- Padres GM A.J. Preller says he tried negotiating a variety of possible trades to bring Kimbrel to San Diego, but the only way he could do it was to also take on Melvin Upton Jr.’s contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.
- Upton (foot) likely won’t be available until May, and he will not challenge Wil Myers for the starting center field job, Preller says (via Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller on Twitter).
- “This was a difficult trade to make from a personal standpoint,” says Braves GM John Hart, via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter links). “From a professional standpoint, we continue to be consistent in our plan, where we’re gong and what we needed to do to get there.”
- Braves icon Chipper Jones took to Twitter (1 2 3 4) to defend the trade from Atlanta’s perspective. “I know it sucks, Braves Country, but once you decide to rebuild, you better go all the way,” he wrote. “You now have a ton of minor league talent that is on the verge of being Major League talent. You now have four picks in the top 54 picks in this year’s draft. And you now have flexibility in your payroll to be able to compete on the free agent market if you so desire.”
- The deal is a risky one for the Padres, who now have over $68MM on the books for Kimbrel, Upton, Matt Kemp and James Shields in 2017, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. If the Padres don’t win with their current team, Preller could quickly have to pivot into rebuild mode. Meanwhile, the Braves’ signing of Nick Markakis to a $44MM deal this offseason now looks “preposterous” now that they’re shedding salary.
- The Padres improved what was already a team strength with the trade, and now they have the best bullpen in baseball, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes. Nonetheless, the deal was a risky one from the Padres’ perspective, given the amount of money involved and how unpredictable relievers can be.
- Both the Padres and Braves doubled down on their current strategies with the trade, Sherman writes. The Padres continued buying talented but expensive veterans, while the Braves continued a rebuild that they had already begun.
- The Dodgers were, at one point, in discussions with the Braves for Kimbrel, but they were unable to strike a deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
The Cubs are on the verge of being competitive for the first time in years, and their new additions, headed by Jon Lester and manager Joe Maddon, have their players imagining big things, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “This is the place to be in Major League Baseball right now,” says David Ross. “To be able to hold a World Series trophy in this city — it’s the Holy Grail, right?” Pitcher Jason Hammel says that one of Maddon’s assets as a manager is that he’s not intimidating to younger players. “[I]f he makes a handful of our best young players more relaxed to the point where they feel they can be themselves, that’s when players thrive,” says president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. Here’s more from the National League.
- Despite the Rangers’ loss of Yu Darvish to injury, they don’t seem inclined to try to acquire Dillon Gee from the Mets, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. The Rangers had previously been connected to Gee, who is slated to start the year in the Mets’ bullpen thanks to a crowded rotation picture that also includes Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo (on Twitter), Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently admitted there had been few recent trade talks involving Gee.
- The Padres are pleased with how Wil Myers is taking to center field, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “All our outfield guys — Dave Roberts, Jose Valentin, Mark Kotsay, Alonzo Powell — have been very positive on how Wil is moving in center,” says manager Bud Black. “He’s got long strides, he’s got good routes, good angles, his hands are good, he sees the ball off the bat.” Myers, meanwhile, is eager to prove himself after having been traded twice in a little over two years.
The Padres are baseball’s most improved team, opines Jim Duquette of MLB.com. The additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris should revive an offense that has slumbered for years. GM A.J. Preller managed to overhaul the offense without dipping into his starting pitching depth nor by trading the team’s best prospects. For what it’s worth, I’m more impressed by the efforts of the Cubs, who Duquette lists as the fifth most improved club.
- Dodgers starter Zack Greinke has not decided if he will opt out of his contract following the 2015 season, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The 31-year-old signed a six-year, $147MM contract prior to the 2013 season, but he can opt out following next season. He’s averaged a 2.67 ERA over the last two seasons, which could set him up for another big, multi-year contract in free agency. In the past, we’ve seen CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez leverage opt outs with the Yankees to gain more guaranteed dollars and years. Greinke may take the same approach with the Dodgers. Per his comments, he seems comfortable in Los Angeles.
- Greinke doesn’t believe the Dodgers improved via “addition by subtraction” this offseason. Outgoing players like Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon, and Brian Wilson weren’t distractions in the clubhouse per Greinke. President Andrew Friedman has admitted the club might lose a little on offense, but the goal is to replace the runs scored with better defense and depth.
- Reliever Chris Withrow may be a long shot to help the Dodgers this season, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (via Twitter). The righty has pitched well in parts of two seasons with Los Angeles, with a 2.73 ERA, 11.41 K/9, and 4.98 BB/9 in 56 innings. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John and back surgeries. The back issue has slowed the timetable for his Tommy John rehab.
Here are highlights from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s latest:
- The Braves’ offseason has been quietly criticized throughout the industry, with other teams wondering about Atlanta’s signing of Nick Markakis and about its trades, including getting injured pitching prospect Max Fried as the co-headliner (along with Mallex Smith) in the Justin Upton deal.
- The Phillies, meanwhile, did well in getting Ben Lively in return for Marlon Byrd and cash. The Phillies didn’t get marquee names for Byrd, Jimmy Rollins or Antonio Bastardo, but they weren’t expected to. A Cole Hamels deal would clearly be a different story, and Rosenthal names the Red Sox and Cardinals as interesting potential trade partners.
- Ben Zobrist is likely to receive a qualifying offer next winter if the Rays deal him this offseason, and the possibility of getting a draft pick would likely make him even more valuable to some interested teams.
- The Orioles are interested in Colby Rasmus despite his perceived makeup issues because Buck Showalter believes Rasmus can adjust to the Orioles’ clubhouse, just as Delmon Young did. The Orioles also already possess plenty of good clubhouse players who can set strong examples. The Orioles have yet to sign Rasmus, though, and it’s not yet certain they will — Nori Aoki is also available, along with a variety of outfield trade possibilities. (Showalter met with Rasmus yesterday.)
- Wil Myers is excited about the possibility of playing center field for the Padres, Rosenthal writes. Myers has only played a handful of games at center in the Majors.
- Other teams aren’t willing to give the Rockies much for Wilin Rosario right now, so the team’s best course might be to allow Rosario to play some first base and outfield this season and hope he improves his stock after declining offensively in each of the last two seasons.
Here’s the latest from Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
- The Blue Jays, Athletics, Cubs, White Sox and Angels are interested in Stephen Drew to play second base but don’t want to pay his $9MM-$10MM asking price, Sherman writes. There’s concern that Drew’s poor 2014 season marks the beginning of a serious decline. “Fine, you want to say June and July [last year] were spring training for him, well, how about August or September? There was never a time in which he looked like a major league hitter,” says one executive. The Yankees could have interest in him, but want to commit to Didi Gregorius at shortstop and could have concern Drew would provide an easy distraction from those plans, even if he’s signed as a second baseman. Earlier this month, we guessed Drew would get a one-year, $7MM deal.
- The Royals signed Alex Rios this offseason even though Rios rejected a trade to Kansas City last summer, Sherman says. The Rangers tried to trade Rios to the Royals, but Rios requested that Kansas City exercise his 2015 option as a condition of the deal. The Royals said no, so Rios used his no-trade clause to stop the trade. Rios thus spent the entire season with the Rangers, refusing a chance to join a team in the midst of a playoff race.
- There have already been rumors of the Padres trading Wil Myers to Philadelphia in a Cole Hamels deal, and Sherman writes that San Diego would, in fact, consider dealing Myers, who they might feel isn’t good enough defensively to handle center field.
9:00pm: Sources within the Padres organization indicate that the team does have interest in Hamels, but plans to keep Myers and play him in center field, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. He’ll be joined by Justin Upton in left field and Matt Kemp in right.
4:40pm: The Padres have had discussions about trading for Cole Hamels, a San Diego native, with newly acquired Wil Myers part of the package, reports Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. The Padres only finalized the trade for Myers on Friday.
With the trade last week of Jimmy Rollins and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. admitting the franchise would be better off without Ryan Howard, the Phillies find themselves torn in regards to Hamels, who is due $96MM through 2018 with a 2019 club option worth $20MM ($6MM buyout). Philadelphia could continue its rebuild by maximizing value through trading Hamels (reportedly for two or three premium prospects, per Lawrence) or build the next contending team around the left-hander.
“We can keep him and it would be great for us and if we feel he can move us forward by moving him, that’s something we can explore as well,” Amaro said. “We don’t have any rush to move him or mandate to move him. Hopefully, he’s one of those guys that will be in a Phillies uniform for a long time, but we have to explore all of our opportunities. We’re not doing our organization any justice if we don’t explore every opportunity to get better.”
The Padres are not on Hamels’ no-trade list and would be a match for the Phillies based on San Diego’s surplus of outfielders and Philadelphia’s lack of such throughout its system. Lawrence also noted a possibly insignificant but curious development: the Padres have Matt Kemp and Justin Upton jerseys in stock and for sale at the Petco Park team store, but jerseys for Myers are not available.
FRIDAY: The trade is official, with all three teams announcing its completion as reported.
THURSDAY: The deal will likely be officially announced on Friday morning, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports (via Twitter).
WEDNESDAY: The Padres, Rays, and Nationals have agreed to a much-anticipated three-team swap — pending physicals — that will deliver important pieces to and from each club, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. A rough structure of the deal seemed to have taken form in recent hours, and Bowden has reported its final contours in a series of tweets (links: 1, 2, 3, 4.) The deal is unlikely to be announced before Thursday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
Outfielder Wil Myers will head to San Diego as the centerpiece of the trade, and indeed the entire pact will depend upon the health of his balky wrist, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes on Twitter. San Diego receives young hurlers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo from Tampa as well, joined by veteran big league catcher Ryan Hanigan.
Heading to Tampa from San Diego are backstop Rene Rivera, righty Burch Smith, and first base prospect Jake Bauers. Much of Tampa’s haul, however, will come from another source, as the Nationals will send outfielder Steven Souza and young lefty Travis Ott to Tampa.
For the Nationals, their involvement in this complicated transaction nets them a pair of young players. Righty Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner (as a PTBNL) will each head from the Padres to D.C. by way of Tampa.
Unpacking this deal is not easy, but it certainly begins with Myers — not only the marquee piece of this trade, but also the key player in the deal that sent James Shields to the Royals two years ago. Since that time, Myers has had one year of immense promise and one injury-marred, unproductive season. There is risk, not least of which because Myers missed significant time with a wrist injury, but then again San Diego is adding a potentially premier hitter who only just turned 24 years of age and still has five years of control.
Myers will be expected to pair with Matt Kemp — if and when that deal is complete — to deliver a middle-of-the-order threat to what had been a punchless lineup. Both carry a broad spectrum of possible outcomes, which will if nothing else make San Diego a fascinating team to watch for the next several years. One wonders what the trade means for Seth Smith, who played well last year before signing an extension, but who took a step back in the season’s second half and no longer seems to have a place in the corner outfield.
San Diego will also roll some younger arms into a system that is now without a few of its more advanced pitching prospects in Smith and Ross. The right-handed Reyes, 21, spent last year working at the low-A level from the pen. He struck out 10.6 and walked 2.5 batters per nine, en route to a 4.09 ERA in 33 frames. Castillo, an 18-year-old lefty, signed to a $1.55MM bonus out of Venezuela and has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.
Then there is the swap of backstops. New Padres GM A.J. Preller has now moved both of last season’s primary catching options, and replaced them with a mix of the veteran Hanigan and, presumably, top prospect Austin Hedges. Hanigan, 34, came to Tampa last year in an even more confusing three-team swap, and the Rays promptly signed him to an extension. The Rays added him for his OBP skills and defensive chops, and he’ll bring the same out west. He’ll also carry $8MM in obligations over the next two years, including a buyout of a $3.75MM club option for 2017.
In Rivera, the Friars will lose and the Rays will add a 31-year-old journeyman who broke out last year in one of the most surprising, under-reported stories in the league. Rivera posted a .252/.319/.432 line — good for a 117 OPS+ at pitcher-friendly Petco Park — and swatted 11 home runs in 329 plate appearances. He also drew rave reviews for his overall defensive contribution, with Baseball Prospectus rating him among the game’s best behind the plate. Rivera will also be a good bit cheaper than Hanigan, as MLBTR/Matt Swartz project him to earn $1.3MM in his first run through arbitration.
In addition to making that switch behind the plate, Tampa will add a mix of younger players, among them two wild cards. Bauers is a 19-year-old, left-handed-hitting first baseman who has not yet tapped into his power in the low minors. The 19-year-old Ott was taken in the 25th round of the 2013 draft but has seemingly improved his stock since. A 6’4 lefty, Ott struggled upon being promoted to the Class A level, but apparently showed enough to draw Tampa’s interest.
The bulk of the return, however, comes with the effective swap of five years of Myers for 12 (or more) seasons of Smith and, in particular, Souza. The 24-year-old Smith struggled in a brief MLB debut in 2013, missing bats as well as spots (11.4 K/9 vs. 5.2 BB/9 in 36 1/3 frames). But he was excellent in 92 1/3 Triple-A frames that year, working to a 2.63 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Unfortunately, after being hit hard upon opening 2014 back in the PCL, Smith was shut down with a forearm strain and has not thrown since. That, combined with pre-existing questions about whether he had the secondary pitches to stick in the rotation, reduce his value significantly.
The real prize for new president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman appears to be Souza, who will present a cheaper and more controllable, but somewhat older, replacement for Myers. Last year’s International League MVP put himself firmly back on the map with a huge .345/.427/.577 triple-slash with 18 home runs and 28 steals in 419 plate appearances, completing a quick ascent back up the prospect ladder after initially languishing in the Nats’ system. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs notes, the athletic Souza actually projects to be Myers’ equal next year and in some ways probably has just as much upside. Of course, he has not shown that ceiling in the big leagues, as has Myers, but Souza is more controllable with just 72 days of MLB service to his name.
That brings us to the Nationals, who parted with Souza in large part because the team is locked in at the corner outfield for the next several years. In return, GM Mike Rizzo added a 21-year-old righty who was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft and has shown signs of reaching his potential. Ross (Tyson’s younger brother) currently sits at eighth on MLB.com’s list of the Padres’ top prospects, with the publication citing his strong mid-90s heater, good power slider, and still-developing change in his ranking. He’ll be expected to join a talented new wave of arms that may have some big shoes to fill if Jordan Zimmermann and/or Doug Fister are not retained for the long run.
But the true motivation for the Nationals’ involvement probably lies with the player to be named, which will reportedly become Turner once he is eligible to be traded. Taken 13th overall from N.C. State in last year’s draft, the 21-year-old has done nothing but improve his stock since. Over 321 plate appearances at the low-A and Class A levels last year, Turner slashed .323/.406/.448 with five home runs and 23 stolen bases. Of course, his college-polished bat will face bigger challenges as he moves up in the system, but he is said to be a good defender with outstanding speed. MLB.com has him at fifth amongst San Diego prospects, but he is especially important to the Nationals as they look to fill in younger options behind incumbent Ian Desmond, who is of course entering his final year of team control.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The St. Petersburg City Council rejected an agreement that would’ve allowed the Rays to explore sites for a new stadium within the greater St. Petersburg area, Stephen Nohlgren, Charlie Frago and Kameel Stanley of the Tampa Bay Times write. In a media release, Rays president Brian Auld said, “We are obviously disappointed. Our goal was to begin a collaborative, exploratory process in our region to determine the best location for a next generation ballpark. The council has instead decided that the status quo is what is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Petersburg.” Needless to say, this development will lead to renewed speculation about the Rays’ long-term future in the Tampa area, as owner Stuart Sternberg has threatened to sell the team rather than continue at Tropicana Field.
Here’s some more from the Rays…
- There’s no evidence the Rays are considering trading Evan Longoria, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. If Tampa was looking into a rebuild, it stands to reason that Longoria (by far the team’s highest-paid player) would be a trade chip.
- From that same tweet, Heyman also notes that Wil Myers “rebuffed [an] overture” from the Rays about a long-term deal. There were some whispers last spring that Tampa would look to extend Myers as the team has done with so many of its young stars. Of course, Myers’ time as a Ray is almost up as the young outfielder is on the verge of being dealt to San Diego.
- Even as far back as Myers’ Rookie of the Year season in 2013, the Rays had some doubts about whether the outfielder would become a consistent player, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes as part of his latest Insider-only column. Given these doubts, the Myers trade makes a lot of sense for the Rays as a sell-high move, Olney notes.
Reports emerged yesterday that the Padres and Rays were discussing a deal that would send outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego. Subsequent reports greatly expanded the possibilities of that deal, including multi-team concepts, different packages from San Diego, and spin-off deals. If you would like to catch up on the earlier rumors, follow the page break link.
Various reports have indicated that a deal is close but that multiple different permutations are still in play. Here’s the latest, from this morning on:
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter that the deal is done, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that it is nearing the finish line. No draft choices will be moved in the deal, says Sherman.
- The Rays are down to two possible scenarios, and are waiting to hear whether the Nationals are in or out, Topkin tweets. Regardless, Tampa is set to move Myers, Hanigan, and two lower-level minor league players. On its end, San Diego would send Rivera, Smith, and Bauers, as well as Ross and Turner. It appears that Tampa would either keep the latter two players or flip them to D.C. for Souza and an A-ball lefty. (Twitter links.) Turner, of course, was taken 13th overall in last year’s draft and would therefore need to be included as a player to be named later.
- Lefty Jose Castillo is one of the other players that would move from Tampa, ESPN.com’s Keith Law hears (Twitter link). Since signing to a $1.55MM bonus, the 18-year-old Venezuelan has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.
- Another young lefty, Travis Ott, appears to be the final name in this potential scenario, according to a report from Rosenthal (Twitter links). Rosenthal cautions that this is not a final agreement, but the scenario a source outlined for him, and adds that competitive balance picks could also be a component. (The Padres have the fifth competitive balance Round A choice, which is currently the 41st overall choice.)
- The Rays are interested in San Diego’s first-round pick from last year, shortstop Trea Turner, according to Heyman (Twitter link). It is not clear that the young N.C. State product is in play, however, Heyman adds.
- Another element of the deal being discussed is a swap of catchers Ryan Hanigan and Rene Rivera, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
- The primary deal under contemplation includes 19-year-old first baseman Jake Bauers, right-handed pitching prospect Joe Ross, the fellow young righty Burch Smith, and two other players from San Diego’s side, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets. A draft comp pick may also be involved in the swap, but prospects Matt Wisler and Austin Hedges are not believed to be, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post indicates in a tweet that the Nationals and Rays have an agreement in place involving outfielder Steven Souza in the event that the primary deal is consummated. He says that Tampa “will spin players” to D.C. if the Myers trade goes down. Earlier reports from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) connected the teams on that player, after Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Nats had become involved.
- Ben Zobrist is not expected to be part of the potential deal between the Nationals and Rays, Sherman tweets. Indeed, neither Zobrist nor Evan Longoria are involved in any of the scenarios under consideration, Topkin tweets.
The Rays have received some trade inquiries about Wil Myers, but do not seem apt to deal him, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “The guy we saw last year was injured and didn’t really have a chance to demonstrate what he has,” says Rays executive Matt Silverman. “We look at him as a rookie of the year who really missed most of the season and expect him to be back in that form as a formidable bat in the middle of the lineup who also plays a pretty good outfield.” The Rays are widely expected to deal an outfielder this offseason, but that will likely be David DeJesus or Matt Joyce; as Topkin notes, trading the 2013 ROY-winning Myers after a down season would be selling low. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond does not want to be traded, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson writes. “Do I want to be a National [beyond 2015]? Yes,” says Desmond. “Do I think, at this particular moment, I will be, I don’t know.” Desmond and the Nationals have been unable to settle on a long-term extension, and he’s now one of several key Nats who’s eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- The Orioles still have interest in Delmon Young as a right-handed power source but could pursue Michael Morse (to whom they’ve previously been connected) as a backup plan, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets. Another possible option for them could be to acquire Allen Craig in a trade with the Red Sox. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo adds (via Twitter), however, that the Orioles are not close to signing Young. Young and Morse are both poor defensive players, but they’re coming off strong offensive seasons — Young hit .302/.337/.442 in a part-time role with Baltimore in 2014, while Morse batted .279/.336/.475 in 482 at bats with the Giants. (Before that, the Orioles acquired Morse for their stretch run in 2013, and he collected 30 plate appearances for them.) With Nelson Cruz gone, the Orioles could have either player pick up at bats at DH, while occasionally playing an outfield corner. Morse would likely be the more expensive of the two, with MLBTR’s Jeff Todd predicting Morse will get a two-year, $22MM deal.