Colorado Rockies – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Mon, 15 Oct 2018 14:52:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Rockies Look To Prioritize Positon Players In Offseason https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/nl-west-notes-dodgers-braun-rockies-padres.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/nl-west-notes-dodgers-braun-rockies-padres.html#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2018 03:01:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134824
  • The Rockies head into the offseason with a lot of position player questions, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes, perhaps most notably at second base and in the outfield, as DJ LeMahieu, Gerardo Parra, and Carlos Gonzalez are all free agents.  The Rockies might want to move on to younger outfield options than Parra or Gonzalez, while “there’s no indication Colorado will attempt to re-sign” LeMahieu, which could open the door for prospects Garrett Hampson or Brendan Rodgers at the keystone.  The team needs to upgrade its middling offense in general, with catcher being another position of need in that regard.  Due to Jake McGee’s struggles, Saunders also predicts the Rockies will have to add another left-handed reliever to the bullpen.
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    Nolan Arenado Expects To Remain With Rockies https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/nl-notes-correa-arenado-suzuki-mattingly.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/nl-notes-correa-arenado-suzuki-mattingly.html#comments Tue, 09 Oct 2018 15:21:36 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134416
  • While it’s hard to see the 2018 campaign as anything but a success for the Rockies, the organization faces some tough decisions in the offseason to come. One of those involves franchise cornerstone Nolan Arenado, who is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility. As Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports, extension scenarios have yet to be discussed by team and player. Arenado’s arb salary will force the sides to the bargaining table, but it’s not yet clear whether there’ll be a clear path to a long-term deal. It is certainly possible to imagine a trade scenario, though that’d be a tough call to make for the organization. For his part, Arenado says he loves playing in Colorado and anticipates remaining with the organization, but does acknowledge that “things can get a little iffy because of the business side of it.”
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    LeMahieu, Ottavino Among Players Who Could Land Elsewhere In Free Agency https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/rockies-rumors-free-agents-dj-lemahieu-adam-ottavino.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/rockies-rumors-free-agents-dj-lemahieu-adam-ottavino.html#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2018 14:25:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134380 The Rockies’ Game 3 loss to the Brewers not only bounced them from the 2018 postseason but may also have marked the end of the Colorado tenure for a number of impending free agents, Kyle Newman of the Denver Post writes. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu and setup man Adam Ottavino could land with new cubs this winter, as could outfielders Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra and Matt Holliday. The 30-year-old LeMahieu said after the loss that he’d like to return, though there’s hardly any certainty that the Rox will make a concerted effort to retain him. Trevor Story has a firm grip on the shortstop role, while the Rockies have top middle-infield prospect Brendan Rodgers also looming in the upper minors and another young option in Garrett Hampson. And, as Newman points out with regard to Ottavino, the bullpen already has three large contracts in Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, even if each of those three relievers took a step back in 2018 after inking a three-year pact this past offseason. Meanwhile Scott Oberg stepped up as a cost-effective potential replacement for Ottavino.

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    Nolan Arenado Plans To Be With Rockies In 2019 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/nl-west-notes-rockies-evans-hernandez-freese.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/nl-west-notes-rockies-evans-hernandez-freese.html#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2018 02:54:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134363 The Rockies’ season came to a disappointing end tonight, as the Brewers swept them out of the NLDS in three games.  While Colorado can be proud of two straight years of postseason baseball, Nolan Arenado’s future may be the biggest issue looming over the team as its offseason begins.  There has been speculation that the Rox could consider trading the superstar third baseman rather than let him walk as a free agent once his contract is up after the 2019 season, assuming an extension can’t be reached.  (Though the chances of an offseason trade seem doubtful, as surely the Rockies must be figuring on contending again in 2019.)  For his part, Arenado told The Athletic’s Nick Groke (Twitter links) and other reporters that offseason contract discussions are less important to his winter activities than his family’s Wiffle Ball competition, saying bluntly “I expect to be here next season. The future is bright here.”

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    Top Five Trade Candidates: NL West https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/top-five-trade-candidates-nl-west.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/top-five-trade-candidates-nl-west.html#comments Sat, 29 Sep 2018 22:19:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133673 With the season nearing its end, and the teams who fell short of playoff contention well into their offseason preparations, it’s a good time to scan around the league and take a look at the top five trade candidates in each division.

    We’ll start in the NL West, which features two of the most intriguing targets in baseball:

    1. Nolan Arenado, Rockies: Arenado, 27, will enter his final year of arbitration in 2019 as one of the most decorated performers in club history.  He was the MVP frontrunner in the season’s first half, smashing out of the gate to a .312/.395/.586 line in the lead-up to his fourth consecutive all-star appearance.  Though he slumped to a near league-average line after the break, and his usual vacuum-like defense wasn’t always on display, Arenado is arguably the league’s most consistent performer over the last four seasons, where his 20.5 fWAR ranks third in the National League, and his 629 games played is tied for fifth among all performers.  Colorado, loath for years to deal from their lot of established contributors and minor league riches, may have to acquiesce here: the club has already shelled out massive deals to 30-somethings Charlie Blackmon, Ian Desmond, and Wade Davis, and has scores of dead money buried in aging relievers Mike Dunn, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw.  Fitting Arenado into the books would leave precious little space with which to maneuver; a monster haul, however, could set them right back on a division-pacing track.
    2. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks: Goldschmidt, 31, has rebounded from an awful start to the season to yet again place himself among the league’s best: his 145 wRC+ almost exactly mirrors his career average, and his 5.1 fWAR is the fourth consecutive season in which he’s eclipsed the 5.0 mark.  The Diamondbacks, though, are a in a precarious position – a mostly barren farm seems to preclude any major upgrades, and the club boasted little in the way of unexpected production from under-the-radar performers this year.  Plus, there’s the departing free agents – a dominant Patrick Corbin, who figures to parlay his bat-missing ways into a huge contract this offseason, and A.J. Pollock, whose steady performance when healthy will surely not go unnoticed.  The mid-market club is still saddled, too, by Zack Greinke’s behemoth deal, and doesn’t figure to fit both Goldschmidt – who’ll hit free agency after the club picks up his $14.5MM option for ’19 – and the veteran hurler on the books without severely compromising the team’s flexibility moving forward.  A wide-ranging infusion of talent seems just what Arizona needs this offseason.
    3. Joc Pederson, Dodgers: Pederson, 26, has quietly put together another stellar season, slicing his strikeout rate for the fourth consecutive year (to a career-low 19%) and delivering 2.7 fWAR in just 436 PAs.  But he remains unplayable against lefties (60 career wRC+), and his center-field defense, over the last two seasons, has earned mostly subpar reviews.  Still, he’s a fierce power threat against right-handers, offers quality defense in a corner, and has shown an aptitude for plate-discipline adjustments not often seen in exploitable power bats.  With a healthy Corey Seager set to return in ’19, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger, the platoon-happy Dodgers figure to have more than enough left-side thump to go around: perhaps moving the second-time arbitration-eligible Pederson for bullpen help and/or rotation depth will be a priority come November.
    4. Brandon Belt, Giants:  No player in the division seems in more desperate need of a scenery change than Belt, who is routinely harangued by his fanbase for a supposed lack of power, propensity for the fluke injury, and a perceived failure in the ’clutch.’  Belt, 30, has done little but produce when on the field, though, pairing elite first-base defense (his 13 DRS – in just 112 games – was tied for the league lead among 1B this season) with sky-high walk rates and steady gap power (limited, perhaps, by the cavernous right-field at AT&T Park) to cement himself as above-average regular (12.2 fWAR in limited time since the beginning of ’15 ) at the position.  His contract – he’s owed $48MM through the end of the 2021 season – and recent injury history (a meniscus issue that precipitated a second-half decline) may give some teams pause, but the retooling Giants should net a significant return if they’re willing to eat a little cash.
    5. Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks: Ray, 27 on Monday, seems the perfect target for a team that leans heavily on the bullpen: he rarely makes its past the 6th inning, preferring instead to max out with the heater (his 94.1 MPH average fastball velocity ranks third among left-handers since the start of the 2016 season) and a wipeout breaking ball mix that’s allowed him to post the league’s second highest strikeout total (11.70) over the same frame.  With two years of arbitration eligibility left, the man with the 85 xFIP- over the last three seasons (good for 22nd in baseball) is sure to bring back an attractive return from a data hungry team with bat-missing preferences.
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    Past, Present & Future: National League Closer Turnover https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/past-present-future-national-league-closer-turnover.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/past-present-future-national-league-closer-turnover.html#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2018 22:40:26 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133467 While a new breed of pitcher, one who can rack up holds, strikeouts and throw multiple innings, is beginning to emerge as an integral role on a baseball roster, becoming the “closer” is still the ultimate goal for a Major League relief pitcher. The closer gets the entrance music. The closer gets the congratulatory hug from the catcher after the third out, followed by handshakes from every teammate. Closers get paid! Most importantly, being the closer usually means that your manager trusts you above all other pitchers in that bullpen.

    Give up a lead in the seventh or eighth inning and your team still has a chance to pick you up. The later in the game a players fails, the better chance that mistake will stand out to anyone watching. It will be in the headlines. Fantasy Baseball owners will want to know who is “next in line.”  And for a team that has fought tooth and nail to get to the ninth inning with a lead, it can be debilitating if the last pitcher standing can’t close things out. Managers don’t have much patience for blown saves, either. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of turnover, which is why most teams won’t have the same closer in September as they did on Opening Day.

    Here’s a look back at each National League team’s closer situation on Opening Day versus where they are now and where they will be as they head into the offseason. (We ran through the American League earlier this week.)

    [Related: MLB closer depth chart at Roster Resource]

    Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Brad Boxberger
    September 2018: Committee — Yoshihisa Hirano, Archie Bradley, Boxberger

    Future Outlook: The Diamondbacks opted to keep their best reliever, Bradley, in a setup role while plugging offseason acquisition Boxberger into the closer’s role. For the majority of the season, things went according to plan. That duo, along with Hirano and lefties Andrew Chafin and T.J. McFarland, were a strength on a team that led the NL West on September 1. But as the bullpen has fallen apart over the past few weeks, the team has quickly descended in the standings and fallen out of the playoff hunt.

    As a result, the D-backs will head into the offseason with their closer situation somewhat up in the air. Overall, Boxberger, Bradley and Hirano have each been mostly effective and can still be counted on as valuable late-inning relievers. The D-backs will need to decide if they want add a better ninth inning option, though with numerous holes to fill as key players like A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin depart via free agency, the team could decide it has bigger needs.

    Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Arodys Vizcaino
    September 2018: Arodys Vizcaino

    Future Outlook: Vizcaino was entrenched as the Braves’ closer to start the season, and he’s seemingly back in as the Braves prepare for their first playoff series since 2013. A.J. Minter proved to be a capable fill-in during both of Vizcaino’s disabled list stints. For a time, he even appeared to be more of a co-closer with a healthy Vizcaino on the roster, presenting a very formidable righty-lefty combination in the late innings.

    With a solid group of relievers, including Minter, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle and Dan Winkler, all under contract for next season and the chance that one or two of their enticing young prospects could help out of the ’pen, the Braves appear to be in good shape in 2019. They could be tempted, however, to bring back free agent Craig Kimbrel, who had 186 saves, four All-Star appearances and won the NL Rookie of the Year award during a five-year stint with the team from 2010-2014.

    Chicago Cubs Cubs Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Brandon Morrow
    September 2018: Committee — Jesse Chavez, Jorge De La Rosa, Steve Cishek, etc.

    Future Outlook: The offseason signing of Morrow came with significant risk due to his long history of injuries and a heavy postseason workload (14 appearances) with the Dodgers in 2017. And while the Cubs did their best not to overuse him—he made back-to-back appearances just six times and pitched on three consecutive days only once—his season ended in mid-July due to a bone bruise in his elbow and biceps inflammation.

    Pedro Strop was up to the task as the fill-in closer—he had a 1.77 ERA and 11 saves in 13 chances after Morrow went on the disabled list—but a strained hamstring ended his regular season on September 13. He could return for the playoffs. In the meantime, the Cubs have been mixing and matching in the late innings, at times relying on journeymen like Chavez and De La Rosa as they try to hold off the Brewers in the NL Central race.

    Morrow and Strop will be back in the picture in 2018—Strop’s $6.25MM club option will almost certainly be exercised—as will setup men Carl Edwards Jr. and Cishek. Finding a left-hander who can close, if necessary, might be on the team’s agenda. Zach Britton could be a target if that’s the case.

    Cincinnati Reds | Reds Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Raisel Iglesias
    September 2018: Raisel Iglesias

    Future Outlook: Iglesias has had three consecutive good seasons out of the bullpen with 63 saves in 71 opportunities. The Reds, however, have been in last place with less than 70 wins in each of those years, making Iglesias’ contributions less significant.

    If the Reds are confident that they can be a much better team in 2019, it makes perfect sense to hold on to the 28-year-old right-hander—he’s under team control through 2021—and make him available via trade only if they fall out of contention during the season. Since he’s been able to stay healthy as a relief pitcher—not to mention that there is no clear “next in line” closer in the organization—they’re be better off leaving things as they are rather than experimenting with a move back to the rotation. The ninth inning should belong to Iglesias again come Opening Day 2019.

    Colorado Rockies Rockies Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Wade Davis
    September 2018: Wade Davis

    Future Outlook: Despite a few rough patches along the way, the 33-year-old Davis has 42 saves for the first-place Rockies and has been on a roll when it counts the most. In his last 17 appearances, he’s 10-for-10 in save chances with 23 strikeouts in 17 innings and only one earned run allowed.

    Davis is still guaranteed $36MM over the next two seasons—he’ll also get another $14MM in 2021 if he finishes 30 games in 2020—so his mid-season struggles and continued decrease in fastball velocity (95.9 MPH in ’15; 94.9 MPH in ’16, 94.3 MPH in ’17; 93.8 MPH in ’18) are a concern. He has done enough to hold on to the closing job for 2019, but it would be a good idea to have a backup plan in place. Adam Ottavino, the team’s most valuable reliever with a 2.47 ERA, six saves and 33 holds, will be a free agent after the season. Re-signing him or replacing him with a top free agent will be difficult considering that Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, both disappointments thus far, signed $27MM contracts last offseason. They could rely heavily on Seunghwan Oh, who recently had his $2.5MM option vest for 2019 and has been very good since being acquired from Toronto in July.

    Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Kenley Jansen
    September 2018: Kenley Jansen

    Future Outlook: Jansen allowed six earned runs with two blown saves and a loss in his first seven appearances of 2018. He missed 13 days in August due to an irregular heart beat that will likely require offseason surgery. Upon his return, he allowed seven earned runs with two losses and a blown save over four appearances. And yet, the 30-year-old right-hander has 37 saves and a sub-3.00 ERA for a Dodgers team that is fighting for a playoff spot as we head into the last weekend of the regular season.

    Jansen’s occasional struggles on the mound and health concerns only magnified the team’s inability to replace Morrow, who was their primary setup man and bullpen workhorse last post-season. Setup relievers seem likely to be an area of focus this winter, and the Dodgers will be keeping their fingers crossed that Jansen comes back strong in what will be year three of a five-year, $80MM contract.

    Miami Marlins Marlins Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Brad Ziegler
    September 2018: Co-Closers — Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley

    Future Outlook: It’s not clear why the rebuilding Marlins stuck with the veteran Ziegler through a rocky two-month stint as the closer to begin the season. Even though he had just one blown save in 10 chances when he was removed from the role, he had an ERA near 8.00 and Kyle Barraclough, next in line, had a 1.48 ERA. If they had any reluctance to turn it over to Barraclough, he showed why that might’ve been the case by losing the job two months later.

    After locking down all seven save chances while allowing just one hit over 12 scoreless innings in June, Barraclough fell apart in July. Over his next 13 appearances, he blew four saves and allowed 14 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings before the Marlins decided on a closer-by-committee approach in early August. Steckenrider and Conley lead the team with four and two saves, respectively, since Barraclough was removed from the closer’s role. Both pitchers have an ERA over 5.00 in the second half, however, so it’s very likely that the team will look to find a more reliable option during the offseason.

    Milwaukee Brewers Brewers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Corey Knebel
    September 2018: Committee — Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Hader

    Future Outlook: Knebel suffered a hamstring injury during his third appearance of the season, forcing him to the disabled list for a month. By the time he returned, Hader and Jeffress had each established that they were more than capable of picking up the slack if Knebel could not return to his 2017 form. And this did prove to be the case. The 26-year-old Knebel, sharing the closer’s role with Hader and Jeffress, had a 5.08 ERA through August 31st. September has been a different story, however, as Knebel has allowed just four hits and three walks over 13 1/3 scoreless innings with 26 strikeouts. Regardless of how things go in the playoffs, the Brewers appear set with the same trio of late-inning relievers heading into 2019.

    New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Jeurys Familia
    September 2018: Committee — Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Anthony Swarzak

    Future Outlook: The return of Familia, who missed time in 2017 due to a 15-game suspension and a three-and-a-half month-stint on the disabled list, was supposed to help propel the Mets back into playoff contention. While things have not gone swimmingly for the Mets, Familia’s comeback has actually gone quite well. He posted a 2.88 ERA with 17 saves for the Mets, was traded to Oakland in July and should be headed for a decent payday in free agency this offseason.

    The Mets, coincidentally, will likely be in the market for a closer, although it’s not known whether they or Familia would be open to a reunion. Gsellman has held his own as the primary closer, saving eight of nine games since Familia’s departure, but probably isn’t the long-term answer. Lugo has been terrific out of the ’pen, although his best role could be as a multi-inning setup man for whoever the team’s next closer will be.

    Philadelphia Phillies Phillies Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Hector Neris
    September 2018: Committee – Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter, etc.

    Future Outlook: Neris was 8-for-10 in save chances with three losses and an ERA over 5.00 in mid-May when manager Gabe Kapler declared that he would no longer have a set closer. It didn’t take long for rookie Seranthony Dominguez to emerge as the most significant part of the group, pitching 14 2/3 scoreless innings with only two hits allowed, no walks and 16 strikeouts to begin his MLB career. He would falter as the season progressed, though, leaving Kapler to rely more on veterans Hunter and Pat Neshek down the stretch.

    Considering that Dominguez was a starting pitching prospect with no experience in the upper minors prior to the 2018 season, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he can take a big leap forward and solidify the closer’s job for a full season. But with expectations for the Phillies likely to be in the high-to-extremely-high range, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Phillies pursue a more established free agent to close out games.

    Pittsburgh Pirates Pirates Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Felipe Vazquez
    September 2018: Felipe Vazquez

    Future Outlook: Vazquez signed a $22MM contract extension in the offseason and changed his name in April. By the end of May, Vazquez had an ERA near 5.00 and four blown saves. There wasn’t the normal negative buzz that surrounds most closers after blowing a save or two, though. He had only allowed an earned run in four of 24 appearances and the Pirates were playing much better than expected. He was also dealing with forearm discomfort and, of course, was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball in 2017. He earned that long leash. Over his last 44 appearances, the 27-year-old lefty has a 1.77 ERA and 26 saves in 27 chances. Yep– still one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.

    With three games to go, Vazquez is two appearances shy of reaching at least 70 games for the third consecutive season. He pitched both ends of a double-header twice in 2018 and pitched three consecutive days on three occasions, including two days after experiencing the forearm pain. The acquisition of Keone Kela and the emergence of Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez as reliable setup men should help ease Vazquez’s workload in 2019.

    San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart 

    Opening Day 2018: Brad Hand
    September 2018: Kirby Yates

    Future Outlook: While Hand’s offseason contract extension removed any sense of urgency that the Padres had to trade him, it also made him a much more valuable trade chip. After saving 24 games and posting a 3.05 ERA with 13.2 K/9 in 41 appearances, Hand was traded to the Indians for catcher Francisco Mejia, one of the top prospects in baseball. Yates stepped into the closer’s role, although there was a decent chance that it would be a short stint with 12 days to go until the non-waiver trade deadline and several contending teams potentially interested in acquiring him. The 31-year-old stayed put, though, giving him an extended opportunity to prove himself as an MLB closer. He’s passed the test with flying colors, saving 10 games in 11 chances—he has 12 saves overall—while continuing to strike out more than 12 batters per nine innings.

    The Padres, who currently have 95 losses, aren’t likely to build a legitimate playoff contender during the offseason. However, they’re far enough into their rebuild that they’ll want to go into 2019 with a team that can at least be .500. In that case, holding on to Yates would be smart, although general manager A.J. Preller will surely be willing to pull the trigger on a deal if a team meets his asking price.

    San Francisco Giants Giants Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Hunter Strickland
    September 2018: Will Smith

    Future Outlook: With Mark Melancon on the disabled list to begin the season, the Giants turned to Strickland as their closer. For the most part, he did a fine job, but his days as a closer swiftly came to an end, at least for the near future, on June 18th. Strickland entered the game with a two-run lead over the Marlins, an ERA just over 2.00 and 13 saves in 16 chances. After allowing three earned runs in the eventual 5-4 loss, he punched a door in frustration and fractured his hand. Upon returning in mid-August, Smith had 10 saves and a strong grasp on the closer’s gig.

    Smith will likely be the front-runner to keep the job in ’19 with Melancon also firmly in the mix given his experience and his sizable contract (four years, $62MM). He’s not quite back to his pre-injury form, but Melancon has a 3.08 ERA in 40 appearances.

    St. Louis Cardinals Cardinals Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Committee — Dominic Leone, Tyler LyonsBud Norris
    September 2018: Carlos Martinez

    Future Outlook: The committee was supposed to be temporary while Greg Holland, who signed a one-year contract in late March, worked his way back into shape with a Minor League stint. Holland, though, was brought to the Majors before he was ready and never looked right with the Cardinals. He walked four in his St. Louis debut and never quite recovered. Norris, as he did in 2017 with the Angels, quickly separated himself from the other closer options and proved to be a steady force in the ninth inning with 28 saves and a sub-3.00 ERA through August. The 33-year-old ran out of gas, though, forcing the team to use a temporary committee in early September. Martinez, who returned from a disabled list stint to pitch out of the bullpen in late August, has emerged as the team’s primary closer as they fight for a Wild Card spot.

    It’s highly unlikely that Martinez, the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter, will remain in the bullpen beyond this season. Barring any injury concerns, he’s just too good as a starting pitcher. Rookie Jordan Hicks, who has dazzled with his 100+ MPH sinking fastball, is a good bet to be the team’s closer at some point. It’s just not certain that the Cardinals will trust him enough at the beginning of the 2019 campaign, which could put them in the market for a stop-gap closer this offseason.

    Washington Nationals Nationals Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Sean Doolittle
    September 2018: Sean Doolittle

    Future Outlook: Doolittle was the Nationals’ closer on Opening Day, an NL All-Star selection in July, and he’s the Nationals’ closer as we enter the last weekend of the regular season. You’d figure things went pretty well for the Nats in 2018. But you’d be wrong.

    A stress reaction in Doolittle’s foot forced him out of the All-Star game and out of action for a majority of the second half. When he returned in September, the Nats were out of the playoff chase. Five different relievers, including Kelvin Herrera, picked up saves while Doolittle was out. Brandon KintzlerRyan Madson and Shawn Kelley were all traded, and Herrera suffered a season-ending foot injury in late August.

    Doolittle will be back in 2019—his $6MM club option will surely be exercised—and should jump right back into the ninth-inning role unless the Nats make a bold acquisition for another closer. In all likelihood, they’ll bring in another veteran setup man to help out a group that includes Koda Glover and Justin MillerGreg Holland is one possibility. He has been a pleasant surprise since signing with the team in early August (0.89 ERA in 23 appearances) .

    POTENTIAL FREE-AGENT CLOSER OPTIONS
    Nate Jones (if $4.65MM club option is declined)
    Joe Kelly
    Craig Kimbrel
    Ryan Madson
    Andrew Miller
    Fernando Rodney (if $4.25MM club option is declined)
    Sergio Romo
    Trevor Rosenthal
    Joakim Soria (if $10MM mutual option is declined)
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    NL West Rumors: D-Backs, Pence, CarGo, Galvis https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/nl-west-rumors-pence-cargo-anderson-galvis.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/nl-west-rumors-pence-cargo-anderson-galvis.html#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2018 16:08:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133603 Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic breaks down the tough choices facing the Diamondbacks this winter. Taking another crack at contention would mean filling several needs. It’d also come with some clear risks. As Piecoro well explains: “For years, the Diamondbacks have had just enough talent to want to keep pushing forward, but not enough to seriously contend for a World Series. And, it seems, each time they’ve tried to load up, they’ve only set themselves back further from a possible championship.” It’s a really interesting initial look at the complicated situation, including some takes from rival executives from around the game.

    More from the NL West:

    • The Giants are expected to wish a fond farewell this weekend to outfielder Hunter Pence, as Kerry Crowley of The Mercury News writes. He’ll get a prominent place on the lineup card, but that’s not solely honorary. Pence has turned in a bit of a late charge, after all, and the Giants still have a consolation prize (keeping the rival Dodgers from a division title) to play for. So, is this the end for Pence? That still seems unclear. He says he’ll “treat it just like I treat every game. You never know your whole career even when you’re young, it could be your last game.”
    • It could soon also be the end of the line for Carlos Gonzalez with the Rockies, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post recently explored. Understandably, the veteran outfielder is focused on finishing out what could be a special season for the Colorado organization. He has been getting less opportunities of late, which seems likely to be the prelude to a departure via free agency this winter. Whether or not that’ll come to pass, CarGo (much like Pence) says he’ll continue to “try to take advantage every night” of the chance to suit up. Soon to turn 33, Gonzalez carries a .276/.329/.463 slash line through 489 plate appearances — good for an approximately league-average overall output once adjusted for park effects and league context.
    • Finally, we’ll turn to yet another pending free agent. While the Padres’ youth movement is the primary hope for the franchise, the team still needs to fill roles. That could conceivably lead to a reunion with shortstop Freddy Galvis. As AJ Cassavell of MLB.com writes, Galvis has been on a tear at the plate to end the season. And it seems he has generally left a good impression. While fans are pining for Fernando Tatis Jr., skipper Andy Green notes that there are reasons to like the idea of a return for Galvis. Tatis, after all, still has some seasoning left. That leave room at short to open the year, at least, in addition to the possibility that Galvis “could bounce around,” as Green put it. Of course, the veteran infielder is also likely to test the waters to see whether he can pull down more money or a better opportunity elsewhere. He’ll be among several glove-first veterans hitting the open market.
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    Seunghwan Oh’s 2019 Option Vests https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/seunghwan-ohs-2019-option-vests.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/seunghwan-ohs-2019-option-vests.html#comments Sun, 23 Sep 2018 23:39:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133356 Rockies right-hander Seunghwan Oh made his 70th appearance of the 2018 season today, thus triggering the vesting option on his contract.  The $2.5MM club option (with a $250K buyout) that Colorado held on Oh’s services for the 2019 season has now become fully guaranteed, allowing the 36-year-old to lock in a payday for what will be his 15th total season in professional baseball.  Reaching the 70-game plateau also allowed Oh to max out his incentives for his 2018 salary, so he’ll earn an extra $500K in appearance-related bonuses on top of his $1.75MM guaranteed salary.

    While Oh now has more security, it seemed very likely that the Rockies would exercise their club option anyways given how well Oh has pitched both since coming to Denver (in a July trade from Toronto) and as a whole in 2018.  Oh has a 2.73 ERA, 10.23 K/9, and 75 strikeouts against just 17 walks over 66 total innings for the Rockies and Blue Jays.  It has been a very nice bounceback year for the veteran following a rather shaky, homer-prone 2017 campaign as a member of the Cardinals bullpen.  Oh hasn’t entirely rid himself of his home run issues (1.09 HR/9), and ERA predictors (3.44 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 3.17 SIERA) are a bit more pessimistic about his performance this year, though overall, Oh has been a thoroughly solid contributor.

    Oh’s presence has helped stabilize a Rockies bullpen that has been average at best this season, and disastrous at worst.  Colorado spent $106MM last winter on three-year contracts for Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw, only to see Davis have a down year by his high standards, and McGee and Shaw both post ERAs north of 6.00 (though Shaw has pitched better over the last couple of months).  The less-heralded trio of Oh, Adam Ottavino, and Scott Oberg have all pitched very well, however, allowing the Rockies to stay in the postseason race.  With so much money already committed to the bullpen, Colorado faces a tough decision this winter about Ottavino, who will be a free agent.

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    2019 Vesting Options Update https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/2019-vesting-options-update-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/2019-vesting-options-update-2.html#comments Sat, 22 Sep 2018 14:59:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133263 Near the end of May, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk provided readers with an update on all the known 2019 vesting options. As he mentioned at that time, some options of this kind go unreported, so we’ll examine the list below with the caveat that it could potentially be incomplete.

    A vesting option is a clause in a player’s contract that can change the structure of the deal by guaranteeing him an additional year under contract; these are usually triggered when a player meets certain plate appearance thresholds and/or is healthy at season’s end.

    Here’s where those six players stand…

    Will Vest

    Seunghwan Oh: The South Korea native is just one relief appearance away from triggering the clause in his contract that’ll turn his $2.5MM club option (with a $250K buyout) into a guarantee. Oh, 36, originally signed his contract with the Blue Jays, where he began the season strong and was ultimately flipped to the Rockies prior to July’s non-waiver trade deadline. On the whole, he’s whiffed 10.19 batters per nine while walking just 2.34 per nine en route to a tidy 2.76 ERA. With the Rockies in the midst of a pennant chase, Oh is sure to get his 70th appearance on the season at some point in the coming days.

    Will Not Vest

    Hanley Ramirez: HanRam started the season hot, but after posting a .874 OPS in April, he mustered just a .500 OPS the month following en route to being designated for assignment on May 24th (just four days after out last vesting options update). What was once an intriguing situation to watch had the mystery taken out of it abruptly, and Ramirez hasn’t played in the bigs since.

    Cole Hamels: The resurgent lefty has been a welcome sight for a Cubs rotation that didn’t get any semblance of what they hoped for from Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood. Since being acquired from the Rangers at the trade deadline, he’s tossed 63 1/3 innings of 2.42 ERA ball. That brings him to just 177 2/3 IP on the season, however, which will fall well short of the towering 252 figure he needs for his vesting option to trigger. Per the terms of a deal he originally signed with the Phillies, Hamels’ $20MM club option ($6MM buyout) would have morphed into a one-year, $24MM pact if he managed to throw 200 innings this season and 400 total from 2017-2018, all while ending the season without any shoulder or elbow injuries requiring a DL placement. Hamels took the mound for just 148 innings last season, so while he’s been pretty good in Chicago, hopes of achieving his vesting option threshold were little more than a pipe dream to begin with.

    Brian McCann: McCann was already fighting an uphill battle in his attempts to reach his 1,000th plate appearance across the 2017-2018 season (a threshold which would have triggered his vesting option). At the outset of 2018, he needed a career-high 601 PA, and after undergoing knee surgery that knocked him out of the lineup for all of July and August, his chances of achieving that lofty goal were squelched entirely.

    Ervin Santana: We had already written off any chance of Santana’s option vesting all the way back in May, when he hadn’t yet taken the field due to finger injury issues. While he did manage to get back to the mound for five starts, he’d have needed 200 innings in order to qualify for a $14MM guarantee in 2019. That was never going to happen for a pitcher who made his season debut on July 25th.

    Logan Morrison: After a promising 2017 season that saw Morrison launch a career-high 38 bombs, the lefty-hitting first baseman was unable to find a team willing to buy into his newfound success. The Twins, however, gave him a one-year pact with a $8MM club option for 2019 ($1MM buyout) that would vest if he took 600 trips to the plate. Unfortunately, Morrison’s performance has taken a considerable downturn this season; that dive can largely be attributed to nagging hip issues that ultimately necessitated season-ending surgery. During that procedure, he had a torn labrum repaired and a bone spur removed. That, of course, took the possibility of triggering his vesting option off the table, as his plate appearance total sits at just 359 on the year.

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    Trevor Story Cleared Of Structural Damage In Elbow https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/trevor-story-set-for-testing-after-exiting-contest-with-elbow-injury.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/trevor-story-set-for-testing-after-exiting-contest-with-elbow-injury.html#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:10:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132996 7:10pm: Despite that ominous report from Rosenthal, manager Bud Black tells reporters that Story’s MRI did not show any structural damage, and his ulnar collateral ligament is intact (Twitter link via Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller). In fact, Black adds that he hopes to have Story back in the lineup in “a few days.”

    1:59pm: There’s nothing official yet, and perhaps the details are still unknown even to team and player, but the initial indication is not terribly promising. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, via Twitter, Story is “facing potential UCL damage in [his] right elbow.”

    In the worst case, of course, a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament can require Tommy John surgery, though there’s no indication to this point whether that will even be considered. Story’s outlook will be better than that of a pitcher, regardless of the final diagnosis, but even a strain could require enough rest to knock him out for the rest of the season and most, if not all, of the postseason.

    8:16am: The Rockies are awaiting further word on shortstop Trevor Story, who exited last night’s contest with what the team described as elbow soreness. Story is slated to undergo further examination and testing today, as Kyle Newman of the Denver Post reports (Twitter links).

    It’s a worrying situation for a Colorado club that went on to drop the first of a critical three-game set to the Dodgers, thereby surrendering the top spot in the NL West. Even a brief absence from Story could be of great significance; as Dan Symborski of Fangraphs observed on Twitter, the outcome of this series has a massive impact on the probabilities of which team will win the division.

    Story, 25, has turned in an outstanding season after a sophomore slump in 2017. Through 623 plate appearances, he’s carrying a .288/.343/.550 slash with 33 home runs. He still strikes out a lot and doesn’t draw many walks, but Story has pared back on the swing-and-miss (26.2% K rate; 11.5% swinging strike rate) as against his prior seasons, even while increasing his swing and chase rates.

    While his glovework hasn’t graded as brilliantly this year as last, Story also combines with third bagger Nolan Arenado to form a gifted defensive pairing. Story is even expanding his repertoire a bit this year, swiping 26 bags after not reaching double-digits in either of his first two MLB campaigns.

    In sum, the Rockies don’t have much hope of replacing Story’s productivity for any stretch he ends up missing. At this stage of the season, there’s little to do but call upon the next man up and hope for the best. Of course, Story has played almost every inning at short this season, so it’s not entirely clear how the club will fill in. Ian Desmond spent much of his career there and has shifted to short twice already this season. Otherwise, Pat Valaika and Garrett Hampson are the only active players who’ve appeared at the position in 2018.

    Clearly, then, a swift return would be most welcome. Story says he experienced pain while throwing and swinging after diving for a ball early in the game, which sounds a bit ominous. But Black suggests there’s at least some cause for optimism after the initial look from the team’s training staff. Of course, he also acknowledged “some apprehension” while waiting for imaging results — an understandable position with so much at stake.

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    NL West Notes: Dozier, Belt, Diamondbacks, Black https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/nl-west-notes-dozier-belt-diamondbacks-black.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/nl-west-notes-dozier-belt-diamondbacks-black.html#comments Sun, 16 Sep 2018 14:56:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132917 Brian Dozier, mired in a dreadful slump after a hot first week with the Dodgers, spoke to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register about those struggles. Dozier played through a bone bruise in his knee earlier this season, and while he said the knee “feels great” now, he acknowledged that he developed some bad habits at the plate while trying to compensate for it at the time. The 31-year-old Dozier added that he doesn’t believe playing primarily in a platoon capacity has had an adverse impact on him. (The Dodgers’ constant lineup fluctuations based on matchups has been a source of frustration for many of their fans.) Dozier will be a free agent at season’s end, but the .218/.306/.391 slash he’s carrying isn’t likely to do him any favors — particularly when he’ll be heading into his age-32 season next year.

    More from the division…

    • Brandon Belt underwent an MRI on his ailing knee, but the Giants aren’t planning to shut him down for the remainder of the season, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Belt is considered day-to-day for the time being, but he’ll start more games before season’s end. It’s been a disastrous summer for Belt — and, really, for most of the Giants’ offense — as his production has cratered after soaring to career-best levels in the season’s first half. Belt, 30, posted a ridiculous .307/.403/.547 batting line through June 1 before landing on the disabled list due to a bout of appendicitis. He never seemed to recover his footing after that, as he’s floundered at a miserable .203/.283/.290 pace since returning. Belt also missed a bit more than two weeks due to a hyperextended knee in late July and early August.
    • Clay Buchholz, whose season ended yesterday due to a flexor mass strain, tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he’d love to return to the Diamondbacks, but there have yet to be any discussions about a new contract between the two sides. Piecoro also chatted with Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, whom the Diamondbacks passed over in favor of Dansby Swanson back in the 2015 Draft. Bregman said he was thrilled to go to the Astros with the No. 2 overall pick but admitted that part of him was also “pissed,” because he’d hoped to be the top overall selection in the draft. He also relayed a story from the 2012 draft, when Arizona showed interest in him as a late first-rounder but instead drafted catcher Stryker Trahan. Arizona called him to see if he’d sign as a second-rounder, but Bregman informed the team he planned on attending college at Louisiana State University.
    • In a fun Sunday-morning read, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post walks through a typical day in the life of Rockies manager Bud Black during the team’s pennant race — covering everything from an early radio appearance to lineup planning, pre-game media sessions, in-game decisions and post-game work and rituals. Saunders also chats with catcher Chris Iannetta and lefty Kyle Freeland about Black’s managerial style and his teaching methods. “Buddy has a laid-back style, but even though it’s laid back, I wouldn’t say it’s relaxed,” says Iannetta of Black — his fifth big league manager. “…I think it’s the sign of a good manager when he knows when to be hands-on and when to take his hands off.” It’s obviously an extra-appealing read for Rox fans, though fans of any club will still appreciate the detailed look at the day-to-day operations of a big league skipper.
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    Rosenthal On LeMahieu, Arenado https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/rosenthals-latest-rox-lemahieu-arenado-dodgers-os-ripken.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/rosenthals-latest-rox-lemahieu-arenado-dodgers-os-ripken.html#comments Sun, 16 Sep 2018 01:59:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132872
  • Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and the club may have a successor on hand in prospect Brendan Rodgers. However, Rosenthal floats the idea of the Rockies re-signing LeMahieu – who’s one of their “glue” guys, he notes – and trading superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado in the offseason. Although Arenado’s obviously far superior to LeMahieu, the former only has another year of arbitration control remaining, during which he’ll rake in upward of $20MM. Thus, if the Rockies aren’t confident about extending Arenado, Rosenthal posits that it may make sense for them to move the NL MVP candidate for a package of players who’d “supplement” their roster. That would enable them to re-up LeMahieu and use Rodgers at third base, Rosenthal observes.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    DJ LeMahieu Hires Wasserman Media Group https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/dj-lemahieu-hires-wasserman-media-group.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/dj-lemahieu-hires-wasserman-media-group.html#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2018 15:47:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132470 With an offseason trip to free agency looming, Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu has hired the Wasserman Media Group to represent him, Jon Heyman of Fancred reports.

    Although LeMahieu has been a productive second baseman for the Rockies over the past few years, he’s likely in his last season with the club, Kyle Newman of the Denver Post writes. The Rockies have younger second base options on hand in Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers, and their presences are among the reasons the team probably won’t pony up for LeMahieu, Newman explains.

    It hasn’t been an ideal contract year for LeMahieu, 30, as injuries have limited him to 105 games after he appeared in no fewer than 146 contests in each season from 2014-17. LeMahieu has still managed a career-high 14 home runs, contributing to a solid-looking .273/.321/.437 line over 479 PAs that, thanks to Coors Field, is 12 percent worse than league average, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric. But LeMahieu has produced nearly as well on the road as he has at home (.743 away OPS, .772 at Coors), and Statcast has been bullish on his work (.351 expected weighted on-base average versus .326 real wOBA). Further, LeMahieu has been elite in the field this year, with 16 Defensive Runs Saved and a 6.0 Ultimate Zone Rating.

    LeMahieu is one of several established second basemen primed to reach free agency after the season, joining the likes of Daniel Murphy, Jed Lowrie, Brian Dozier, Marwin Gonzalez, Logan Forsythe, Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker, among others. As with LeMahieu, age- and/or performance-related concerns exist with each of them.

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    Mike Dunn To Undergo Season-Ending Shoulder Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/mike-dunn-to-undergo-season-ending-shoulder-surgery.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/mike-dunn-to-undergo-season-ending-shoulder-surgery.html#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2018 18:31:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132204 Rockies reliever Mike Dunn will undergo season-ending surgery on his left A/C joint in the coming weeks, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.

    The injured Dunn last took the mound July 3, when he allowed at least one earned run for the eighth time in 25 appearances this season. The left-hander wound up throwing 17 innings for the Rockies this year, logging an unsightly 9.00 ERA with more walks (18) than strikeouts (12). It’ll go down as the second straight rough season for the 33-year-old Dunn, formerly an effective reliever with the Marlins.

    In December 2016, on the heels of his Miami tenure, the Rockies added Dunn on a three-year, $19MM guarantee, though that signing has not worked out to this point. The Rockies followed that up by spending big on fellow relievers Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee last winter, but all of them have joined Dunn in struggling this year. Including Dunn’s $7MM, Colorado will owe the four of them a combined $42MM in 2019.

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    No Contract Talks Between Rockies, Adam Ottavino https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/nl-notes-rockies-ottavino-cubs-dodgers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/nl-notes-rockies-ottavino-cubs-dodgers.html#comments Sun, 02 Sep 2018 03:42:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132044
  • Pending free-agent reliever Adam Ottavino hopes to stay with the Rockies, but the two sides have not discussed a new contract, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Ottavino has been a solid reliever for most of his Rockies tenure, which began in 2012, but he has especially effective in 2018. Playing his age-32 season, Ottavino has logged a superb 2.08 ERA with 13.15 K/9 against 4.15 BB/9 across 65 innings, and that production may price him out of Colorado. With Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee and Mike Dunn set to make a combined $42MM in 2019, the Rockies already have significant money tied up next year’s bullpen. Unfortunately for the Rockies, that big-money quartet has been a colossal disappointment this season.
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