Posts Tagged ‘MLB Trade Rumors’

The Padres’ pursuit of Eric Hosmer has been one of the more surprising storylines of the 2017-18 offseason, and executive chairman Ron Fowler directly acknowledged his team’s pursuit of the longtime Royals star in an interview on the Mighty 1090 Morning Show in San Diego (link with full audio of the interview).

“We’ve had a lot of dialogue on it — [GM A.J. Preller, manager Andy Green and assistant GM Josh Stein] obviously lead the discussions as it relates to players,” said Fowler. “They talked to me probably six months or so ago when they looked at who the free agents would be for 2018. They like him. They like his makeup, they like his leadership in the clubhouse, and obviously they like him as an athlete. We met with him, and he’s a very impressive individual.”

The Padres are reported to have made a seven-year offer to Hosmer and agent Scott Boras, and while word of that offer came in earlier this month, Fowler didn’t suggest that there’ve been any changes to what has been proposed. Moreover, he implied that he’s not exactly comfortable stretching the deal much further. Asked about concerns of paying for too much of a player’s decline phase, Fowler indicated that Boras may have a hard time selling him on a lengthier deal.

“I think you’re taking my side of the discussions I’ve had with [Green, Preller and Stein],” Fowler replied. “They feel that this guy is so focused, he has all of the exercise stuff, all of the elements in place to take care of himself like few players have. He would be 28 in the first year, obviously 34 would be his last year if it’s seven, but I can’t really get into it more than that. But I think we were pretty creative in the way we put a contract proposal together. We like it. I don’t know if Mr. Boras likes it, but that’s probably another story.”

The pursuit of Hosmer is just one of the many elements of the Yankees’ offseason that some feel have clashed with the team’s rebuilding direction. In addition to putting forth a (presumed) nine-figure offer to Hosmer, San Diego has also traded a fairly well-regarded pitching prospect (right-hander Enyel De Los Santos) for a one-year rental of Freddy Galvis and taken on the final year of Chase Headley’s contract as a means of landing Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees. Fowler confirmed that Headley trade was almost entirely about Mitchell and stressed that the team is still focused on the development of young talent.

“We still are looking for the young guys to get up here that we either picked through the draft or signed internationally,” he explained. “But A.J. looked at who the pitchers were out there, and some of the guys were getting three-year contracts … [H]e felt that Bryan Mitchell, the guy we got from the Yankees, was worth taking the last year of the contract for Chase. We’re happy that Chase will be here — we think he’ll be here — but it was really for Mitchell that we paid that money, it wasn’t for Chase.”

Fowler went on to add that the team’s preference was to add players that will remain under control for several seasons. While Galvis, of course, does not match that description — he’ll be a free agent next winter — Fowler revealed that he hopes the switch-hitting shortstop can be retained beyond 2018.

“I’m hoping Galvis will be here for more than a year, take some pressure off some of the young guys coming up,” he stated. “…We’re feeling very good about that trade and what he might be able to do for us over the next few years.”

Of course, Fernando Tatis Jr. is widely expected to be the Padres’ shortstop of the future, though the vaunted top prospect isn’t yet ready for the Majors after spending most of 2017 in A-ball. If the team were able to retain Galvis beyond the upcoming season, it wouldn’t necessarily indicate a change of plans as pertains to Tatis, however; Galvis could provide some reasonably priced insurance and could potentially see time at other positions. That could further a current “problem” the organization is facing, which Fowler described as having “too many people at second and third right now” before noting that the logjam would likely work itself out.

The Padres have already traded Yangervis Solarte to the Blue Jays, but they still have Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg and Headley as options that figure to be on the 25-man roster come Opening Day, while Allen Cordoba, Tatis and Luis Urias loom in the minors.

The interview with Fowler covers considerably more topics, ranging from the team’s recent hiring of former Fangraphs managing editor Dave Cameron, to the team’s uniforms and their failed pursuit of Shohei Ohtani. (Fowler reveals that Preller began the team’s presentation to Ohtani by speaking in Japanese for the first five minutes or so and expresses immense pride for the work his team put into that pursuit.) The San Diego chairman also weighs in on the stalled free agent market, suggesting a belief that the luxury tax and a number of players whose asking prices are simply “really beyond their value” have combined to grind free agency to a halt.

Suffice it to say, the 16-minute interview is packed with topics that’ll be of interest not only to Padres fans but to baseball and hot stove fans in general. It’s well worth a full listen.

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Veteran Adrian Gonzalez will have the inside track to be named the Mets’ primary first baseman in 2018, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 35-year-old first baseman (36 in May) reportedly agreed to a deal with the Mets over the weekend, though that agreement is still pending a physical. That shouldn’t be considered a formality, given the back issues that Gonzalez has had in recent years. The Mets still view young Dominic Smith as a piece of the future, per Puma, but the organization is not convinced that he’s ready for the big leagues just yet. While Gonzalez comes with virtually no risk — the Mets will only pay him the league minimum, with Atlanta on the hook for the remainder of his $22.35MM salary — he’s coming off a woeful season in which be batted just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and multiple DL stints due to persistent back injuries.

A few more notes on the Mets…

  • Puma also tweets that the Mets, even after adding Jay Bruce on a three-year, $39MM contract, are focused on infield additions. New York could conceivably upgrade at either third base or second base (with Asdrubal Cabrera playing the other spot), though the team’s preference is to add a second baseman, according to Puma. He also notes that a free-agent signing is likelier than trade. There are a number of veteran options available in free agency both at second base and at third base (links via MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker). Options range from Brandon Phillips, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker to Yunel Escobar, Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez, with several other veterans that could be had on minor league contracts also available.
  • Prior to being traded to the Giants, Andrew McCutchen was a known target of the Mets in trade talks. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic shines some more light on the matter (subscription required and strongly recommended), reporting that New York wouldn’t part with outfielder Brandon Nimmo for a one-year rental of McCutchen. New York still believes Nimmo will develop into a quality big leaguer, though Rosenthal adds that the team believes he could be part of a package in talks with the Pirates regarding Josh Harrison. The 24-year-old Nimmo, who was selected 13th overall in the 2011 draft, hit .260/.379/.418 with five homers and a pair of steals in 215 plate appearances as a rookie last season. It would seem that if the Mets are to entertain the notion of moving him, they’d prefer multiple years of control over whichever more established asset they acquire in his place.
  • Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News hears the same as Rosenthal, reporting that the Mets would indeed be willing to include Nimmo in a trade that would pry Harrison away from the Pirates. However, she adds that the Mets would not part with Dominic Smith in order to obtain Harrison, even with Gonzalez in the fold for 2018 and Bruce (who figures to see some time at first base) locked up through 2020. Ackert adds that the Mets were approached about Smith in multiple trade negotiations this winter but weren’t inclined to include him in any of the proposed scenarios. She also notes that Eduardo Nunez, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes are among the team’s potential infield targets in free agency.

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Here are Tuesday’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Mariners announced 22 players that have received non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training. Many of the minor league deals in that announcement have already been reported, though it’s of note that Seattle will bring veteran catcher Tuffy Gosewisch back to the organization. Right-handers Ryan Garton (who was outrighted off the 40-man roster in October) and Ryan Cook (who missed 2017 due to Tommy John surgery) will both be in big league camp as well. The 34-year-old Gosewisch went just 2-for-28 with the Mariners last season, though one of those two hits was a homer. He’s a career .190/.228/.271 hitter in 447 MLB plate appearances, though he’s also slashed a drastically superior .258/.318/.406 in his Triple-A career. Garton, 28, has a 4.55 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 44 percent ground-ball rate in 61 1/3 innings between the Rays and Mariners over the past two seasons. Cook, of course, was briefly the closer in Oakland and looked like one of the game’s more promising young relievers in 2012-13. He’s pitched just 8 2/3 innings in the Majors dating back to Opening Day 2015 due to injuries, however.
  • The Angels have granted catcher Curt Casali his release from the organization, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The former Rays backstop signed a minor league pact with the Halos earlier this winter with the intent of competing for a backup job in Spring Training, but those hopes were dashed when the Angels signed Rene Rivera to a Major League deal to pair with 2017 Gold Glove winner Martin Maldonado. Casali will again hit free agency in search of a new landing spot.
  • Cotillo also tweets that righty Gonzalez Germen is signing a minors pact with the White Sox after spending the past year in Japan. Germen, 30, posted a 2.68 ERA with 9.8 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 47 innings of relief in his lone season in Japan, where he pitched for the Orix Buffaloes. In parts of four MLB seasons between the Rockies, Mets and Cubs, he’s worked to a 4.63 ERA with 129 strikeouts against 81 walks over the life of 144 innings.

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Mets Sign Jay Bruce

Posted: January 16, 2018 in Uncategorized
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Jan. 16: The Mets have formally announced Bruce’s three-year contract. They’ll hold a press conference with Bruce in attendance at Citi Field tomorrow morning.

“I’m excited to return to the Mets to help finish what we set out to do at the beginning of last season and return to the postseason for the best fans in baseball,” said Bruce in a statement issued via the team’s press release. “We have a terrific group of guys in place and I’m excited to get back to work.”

“Jay has proven to be a leader both on and off the field while continuing to produce at a high level throughout his major league career,” GM Sandy Alderson said in his own statement. “We’re glad to have Jay back in the fold as we continue our pursuit to return to the postseason.”

Jan. 10, 9:15pm: Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that Bruce’s contract also contains limited no-trade protection (Twitter link). He’ll be able to specify five clubs to which he cannot be traded without each consent on an annual basis, according to Davidoff.

8:35pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Bruce will earn $10MM in 2018 and $13MM in both 2019 and 2020 (Twitter links). The contract also comes with a $3MM signing bonus that will be paid in two installments of $1.5MM — one in 2019 and one in 2020.

8:09pm: The Mets have reached an agreement to bring outfielder Jay Bruce back to New York, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that it’s a three-year, $39MM contract, adding that the deal is still pending a physical. Bruce is represented by Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon.

Jay Bruce | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce has long been a reported target of the Mets, and Mike Puma of the New York Post reported earlier this afternoon that the two sides had been in contact over the past few days. New York has been seeking an outfielder that can also serve as an insurance policy at first base in the event that young Dominic Smith continues to struggle, and Bruce fits that description to some degree. While Bruce’s experience at first base is limited, he did appear in 12 games at first base with the Mets this past season and worked out there quite a bit before seeing in-game action at the position.

It’s been something of a tumultuous ride for Bruce with the Mets, as he struggled mightily after initially being acquired prior to the non-waiver trade deadline in 2016. Bruce finished that ’16 campaign well but sat through an offseason rife with trade rumors swirling around his name. The Mets reportedly shopped Bruce extensively but weren’t able to drum up much interest. Instead, Bruce returned to Queens and significantly bolstered his stock with a .266/.334/.538 slash in the season’s first half. That production led to a trade to Cleveland, where Bruce continued to hit well down the stretch and in the postseason.

Overall, Bruce turned in a strong .254/.324/.508 slash with a career-best 36 home runs during the regular season. Cleveland’s stay in the postseason was rather abbreviated in nature, but Bruce’s .278/.333/.667 slash and two homers — one of which was a dramatic, game-tying solo shot off David Robertson in the bottom of the eighth inning in Cleveland — certainly helped the Indians push the American League Division Series to five games.

[Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart and New York Mets payroll]

The Mets have informed Bruce that he’ll likely play some first base this time around, tweets Puma, though it stands to reason that the amount of time he sees at the position will be tied directly to how well the 22-year-old Smith is able to adjust to big league pitching. (Smith hit just .198/.262/.395 through 183 plate appearances as a rookie in 2017.) Of course, Bruce also figures to see plenty of time — if not the majority of his time — in the outfield corners. Currently, the Mets have Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo in their outfield mix, though Lagares’ name has been mentioned frequently in trade rumors and Conforto is returning from significant shoulder surgery.

Between Conforto’s shoulder injury, Smith’s inexperience and the litany of maladies that prevented Cespedes and Lagares from taking the field with regularity in 2017, it seems likely that new manager Mickey Callaway (who knows Bruce well already from his two months in Cleveland) should have ample opportunity to get Bruce into the lineup.

Remarkably, despite the fact that we’re now into the middle third of January, Bruce’s $39MM guarantee is the second-largest guaranteed sum to which any position player has agreed this winter. (Bruce’s former Indians teammate, Carlos Santana, has the largest agreement at $60MM in Philadelphia.) Of the top 20 players on MLBTR’s top 50 free agent rankings back in November, just seven have found new homes, including Bruce. MLBTR’s projection of a three-year, $39MM pact for Bruce proved to be accurate, albeit with a different team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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In the latest dose of Marlins-related drama, agent Joe Longo of Paragon Sports International, who represents Christian Yelich, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that a trade of his client in the next month would be in the best interest of both team and player.

Longo states that he respects the Marlins’ long-term plan for a return to contention, but states that the “…plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career.” Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins has been “irretrievably broken” and has “soured,” according to Longo, who goes on to speak about the disappointment that Yelich has felt in watching the Marlins’ new ownership group gut the roster in trades that have sent Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna elsewhere.

“The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and [Yelich] needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win,” Longo tells Crasnick. The agent goes on to explain that Yelich signed his seven-year, $49.57MM contract extension with the Marlins in a “completely different climate” — that is, one where the organization looked to be making a clear push to win in the short term. Yelich’s deal (which Longo and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed at length with MLBTR’s Zach Links back in 2015) was agreed upon in the same offseason that saw the Fish sign Stanton to a record-setting $325MM contract. New ownership, however, clearly has no intent of pushing for a division title in 2017 as payroll has been slashed by roughly $50MM.

Longo’s comments, of course, don’t ensure that a trade of Yelich will transpire before or during Spring Training. Such decisions are up to president of baseball operations Michael Hill and his staff, who needn’t feel pressure to move Yelich in the same manner as they did with regard to Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna. The Marlins’ payroll projection is inching closer to its reported target of roughly $90MM, and Yelich’s $7MM salary for the coming season isn’t especially burdensome. Moreover, the fact that Yelich can be controlled for another five years at a total of $58.25MM is a clear indicator that he’ll be an asset with considerable surplus value at virtually any point the Marlins decide to make him available.

Yelich is hardly the only player that is less than enthused about the notion of suiting up for a Miami club that looks destined for the NL East cellar. Catcher J.T. Realmuto’s agents have reportedly informed the Marlins that their client would prefer to be traded, and infielder Starlin Castro (acquired as a financial component in the trade that sent Stanton to the Yankees) is reportedly hoping to be dealt elsewhere before so much as playing a single game for the Marlins.

Per Crasnick, the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, D-backs and Phillies are “among” the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for Yelich in a trade, though there are assuredly more team that have expressed interest. Toronto GM Ross Atkins recently suggested that virtually every team in the league would have interest in a Yelich trade, and reports have suggested that more than 15 teams have at least kicked the tires on the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.

Yelich, just 26 years of age, is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter. He’s averaged 20 homers and a dozen steals over the past two seasons and has proven to be a capable center fielder or an elite defender in left field. Crasnick notes that Yelich himself may speak publicly in the coming days, and the column is stuffed with additional quotes from Longo. It’s well worth a full read-through, both for those that have been diligently tracking the Marlins’ offseason roller coaster and those who haven’t been monitoring the situation as closely.

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If there were any questions as to where Andrew McCutchen would play with his new team in 2018, the Giants decisively answered them in a conference call with reporters today (link via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). Manager Bruce Bochy flatly told the media that McCutchen will be his right fielder in 2018, with Hunter Pence shifting across the outfield and playing left field for the first time in his MLB career (excluding a brief appearance there during the 2011 All-Star Game).

That, of course, leaves the Giants with a noted gap in center field, but GM Bobby Evans said today that he’s still exploring both the trade and free-agent market for center fielders. San Francisco will be hard-pressed to sign a notable free agent to play there, though, if the team is to stick to its goal of remaining beneath the luxury tax threshold of $197MM. Per Cot’s Contracts, the Giants are currently $4.8MM shy of that barrier, even when including the cash the team picked up from the Pirates and Rays as part of the McCutchen and Evan Longoria acquisitions.

Notably, Schulman adds that ownership has not mandated that the Giants stay under the luxury threshold, so it remains conceivable that the team could simply change course if it feels that to be the best path back to contention an increasingly competitive NL West division.

Obviously, there’s no real way to fit the free-agent market’s top center fielder, Lorenzo Cain, onto the Giants’ books without further trades to subtract payroll. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter) that the Giants’ non-Cain wishlist is topped by Jarrod Dyson. He’s followed by Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin, in that order, according to Crasnick. While no deal is close, Crasnick adds that the Giants have reached out to Dyson’s camp to express interest, but the fleet-footed free agent, who is still talking with multiple teams.

Dyson, 33, is one of the game’s fastest players, with an average sprint speed of 28.8 ft/sec, per Statcast. Those wheels have led to consistently excellent defensive marks across all three outfield spots, though the majority of Dyson’s career has been spent in center. At the plate, he’s a career .258/.325/.352 hitter — including a .264/.331/.367 slash across the past two seasons. Dyson has also averaged 31 stolen bases per season since beginning to accumulate regular semi-regular playing time with the Royals back in 2012.

As is the case with almost any player, Dyson brings some noted shortcomings to the table. He’s never hit more than five home runs in a season, and moving to the cavernous AT&T Park at age 33 wouldn’t figure to help him in that regard. He’s also looked more or less inept against left-handed pitching in his career, hitting just .215/.293/.259 against same-handed opponents. Neither the Royals nor the Mariners saw fit to give Dyson much time against lefties, as he’s accumulated just 341 career plate appearances against them.

Jay and Maybin, who’ll turn 33 and 31, respectively, this spring, would bring different skills to San Francisco. Neither can match Dyson’s defensive excellence, but Jay has virtually no platoon split to speak of and has been a consistent source of solid batting averages and OBP marks in his career (.288/.355/.383). Maybin is the youngest of the bunch and also has the most power and best walk rate of the bunch. But, he’s been injury-prone and didn’t enjoy an especially strong 2017 season at the plate (.228/.318/.365).

The trade market could also present its fair share of options. The Giants have been linked to Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton (another defensive star) on and off throughout the offseason, while Brewers speedster Keon Broxton has also been linked to San Francisco at times. Yankees fans will assuredly attempt to conjure up ways in which New York could jettison Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract in a trade with the Giants, though San Francisco’s proximity to the luxury tax and Ellsbury’s decline in recent years make that quite unlikely.

[Related: San Francisco Giants depth chart and San Francisco Giants payroll]

San Francisco also has some internal options, led by prospect Steven Duggar, who impressed the organization with a .262/.365/.445 slash across multiple minor league levels this past season. Duggar, though, has only played 13 games in Double-A, so while Evans said he expects the 24-year-old to be in the mix for the job in Spring Training, it may be asking a lot to expect the 2015 sixth-rounder to reach the Majors early in the season. In that sense, a short-term addition in center field could serve as a stopgap for Duggar, although there’s room for a longer-term adition as well, with both Pence and McCutchen slated to hit free agency next winter.

Looking elsewhere on the roster, the addition of McCutchen and the continued pursuit of a center fielder muddies the long-term picture for outfielders Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater, each of whom has seen time on the Giants’ big league roster in recent years. Parker is out of minor league options, so he’ll need to make the 2018 roster out of Spring Training or else be exposed to waivers. Williamson has an option remaining, while Slater has all three option years left after sticking in the Majors following a June promotion.

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The Yankees have agreed to a minor-league deal with lefty Wade LeBlanc, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). He’ll receive an invitation to MLB Spring Training and an opt-out opportunity just before the start of the season, per Crasnick, who notes that the deal comes with a potential $1MM base rate of pay.

LeBlanc, 33, engineered a return to the majors after spending a season in Japan in 2015 (and then appearing on the MLBTR Podcast). After spending some time as a swingman for the Mariners in 2016, he landed with the Pirates and threw well enough to earn a major-league contract in the following offseason.

Things didn’t go quite as hoped in 2017, as LeBlanc managed only a 4.50 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in his 68 innings in Pittsburgh. He did carry a personal-best 9.6% swinging-strike rate, though, and fielding-independent pitching metrics valued his output as better than the results (e.g. 3.97 SIERA).

As has long been the case, LeBlanc was much more effective last year against righties than when pitching against same-handed batters. It seems he’ll join a camp battle to earn a place as a long man for the Yankees.

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