55Z 2020-06-27T22:36:56Z 5:36PM: Both players signed for their exact slot price, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).

5:05PM: The Orioles have signed two of their picks from the amateur draft, announcing that Competitive Balance Round A pick Jordan Westburg and second-rounder Hudson Haskin have agreed to deals with the club.

Financial terms weren’t announced, though the 30th overall selection (Westburg) has a $2,365,500 slot value and the 39th overall pick (Haskin) has a $1,906,800 slot price.  The O’s have already gone notably over slot with two of their other draft signings, though some type of below-slot deal is expected with second overall pick Heston Kjerstad, as Baltimore’s slight reach in taking Kjerstad at that selection was seen as a way to free up more pool money for signings in the rest of the team’s draft class.

Westburg was a consensus top-40 pick among pundits, with Fangraphs being the highest on him as the 32rd-ranked player on their draft board.  A 21-year-old shortstop, Westburg has been a big part of Mississippi State’s consecutive appearances in the College World Series, and he also performed well in the Cape Cod League last summer.  While seen as something of an inconsistent or raw hitter, Westburg has cut down on his strikeouts over his last three NCAA seasons, and could develop more power as he continues to build on his 6’3″, 203-pound frame.  That size could make Westburg a candidate to eventually move to third base, though he is considered to have the athleticism and throwing arm required to earn a look at shortstop.

Haskin, an outfielder out of Tulane, has drawn some comparison to Hunter Pence for, to quote, Baseball America’s scouting report, a swing that “works despite being ugly.”  Haskin’s lengthy swing has nonetheless delivered impressive results at the plate, and he could also potentially work as a big league center fielder given his plus speed and solid defense.  The Orioles were clearly higher on Haskin than most pundits — the 21-year-old was ranked 51st on Keith Law’s board, 74th by MLB Pipeline, 76th by Fangraphs, and only 211st by Baseball America.

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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Mid-Atlantic Notes: Orioles, Mountcastle, Diaz, Nationals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=199809 2020-06-27T16:02:14Z 2020-06-27T16:02:14Z Keegan Akin, Ryan Mountcastle, Dean Kremer, and Bruce Zimmermann weren’t expected to make the Opening Day roster for the Baltimore Orioles, but with the first baseball of the season on the horizon, the Orioles have the chance to reevaluate, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. The Orioles will have to balance service time concerns and the fear of rushing youngsters into an uncertain landscape with the stark fact that the game’s highest level is the only level available for competitive play this season. Prospects can continue to work out, either independently or as part of the 60-man extended rosters, but to get game reps, the majors is the only game in town. Mountcastle, coming off a .312/.344/.527 season in Triple-A, could find himself on the major-league roster, even if the Orioles would prefer – in a vacuum – to allow him more development time elsewhere.

  • Yusniel Diaz presents a similarly interesting case for the O’s, per Kubatko. Like Mountcastle, Diaz was expected to make his ML-debut at some point, but unlike Mountcastle, the Cuban outfielder has yet to appear higher than Double-A. Should they choose a more judicious approach, Baltimore can certainly make do with Anthony Santander, D.J. Stewart, Austin Hays, and Dwight Smith Jr. in the outfield. Still, every decision for the Orioles has to be made with the future in mind, and they’ll have to decide whether exposing someone like Diaz to major league pitching earlier than planned will benefit his long-term development. With Trey Mancini out for the year, there are plenty of at-bats to go around for corner outfield candidates.
  • Elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, if the Nationals can lean on their big four in the rotation as they did in last year’s postseason, everything should be hunky-dory for the champs, per Byron Kerr of MASN. Of course, Manager Davey Martinez put those boys through a grind last October, with Patrick Corbin pushed to the limit as a swingman, and Max Scherzer’s shoulder barely holding up long enough to get through game seven of the World Series in Houston. The long layoff should help Scherzer, Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, and Anibal Sanchez avoid a World Series hangover, but the bullpen looks stronger as well. They’ll get a full season from Daniel Hudson, won’t have to lean as hard on Sean Doolittle, and Will Harris joins the team from Houston to shore up the backend. Doolittle has been one of the more vocal ballplayers during the pandemic, but as of now, no Nats have decided to sit out the season.
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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Undrafted Free Agent Signings: 6/16/20]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=199005 2020-06-16T23:48:20Z 2020-06-16T23:48:20Z This year’s five-round draft left a lot of deserving players looking for deals on the open market. Here’s a roundup of some of the many recent undrafted players who have reached agreements with MLB organizations:

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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Orioles To Sign Fifth-Rounder Carter Baumler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198811 2020-06-14T16:09:41Z 2020-06-14T03:47:39Z
  • Orioles fifth-round selection Carter Baumler has plans to sign with Baltimore, per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. Baumler is a 6’2″ right-handed pitcher hailing from Dowling Catholic High School in Iowa. The 133rd overall pick of the draft carries a slot value of $422.3K. Baumler’s deal will come in well above slot at $1.5MM, tweets Mason McRae of Prospects 365 (confirmed by Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register). As Birch writes in a full piece, Baumler turned down two other teams before agreeing to sign with the Orioles. Had he not received an offer to his liking, Baumler was ready to play college ball for Texas Christian.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Notes: Minor League Pay, Kjerstad, Draft]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198853 2020-06-14T01:49:34Z 2020-06-14T01:49:34Z The latest from Camden Yards…

    • On Friday, the Orioles announced that they will continue paying the $400 weekly stipend to their minor league players through the first week of September (or what would have been the end of the minor league season).  All 30 teams have publicly committed to paying their minor leaguers through at least the end of June, with clubs such as the Twins, Royals, Padres, Mariners, Reds, Astros, Red Sox, Marlins, and — after some controversy — Athletics all joining Baltimore in keeping the stipend going for the entire season.
    • The Orioles went against conventional wisdom when they selected Heston Kjerstad with the second overall pick of the amateur draft, as Kjerstad was generally projected to fall somewhere in the 9th-12th pick range.  As Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun writes, the Arkansas outfielder on the team’s radar for a while — area scout Ken Guthrie has known Kjerstad’s family for years and Guthrie took note of Kjerstad’s hitting potential when he was still a high schooler.  The Orioles continued to observe Kjerstad as he developed into a star at Arkansas, with both analytics and pure numbers revealing his improvement at the plate.  “It’s a really special bat in our opinion.  He took some steps forward this year,” GM Mike Elias said.  “I think had he been able to finish that season, he probably would have just continued to cement it.  I think if we hadn’t taken him, he was going to go pretty quick after us.”
    • Of course, signability also played a role in Baltimore’s choice, as Kjerstad might be willing to agree to take less than the second pick’s recommended $7,789,900 slot price.  As per Meoli, the Orioles “explored similar such deals” with other top prospects such as Nick Gonzales (who went seventh overall to the Pirates) and Zac Veen (ninth overall to the Rockies).
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles, Fourth-Rounder Coby Mayo Agree To Above-Slot Bonus]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198756 2020-06-12T12:57:18Z 2020-06-12T12:44:21Z The Orioles and fourth-rounder Coby Mayo have agreed to a deal, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. Mayo – the 103rd pick – will earn a bonus worth $1.75MM, which is well above the $565,600 recommended value of his selection. Notably, the Orioles lead the majors with a $13,894,300 bonus pool.

    A high school third baseman from Coral Springs, Fla., Mayo had committed to the University of Florida before signing with the Orioles. Mayo didn’t wind up in the top 100 of Keith Law of The Athletic or MLB.com prior to the draft, but FanGraphs (No. 67) and Baseball America (No. 79) are more bullish on the 18-year-old. FanGraphs notes Mayo has “surprising bat control for size,” while BA credits him for his “raw power,” “solid zone recognition and a mature approach at the plate.” There are some questions as to whether the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder will stick as an infielder in pro ball, but the Orioles do view him as “strictly” a third baseman, Joe Trezza of MLB.com tweets.

    With Mayo under wraps, the Orioles still have five other picks to sign, including second selection Heston Kjerstad and 30th choice Jordan Westburg.

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    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Each AL Team’s Top Recent Draft Class]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198487 2020-06-07T20:26:27Z 2020-06-07T20:26:27Z With the MLB draft scheduled for next week, let’s take a look at each American League team’s most successful draft class in recent memory. Using Baseball Reference’s draft tracker, we can sum the combined career bWAR of each player selected by each team in a given year. It’s a simple shorthand, not a perfect measure, but it’ll give some insight into which teams have really hit in certain years.

    First, a quick note on the methodology. For simplicity, we’re limiting this search to the 2006-2015 classes. A player’s value is only included if he signed with the club, although he needn’t have actually played for his drafting team in the majors. (So, the 2008 Yankees don’t get credit for drafting but failing to sign Gerrit Cole, while the 2007 Red Sox do get credit for drafting and signing Anthony Rizzo, even though he was traded before ever playing an MLB game for Boston). Of course, a player drafted in 2006 has had more time to rack up value than one drafted in 2015, so we’ll note in each team’s capsule if a more recent class is on the verge of taking over from an older class. On to the results…

    • Angels: 2009 (109.3 bWAR) – Go figure. Picking one of the greatest players of all time is a heck of a way to kick off a draft class. But this 2009 class wasn’t just about Mike Trout, even if he’s accounted for about two-thirds of its cumulative value. That year, the Angels also selected Patrick CorbinRandal GrichukGarrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs. Former MLBTR contributor Chuck Wassterstrom took a behind-the-scenes look at this class a few years ago.
    • Astros: 2009 (53.2 bWAR) – Not a single one of the Astros’ top five rounders in 2009 reached the majors. The late rounds, though, were a smashing success with J.D. Martinez (20th), Dallas Keuchel (7th) and Kiké Hernández (6th) accounting for the class’ value. Of course, Martinez did his damage elsewhere after the Astros released him.
    • A’s: 2012 (37.7 bWAR) – The A’s 2012 class produced seven big leaguers, most notably Matt Olson. He leads a group that also included Addison Russell and Max Muncy, who have played most or all of their MLB careers elsewhere.
    • Blue Jays: 2009 (39.2 bWAR) – They won’t get credit for selecting James Paxton in supplemental round one here, but Yan Gomes was a nice find in the tenth round, though he would play only briefly in Toronto before being dealt to Cleveland. Outside of Gomes, the Blue Jays found a few nice role players, including Jake Marisnick, Aaron Loup, Ryan Goins, and others.
    • Indians: 2011 (38.7 bWAR) – Selecting Francisco Lindor eighth overall in 2011 was a key to Cleveland’s 2016 AL pennant. So too was then-closer Cody Allen, whom they grabbed in the 23rd round. With Lindor mid-prime, the class’ value should just continue to grow.
    • Mariners: 2006 (40.2 bWAR) – Doug Fister and Chris Tillman went on to become mid-rotation starters for a time (Fister arguably even a bit more than that), albeit with other clubs. Fifth overall pick Brandon Morrow disappointed as a starter but had a late-career renaissance as a quality reliever before various injuries derailed him.
    • Orioles: 2007 (43.2 bWAR) – Although only four players from this class would wind up making the Majors, the combination of Jake Arrieta and Matt Wieters makes the 2007 draft a pretty solid one for the O’s. While Wieters, the fifth overall pick, maybe didn’t turn out to be the franchise cornerstone he was hailed to be, he has nonetheless had a nice career. Arrieta had a slow start in Baltimore, but would of course earn a Cy Young with the Cubs. It’s worth noting that this spot will be taken by the 2010 class before too long, almost entirely on the back of Manny Machado.
    • Rangers: 2008 (33.3 bWAR) – Despite garnering only a 25th-round selection, Tanner Roark has turned out to be the most productive player in this class. First-round choice Justin Smoak deserves a mention too, though his career didn’t really take off until he’d been traded out of Texas. The 2011 class, headed by Kyle Hendricks, is not far behind and could claim this title in the near future.
    • Rays: 2006 (81.5 bWAR) – Franchise legend Evan Longoria does a lot of the heavy lifting for this class, having amassed 56 total WAR by age 34. Even so, there are some other quality players here: Desmond Jennings and Alex Cobb are the other notables, with Jennings carving out a solid MLB career as a tenth-round pick.
    • Red Sox: 2011 (70.2 bWAR) – This is far and away the best Sox draft class in recent memory, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Mookie Betts, one of the finest players in baseball, established himself as Boston’s franchise player after he was selected in the fifth round. Even outside of Betts, this class yielded a few key members of the Red Sox 2018 World Series team, with Jackie Bradley Jr. and relief ace Matt Barnes also coming out of that draft.
    • Royals: 2007 (47.1 bWAR) – Speaking of drafting World Series contributors, the Royals in 2007 added both Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland, both of whom turned out to be central in the Royals’ playoff runs in 2014 and 2015. And that’s before mentioning third-rounder Danny Duffy, who’s still with Kansas City and inked a nice extension prior to 2017.
    • Tigers: 2007 (20.6 bWAR) – With just 20.6 WAR, the Tigers’ best draft in recent memory doesn’t compare favorably to the rest of the AL, and that partly illuminates the franchise’s current standing in baseball. The notable player from the 2007 class is Rick Porcello, who had some nice years to begin his career with the Tigers and would later win a Cy Young. Maybe they get bonus points for discovering high-schooler D.J. LeMahieu, who wouldn’t sign with the team, in round 41?
    • Twins: 2009 (32.4 bWAR) – Between Kyle Gibson and Brian Dozier, the Twins drafted a pair of staples on the Minnesota teams of the mid-2010s. But with both playing elsewhere now, keep an eye on the 2012 draft class, which features a trio of young centerpieces for a new era of Twins baseball: Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers are up-and-comers who could rack up a lot of value as they enter their primes.
    • White Sox: 2010 (55.3 bWAR) – Chris Sale carries the 2010 class for the South Siders, by far the best draftee in an otherwise mediocre string of years for Chicago. That said, 2010 yielded a couple of other role players for the White Sox, with Addison Reed, Jake Petricka, and Tyler Saladino all making nice MLB contributions.
    • Yankees: 2006 (69.4 bWAR) – Whereas many teams’ success in a given year is determined by one standout player, the Yankees’ installment on this list displays a surprising breadth of quality players, without a single superstar. Evidently, the 2006 Yankees cornered the market on MLB relievers: Ian Kennedy, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, and Joba Chamberlain are the five most productive players from the Bombers’ draft that year (granted, Kennedy didn’t transition to the bullpen until last year).
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Kline, Urena Remain With Orioles]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198379 2020-06-04T15:21:38Z 2020-06-04T15:15:35Z 10:15am: Connolly tweets that the both Kline and Urena remain with the Orioles organization and neither has been released. We regret the inaccuracy.

    8:50am: Right-hander Branden Kline and infielder Richard Urena were both among the Orioles’ wave of recent releases, according to J.J. Cooper and Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America. The Athletic’s Dan Connolly previously reported that the Baltimore org had cut 37 low-level minor leaguers, but both Kline and Urena add two former big leaguers to the list of Baltimore cuts. Both had been removed from the 40-man roster back in February, however.

    Kline, 28, appeared in 34 games for the O’s last season, tallying 41 innings of relief in his debut campaign at the Major League level. Things didn’t go particularly well, however, as Kline was clobbered for a 5.93 ERA (5.87 FIP) with averages of 7.5 strikeouts, 4.2 walks and 1.98 homers per nine innings pitched. The 2012 second-round pick’s work in Triple-A wasn’t any better. That said, Kline is a season removed from pitching to a combined 1.64 ERA in 65 2/3 innings between Class-A Advanced (20 2/3 innings) and Double-A (45 innings). He averaged 9.7 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 while recording 17 saves that year, although it should be pointed out that he was a fair bit older and more experienced than the average competition at those levels.

    As for Urena, the 24-year-old had spent his entire career with the Blue Jays organization prior to being claimed off waivers by the Orioles back in January. Baltimore designated Urena for assignment in February upon claiming fellow infielder Andrew Velazquez, and the O’s were successful in passing Urena through waivers, thus keeping him in the organization without committing a 40-man roster spot to him.

    Urena appeared in a combined 91 games with the Jays from 2017-19, appearing at shortstop, second base and third base (in addition to three innings in left field and one inning on the mound in a blow0ut game). But while Urena is a versatile defender, he’s yet to show much at the plate in the Majors or upper minors. He’s a career .253/.300/.336 hitter in 263 MLB plate appearances and a .250/.289/.373 hitter in 670 plate appearances with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Notes: Torkelson, Wilcox, Mock Drafts]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198146 2020-05-31T02:43:16Z 2020-05-31T02:43:16Z The first round of the 2020 amateur draft begins on June 10, and the growing feeling is that the Tigers will take Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick.  Torkelson comes into the draft on the heels of an outstanding college career, which Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill notes could have reached historic proportions had Torkelson’s 2020 campaign not been cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The young slugger had a shot at breaking the NCAA record for walks in a season, and Torkelson sat just two home runs away from setting a new Arizona State school record for career homers (a record held by longtime Braves third baseman Bob Horner).  Though Torkelson will miss out on these individual accomplishments and a shot at being part of a potential national championship contender, his Arizona State tenure has already been the stuff of legend, especially considering that Torkelson came to the program on a relatively low profile after not being drafted by a Major League team when coming out of high school.

    Some more on the draft…

    • The NCAA’s decision to give an extra year of eligibility to spring sports will give at least some players extra signing leverage in this abbreviated five-round draft.  As The Athletic’s David O’Brien (subscription required) writes, right-hander Cole Wilcox has the option of returning to the University of Georgia for a do-over of his sophomore year if doesn’t receive a signing bonus to his liking, which “some in the industry believe” is a “top-half-of-first-round” asking price.  (So, in the neighborhood of $4MM, based on the recommended slot prices.)  It isn’t out of the question that the hard-throwing Wilcox is selected within the top 15 anyway based on his strong track record at Georgia, though many prognosticators have the righty in the bottom half of the first round.
    • Speaking of prognostication, let’s give into some mock draft action!  The latest projections are up from The Athletic’s Keith Law (subscription required), Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, and all have identical top threes: Torkelson to the Tigers, Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin to the Orioles with the second overall pick, and Texas A&M southpaw Asa Lacy to the Marlins third overall.  Assuming Detroit does take Torkelson, the O’s are favored to select Martin or at least another position player — Collazo and Callis note that Baltimore could opt to take New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales, while Law has heard “rumblings” that Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad could be the pick if the Orioles wanted to spread around their draft pool money.
    • All three mock drafts are well worth a read, as Law, Collazo, and Callis share some reports and rumors about which prospects could be on various teams’ radars, and what particular teams may or may not be targeting on their draft boards.  For instance, the Royals (who pick fourth overall) seem to be leaning towards picking a position player this after focusing on adding pitchers in recent drafts, which could lead them to Gonzales or Florida high school outfielder Zac Veen.  Callis has K.C. taking Gonzales while Collazo and Law have the Royals taking Veen, with Law adding that he has “heard they’re cool on Gonzales.”  Then again, a pitcher might not be out of the question either for Kansas City, as Collazo writes “lately, we’ve also heard Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer linked to this pick.”  As for Wilcox’s placement, Callis projects the Mets (19th overall), Law projects the Nationals (22nd), and Collazo projects the Yankees (28th).
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Which Glove-First Shortstop Would You Rather Have?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198118 2020-05-31T23:33:28Z 2020-05-30T17:17:02Z In a piece from MASN last week, Roch Kubatko said this of the Orioles’ search for a veteran shortstop: “The Orioles chose [Jose] Iglesias over Adeiny Hechavarría in their winter search for a glove-first shortstop.” Kubatko linked the Orioles to Hechavarria back in December, but La Pantera ultimately re-upped with the Braves on a one-year, $1MM deal. The Orioles, meanwhile, splurged on Iglesias, signing the 30-year-old gloveman for a one-year, $3MM guarantee (with a $3.5MM team option for 2021). 

    Granted, the Jose Iglesias versus Adeiny Hechavarria showdown wasn’t the most compelling positional matchup of free agency. And while the Orioles may have shown interest in Hechavarria, these situations are dynamic, and the decision to sign one or the other was likely never quite so binary. Let’s use it as a jumping-off point for this player comparison anyway.

    First, let’s cover the similarities, as both Cuban-born veterans are glove-first shortstops viewed generally as second-division starters. Hechavarria is a year older, and his deal comes at one-third the cost of Iglesias’, though the Orioles picked up the second year of control on Iglesias. Both players entered the league fairly young and both saw their first significant action in 2012 (Iglesias at 22 with the Red Sox, Hechavarria at 23 with the Blue Jays). And both have since gone on to play for multiple franchises (Iglesias for Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati and Baltimore, Hechavarria for Toronto, Miami, Tampa, Pittsburgh, both New Yorks, and Atlanta).

    Since Iglesias has a more stable resume, my guess is his name carries a little more weight, so let’s start there. Iglesias, 30, has produced a total of 11.1 rWAR/11.6 fWAR thus far over his eight years in the bigs (he appeared in 10 games as a 21-year-old in 2011, but missed all of the 2014 season). The right-handed batter has traded off between ~2.5 fWAR and ~1.5 fWAR seasons going all the way back to his rookie campaign, but either way he presents as an above-average option at short. He produced 9 OAA at short last year, putting him among the elite options defensively at short.

    The batting line is the question with Iglesias after posting a career line of .273/.315/.371. Included therein, however, is a fair amount of year-to-year variance. Early in his career, Iglesias was a .300 hitter, but over his final three seasons in Detroit (2016 to 2018) he managed a batting average of just .259 BA. The walk rate has been steadily below average, so when he can’t hit his way on base, his whole offensive profile suffers. He’s a difficult guy to strike out, and as a guy who puts the ball in play without much oomph, his offensive value is tied directly to his BABIP. When his BABIP falls below .300, his overall line underwhelms. When the ball bounces his way, such as in 2013, 2015, and 2019, Iglesias turns into an asset with the bat: combined .296 BA in those seasons.

    Iglesias has also gained a modicum of power over the years. His isolated power was consistently below .100 for the early part of his career, but over the last three seasons, Iglesias has enjoyed a small bump to .114 ISO, .120 ISO, and .119 ISO. That’s still nothing to write home about, but put together with the rest of his profile, and it’s enough to make Iglesias a viable starter.

    Thanks to his every-down status as the Marlins starting shortstop from 2013 to 2016, Hechavarria has appeared in more games and seen more plate appearances over his career than Iglesias. The past three seasons have been a whirlwind, however, as Hechavarria became a part-time player while playing for seven teams in the last three seasons. By WAR, he only comes about halfway to matching Iglesias’ career totals (5.6 rWAR, 4.6 fWAR). Iglesias edges out Hechavarria in most statistical categories, including career stolen bases (52 to 35).

    Though their profiles are very similar, the real difference between the two is that Hechavarria hasn’t matched the offensive ceiling of Iglesias. They walk at similar rates, and though Hechavarria strikes out a little more, he still boasts an above-average ability to put the bat on the ball. Unfortunately, he’s never quite put it all together. He hasn’t posted a batting average higher than .261 or an on-base percentage over .300 since 2015.

    If there’s something in Hechavarria’s favor, it’s this: his power ticked upwards last season, to a robust .202 ISO. The added power came in only half a season of play, so it’s hard to know if the gains in Hechavarria’s game could/would be sustained over the course of a full slate of games. Back in Atlanta, we won’t likely find out, as he’s in line to back up Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies in the middle infield.

    For that matter, it’s difficult to compare the contracts signed by Hechavarria and Iglesias because their expected roles are so different – and the expectations of their clubs are so very divergent. The Orioles might see triple the production from Iglesias that the Braves will from Hechavarria (to match the salary difference), but that’s at least in part because Iglesias could receive triple the playing time. Both the Orioles and Braves probably got the guy that better suits their needs – but in a vacuum – the choice is yours (link to poll for Trade Rumors mobile app users).

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Three Teams Played Musical Chairs With First Basemen…And Five Teams Came Away Winners]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198112 2020-05-30T17:46:00Z 2020-05-30T15:57:21Z Last week, I looked at Cole Sulser’s prospects of making an impact in the Baltimore Orioles bullpen. Sulser found his way to Baltimore via Tampa Bay after being included in a three-way swap of more prominent players. Today, let’s take a look at those players. 

    To review: in December of 2018, the Indians, Mariners, and Rays engaged in a three-way deal that shuffled around their first basemen. In this rare three-way challenge trade, each team came away with (at least one) major-league first baseman. The Rays got Yandy Diaz, the Mariners Edwin Encarnacion, while the Indians snagged a pair of first basemen in the deal: Jake Bauers and Carlos Santana

    There were auxiliary pieces that fit less cleanly into our first basemen carousel. The Rays picked up Sulser from Cleveland, while Tampa also sent $5MM to the Mariners. Seattle paid that money forward, sending a total of $6MM to the Indians. Coming back to Seattle was the Indians’ Round B selection in the draft. The Mariners ended up selecting right-handed pitcher Isaiah Campbell out of Arkansas with the #76 pick in the draft. Those pieces aside, let’s check in on how each team is feeling about their end of this whirlwind deal one season after the fact.

    Indians

    This move – and much of their offseason last winter – was largely about shuffling money around – but not wholly so. The Indians took back Santana, who had only recently been sent to Seattle after playing one season in Philadelphia. Santana made $20.3MM in 2019, but his contract was offset by sending out Encarnacion, who was owed $21.7MM in 2019 with a $5MM buyout for 2020. The difference in their salaries, plus the money acquired from Seattle netted the Indians close to $7.5MM in 2019, though they took on more long-term money in Santana.

    On the field, this deal basically amounts to two exchanges for the Indians: Santana over Encarnacion in terms of big-money players, and Bauers over Diaz for cost-controlled assets. As for the first exchange, the Indians have to count this as a win. After one so-so year with the Phillies, Santana returned to form in a big way with the Indians. All aspects of Santana’s game came together in 2019. He hit .281/.397/.515 on the year with 34 home runs and 110 RBIs. He turned in his typically strong BB-K numbers, posting identical walk and strikeout rates of 15.7% (slight improvements on his career norms in both departments). His isolated power (.234 ISO) was the second-highest mark of his career, while the .397 OBP was a new career-high for a full season. Santana’s season totaled 4.6rWAR/4.4 fWAR, good for 135 wRC+, and he’ll be back in their lineup for 2020.

    Bauers, on the other hand, is a work in progress. He brings an added level of versatility, appearing in 31 games at first and 53 games in left, but he’ll need to improve at the plate to put that value to work. Bauers hit just .226/.312/.371 across 423 plate appearances in his first season with the Indians. His walk rate dropped to 10.6% and with a power mark of just .145 ISO. That’s not enough pop from a first baseman/left fielder. He finished with below-average marks of 78 wRC+ and -0.4 fWAR. Still, all hope is not lost for Bauers. A career-low .290 BABIP might point to some positive regression in the future, and he doesn’t even turn 25-years-old until October.

    Mariners

    The Mariners’ biggest get here was the draft pick. GM Jerry Dipoto continued his rebuild, and ultimately, the swap of sluggers was an avenue to add another draft pick. After taking on Santana a week prior, the Mariners shed long-term money by swapping in Encarnacion, whom they eventually flipped to the Yankees.

    While with the Mariners, Encarnacion was about as good as expected, slashing .241/.356/.531 with 21 home runs in 65 games. With the rebuild in full swing, EE was never expected to spend a full season in Seattle. Given his start to the year, the Mariners’ return for the DH was a little underwhelming, but the market for teams in need of a designated hitter was limited. Still, Trader Jerry added right-hander Juan Then from the Yankees. Fangraphs ranks Then as the Mariners’ #13-ranked prospect after finishing the season in A-ball. Campbell, selected with the acquired draft choice, comes in at #16.

    The Yankees and Mariners essentially split the remaining money owed Encarnacion at the time, so the M’s did see some financial benefit as well. It’s often difficult to track the wheeling and dealing done by Dipoto, but we can give it a go here. To do so, we have to go back to the deal that sent Santana from the Phillies to Seattle. Dipoto sent Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos to Philly for Santana and J.P. Crawford. In sum, he started with Segura, Nicasio, and Pazos, and the Mariners ended up with Crawford, Then, and Campbell, along with some financial saving both in the short-and-long-term.

    Rays

    It was surprising to see the Rays move Jake Bauers at the time of this deal, but they’re no stranger to dealing from a young core. The Rays picked up Sulser and Diaz for Bauers in this trade, while also sending $5MM to the Mariners. Considering Sulser was eventually lost on waivers to the Orioles (though he did give them 7 scoreless innings in 2019), the move essentially amounts to the Rays paying $5MM to swap in Diaz for Bauers. At the time of the deal, Bauers was seen as an up-and-comer, while Diaz was a little-known 27-year-old utility player with little-to-no boom in his boomstick. As has often been the case of late with Rays’ trades, at a cursory glance, the Rays were trading away controllable youth for a role player.

    But where the Rays are concerned, it’s often worth delving a little further. Diaz quickly became known for his above-average exit velocities. And while Diaz was a little older and without the prospect pedigree of Bauers, he came with similar team control, more versatility given his ability to line up at the hot corner, and his biceps have a cult following all their own.

    Injuries unfortunately limited Diaz’s production in 2019, but when he was on the field, he was dynamite. While posting a line of .267/.340/.476 across 79 games, Diaz was coming into his own as a hitter with a 116 wRC+. Diaz’s minor league career to this point was a testament to his ability to get on base, limit strikeouts, and make hard contact, but a groundball-heavy approach limited his power.

    But it was a different story in Tampa. Diaz produced a career-best .208 ISO to go with a 91.7 mph exit velocity that put him in the top 8% of the league, per Statcast. His hard-hit percentage continues to be well above average, and a small improvement in launch angle and a large jump in barrels led to Diaz smashing 14 home runs in 79 games after hitting just 1 in 88 big league games with the Indians.

    Not only that, but Diaz returned from the injured list in time for the playoffs, leading off the wild card game with a solo shot off Sean Manaea. Diaz went deep his second time up as well, at which point the Rays had more than enough to get past the A’s. It was a monster performance from Diaz in the biggest game of the year up to that point. (Things didn’t go quite so well for Diaz in Houston, as he went 0 for 9 with four strikeouts in the ALDS.) The Rays have to feel pretty good about where they stand with Diaz moving forward, as he should continue to be a cheap source of offense for the next couple of seasons.

    For that matter, all three teams have to feel pretty good about this deal, as they each accomplished their goal. If Bauers has a better showing in 2020 and the Mariners’ prospects come to fruition, there will ultimately be very little not to like about this three-way deal. Include the Orioles for nabbing Sulser and the Yankees for getting a half a season of Encarnacion, and it could be argued that five teams actually came away winners from this three-way swap of first baseman.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[AL East Notes: Paxton, Rays, Iglesias, Martin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197720 2020-05-24T02:16:26Z 2020-05-24T02:16:26Z After undergoing back surgery in early February, Yankees southpaw James Paxton was given a timeline of three-to-four months before he could return to the field.  As we approach the end of that estimated recovery period, Paxton described his back as “a non-issue” in an interview Friday on the YES Network (hat tip to ESPN.com).  “I feel totally healthy, so I’ll be ready to go as soon as the season comes about….I think I’m back to full strength,” Paxton said, noting that he has already thrown an estimated 12-14 bullpen sessions.

    If there is any silver lining for the Yankees in this league-wide shutdown, the lack of game action has allowed several injured Yankees to recover without missing any time.  As such, should the 2020 season begin in early July as rumored, New York could have Paxton, Giancarlo Stanton, and possibly Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks all available for the roster.  It will be a particularly important season for Paxton, who is scheduled to hit free agency this winter and projects to be one of the top starters available on the open market.  While the back surgery only adds to Paxton’s not-insubstantial injury history, a big performance in whatever consists of a 2020 season would certainly help Paxton’s case at a healthy multi-year contract in the offseason.

    More from the AL East…

    • Rays players will begin limited workouts at Tropicana Field on Monday, and the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin details how the club will take a very measured approach to restarting its preseason preparations.  “There’s a lot more downside to moving too fast than too slow,” GM Erik Neander said.  “Our priority remains the health and safety of our players, staff and their families.  We will learn a lot through this initial, conservative step, and that will serve us well as we continue to ramp up.”  Only small groupings of players will be allowed to work out or use the field at any given time, rather than the entire roster; the Rays will take some time before deciding whether to bring Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Ji-Man Choi back to North America.
    • The Orioles inked Jose Iglesias to a one-year deal last winter with the expectation that the veteran could help both on the field and in the clubhouse.  Third base coach and infield instructor Jose Flores tells Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that Iglesias already started to develop a mentor/student relationship with young shortstop Richie Martin.  “Josie shares a lot of his ideas, we share with Richie, and he seems to take all that into play,” Flores said.  “And I think Richie has actually become a better infielder just by having Josie working out with him during the course of Spring Training.”
    • It remains to be seen if Martin will make Baltimore’s MLB roster if/when the season gets underway, as while the former Rule 5 pick definitely wasn’t ready for big league competition last year, Martin won’t be able to get any further minor league seasoning if there isn’t any official minor league ball in 2020.  Therefore, Martin could wind up on the “taxi squad” rumored to be planned in support of teams’ Major League rosters, or an expanded 30-man roster could provide room for Martin to land more playing time with the Orioles.  Flores noted that Martin had been playing some second base during spring camp in order to help boost his versatility and chances of making the club as a backup infielder.  For what it’s worth, Martin had also been hitting well before Spring Training was shut down, with an .869 OPS over 30 plate appearances.
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