Kansas City Royals – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Thu, 17 Jan 2019 11:32:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Royals’ Eric Skoglund Suspended 80 Games https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/royals-pitcher-eric-skoglund-suspended-80-games-peds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/royals-pitcher-eric-skoglund-suspended-80-games-peds.html#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2019 22:59:15 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144871 Royals left-hander Eric Skoglund has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for “Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators S-22 (Ostarine) and LGD-4033 (Ligandrol),” the league announced Wednesday.

Skoglund, 26, would presumably have been in the mix for a rotation spot with the Royals this spring but will instead sit out the first half of the season without pay. The 2014 third-rounder has had some success at the Triple-A level thus far in his career but has not yet broken out as a reliable MLB option in Kansas City. In 14 appearances for the Royals in 2018 (13 starts), Skoglund pitched to a 5.14 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.54 HR/9 and a 42.1 percent ground-ball rate. He does have a 4.13 ERA with nearly a punchout per inning and similar control numbers through 109 innings with the Royals’ top minor league affiliate in Omaha.

Kansas City presently figures to open the season with Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, Brad Keller and Ian Kennedy in the rotation. Skoglund’s subtraction from the race for the fifth spot will give names like Jesse Hahn, Trevor Oaks, Heath Fillmyer and Ben Lively a greater chance of making some starts in the early stages of a 2019 season that appears destined to be a rebuilding year for the Royals as they work to develop a new core following their 2015 World Series Championship.

The suspension will open a spot on the Royals’ 40-man roster, which had previously been full.

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Royals Sign Taylor Featherston To Minors Deal https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/minor-mlb-transactions-11319.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/minor-mlb-transactions-11319.html#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2019 05:59:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144358
  • The Padres signed left-hander Eric Stout to a minor league contract, according to Zone Coverage’s Brandon Warne (Twitter link).  Stout posted a 3.68 ERA, 2.63 K/BB rate, and 7.4 K/9 over 269 1/3 career innings in the Royals’ farm system, appearing as a reliever in all but five of his 153 career games.    Stout also made his MLB debut in 2018, appearing in three games for Kansas City.
  • Also from Warne, the Royals inked infielder Taylor Featherston to a minors contract.  After playing in 137 games with the Angels, Phillies, and Rays from 2015-17, Featherston didn’t see any Major League action last season, spending time in the farm systems of the Twins and Reds, plus a short stint in independent ball.  Featherston has offered more with the glove than his bat over his career, with a lot of experience at second base, third base, and shortstop, plus some time as a left field and first baseman.
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    Royals Outright Cheslor Cuthbert https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/red-sox-sign-bryce-brentz-minors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/red-sox-sign-bryce-brentz-minors.html#comments Fri, 11 Jan 2019 15:32:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143949
  • Infielder Cheslor Cuthbert cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Omaha, the Royals announced. He’d been designated for assignment earlier in the week. Cuthbert, 26, long rated as one of Kansas City’s best prospects and showed a bit of promise in 2016 when he hit .274/.318/.413 in 510 plate appearances as a rookie. However, he’s followed that up with a dismal .215/.278/.313 slash in 270 PAs over the past two seasons. The corner infielder could yet emerge in the Majors again with a strong showing in Triple-A, of course.
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    Royals Sign Kyle Zimmer, Designate Cheslor Cuthbert https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/royals-sign-kyle-zimmer-designate-cheslor-cuthbert.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/royals-sign-kyle-zimmer-designate-cheslor-cuthbert.html#comments Sat, 05 Jan 2019 00:50:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142604 The Royals have signed right-hander Kyle Zimmer to a one-year deal, the team announced (Twitter links).  Zimmer’s deal is a Major League deal, and MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that it is a split contract.  Zimmer will earn $124K in the minors and $555K (the MLB minimum salary) if he cracks the Royals’ big league roster.  In a corresponding move, the Royals have designated third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert for assignment.

    After being selected with the fifth overall pick of the 2012 draft, Zimmer has yet to reach the majors, as his development has been stalled by a series of injuries.  Shoulder and elbow problems have been consistent issues, and Zimmer underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in July 2016.  All in all, Zimmer has tossed just 259 minor league innings since making his pro debut in 2012, and he didn’t pitch at all last season.

    In this context, it’s a little curious why K.C. felt the need to sign Zimmer to a Major League contract rather than another minor league agreement, though obviously the price is far from prohibitive and the split deal gives Zimmer a bit of extra guaranteed cash.

    Despite all the injuries, Zimmer continued to be listed on multiple top-100 prospect rankings as recently as 2016, due to the potential he flashed when he was able to take the mound.  Zimmer has a 3.54 ERA, 10.8 K/9, and a 3.44 K/BB rate in the minors, though he did have a 5.79 ERA over his only Triple-A exposure, a 32 2/3-inning stint in 2017.  Zimmer worked mostly as a reliever in 2017 and that would seem like his clearest path to the majors, though just making the Show would be an achievement for Zimmer at this point given his plethora of health issues.

    Cuthbert has also been plagued with injuries over the last two seasons, playing in just 88 total games for the Royals with only a .215/.278/.313 slash line over 270 plate appearances.  Cuthbert looked to breaking in as a regular in the Kansas City lineup in 2016, though his diminished play over the last two years has made him an expendable part of the Royals’ rebuild.

    The Royals avoided arbitration with Cuthbert by agreeing to a $850K contract for the 2019 season, though like all arb deals, this contract isn’t guaranteed until the season actually begins.  If the Royals were to part ways with Cuthbert before the 16th day of Spring Training, they would only owe him 30 days of prorated termination pay based on his contract value (so in this case, roughly $143K).  Cuthbert is also out of options, so even if Kansas City wanted to keep him in the organization, he’d have to clear this waiver process.

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    3 Remaining Needs: AL Central https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/3-remaining-needs-al-central-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/3-remaining-needs-al-central-2.html#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2019 02:24:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142197 Our 3 Remaining Needs series skips over to the Cleveland-dominated American League Central, home to three of MLB’s least successful franchises in 2018. The Tribe still figure to have a stranglehold on the division, though the upstart Twins have kicked off the winter with a flurry of moves, and prospect-rich White Sox are shooting well beyond their typical free-agent moon. Here’s a look at the three most pressing needs for each team in the division (listed in order of 2018 finish) . . .

    [Previous installments: NL WestNL EastNL Central, AL West]

    Cleveland Indians

    • Find an outfielder (or three). The Tribe probably don’t need to do anything this winter if their aim is simply to lock down a fourth straight division crown, but surely the title-starved club, rife with franchise icons on the infield and in the rotation, has set its sights a good deal higher. If so, they’ll need to fix their desolate outfield situation, which currently features some haphazard mix of Jordan Luplow, Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin, Greg Allen, and Tyler Naquin. Jason Kipnis could be an option as well, though the club has already swapped penciled-in third baseman Yandy Diaz for Bauers, which should force Jose Ramirez back to the hot corner and Kipnis – who suffered through a second consecutive subpar season in ’18 – back to second. The Indians saved about $18MM by dealing Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion, so this should be their first priority.
    • Address the pen. Behind star-level closer Brad Hand, the Tribe pen is surprisingly thin. Tyler Olson, essentially a LOOGY at this point in his career, is otherwise the club’s highest-producing returner, with a 2.94 xFIP in just 29 IP. Stunningly, not a single other returning Indian reliever posted higher than 0.1 fWAR in 2018, with heralded midseason acquisition Adam Cimber posting a dreadful 3.15 K/9 over an identical 3.15 BB/9 in his stint with the club. Cleveland has long treasured bargain pickups in this area, and may again be left shuffling through the bin in search of help.
    • Acquire a catcher. Recent deals have stripped the club of star prospect Francisco Mejia and the up-and-down Yan Gomes, leaving just a combination of Roberto Perez and Eric Haase behind the dish, each of whom project around replacement level. An upper-minors savior isn’t in the wings, so the club will likely be forced to look elsewhere for an upgrade.

    Minnesota Twins

    • Solidify the back end of the rotation.  The Twins have gone all-in on righty power (Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop) this winter, but have still yet to address a number of staff holes.  A top end of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Kyle Gibson – plus a returning Michael Pineda – is a nice start, but three of the four are free agents after the season, and the club has little in the way of track record after that. Youngsters Stephen Gonsalves, Lewis Thorpe, and Fernando Romero could fill in eventually, but none appear poised to immediately lock down a role.
    • Shore up the pen. Taylor Rogers quietly had one of MLB’s best relief seasons in 2018 (a dominant 54 FIP-) and Trevor May is a quality arm, but the Twins lack anything in the way of cohesion beyond that. Figureheads Addison Reed and Trevor Hildenberger struggled mightily with the long ball last year and, with the fickle nature of even longtime bullpen success stories, can hardly be counted on in the season to come. Lefty Andrew Vasquez deserves at least an early-season look after sporting minor league numbers that nearly defy belief, but the club would do well to hunt down two or three more proven performers in the back end.
    • Don’t mess with Kepler. German-born Max Kepler has accrued nearly three full seasons’ worth of MLB at-bats in his young career and has yet to produce even a league-average line, but a closer look suggests there may be much more to come. Indeed, the 25-year-old quietly accumulated a solid 2.6 fWAR last season despite a balls-in-play average of just .236, and his plate-discipline profile (11.6 BB%/15.7 K%) stood as one of the AL’s best. Kepler earns plus defensive marks wherever he plays, and could be a breakout center-field candidate if Byron Buxton again sputters early in the season. Kepler is an apparently a sought-after commodity on the trade market this winter, but the man who Steamer projects to produce a 110 wRC+ (Brandon Nimmo, by comparison, is at 112) should have a long-term home in Minneapolis.

    Detroit Tigers

    • Find a taker for Nick Castellanos. Castellanos, 26, had his best offensive season last year, slashing .298/.354/.500 (130 wRC+) with a celestial 48% hard-hit rate. He’s entering the last year of team control, though, and would seem to have to have little on-field value for a rebuilding Tiger club; numerous teams are said to have had interest, but the price (somewhat oddly, given his defensive ineptitude) remains exorbitant.
    • Continue to hunt for flip candidates. Thus far in the offseason, Detroit has signed Matt Moore, Tyson Ross, and Jordy Mercer, all of whom (but especially the former two) could have legitimate mid-season trade value if they unexpectedly return to form. Pickups of this ilk seem ideal for a Tiger team in flux; a few more, perhaps at multiple spots in the outfield and in the bullpen, could be an excellent jumpstart for the nascent rebuild.
    • Add prospect depth. It’s been years – decades, maybe – since the Tiger farm churned out multiple big leaguers at a time, with the team instead preferring to assemble their best clubs through shrewd trades and lavish free-agent signings. Now, though, seems the perfect time to amass a burgeoning juggernaut on the farm; the club is off to a great start, with three of the league’s top-50 prospects in place, but strength in numbers will be the order of the next few seasons in Motown.

    Chicago White Sox

    • Sign one of (or both) Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.  This remains a long shot, to be sure, but the talk in Chicagoland seems to be intensifying around each superstar. Whether the White Sox, who’ve never handed out a free-agent contract north of $70MM in club history, are willing to meet the respective enormous demands is unclear, but a seat at the table may be sufficient for the long-suffering fans on the Southside.
    • Find guys who put the ball in play. The White Sox led baseball with a hard-to-believe 26.3 K% last year, and received meager ancillary benefit, with a mid-pack team ISO of just .160. Among regulars, only Jose Abreu had a strikeout percentage under 20%, which may well be a first in major-league history. A power-driven lineup makes sense in the homer-happy Guaranteed Rate Field, but it won’t mean much if the club continues to strike out at a historic collective pace.
    • Find guys who keep the ball in play. Chicago’s 115 xFIP- was dead-last in MLB last year, aided in no small part by a league-worst 4.09 BB/9 and the tendency of its starters to deliver up the gopher ball. Head culprit James Shields is gone, but the club needs, urgently, to be on the scent of pitchers with a track record of limiting the home run. Perhaps no pitcher would be a better fit than Marcus Stroman (0.81 career HR/9), but others, like Gio Gonzalez, Mike Leake, Sonny Gray, and even perhaps Martin Perez, who was homer-allergic in his previous few seasons prior to last, would be excellent choices as well.

    Kansas City Royals

    • Scour the depths for pitching help. Kansas City’s pitching staff was, by any account, an unmitigated disaster last season, as the team’s hurlers struck out a mere 7.27 men per nine on the way to near-league-worst output. The team, oddly, has poured so much of its resources into finding high-contact offensive players, but seems thoroughly disinterested in identifying their inverse on the pitching staff. The 2018 Royals featured nine regular contributors who struck out seven or fewer men last season, none of whom received much help from the unit’s highest-priced contingent of Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy. Put simply, the Royals need mound help wherever they can find it.
    • Cash in peak-value assets. 30-year-old Whit Merrifield’s value will likely never be higher – fresh off a 5.2 fWAR season, the versatile IF/OF has already piqued the interest of a number of a clubs, all of whom have been informed that he likely is not available. Such a strategy seems unsound – Merrifield, after all, projects around league-average next season, would seem to have hit his zenith, and doesn’t figure to be a key cog in the next contending Royals club. Plus, there’s the troubling track record – it took Whit three tries to progress beyond Double-A, and another three to get past AAA. If a crater is on the horizon, Kansas City will certainly be kicking themselves in the seasons to come.
    • Find regular at-bats for Brett Phillips and Jorge Soler. The two former top-50 prospects have seen their value slide precipitously over the last two seasons, but it’s certainly not time to give up on either yet. Alex Gordon and the newly-signed Billy Hamilton figure to take up two-thirds of the outfield slots, and team favorite Jorge Bonifacio is likely to contend at the other, but the non-contending Royals must find a way to get both of these players at least 400 plate appearances in 2019.
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    Marlins Claim Rosell Herrera https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/marlins-claim-rosell-herrera.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/marlins-claim-rosell-herrera.html#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2019 19:25:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142168 The Marlins announced that they have claimed infielder/outfielder Rosell Herrera from the Royals.  Herrera was designated for assignment by K.C. last month.

    The 26-year-old Herrera made his Major League debut last season, hitting .234/.286/.317 over 302 combined plate appearances with the Reds and Royals, as Kansas City claimed him off waivers from Cincinnati last June.  In this brief time in the big leagues, Herrera has already played all three outfield positions as well as time at second base and third base, so he offers quite a bit of versatility to a Marlins team that parted ways with Derek Dietrich earlier this winter.  Herrera doesn’t have Dietrich’s upside at the plate, of course, so he could perhaps fit better as competition or perhaps a replacement for current utilityman Miguel Rojas.

    Herrera has been added to Miami’s 40-man roster, giving the Marlins a full 40-man complement.

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    Quick Hits: Reds, Holland, Mariners, Royals https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/quick-hits-reds-holland-mariners-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/quick-hits-reds-holland-mariners-royals.html#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2018 18:20:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141987 Free agent left-hander Derek Holland has been in contact with the Reds, tweets MLB Network’s J.P. Morosi. After a resurgent season with the Giants, which came after signing a minor league contract late last offseason, Holland appears poised to reel in a far more valuable big league contract for the 2019 season. At the outset of the offseason, MLBTR pegged him to receive a two-year contract worth $15MM. The 32-year-old Holland has thus far been tied to the Rangers as a potential suitor; he previously played in parts of eight seasons with Texas after debuting with the club in 2009. The Reds, meanwhile, have made it clear that they intend to play more competitive baseball in the coming season, with much of that improvement tied to the starting rotation. Having already acquired Tanner Roark and Alex Wood, the Reds would still like to add another arm to join the two newcomers, budding star Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle. Though the Reds have been linked to big names such as Dallas Keuchel and Corey Kluber, those avenues appear unlikely; Sonny Gray remains a potential trade target for Cincinnati, and Holland’s name is now being thrown in the hat as a more affordable option to fill out the team’s starting staff.

    Some other notes from around the major leagues…

    • Though the Mariners have been perhaps the offseason’s busiest club to date, the team likely has more moves yet to come. Greg Johns of MLB.com lists a number of trade candidates that general manager Jerry Dipoto may still move. Though it hasn’t yet been a month since Edwin Encarnacion was traded from Cleveland to Seattle, Dipoto seems intent on finding a trade partner for the veteran slugger. With Nelson Cruz now off the market, a team like the Rays, who at a time appeared to be in position to acquire Encarnacion, could move to fill their DH spot with a right-handed impact bat. Johns also names veteran right-hander Mike Leake, as well as infielders Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager, as other Mariners on the block. However, Gordon and Seager each seem less likely to find suitors, given that both turned in underwhelming 2018 seasons and are still owed significant dollar values over multiple years. As for Leake, many teams would certainly be interested in adding a durable, consistent (if unspectacular) innings-eater like Leake, who has now pitched upwards of 175 innings in each of the last seven seasons.
    • In other news out of Seattle, TJ Cotterill of The News Tribune writes that the Mariners have leveled their own allegations against former employee Lorena Martin, who in November accused team leadership of racism and gender discrimination. In addition to stating that Martin’s allegations are false, the Mariners claim that they received multiple complaints that Martin “created a hostile work environment” and that she “misrepresented herself as a medical doctor.” According to Cotterill, the Mariners have received reports that Martin implemented her own practices for treating injured players in place of doctors’ orders. In their defense of Martin’s lawsuit against the Mariners, the team is seeking to void the remainder of Martin’s contract, as well as damages for her accusations on social media that team officials made discriminatory remarks about Latino players. An investigation into Martin’s accusations was launched by MLB, which has yet to make public its findings.
    • Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com offers his outlook on the Royals’ remaining plans for the offseason, suggesting first and foremost that the team would like to add a pair of inexpensive free-agent relievers before Spring Training. While they won’t be targeting any of the marquee bullpen arms that have yet to sign, Flanagan proposes that, due to limited payroll flexibility, general manager Dayton Moore will take a more patient approach to the market, pursuing bargain veterans whose demands have lowered late in the offseason. The bullpen, of course, is a glaring need for the team that finished with baseball’s second-worst record in 2018. And while the Royals have yet to make any significant additions in that area, Flanagan also notes that the club expects to have a surplus of candidates vying for a rotation spot, and those who fail to make the cut will likely shift to a bullpen role. This depth could make for some natural improvement, even if the Royals cannot invest big money in improving the unit.
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    Managers & Top Front Office Executives On Expiring Contracts https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/managers-top-front-office-executives-on-expiring-contracts.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/managers-top-front-office-executives-on-expiring-contracts.html#comments Tue, 25 Dec 2018 02:20:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141514 Managers and front office bosses are always doing their best to progress their teams forward, though this particular list of names could be feeling a bit more pressure this coming season, as 2019 is their final guaranteed year under contract.

    As always when compiling this list, a pair of caveats should be noted.  Firstly, several teams don’t publicize the lengths of management contracts, and some teams don’t even announce when new contracts have been finalized.  It could very well be that at least some of the executives listed have already quietly reached extensions beyond the 2019 season, or there could be some other names with unknown contract terms who have 2019 as their end date.

    Secondly, lack of an official contract doesn’t always mean that a manager or an executive is lacking in job security.  Some clubs have unofficial handshake agreements in place with the skipper or GM/president of baseball operations, wherein the job is promised as theirs, with the specific contractual details to be hammered out at some point in the future.  In the case of managers, specifically, many do prefer some type of public agreement, if for no other reason than to avoid being perceived as a “lame duck” who lacks authority within a clubhouse.

    With a big tip of the cap to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for many of these details, here are the managers and executives who are believed to be entering their final seasons…

    Angels: General manager Billy Eppler is three years into his original four-year contract to run the Halos’ front office, a term that has yet to result in a winning record.  Much has been made about the Angels’ inability to build a contender around Mike Trout during the outfielder’s Cooperstown-level prime years, and time is running short in that regard, given that Trout can become a free agent the 2020 season.  In Eppler’s defense, he has added quality pieces like Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, and Shohei Ohtani as GM, though he has been hampered by a seemingly endless list of pitching injuries, not to mention some payroll-albatross contracts (Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, and the ongoing Albert Pujols deal) left over from the tenure of previous Angels GM Jerry Dipoto.  Longtime manager Mike Scioscia had reportedly always had quite a bit of influence within the front office, though with Scioscia not returning, Eppler had the opportunity to make his own managerial hire in the form of Brad Ausmus.  There hasn’t yet been any indication that Eppler could be in particular danger of not being extended, though it’s worth noting that neither of Eppler’s predecessors in the job (Dipoto and Tony Reagins) lasted more than four years.

    Blue Jays: Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi noted in September that general manager Ross Atkins was likely to receive an extension, and that such a deal wasn’t likely to receive public acknowledgement.  So, Atkins may already be locked up beyond the original end-date of his four-year deal prior to the 2016 season.  Atkins and president Mark Shapiro have planted the seeds for a rebuild over the last two seasons, and with the Jays now in full-fledged retooling mode for at least one more year, it makes sense that Atkins would continue to hold the reigns as Toronto prepares for the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. era.

    Brewers: This one is a bit speculative, as terms of GM David Stearns’ original deal with the Brewers weren’t released, though The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported in October that “Stearns has at least one year left” under contract.  Stearns was hired prior to the 2016 season, so a four- or five-year deal seems pretty standard for a new general manager, particularly one that was seemingly facing a rebuild upon taking the position.  Needless to say, things are ahead of schedule in Milwaukee, as the Brewers were just a game away from the World Series last October.  Even if Stearns’ deal runs through 2020 rather than just 2019, it seems likely that Brewers ownership will have some talks about an extension this offseason given Stearns’ immediate success.

    Cubs: There has already been quite a bit of speculation about Joe Maddon’s future at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs aren’t planning to discuss a new contract with the manager.  Though Maddon himself seems unperturbed about the situation and president of baseball ops Theo Epstein denied rumors of any hard feelings with his skipper, it does seem like a dugout change could be made unless the Cubs make another deep postseason run.

    Diamondbacks: With two winning seasons and the 2017 NL Manager Of The Year Award on his resume in two years as manager, Torey Lovullo seems like a prime candidate for a new deal.  Though Arizona is now moving into a semi-rebuilding phase, this actually seems closer to the situation Lovullo was expected to inherit when he initially took the job, before he led the D’Backs to their surprise postseason berth in 2017.  I’d expect Lovullo to have an extension in hand by Opening Day at the latest.

    Dodgers: Since president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman signed his five-year, $35MM deal to take over the Dodgers’ front office in October 2014, the club has extended its streak of NL West titles to six in a row, and finally got over the postseason hump to return to the World Series, capturing the NL pennant in each of the last two seasons.  While the Comissioner’s Trophy has remained elusive, Friedman has managed to keep the Dodgers competitive even while cutting salaries, getting the team under the luxury tax threshold last season after payrolls touched the $300MM mark earlier this decade.  This is probably another instance of an extension being just a matter of time, as the Guggenheim Baseball ownership group seemingly has every reason to want to keep Friedman in the fold for several years to come.

    Giants: The leadership shakeup that installed Farhan Zaidi as the Giants’ new GM didn’t extend to the dugout, as longtime manager Bruce Bochy will return for the last year of his current contract and his 13th overall season in San Francisco’s dugout.  Bochy turns 64 in April and he has dealt with heart issues in the past, leading to some whispers that he could move into retirement and hand the job over to a new manager.  Longtime coaches Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus have both been mentioned as possible managers-in-waiting, or Zaidi could prefer to hire a new face from outside the organization.  It also wouldn’t be a shock to see Bochy stick around in 2020 or beyond, should he want to continue managing and he forms a solid relationship with Zaidi.  Given Bochy’s championship-winning track record and the large amount of respect he holds within the organization, the possibility exists that he has already been promised the opportunity to end his tenure on his own terms.

    Indians: General manager Mike Chernoff reportedly agreed to an extension with the team in November, though this is technically still an unknown situation since there wasn’t any official confirmation from either side.  That said, since Cleveland is one of the organizations that generally stays quiet about contract details for management figures, we can probably consider this one a done deal.  Chernoff was promoted to general manager in October 2015, so he could have been at the end of a three-year contract or the Tribe was getting an early jump on extending his four-year contract.  It’s also worth noting that president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti signed an extension of indeterminate length back in 2013 and we haven’t heard any further contract news since, so Antonetti could also be approaching the end of a deal…unless he also signed an unreported extension at some point.  It’s safe to assume that big changes aren’t in the offing for a team that has won three straight AL Central titles.

    Marlins: “There are indications the Marlins would like to retain [Don] Mattingly beyond 2019,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro recently reported, though Mattingly said that he had yet to hear from the team about extension negotiations.  Mattingly has managed the Fish through three tumultuous years in the organization’s history, and the fact that he is one of the few members of the Jeffrey Loria regime still in Miami could indeed be a sign that Derek Jeter and company have interest in keeping the veteran manager around to help mentor and develop young players during the franchise’s latest rebuild.

    Red Sox: Principal owner John Henry recently noted that the team was “running out of time” in regards to an extension with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, whose five-year contract is up after the 2019 season.  (Since Dombrowski was hired in August 2015, the deal can probably be more accurately described as 4.5 years in length.)  Regardless of when the specific end-date may be, Dombrowski could hardly be in better position to land an extension in the aftermath of Boston’s World Series triumph.

    Rockies: 2019 is the last guaranteed year of Bud Black’s contract as manager, though he has a bit of extra cushion since the Rockies hold a club option his services for 2020.  Since Black has led Colorado to the postseason in each of his first two seasons as manager, it seems like he’ll at least get that option exercised to add a bit more security, plus the team is likely to discuss a longer-term deal as well.

    Royals: GM Dayton Moore has often reiterated that manager Ned Yost will decide on his own when to step away from the dugout, though that won’t happen for at least one more year, as Yost agreed to a one-year extension last September.  As Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman put it, however, there is “strong belief” that Yost won’t manage beyond 2019.  The Royals’ recent hiring of Mike Matheny to a special advisor role could be another sign that the team already has a successor in place for the 2020 season.

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    Royals Sign Terrance Gore, Designate Rosell Herrera https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/royals-sign-terrance-gore-designate-rosell-herrera.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/royals-sign-terrance-gore-designate-rosell-herrera.html#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2018 20:09:31 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140965 The Royals announced today that they have inked a deal with outfielder Terrance Gore. Meanwhile, utilityman Rosell Herrera was designated for assignment to create roster space.

    Gore has secured a one-year, MLB pact that comes with a split salary, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter). He will earn at a $350K rate in the minors and a $650K rate in the big leagues.

    The 27-year-old Gore is a five-year MLB veteran, but has taken just 19 plate appearances at the game’s highest level. While he’s valued for his blistering speed and instincts on the bases and in the field, Gore has a track record of abysmal offensive numbers in the minors.

    Given that profile, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the out-of-options Gore occupying a 40-man roster spot for a Royals club that seems to have little hope of near-term contention. That’s all the more true given that the club already added speed demon Billy Hamilton, who is expected to command the bulk of the playing time in center.

    When the Royals inked Hamilton, they emphasized the need to cover ground at hitter-friendly Kauffman Stadium, so perhaps there’s a niche for Gore as well if the club decides to take things to an extreme position. (He’d be a platoon match for the left-handed-hitting Hamilton, it’s worth noting.) Certainly, the K.C. team knows him as well as anyone, having employed him exclusively since 2011, excepting a late-2018 run with the Cubs. If Gore does ultimately end up on the big league roster, he’ll pair with Hamilton, Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi to give manager Ned Yost a fleet-footed quartet that is unparalleled in terms of raw speed and baserunning ability.

    As for Herrera, 26, he’s capable of lining up just about anywhere defensively, but hasn’t generally shown much with the bat. He slashed .234/.286/.317 in his first 302 MLB plate appearances last year. That said, Herrera has at times exhibited promising plate discipline as well as speed and even some power (16 home runs in 2013), so it’s still possible he’ll put some things together and emerge as a worthwhile MLB performer.

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    Royals Re-Sign Bubba Starling, Jason Adam, Samir Duenez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/minor-mlb-transactions-121718.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/minor-mlb-transactions-121718.html#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2018 02:21:24 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140919
  • As expected, the Royals have brought back a trio of recently non-tendered (non-arb-eligible) players. The club announced minor-league pact with former top prospect Bubba Starling, righty Jason Adam, and first bagger Samir Duenez. Starling, certainly, is the most notable member of this group given his status as a former fifth overall draft pick. He’s now 26 years of age and still trying t work things out in the upper minors. The Royals are obviously still pleased with his effort level and think there may be something more in the tank. At a minimum, the organization would surely like to see what he can do if he’s at full health for a complete season.
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    Royals Sign Billy Hamilton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/royals-close-to-deal-with-billy-hamilton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/royals-close-to-deal-with-billy-hamilton.html#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2018 21:20:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139831 TODAY: The deal is official. Hamilton will receive a $4.25MM salary in 2019, with a $1MM buyout on a $7.5MM mutual option, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter). Hamilton’s incentives package is based upon plate appearances, beginning with his 325th and maxing out at 550.

    YESTERDAY, 7:58pm: Hamilton and the Royals have agreed to the deal, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).

    11:02am: Saying that Hamilton’s defensive abilities make for a good fit at spacious Kauffman Stadium, Royals GM Dayton Moore confirmed that the club is down the line in talks with the free agent in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link).

    It’s a $5.25MM deal that includes up to $1MM in available incentives, per Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

    9:57am: The Royals are “close” to striking a deal with free agent outfielder Billy Hamilton, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic (via Twitter). Terms of the prospective agreement are not yet known.

    This potential match was reported recently and seems to have continued to progress over recent days. Hamilton, 28, was recently non-tendered by the Reds. He had projected to take home a $5.9MM salary in arbitration, a price tag deemed too steep by his longtime organization.

    For the Royals, Hamilton would become the second player added under similar circumstances. The organization just nabbed infielder/outfielder Chris Owings after he was cut loose by the Diamondbacks. It seems the Kansas City club is willing to place some low-priced value bets on younger players whose time ran out with other teams.

    Hamilton, certainly, is an interesting asset for any organization. Though the switch-hitter has never done much with the bat, especially against left-handed pitching, he’s an elite defender and baserunner. His skillset could benefit the Royals’ uncertain pitching staff while potentially leaving the team with a marketable mid-season trade piece.

    It stands to reason that adding Hamilton would push out one of the Royals’ existing left-handed-hitting outfielders. Unless there’s a taker for the remainder of Alex Gordon’s contract, or the K.C. club does not wish to extend the audition of Brett Phillips, it could be that Brian Goodwin will ultimately be nudged out of the roster picture. The right-handed-hitting Jorge Soler is also a factor in the mix, though he could see time in the DH slot as well.

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    The Orioles’ Managerial Search https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/the-orioles-managerial-search.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/the-orioles-managerial-search.html#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2018 01:32:30 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139078 Two weeks after tabbing Mike Elias as their new GM, the Orioles are finally making reported progress on hiring a manager. Baltimore parted with previous skipper Buck Showalter nearly two months ago, but the slow-moving GM search that eventually led the team to Elias has left it as the majors’ last club without a manager. Appointing Showalter’s successor will be one of the first noteworthy decisions Elias makes atop the Orioles’ front office, but given that the O’s are in the early stages of a full rebuild, win-loss record certainly won’t be the main focus when judging their manager in 2019.

    Here’s a look at where the Orioles’ search stands thus far:

    Latest Updates (Dec.10)

    • Speaking with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (Twitter links) and other reporters today, Elias said that he won’t be meeting with any more candidates beyond the six initial names, and there may not be a second round of interviews.  Elias said he hopes to have the new manager in place before the end of the month.
    • Former Indians and Nationals manager Manny Acta is another candidate for the Orioles’ job, according to Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman (via Twitter).  Acta oversaw rebuilding efforts in his previous two managerial jobs, leading to an unimpressive 372-518 record but doing little to harm Acta’s reputation as an analytically-open manager who works well with young players.  Acta has worked as the Mariners’ third base coach for the last three seasons.
    • Astros bench coach Joe Espada won’t be interviewing for the Orioles’ job, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports.  Espada was a popular candidate for managerial openings this offseason, and his past connection with Elias in Houston made him an interesting fit for the O’s on paper.

    Previous Updates

    • Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond has interviewed for the job, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  Redmond posted a 155-207 record as the Marlins’ skipper from 2013 to May 2015, shepherding the team through one of its many rebuilding periods and then getting fired after a slow start in 2015, as then-owner Jeffrey Loria had playoff aspirations after adding talent that winter.  Redmond has been Colorado’s bench coach for the last two seasons, and he was also mentioned as a candidate for managerial openings with the Tigers and Phillies last offseason.
    • The Orioles will interview at least six candidates in person, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde and Royals catching/quality control coach Pedro Grifol, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. The 54-year-old Hale has previous managerial experience, which the O’s are thought to prefer, according to Rosenthal, though he suggests it isn’t a dealbreaker. A former major league infielder, Hale managed the Diamondbacks to a combined 148-176 mark from 2015-16. Hale has since served on the staffs of the A’s and Nats, and he drew managerial interest from the Phillies and Mets a year ago.
    • Hyde, 45, was on the radars of the Blue Jays, Twins and Angels when they were seeking managers earlier in the fall. He comes with plenty of coaching experience, having worked as a minor league manager with the Marlins from 2005-09 before functioning as their bench coach from 2010-12. Hyde has been on the Cubs’ coaching staff since 2013.
    • The 49-year-old Grifol has been in his present position since 2014. The former minor league catcher brings experience as a major league hitting coach (Royals, 2013-14) and a minors manager (with low-level Mariners affiliates from 2003-05 and in 2012).
    • Diamondbacks director of player development Mike Bell will interview, Peter Gammons reports. He’s the son of former major league manager Buddy Bell and brother of rookie Reds skipper David Bell. Mike Bell, 43, garnered interest from the Rangers during their managerial search after the season. He’s a former professional third baseman who, prior to landing his current gig, coached and managed in the Diamondbacks’ minor league system.
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    Infield Notes: Machado, Realmuto, LeMahieu, Merrifield, Hernandez, Arenado https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/infield-notes-machado-realmuto-lemahieu-merrifield-hernandez-arenado.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/infield-notes-machado-realmuto-lemahieu-merrifield-hernandez-arenado.html#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2018 22:04:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139895 Superstar free agent Manny Machado will not meet with teams in Las Vegas, it seems, preferring instead to visit suitors at their home parks, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). That would seem to suggest that his market won’t take off over the week to come, though surely there’ll be relevant developments. If Machado is indeed plotting a course of courtship that will take place over the coming weeks, then perhaps there’s more room for earlier developments in other segments of the infield market …

    • Behind the dish, the Marlins’ asking price on J.T. Realmuto may be creeping back down to more realistic levels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. The organization has long been said to be asking for an enormous return in exchange for two seasons of the game’s best backstop, which truthfully isn’t an unreasonable starting point. Still, as Sherman notes, the club will ultimately likely be forced to take what the offer will give. For the Mets, pursuit of Realmuto is still seen “as a long shot,” Sherman adds on Twitter. And the Phillies are presently focused on other pursuits, per Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter), such that they haven’t engaged with their division rivals in Miami regarding Realmuto in a few weeks’ time.
    • The Athletics have reached out to second baseman DJ LeMahieu as they continue to explore the market for second basemen, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. That’s not an indication that the Oakland org is out on Jed Lowrie, so much as the latest sign that a reunion is anything but inevitable with both parties seeing other people. LeMahieu himself likely isn’t the only alternative being considered, Slusser notes; she goes on to explore some of the other opportunities that could be pondered by the A’s brass.
    • In a boon to free agents and teams with potential trade chips at second base, Royals GM Dayton Moore tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter link) that he is not getting as many questions of late about Whit Merrifield. That’s not because of a lack of interest, though, so much as the fact that the Royals have “pretty much made it clear” they will hold onto the late-blooming star. Merrifield will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2020, though he’ll turn thirty before the start of the 2019 season. From an outside perspective, this seems an ideal time to market a player who’d draw wide interest given his excellent recent production, defensive flexibility, and cheap price tag. But the Kansas City org seems determined to try to build around some of its preexisting roster assets.
    • The Phillies are not finding initial success at generating interest in second baseman Cesar Hernandez, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic (Twitter link). With a robust slate of free agents at the position and a seemingly increasing list of available trade candidates, there’s some imbalance between the supply and demand. Hernandez, 28, has been a fairly steady performer, but he did fall off a bit with the bat last year and is increasingly expensive at a projected $8.9MM arb salary in his second to last run through the process.
    • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich discussed his team’s long-term relationship possibilities with third baseman Nolan Arenado in an inteview on MLB Network (h/t Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, Twitter links). Bridich says the club can afford to carry a $200MM+ promise to Arenado, citing a “responsible growth” plan for payroll. Of course, that number may only be scratching the surface of what Arenado could command in a hypothetical post-2019 free agency, so it’s far from clear just yet whether the club will be both willing and able to line up on a new deal to keep him from the open market. Otherwise, unsurprisingly, Bridich acknowledged that the Rox are interested in improving not only in the outfield but also at first base to boost a sagging offense.
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    Royals To Be "Active" In Rule 5 Draft https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/al-notes-rumors-rangers-chisox-abreu-twins-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/al-notes-rumors-rangers-chisox-abreu-twins-royals.html#comments Sun, 09 Dec 2018 18:52:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139720
  • The Royals expect to be “active” in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, according to general manager Dayton Moore (via Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). Kansas City, which is set to pick second in the draft, is only a year removed from striking gold on a Rule 5 selection. During the 2017 edition, the Royals acquired right-hander Brad Keller, whom the Reds chose fifth overall. The 23-year-old ended up turning in a surprisingly strong season in KC, where he pitched to a 3.08 ERA/3.55 FIP with 2.5 fWAR in 140 1/3 innings.
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    Royals Interested In Billy Hamilton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/royals-rumors-billy-hamilton-interest.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/12/royals-rumors-billy-hamilton-interest.html#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2018 00:47:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139536 The Royals are “looking hard” at recently non-tendered center fielder Billy Hamilton, tweets Rustin Dodd of The Athletic. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan suggests interest on the Royals’ behalf in a column as well, noting that while GM Dayton Moore wouldn’t comment on any intrigue, there’s a general sense among Royals execs that the fleet-footed Hamilton’s skill set would fit Kauffman Stadium well.

    Hamilton, who turned 28 in September, was arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter and had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.9MM in 2019 before the Reds cut him loose last week. While he’s long been an offensive liability, Hamilton is among the game’s elite defensive outfielders and perhaps the best baserunner in the game, having swiped 50+ bases each season from 2014-17 and another 34 last year. Over the past three seasons, Hamilton has also been worth 28 Defensive Runs Saved, notched a 26.5 Ultimate Zone Rating and, per Statcast, converted a staggering 52 outs more than could be expected of an average defensive outfielder (based on Statcast’s catch probability data).

    None of that was enough to outweight Hamilton’s anemic bat, however, it seems. The switch-hitter has posted a sub-.300 OBP in four of his five full Major League seasons, and while he showed some strides at the plate in 2016, he followed up that year’s .321 OBP with a pair of seasons in which he mustered a combined .242/.299/.331 batting line. Clearly, moving from the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park to the cavernous Kauffman Stadium won’t do his virtually nonexistent power numbers any favors, but there are few in the game better suited than Hamilton to cover all of the ground in Kansas City’s expansive outfield.

    At present, Kansas City’s outfield will feature Alex Gordon in left field in the final season of a four-year, $72MM contract. The other two spots are less certain, with Brett Phillips, Brian GoodwinJorge Bonifacio and newly signed Chris Owings among the options to fill them. Designated hitter Jorge Soler, too, could see occasional time in right field. While that group is riddled with offensive question marks, and Hamilton would only bring more of the same, it’s also true that an alignment of Gordon, Hamilton and Phillips would be a superlative defensive unit. Adding Hamilton to a lineup that already features Whit Merrifield, he of consecutive AL stolen base crowns, and young speedster Adalberto Mondesi would surely serve to frustrate opposing pitchers and catchers as the trio ran amok on the basepaths, too.

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