Hawkins, who will be 42 in December, posted a solid 3.31 ERA in 2014, striking out just 5.3 batters per nine innings but limiting walks, with just 2.2 BB/9. Hawkins continued to throw hard in his 20th big-league season, and his cheap option allows the Rockies to control him for another season without much risk. McBride, 29, hit .305/.345/.487 for Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, but collected only 34 plate appearances in the big leagues.
Here’s what’s happening around the NL Central…
- John Lackey told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch) that he will honor his contract and pitch in 2015 despite the fact that he’ll only earn a minimum salary. The fact that Lackey was traded to the contending Cardinals played a factor in his decision: “Obviously, it was case by case. It would have been a harder decision other places, for sure, but this is definitely somewhere I wanted to be, and I’m excited about it.”
- The Brewers checked in on such names as the Padres’ Joaquin Benoit, the Rockies’ LaTroy Hawkins and the Diamondbacks’ Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler yet came up short in their hunt for a right-handed reliever, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter link). Earlier today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Crew were one of the finalists to obtain a notable lefty reliever in Andrew Miller.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington discussed his team’s lack of trade activity, telling reporters (including MLB.com’s Tom Singer) that “we identified potential fits, wanted to add and worked hard to. At the end of the day, we weren’t able to push anything across the line….It was interesting, in that the majority of impact players went for Major League talent instead of teams trying to grab the best prospects they can, as has been the case in recent years.” Since Pittsburgh was connected to Jon Lester and David Price, Singer speculates that Huntington was perhaps willing to move young prospects for these aces but couldn’t outbid the A’s and Tigers’ respective offers, both of which included established players.
The Rockies do not intend to deal closer LaTroy Hawkins, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Having surveyed the market, discussing Hawkins with the Pirates and other clubs, the team determined it would rather keep the veteran than move him for a limited return.
Colorado intends to pick up its club option over Hawkins next year, which registers at a fairly reasonable $2.25MM. The team is also interested in keeping him around for his veteran presence in a youthful clubhouse. The 41-year-old righty has a 3.09 ERA in 35 innings on the year, though he has struck out only 4.4 batters while issuing 2.3 free passes per nine.
As with Chad Qualls of the Astros, who is also expected to stay with his current club despite drawing interest, Hawkins will apparently stay put on a non-contender despite having some trade value. While that may seem somewhat irrational at first glance, it is worth noting that rebuilding clubs rightly value not only veteran mentorship but also the cost savings and reduced risk of keeping in-house options such as this pair. That reasoning has its limits, of course, but a marginal prospect return is not always worth moving such a player and then trying to find a suitable replacement in the offseason.
With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
- Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
- The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
- Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
- While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
- The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees’ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
- Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
- The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
- While Troy Tulowitzki’s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
- The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
- The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.
Troy Tulowitzki, one day after his name was misspelled on a Rockies’ T-shirt giveaway, was at Yankee Stadium watching New York play Toronto. Tulowitzki flew to Philadelphia yesterday for a second opinion on his left hip flexor strain, which landed him on the disabled list, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The doctor’s visit (Harding tweets it’s for a dry needling procedure to promote healing) is in of itself routine, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes Tulowitzki being at Yankees Stadium is no accident after the spelling snafu adding the Rockies cannot be happy he is attending another team’s game while on the DL and this sort of thing can lead to an eventual trade (Twitter links). Last Sunday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post theorized a trade would only be possible if Tulowitzki was willing to wear the label of a disloyal, bad guy. The All-Star shortstop defended his decision to go to the Yankees’ game telling the Denver Post, “I’m with my family. I wanted to see (Derek) Jeter play one more time.“
Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:
- Though he constitutes a “backup plan” for the club, the Mariners have real interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, tweets Passan. Seattle envisions shifting Kemp to the DH role eventually.
- The Yankees, meanwhile, are currently “not in” on Kemp, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. We heard earlier today the club is seeking a bat, including several potential options that profile similarly to Kemp (right-handed, power bats). Of course, those players do not come with Kemp’s $107MM in future commitments.
- The Padres have announced right-hander Ian Kennedy, a popular name on the MLBTR pages of late, will not make his start tomorrow because of left oblique soreness, but will throw a side session either Tuesday or Wednesday, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow reiterated he is not going to trade closer Chad Qualls, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. But, Luhnow said the team would consider dealing a starter from its MLB or Triple-A roster.
- Last year’s number one overall draft pick, Mark Appel of the Astros, has been moved up to Double-A, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The righty struggled mightily at the High-A level, throwing in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment, but had perhaps his best outing on Thursday. “All along the plan has been to get him to Corpus Christi and have him pitch there this summer,” said Luhnow. “And we wanted to build off of some positive momentum to make that happen. We have a lot of pitchers at High-A that are deserving of opportunities higher up. I think there were things that we wanted him to accomplish at Lancaster.”
- Appel’s promotion, as well as being rewarded with a bullpen session earlier today at Minute Maid Park, has been met with displeasure within the Astros’ clubhouse. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle tweets players have approached several reporters to vent and the comments have been laced with expletives (Twitter links).
- Astros manager Bo Porter addressed the Appel uproar by telling reporters, including Ortiz, “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it. I will handle it internally. It’s unfortunate that they have been put in that position.“
- Ortiz opines, via Twitter, Appel’s promotion and bullpen session add fuel to the clubhouse perception the 23-year-old is being babied. Baseball America’s Ben Badler agrees the Astros are sending the wrong message to their players, but their discontent should be over the promotion to Double-A, not the bullpen session (Twitter links).
- The Pirates are believed to have interest in Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Diamondbacks submariner Brad Ziegler is one of the most fascinating, and most effective, relievers in the game, Rany Jazayerli writes for Grantland. Tracking the notable successes of the small number of soft-throwing, under-handed throwers in baseball history, Jazayerli wonders whether there could be some value in looking for more such pitchers. Of course, as he explains, Ziegler is even more unique than most in that he has figured out how to retire opposite-handed hitters. Here’s more from the National League West:
- For all its talent, the Dodgers’ roster lacks flexibility, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That, in turn, complicates any possible maneuvers to upgrade the team, which is off to an uninspiring start. But if upgrades are difficult to identify with regard to the team’s key roles, that could be because they may not really be needed. Los Angeles has an enviable rotation that is not likely to be altered substantially, and actually stands at fifth in the bigs in position player fWAR to date. While it is arguable that the team could stand to enjoy stronger performances out of the bullpen and bench, those are the spots most readily upgraded over the summer. The Dodgers can certainly look to do just that if the struggles continue over the summer, and might also consider displacing or supplementing A.J. Ellis behind the plate. (Of course, the more drastic move of shipping out a high-priced outfielder could also be on the table, even if the return is minimal.)
- The unyielding Tony LaRussa is a poor fit for the Diamondbacks, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. As Passan notes, he will become the game’s oldest head of baseball ops in his first time in the role, and will need to maintain a much broader focus than he did in the dugout. Moreover, while prominent owner Ken Kendrick has cited the need for the organization to better utilize analytics, says Passan, LaRussa is driven first and foremost by his gut and vast experience.
- LaRussa talked about his view of sabermetrics today in an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com). “My opinion is that it’s a valuable tool, but mostly a tool to help you identify talent and then prepare the talent,” said LaRussa. “I think the biggest problem I see is there are teams that have gone way overboard and they are really interfering with the way the managers and coaches conduct strategy during the game by running the analytics and forcing them into it.”
- If and when LaRussa moves to replace Kevin Towers as the team’s general manager, current Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque could be a prime candidate, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (Twitter links). LaRocque has an extensive scouting background, and has overseen the fast-tracked development of many of the Cards’ impressive young players.
- Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins says he does not expect his age-41 season to be his last, tweets Morosi. “If I stay healthy, I’ll play [in 2015],” said Hawkins. The veteran righty has worked to a 4.11 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, though he has struck out only 3.5 batters per nine (against 1.8 BB/9). He is earning $2.25MM this season, and Colorado has an equally-priced option ($250K buyout) for next year.
A strong young pitching arm has long been the most valuable commodity in baseball, but as ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only column, some executives are beginning to put a greater premium on young hitters. Position players may rate higher due to defensive value, not to mention that big bats are becoming a rarer commodity as scoring declines around the game.
Here are some news and notes from around the baseball world…
- The Cubs are widely expected to be sellers at the trade deadline but GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney) that trade talks are currently “non-existent” and things won’t get serious for at least a few more weeks. “I certainly talk to a lot of GMs on a daily or weekly basis,” Hoyer said. “But having a GM call about a specific player? I’m not even sure I fielded one of those yet. Really, that trade talk always dies right at the end of spring training.”
- The Blue Jays have shifted Brandon Morrow to the 60-day disabled list, the team announced to reporters, including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (Twitter links). The right index finger injury that put Morrow on the 15-day DL earlier today was revealed to be a torn tendon sheath, and if the injury isn’t healed by July, Morrow will have to undergo season-ending surgery. This looks to be the third time in as many years that Morrow has suffered an injury that cost him at least two months of the season.
- LaTroy Hawkins’ presence could’ve greatly helped solve the Mets’ bullpen issues, which is why Andy Martino of the New York Daily News opines that the team isn’t serious about contending. Hawkins signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Rockies, a modest contact that Martino feels the Mets should’ve and could’ve easily topped in order to shore up their bullpen’s questionable depth.
- The Angels’ struggling bullpen could get a boost from the farm system very soon, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. GM Jerry Dipoto said that Double-A right-handers R.J. Alvarez and Cam Bedrosian could both be “a phone call away. They’re doing it against high-level professional hitters. I feel like both can help sooner rather than later.”
- Indians catcher George Kottaras is likely to be designated for assignment once Yan Gomes returns from the paternity list, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Kottaras was just called up today by the Tribe to take Gomes’ place, but he is out of options. The 30-year-old catcher signed a minor league deal with the Tribe in late March.
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Mike Petriello identifies three early weaknesses plaguing the Cardinals, Dodgers and Tigers in 2014.
- Ten well-known names ranging from Major League veterans to retired NBA star Tracy McGrady are active in the independent leagues, Zachary Levine writes for FOXSports.com in a brief review of these ten players’ career situations.
- Giving minor league starting prospects Major League experience as relievers and eventually working them into the rotation is a strategy popularized by Earl Weaver’s Orioles in the 1970’s, and this idea has been one of the cornerstones of the Cardinals’ success over the last decade, Peter Gammons writes in his latest column for GammonsDaily.com.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy told reporters today (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that he won’t comment any further on his contract situation because there haven’t been any new developments. “There’s nothing to discuss,” said Hardy before adding that there haven’t been any recent negotiations between the two sides. Encina writes that Hardy and the O’s haven’t had extension talks since Spring Training. A few more late night links from around the league…
- Asked about the performance of rookie starter Mike Bolsinger following a strong start on Thursday, Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero launched into an unprompted defense of GM Kevin Towers, manager Kirk Gibson and the Arizona coaching staff, writes MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “The bottom line is, it’s our responsibility to go out there and take care of business,” said Montero. “I just wanted to say that, because the blame should be on us.” Montero said he would be “disappointed” if anything were to happen to Towers, Gibson or any of the coaches.
- Right-hander Kevin Gregg tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times that he’s in shape and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. Gregg isn’t sure why he wasn’t able to land a guaranteed big league deal after a solid 2013 campaign with the Cubs but feels he can still get outs in the Majors and would welcome the opportunity to pitch in 2014. Gregg has been working out and pitching to college hitters at his home in Oregon to stay in shape as he waits for a deal. He spoke with a number of teams this offseason, writes Wittenmyer, but the Cubs weren’t one of them.
- LaTroy Hawkins was surprised when the Rockies’ offer to him this offseason included an opportunity to close games, writes Tracy Ringolsby for MLB.com. Hawkins says, however, that it was made clear that he was merely keeping the seat warm for Rex Brothers. Hawkins explains to Ringolsby the wisdom he’s trying to impart on Brothers as the young left-hander prepares himself to be the long-term answer for Colorado in the ninth inning.
- The Cardinals, Rays and Giants top a list of baseball’s smartest spenders over the past five that was devised by Ira Boudner, Evan Applegate and Ritchie S. King of Bloomberg Businessweek. The three have created a weighted system for all four major American sports based on the price paid per win compared to the league average and also created an interactive graphic for users to customize the list. In contrast, the White Sox, Mets and Cubs are the bottom three on the list.
Earlier today, it was reported that the Yankees will be monitoring the market for infielders in Spring Training but aren't looking to spend any significant cash in order to upgrade their infield. Here are some more items pertaining to New York's teams…
- Despite the Yankees' 85-77 record, GM Brian Cashman approached the winter as if his club had only achieved its Pythagorean record of 79-83. “Our team over-performed last year,” Cashman told reporters, including Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “It’s a credit to everybody involved in that process. But the record didn’t reflect the talent. And so when you take a sledgehammer to the roster like we did this winter and spend the money we did, it’s more reflective of recognizing. Of not being fooled.”
the Bombers’ best insurance policythe Bombers’ best insurance policy
- Stephen Drew is "the Bombers' best insurance policy" given the Yankees' thin infield situation, The Record's Bob Klapsich writes. While the Yankees are concerned about Drew's medicals and seemingly have no payroll space left, Klapisch notes that the club is already putting a lot of hope in an infield with major injury risks (i.e. Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Mark Teixeira). "Basically, we have to keep everyone from breaking down," a Yankees official tells Klapisch.
- According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that his team appears to be a logical landing spot for Drew, but the team has made its own cost-benefit evaluation and acted accordingly to this point. Alderson opined the Drew and agent Scott Boras "are reviewing the situation and perhaps looking at a strategy that prolongs this situation into the regular season or even into June."
- Mets lefty Jon Niese was shut down due to a dead arm and is heading back to New York for an MRI, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo (on Twitter). Manager Terry Collins told reporters, including the Daily News' Kristie Ackert, that the MRI is a precaution at this time.
- In a video blog at ESPN.com, Jim Bowden addresses rumors surrounding Troy Tulowitzki and the Yankees, noting that the Rockies star won't be traded to New York to replace Jeter no matter how much talk of the possibility surfaces. Bowden says that Rockies president Dan O'Dowd has told him repeatedly that Tulo won't be traded.
- The Mets will scout Nick Franklin throughout Spring Training and pay special attention to his defense, a team source tells John Harper of the Daily News (Twitter link). The club likes Franklin's pop but isn't sure about his glove at short, the source said. Reports earlier this week connected the Mets to Franklin.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Thursday: Hawkins has passed his physical, and the deal is now official, Hawkins himself tweets.
Monday: The Rockies have agreed to terms with right-hander LaTroy Hawkins on a one-year, $2.25MM deal, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links) The contract also carries a $2.25MM option for 2015 with a $250K buyout and will be official if Hawkins passes a physical on Thursday. Hawkins is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
Hawkins will serve as the Rockies' closer, Nightengale reports. The club was known to be looking for back-end relief help, and though Rex Brothers pitched well as a replacement close for Rafael Betancourt, Colorado will instead use Brothers as a setup man with an eye towards slowly easing him towards the closer's job (according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post). Since Hawkins is a righty and Brothers is a lefty, it's possible manager Walt Weiss could platoon his two closing options depending on the situation.
This is the well-traveled Hawkins' second stint in Colorado, as the veteran righty threw 55 1/3 relief innings for the Rockies' pennant-winning team in 2007. Hawkins turns 41 in December but is coming off one of his stronger seasons — he posted a 2.93 ERA, 5.50 K/BB and 7.0 K/9 in 70 2/3 IP with the Mets in 2013. Hawkins has done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground over his career, with a 47.8% grounder rate and an 8.6% HR/FB rate over his 19 Major League seasons, so he projects well at Coors Field.
There was solid demand for Hawkins, as Nightengale reports that the Mets, Braves and Indians were all interested in his services and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson notes that the Twins "had [a] brief talk" of signing the veteran as well.