- 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.
- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will reportedly return next year, though Rosenthal cautions that the skipper’s future is uncertain. While the 46-year-old Roberts has a club option for 2019, the Dodgers haven’t made a decision on it yet, and Rosenthal reports they’d like to hold off discussing his contract until after the season. But if the Dodgers don’t make a call on Roberts’ fate soon, they could put themselves at risk of losing him in the coming weeks, suggests Rosenthal, who says that “a large number” of managerial jobs might open up around the league. If so, Roberts could bolt for one of those positions or use any of them for leverage in order to get a better offer from the Dodgers. Roberts, who’s in his third year in LA, has helped the team to a 276-196 record with two division titles and an NL pennant.
- It’s unclear who will manage the Orioles next season, but it definitely won’t be franchise icon Cal Ripken Jr., according to Rosenthal. Ripken’s uninterested in managing, per Rosenthal, who doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Hall of Famer joining the team’s front office. The 58-year-old would prefer a club president-type role, Rosenthal relays. For now, the highest-ranking baseball official in the O’s front office is executive VP Dan Duquette. He’s not under contract beyond this season, though.
With Nolan Arenado scheduled to hit free agency after next season, the Rockies third baseman is sure to sign a massive contract in the near future. But Arenado tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today that winning – not money – will be his top priority as he determines his future. “I don’t want to lose anymore. I just hate it,’’ said Arenado, who has only played in one playoff game since debuting in 2013 and is “jealous” of the success the NL West rival Dodgers and Giants have enjoyed in recent years. Before Arenado potentially hits free agency, he’ll be watching with interest as fellow superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado test the open market during the upcoming winter. However, given that Arenado is older than both Harper and Machado (he’ll play his age-29 season in 2020), he doesn’t expect to rake in as much money on his next contract as they will on theirs. “I’m not here to say that whatever they get, I’m going to get,” he said. “Those guys are younger. I don’t expect to get the numbers they get. But as a fan of baseball, it will be cool to see what happens. I’ll sit back this winter and watch like everybody else.’’ While the Rockies could prevent Arenado from hitting the market via an extension, he’s not going “to start the dialogue.’’ Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich seems optimistic, though, telling Nightengale “there’s no rush to force anything now” and suggesting the team and Arenado have a good relationship.
Now for the latest on a pair of NL Central teams:
- As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the Brewers are “open to every possibility,” according to GM David Stearns (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). With his team in first place in the NL Central by 1 1/2 games, Stearns is “highly motivated” to make improvements, writes Haudricourt, who notes that the Brewers could opt for a high-profile addition to their lineup instead of their rotation. That could be Machado, who’d be a massive upgrade for a Brewers team that hasn’t gotten much from the shortstop position this year and sent Orlando Arcia to the minors Sunday. Machado’s not under contract beyond this season, though, and as a result, Haudricourt doesn’t expect the Brewers to end up with him.
- The Cubs announced that they’ve placed reliever Brian Duensing on the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-hander Dillon Maples from Triple-A Iowa. The left-handed Duensing is dealing with fatigue in his pitching shoulder, which continues a less-than-ideal season for the 35-year-old. After Duensing posted an outstanding 2017 with the Cubs, they re-signed him to a two-year, $7MM deal in the offseason. The investment hasn’t paid off so far, though, as Duensing has logged a bloated 6.92 ERA with horrid strikeout and walk rates (5.88 K/9, 6.92 BB/9) in 26 innings.
TODAY: Arenado will begin serving his suspension today, and he has been removed from the Rockies’ lineup, Nick Groke of the Denver Post and others reported.
FRIDAY: MLB is set to hand down a series of suspensions and fines relating to Wednesday’s brawl between the Rockies and Padres. As MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell tweets, the two primary combatants — star Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado and San Diego righty Luis Perdomo — are each slated to sit for a five-game stretch.
Also earning a decent stretch on ice is Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra, who was tagged for four games. Padres reliever Buddy Baumann received a one-game suspension. All of those players were slapped with undisclosed fines, as were Friars veterans A.J. Ellis and Freddy Galvis and Rox righty German Marquez.
It is hardly surprising to see punishment handed down after the tumult that occurred after Perdomo spun a fastball behind Arenado’s back and the latter charged the mound, throwing haymakers as he went. Parra evidently landed a punch, which explains his relatively substantial levy.
Both Arenado and Parra are appealing their suspensions, per Nick Groke of The Athletic (via Twitter). That’ll allow them, at least, to stay in the lineup tonight. Perdomo intends to accept his suspension, per Cassavell (via Twitter), which will likely at least push back his next scheduled start.
Hours after the Rockies announced an extension for star center fielder Charlie Blackmon, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post chatted with Blackmon’s teammates and manager about the newly inked contract. The question on the minds of many in the wake of the $108MM deal, which guarantees Blackmon $94MM in new money over the next five seasons (he was already signed at $14MM this year), was whether the Rox would be able to keep both Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. However, Arenado tells Saunders that his teammate’s considerable payday hasn’t prompted him to think about his own contract. “Honestly, I didn’t think about that,” said Arenado — a free agent after the 2019 season. “…I would rather not negotiate during the season. I’m happy for Chuck, and it’s not about me, it’s about him. I didn’t really put me and him together with it.”
Even more telling, though, were comments by second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who was candid in expressing his doubt that his camp and the Rockies will even hold talks. “No, there have been no talks and I don’t think there will be,” said LeMahieu. The 29-year-old LeMahieu, a two-time Gold Glove winner and All-Star, is set to hit the open market at season’s end.
Here’s more from the division…
- The Padres announced tonight that they’ve placed Wil Myers on the 10-day disabled list due to nerve irritation in his right arm and recalled right-hander Phil Maton from Triple-A El Paso. While Myers will be shut down from baseball activities entirely for the next few days, the Friars don’t consider the injury to be serious and are actually expecting a minimal DL stint, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell writes. X-rays have already shown that there’s no structural damage in Myers’ arm, per Cassavell, who adds that a specialist examined Myers and made the diagnosis of some apparently mild irritation. “It’s early in the season,” Myers told Cassavell. “If I can use these days to get this right, get my back right, to finish the last 148 games completely healthy, it’s the right move.”
- While they didn’t call a great deal of attention to it, the Giants beefed up their analytics department over the offseason, writes Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. San Francisco has become more aggressive in terms of infield shifting and, during Spring Training, displayed leaderboards with more modern metrics such as exit velocity in the clubhouse. Giants players have begun to ask for additional info on their launch angles and batted-ball tendencies, Pavlovic notes. Regarding the infield shifts, Pavlovic also points out that the addition of a strong defensive player in Evan Longoria, plus the increased emphasis on data, figures to make the club considerably more aggressive in terms of shifts.
The prospect of an extension between the Rockies and star third baseman Nolan Arenado doesn’t seem likely in the near future, as Arenado tells MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (Twitter links). “I don’t think anything is going to happen until after the season. We have a good team and our focus is on winning — as it should be,” Arenado said. He also added “and that’s what everyone wants,” which could indicate that both he and the Rockies are content to table negotiations for the time being.
There has been some inevitable speculation about Arenado’s future as he gets closer to free agency, and Colorado GM Jeff Bridich said in December that “there definitely are conversations that will happen” between the team and the player about a potential extension. That said, there also isn’t yet any pressing need for talks between the two sides given that Arenado is controlled through the 2019 season. The third baseman will earn $17.75MM in 2018 as per the terms of a two-year deal signed in January 2017 that covered two years of Arenado’s arbitration eligibility. He is eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before hitting the open market in the 2019-20 offseason.
The Rockies have historically shown a willingness to spend big to keep star players in-house, as evidenced by past extensions for Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez. It is worth noting that all of those deals were made during the tenure of former general manager Dan O’Dowd, though Bridich has certainly been behind his own share of hefty contracts (i.e. Ian Desmond, Wade Davis) in his time running Colorado’s front office.
An Arenado extension certainly projects as the largest contract in franchise history given the third baseman’s durability, youth (he turns 27 in April) and outstanding play both offensively and defensively. Given the huge money that would be involved in locking Arenado up, one can’t blame the Rockies for wanting one more season of information before fully exploring a $200MM+ deal. The Rox also have Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu scheduled for free agency next winter, and re-signing either could be difficult if a huge future commitment has already been made to Arenado.
From Arenado’s own perspective, he has already achieved enough financial security that he may not feel much urgency to complete a long-term deal. He has already banked $5MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility, $29.5MM via that two-year agreement, and he’ll be in line for a salary worth $20MM in his final arb-eligible season.
The signings of Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee have given the Rockies a deep and experienced relief corps, though ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider subscription required and recommended) wonders if the team needed to go to such expensive lengths to reinforce its bullpen. Other teams who have relied on excellent pens in recent seasons, Law notes, have generally used their own homegrown arms or low-cost converted starters as relievers rather than sign several pricey free agents. Law also isn’t a fan of the three-year, $52MM Davis contract in general, citing Davis’ injuries and dip in performance over the last two seasons from his 2014-15 dominance.
- Despite the mutual interest between Colorado and former closer Greg Holland, the two sides weren’t able to reach agreement on a reunion, with Bridich saying two weeks ago that the team had made Holland a “strong offer” to re-sign. It seems as if the Rockies then made a swift pivot to Davis, as while Davis and the team had been linked earlier this winter, Bridich said the deal was made just within the last week.
- After so heavily remaking the bullpen, the Rockies are likely done with pitching additions altogether. “I’d be very surprised if we added another reliever or a starter,” Bridich said.
- The next step would seem to be addressing needs in the corner outfield or at first base. In Harding’s words, Bridich was “open, but non-committal” about the idea of re-signing Carlos Gonzalez, with the GM simply noting that Gonzalez was “part of the market.”
- While Bridich didn’t put a timetable on extension talks with Nolan Arenado, “there definitely are conversations that will happen” about locking up the star third baseman. Teams generally wait until Spring Training or until significant offseason business has been concluded to discuss extensions with their players, and the negotiations with Arenado will no doubt be particularly in-depth given the huge money needed to keep him at Coors Field. Arenado is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2019 season, when he’ll still just be 28 years old and in the midst of his prime. Arenado and the Rockies agreed to a two-year, $29.5MM deal last offseason to cover two arbitration years, and Arenado has one final arb-eligible season remaining in 2019 due to his Super Two status.
- “I’m not sure where the Josh Harrison stuff comes from,” Bridich said in regards to rumors connecting the Rockies to the versatile Pirates infielder/outfielder. It should be noted that this isn’t technically a denial of any trade interest, though Harrison is perhaps a better fit on a team that could make fuller use of his multi-positional ability. The Rockies have Arenado and DJ LeMahieu locked in at third and second base, respectively, so Harrison would spend most of his time as a corner outfielder if he did land on Colorado’s roster. (Then again, given that the Rox did sign Ian Desmond last winter with the intent of using him as a first baseman, maybe we shouldn’t rule out any outside-the-box ideas in regards to this team.)
3:32pm: Good news for the Rockies: X-rays came back negative on Arenado, who has a left hand contusion, tweets Saunders.
2:34pm: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado left the team’s game Sunday in Miami in “considerable pain” after taking a pitch off the left hand from Marlins starter Vance Worley, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. The extent of the injury is unknown at the moment, but it’s the second scare in as many days involving a National League superstar. Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper suffered a knee injury on Saturday, leading to a placement on the disabled list, though there’s hope that he’ll be back within a few weeks.
Arenado, like Harper, is an indispensable member of his team. He’s also the face of a Colorado club that owns a 65-51 record, giving it a 4.5-game lead on a wild-card spot. The Rockies appear bound for the playoffs for the first time since 2009, which is thanks in no small part to Arenado. The 26-year-old has been among the majors’ top players since his breakout campaign, 2014, and has continued his standout play this season. Thus far, Arenado has batted a robust .311/.361/.585 with 26 home runs and a major league-best 100 runs batted in across 497 plate appearances. He’s again delivering incredible value at the hot corner, too, with 17 defensive runs saved and a 6.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. Arenado’s two-way excellence has led to a 3.9 fWAR, which ranks 11th among NL position players.
After Arenado exited Sunday, the Rockies brought shortstop Trevor Story off the bench to take his place. Third base options on their roster include the just-promoted Ryan McMahon, Pat Valaika and Alexi Amarista.
Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire is slated to undergo surgery for prostate cancer next Tuesday, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes in an update on the former Twins skipper. As Nightengale writes, the bad news came at a particularly disappointing time for Gardenhire, given that he was returning from a layoff after leaving Minnesota. But he’s tackling the condition with typical form, as Nightengale writes. “Cancer is a big word, you know, but it’s been pretty special having so many people reach out,” says Gardenhire, who adds that he “can’t wait to sit in that dugout again.”
Here’s more from around the game:
- ESPN.com’s Andrew Marchand penned an interesting profile of Yankees assistant GM Jean Afterman, who is currently the only woman holding that position leaguewide. Afterman has a fascinating and varied background; she ultimately became a lawyer and later helped pioneer the movement of players from Japan to the majors. While Yankees GM credits her as a “pit bull” who could easily hold a position as his peer, she says she prefers to remain with the organization as an adviser. It’s a fun look at an interesting person that also tackles the ongoing question of whether the game can do more to grow the involvement of women in upper management.
- In another profile, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com takes a look at controversial Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria as he reportedly prepares to sell his franchise. Crasnick examines some of the differing angles on Loria, focusing on his relationship with the tragically departed Jose Fernandez. Loria also defends his place in the game and discusses the possibility of taking an ambassadorship to France in a sit-down with Crasnick, which you’ll want to read for yourself.
- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado chatted with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who calls the star performer “one of the game’s most inquisitive superstars — if not the most inquisitive.” As he looks to build upon his standing as one of the game’s better all-around players, Arenado is described as constantly seeking to improve by interview subjects such as agent Joel Wolfe, former skipper Walt Weiss, and a variety of veteran players. Soon to turn 26, Arenado has compiled back-to-back forty-plus home run seasons, and also significantly boosted his walk rate last year while continuing to provide high-quality defensive work at third. Of course, his park-adjusted batting production suggests he has been more a very good than a great hitter to this point in his career, though he has improved at the plate in every season in the majors and could perhaps continue to do so if he can expand upon that growth in the plate-discipline department.
The Rockies and third baseman Nolan Arenado have agreed to a two-year deal that comes with a guaranteed $29.5MM, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Arenado will earn $11.75MM in 2017 and $17.75MM in 2018. Arenado will be arbitration-eligible one final time after this two-year deal is up, and he can become a free agent after the 2019 season.
That two-year rate constitutes a slight bump over the $28.65MM deal worked out last winter between Josh Donaldson and the Blue Jays. While Arenado doesn’t have the MVP award that Donaldson brought into his second year of arb eligibility as a Super Two, the former was working from a higher first-year arb salary ($5MM).
MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz had projected that Arenado would earn $13.1MM this year. Instead, he’ll take slightly less, and will perhaps give up some upside for the following season, in exchange for the certainty of the two-year arrangement.
Arenado is a highly valuable all-around player, delivering value with his glove and his bat. It’s the latter skill that pays through the arb process, though, and Arenado showed plenty in 2016. With Coors Field helping to boost his counting stats somewhat, Arenado turned in a second-straight season in which he led the National League in home runs and RBI. Though it isn’t a particularly notable factor in arbitration, it’s worth noting too that Arenado’s OBP also rose (from .323 to .362) as he significantly improved in the plate discipline department by doubling his walk tally from 34 to 68.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich spoke to reporters on a conference call on Tuesday, covering a wide range of topics pertaining to both the short- and long-term look of his team’s roster. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post and Thomas Harding of MLB.com were among those on-hand, and while I’d encourage readers to check out those pieces for full context and full quotes, here are some highlights from the general manager’s comments…
- The Rockies are still exploring both trades and free agency, per Bridich. “The focus now is pitching, specifically our bullpen, if possible,” said Bridich. The third-year general manager confirmed that the Rox have spoken to the representatives for righties Greg Holland and Joe Blanton, though he unsurprisingly declined to comment on the extent of Colorado’s interest in either free agent. Bridich also noted: “There are multiple teams interested in those types of guys.”
- Regarding the rumored extension for Carlos Gonzalez, Bridich acknowledged that the Rox have a desire to work out a new deal. “We’ve contemplated the possibility of an extension with him,” said the GM. “We’re hopeful we can at least explore that further. We feel like there’s a good chance we’ll be able to at least explore it further.” The 31-year-old Gonzalez is set to earn $20MM in 2017 — the final season of his seven-year, $80MM contract with the club.
- The Rockies “remain in touch” with free agent slugger Mark Trumbo, but Bridich explained that the team has other priorities at this time. Nonetheless, Bridich has never expressly ruled out a deal with Trumbo, whom he termed “a very good player” on Tuesday, so reports will likely continue to link the two sides. Signing Trumbo would obviously complicate the Rockies’ infield and outfield pictures, as it would likely force the Rockies to deal one of their left-handed-hitting outfielders in order to clear an outfield role for Ian Desmond, who currently occupies first base (where Trumbo would presumably play in Colorado).
- There haven’t been any substantial talks with third baseman Nolan Arenado about a contract extension, as Saunders notes in his column. Bridich said the first focus is on avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal, “…and if things come up, just like anything else, we are going to keep an open mind to anything.” MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Arenado to earn a massive $13.1MM salary in his second trip through the arbitration process as a Super Two player. Arenado won’t turn 26 until April and has already cemented himself as one of the game’s truly elite players. His play to date has earned him plenty of financial security as well, so there’s little incentive for him to take any sort of discount.
- Bridich didn’t rule out adding a bat to his bench, either. Colorado is on the verge of one such addition, as they’ve reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with Alexi Amarista. That contract hasn’t been finalized just yet, but Amarista will be taking his physical for the club this week. Even with the addition of Amarista, inexperienced names like Cristhian Adames and Jordan Patterson are set to vie for bench roles with the Rockies, so an additional bench signing would indeed seem to make sense. Gerardo Parra looks to be the current fourth outfielder, and Amarista can bounce all over the infield. A utility option with experience in both the infield and the outfield would seem like a sound upgrade, and the Rockies could also reasonably add one of the many remaining first basemen on the market to their bench. Adames is out of minor league options, which may help his cause in Spring Training.
- Beyond the two columns linked above, Saunders tweets that Bridich “reaffirmed his faith in Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy as primary catchers.” Colorado has been speculatively listed as a landing spot for Matt Wieters, but the Rox do have an intriguing young platoon setup with the left-handed-hitting Wolters and the right-handed Murphy. Wolters draws excellent marks in pitch-framing, and each threw out better than 30 percent of attempted base thieves (40 percent, in Murphy’s case). Murphy also brings a track record of strong Triple-A production to the table, even if he’s rather inexperienced in the Majors.