Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’

Disclaimer: No indication Rockies owner can be swayed into dealing Tulo … Still, team has to be prepared if talks occur

We preface everything here with the simple statement, based on conversations with sources inside and outside the Rockies organization:

Owner Dick Monfort has no interest in trading shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at Thursday afternoon’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. The belief that a healthy Rockies club, with an improved rotation and a bullpen overhaul, is a winner next season means odds are against Monfort moving Tulowitzki — signed for extreme riches through 2020 — this offseason.

But the way to not get caught off guard is to be prepared, even if you know nothing may happen.

In the days leading to the Trade Deadline, the Rockies are getting ready for the magic phone call, even if it’s not coming.

The Rockies spent much of Monday studying the Mets organization, looking at current Major Leaguers and prospects, and gauging the abilities of young pitchers who have not reached their arbitration years. Any Mets pitcher who is anyone, whether he is working in Queens – like National League Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom – or prospects such as righty Noah Syndergaard (No. 1 on the MLB.com Mets Top 20 Prospects list) or Rafael Montero (No. 6), the Rockies are prepared to discuss. If the names of numerous position players come up, the Rockies are prepared.

But here’s the thing. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Monday said it is “unlikely” the team will make any deal, and sources throughout the game are saying it’s unlikely anything serious will occur with the Rockies. And, as can’t be stated enough, it’s all fantasy unless Monfort changes his belief that the Rockies will win with Tulowitzki.

But that’s the way these things work. Oh, it’s not only the Mets. We hear the Rockies have beefed up their knowledge on the Cardinals and the Angels – two teams with the money and Major League-ready players to make the Rockies’ baseball people at least listen if they were to call – and a few other teams that may have interest. Speaking of which, since Tulowitzki’s showing up at Yankee Stadium Sunday sparked so many conspiracy theories, we are told the Yankees are not one of the teams that the Rockies believe have players it takes to pull off a Tulowizki deal.

There’s absolutely no indication either team will make that call before the deadline. Nonetheless, the Rockies want to have detailed information if talks ever begin.

Other fronts appear to be quiet, although there is interest.

• We identified the Pirates as a team that is taking a look at Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, and now we’re told that 5-6 clubs are interested in Hawkins, knowing he can pitch in any situation. But two issues are making it hard to deal the 41-year-old reliever with the ageless right arm:

The Rockies believe his influence is strong enough on young players and young pitchers that they want to keep him around, even though the team is in last place.

The Rockies’ requirement for help at the start of next season, plus pitchers under club control applies to Hawkins. Teams in contention haven’t offered what the Rockies want.

• It’s doubtful the Rockies will move lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who has pitched better at Coors than any pitcher in their history. The Rockies have been listening when clubs inquire, but after it surfaced that the Rockies coveted Orioles righty Kevin Gausman and a whole haul of prospects, no other team’s interest made it to the rumor stage. Expect the Rockies to make the $14 million qualifying offer to De La Rosa, a free agent after this season, and use that as the basis for keeping him.

• While the Rockies have scouted lefty Brett Anderson since his return from a broken left index finger, but there are no active discussions. The Rockies are expected to pick up Anderson’s $12 million option for next season.

– Thomas Harding

Rockies Tulowitzki does not have no-trade clause; talks are intriguing if not imminent (Also, a look at many possible Rockies deals)

Tulo turn

Contrary to what has been repeated in many reports, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki does not have a no-trade clause — at least not at this point — in his contract.

Going strictly by the contract language (and consulting with sources with direct knowledge of the contract), if traded, Tulowitzki would receive a $2 million bonus from the club he would land with, and only then would a no-trade provision go into effect. That is in addition to the five years and $104 million, plus incentives and escalators, left on his deal.

Now, from the standpoint that Tulowitzki is one of the game’s most-respected players and someone who has been through thick and a lot of thin with the Rockies, it stands to reason that if such a decision were made the club would at least listen to Tulowitzki’s preferences — especially if there were places he didn’t want to go. However, he does not have that right within his contract, and he is not a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the Majors with the last five with the team).

All that said, the chances are low that Tulowitzki would be dealt by next Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Tulowitzki has said all along he doesn’t expect a deadline deal, and the more likely scenario is he would meet with his family and club officials after the season and get an idea of the team’s direction before deciding whether to press for a trade. Sources around the Majors say Rockies owner Dick Monfort’s position with them is the same as it is publicly — he is not seeking a deadline deal, and there is no guarantee he wants to make a deal even after the season.

Tulowitzki’s being on the 15-day disabled list with a hip flexor strain also complicates the chance of a deal now.

By the way, Major League sources say the Rockies aren’t anywhere close to dealing outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a sublime talent who has dealt with injuries the last two years.

Given that, current trade rumors are to be seen as laying the groundwork for talks after the season.

Those talks could become really interesting. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote today that the Mets are interested in being players if the Rockies ever decided to deal Tulo or CarGo. Sherman names pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, plus outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder Dilson Herrera as players the Rockies like. Given the Rockies’ perpetual need and desire for young pitching, the names Syndergaard and Matz would make it hard for club officials to dismiss if talks were to become serious.

Of course, anything the Mets do is related to the Yankees. Sherman points out that Tulo’s love for Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop who must be replaced, and the fact the Rockies like the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, righty Luis Severino. And the Cardinals have been rumored as a possible trading partner since last winter.

In other developments:

–The same article by Sherman points out that the Rockies have had interest in Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and notes the Rockies have pieces the Yankees want – lefty starters Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson, and catcher Wilin Rosario, who could preserve his bat and mitigate his defensive issues by being a designated hitter or playing another position. But we are told that the Rockies aren’t looking to deal Rosario before Thursday’s deadline.

But expect Rosario to be an offseason topic of conversation. The Rockies have been sticking with him, believing his power hitting can make up for defense that has been a work in progress ever since he was promoted from Double-A in 2011. However, the Rockies may be forced to re-think.

The pitching staff will continue to be young. Left-hander Tyler Matzek and right-handers such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray (Matzek and Butler debuted this year, and Gray is on the radar) will be in the rotation sooner than later. Righties Jhoulys Chacin and Jordan Lyles have been around, but are in their 20s.

It might be time for a veteran catcher, or one with frontline all-around ability who is special at calling games, to trim the learning curve for the pitchers. Two examples come to mind: 1) Late in his career, Pudge Rodriguez went to the Marlins and later to the Tigers, teams that didn’t have recent histories of winning. He made a major difference to those young staffs, and the result was a World Series win wit the Marlins and a World Series appearance with the Tigers. 2) It’s hard to quantify but easy to appreciate the impact Russell Martin had last year with the Pirates, who ended a 20-year postseason drought with pitchers who needed help reaching their potential.

–The Rockies are in a quandary when it comes to dealing their own pitching. They want young pitching under club control, but what if the best bargaining chips are their own desirable pitchers.

The Rockies are listening to trade offers, but the price they’ve set with the Orioles shows that they’ll take only the cream of another team’s crop. But even if they receive pitchers with bright futures, is there any guarantee they’re going to have the present that De La Rosa has?

De La Rosa has been by far the Rockies’ best pitcher at Coors Field, and whether he qualifies as the best pitcher in club history is a growing debate. Dude is 42-14 at Coors Field. And he likes pitching there. After seeing top prospects — lefty Drew Pomeranz, now with the Athletics, is a clear example — flame out at Coors, who’s to say anyone else’s prospects are going to make it?

Maybe the Rockies take the plunge. Or maybe they are better off retaining De La Rosa, who is in the final year of his contract. The $11 million qualifying offer the Rockies would need to make to preserve the right to compensation in case3 he left is $3 million more than he is making. That could give them another year with De La Rosa, or it could be the basis for a longer-term deal for a pitcher who wants to be here.

–Everyone says the Rockies need starting pitching. Heck, the Rockies say it. That being the case, it’s puzzling to see lefty Brett Anderson’s name in possible trade reports, although teams would be sensible to check on his availability.

Anderson missed 16 starts with a broken left index finger, and injuries have been an issue throughout his career. But let’s look at his two starts since coming off the disabled list: 1) Clearly rusty and still with little experience at Coors Field, he gave up five runs in the first inning against the Twins at home in the final game before the All-Star break. But he got through six with just one additional run. 2) At Pittsburgh, lacking his best stuff, Anderson pitched with savvy and professionalism and held a lineup for a contending club to one run in seven innings.

Once again, do you trade this top-end ability for guys whose best may or may not arrive at all or may or may not arrive at Coors Field?

Of course, there is a money issue. Anderson has a $12 million club option for 2015, or a $1.5 million buyout. If the Rockies believe that they’re a good team that has been ruined by injuries, it stands to reason that they pay the money and hope to be healthy next season.

–Well, we’ve laid out how the Rockies are leaning against dealing Tulo and CarGo, are likely to wait until after the season to address the catching situation, and have plenty of reasons not to deal De La Rosa or Anderson. So where do they get the young pitching they crave?

They’ll listen when teams discuss outfielder Drew Stubbs. The Mariners are the hot rumor. They’ll also listen to offers for righty pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. But there will be debate about how much a team is willing to give up for Stubbs, whose home/road splits and low on-base percentage history are concerning, and Hawkins, who is fit and effective but also 41.

Still, being in a pennant race makes giving up valuable pitching prospects sound like a better idea. So we’ll see. If Stubbs or Hawkins don’t bring offers of top-level prospects, the Rockies still must listen. This year’s injuries exposed a startling lack of starting depth, and they have to get it from somewhere.

– Thomas Harding

Are the Cardinals pursuing Jake Peavy again?

The Jake Peavy-to-St. Louis rumors picked up steam on Tuesday, perhaps more than the actual negotiations did.

The connection between Peavy and the Cardinals, who have targeted the Red Sox right-hander before, began late on Monday, when Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reported that St. Louis had a scout at Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles game, which Peavy started. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com later added that a deal between Boston and St. Louis could happen “quick.”

The reports, however, come just a day after Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak downplayed the club’s interest in the pitching market. Mozeliak said that most clubs willing to deal starters before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline were also looking for starting pitching in return. The tradeoff would be a loss in years of control for the Cardinals, who covet their young pitching.

“I think that would just make it problematic, so for us we feel pretty good where we’re at from a pitching standpoint,” Mozeliak said on Monday. “We expect to get [Joe] Kelly back at some point and feel pretty confident that those five [once Michael Wacha returns] can be successful.”

The Cardinals appear more interested in upgrading on the offensive side, since they believe Wacha will return to the rotation this season. Kelly could be back as early as Friday, and Carlos Martinez has held his own as a starter since being thrust into the role.

Peavy is owed about $7 million this season and will be a free agent at year’s end. The Cardinals would not be in line to collect any compensation for his departure, which makes it highly unlikely that they would part with any of their top talent to complete such an acquisition.

– Jenifer Langosch

Peavy could be on move again

Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, who has already been part of two July trade deadline deals in his career, could be on the move again at some point this month. It is the reality of being a veteran pitcher.

ESPN.com reported that the Cardinals have interest in Peavy, and scouted his last start on Sunday. Jayson Stark tweeted that something with Peavy and the Cardinals could happen “quick”.

There were no indications around the Red Sox on Tuesday that a deal was imminent. However, with Boston 10 games out of first place, it would not be surprising to see Peavy or other veterans moved before the deadline.

Peavy is earning a $14.5 million salary this season. One potential sticking point in a trade would be how much salary the Red Sox would eat to move the righty.

The Red Sox would like to open up a rotation spot for right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who has been dominant at times this season when given the chance.

It was just last July that the Red Sox acquired Peavy from the White Sox. Peavy was a dependable starter for Boston during a World Series championship season.

Peavy has been victimized this season by inconsistency and a lack of run support. He is 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA in 18 starts.

If the Cardinals are shopping, what are they buying?

The Cardinals find themselves bunched in the middle of the National League Central and still waiting for an underachieving club to start playing up to potential. The defending NL champs have plenty of room for improvement, yet they don’t necessarily have clarity in how to identify those needs.

The club has thus far been anchored by its rotation, though recent injuries to Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha thinned that depth. Joe Kelly is poised to come off the disabled list later this week, and the Cardinals remain optimistic that Wacha will return next month. (Garcia is done for the year.) An MRI taken on Wacha’s shoulder on Monday revealed healing, but not enough for the righty to resume throwing. The Cardinals will reevaluate in two weeks.

Asked how Wacha’s status could affect the team’s Trade Deadline strategy, general manager John Mozeliak said: “It really doesn’t affect it one way or the other.”

He then elaborated.

“Well, we expect to get Kelly back at some point and feel pretty confident that those five can be successful,” Mozeliak said. “There are probably very few pitchers we could go out and acquire without having to give up one of those to begin with. I think that would just make it problematic, so for us we feel pretty good where we’re at from a pitching standpoint.”

Seeking to upgrade offensively would make a lot of sense for the Cardinals, who are at or near the bottom of the NL in runs scored, home runs and slugging percentage. But then the question becomes where to find the fit? Not only do the Cardinals have to find a seller who is not asking for a gaggle of prospects, but Mozeliak has to figure out where another bat would go.

The club is already struggling to find playing time for all its outfielders now that Oscar Taveras has been recalled. Across the infield, the only obvious opening would be to add someone at second or third and have Matt Carpenter play the other of those two positions. The Cardinals do not, though, want to block Kolten Wong for the long-term, so that, too could be troublesome.

“Certainly when you look at the sort of teams that are willing to trade players, there’s just not too many of them right now,” Mozeliak said. “Look, we’ll stay active on it, but as you guys know, that’s not something I report on, our day-to-day strategy, or who we’re talking to. If we’re able to do something to help the club we’re certainly going to try.

“I think you could say we could worry about a lot of things. The right strategy is if we think there’s an opportunity to improve, we’ll try. We’re not going to make a bad decision just in a panic situation.”

Perhaps a little more time will provide a bit more clarity.

– Jenifer Langosch

2/6 Roundup

The Hot Stove saw a flurry of activity involving relievers on Thursday, most notably closer Fernando Rodney reportedly agreeing to a two-year contract with the Mariners worth at least $14 million.

Rodney was the top bullpen arm on the market entering Thursday. Over the past two seasons with the Rays, he collected 85 saves and posted a 1.91 ERA. Seattle has not confirmed the deal, which won’t be official until he passes a physical.

Meanwhile, the Marlins and Carlos Marmol reached an agreement on a one-year contract worth $1.25 million. A former All-Star closer with the Cubs, Marmol transitioned to a middle relief role last season after being traded to the Dodgers. The veteran is expected to compete for a setup role this year. Miami added further depth to its bullpen in Chaz Roe, who agreed to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

The Cardinals were also in on the action, signing veteran Pat Neshek to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league camp.

In other news from around the league:

• Despite interest from at least a dozen teams, the Nationals are in no rush to trade second baseman Danny Espinosa, writes MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Although he’s coming off a down year, Washington still has faith in Espinosa and will give him every chance to make the club this season.

• The D-backs inked outfielder Mark Trumbo to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration.

• The Cubs and second baseman Darwin Barney won’t be going to arbitration after agreeing to a one-year contract. The deal leaves right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija as Chicago’s only arbitration eligible player.

• Catcher Matt Wieters and the Orioles also avoided arbitration by coming to terms on a one-year deal.

• Infielder Brett Wallace was designated for assignment by the Astros in a move to open a roster spot for pitcher Jerome Williams, who agreed to a one-year pact earlier this week. Houston has 10 days to trade Wallace, outright him to the Minor Leagues or release him.

• Tampa Bay signed five players to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training: infielder Wilson Betemit, outfielders Justin Christian and Jeremy Moore, catcher Eddy Rodriguez and right-hander Juan Sandoval.

-Austin Laymance

1/29 Roundup

In a free-agent market light on shortstops, Stephen Drew would figure to be a hot commodity, coming off a year in which he played solid defense at the position and produced a .777 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for the Red Sox. Yet the 30-year-old seems to be running out of options, with Spring Training rapidly approaching.

On Tuesday night, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that it is “unlikely” his club will sign Drew. On Wednesday, our Bryan Hoch reported that the Yankees are not considering bringing in Drew, while Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and MLB Network wrote that the A’s also are not interested.

All of those factors could make a return to Boston more likely for Drew, who is tied to Draft pick compensation after receiving a qualifying offer.

In other news from around the league:

  • The Phillies could be a team to watch in the competition for veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett, a free agent who recently decided to pitch this season. Signing Burnett would be a great move for Philadelphia, one that just might get it back to the postseason, writes MLB.com columnist Richard Justice. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Tom Singer offers an idea for how the Pirates could manage to bring back Burnett.
  • Bronson Arroyo told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that while 12 teams have contacted his agent this offseason, he has not come close to a deal with any of them. Arroyo and Burnett are drawing some interest from the Blue Jays, but Toronto appears more focused on fellow free-agent right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, according to Rosenthal.
  • After a 15-year career that included six All-Star teams, a World Series title and 366 home runs, Lance Berkman told MLB.com that he has decided to retire. Berkman spent an injury-plagued 2013 with the Rangers.
  • Right-hander Scott Baker, who returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of last season, signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners and figures to compete for a spot in their starting rotation.
  • Former Phillies closer Ryan Madson, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury, held a private workout for an unknown team on Tuesday and is planning a public audition for more clubs on Feb.7 in Phoenix, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • The Cardinals and infielder Daniel Descalso agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration, while the Cubs did the same with outfielder Justin Ruggiano.
  • The Reds bolstered their infield depth by signing veteran Ramon Santiago to a Minor League contract.
  • For the third time this offseason, the Twins signed a former member of the organization to a Minor League deal, this time bringing back reliever Matt Guerrier.
  • The Angels added Chad Tracy to the mix in their crowded competition for bench spots.
  • The Royals acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Mariners for a player to be named later and designated left-hander Everett Teaford for assignment.

– Andrew Simon

Angels sign Mulder to Minors deal …

The Angels have agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite with veteran starter Mark Mulder, the two-time All-Star who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday.

The agreement – first reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com – will pay Mulder up to $6 million if he reaches all incentives, according to several reports.

Mulder, 36 and previously working as an ESPN analyst, was one of the game’s top left-handers from 2001-05, averaging 18 wins and posting a 3.65 ERA for the A’s and Cardinals. But he pitched only 12 2/3 Major League innings from 2007-08 and retired in ’09 after struggling to bounce back from two shoulder surgeries.

This past October, though, he started emulating the delivery of Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez and found something that worked for him, according to an ESPN.com story. That prompted Mulder to spend the month of November working himself back into shape in Arizona, before throwing off the mound near his home in Scottsdale and reportedly sitting between 89-90 mph with his fastball.

The Angels were one of the teams who saw Mulder throw that day. Now, they’ll give him a chance to compete for a spot in their rotation this spring.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am,” Mulder told ESPN in early December. “To be honest with you, I never anticipated this five or six weeks ago. It was just a flat-out fluke that came from me trying to imitate Paco Rodriguez in my living room.”

– Alden Gonzalez

Mulder reportedly looking West

Veteran pitcher Mark Mulder, who’s looking to make a comeback after five seasons out of the big leagues, apparently has a few suitors and is considering teams on the West Coast and that train in Arizona. 

ESPN.com‘s Jerry Crasnick reports the Angels, D-backs and Giants were the first three teams to watch Mulder when he first worked off a mound in November. Crasnick says Mulder is “close” to finding a team. MLB.com‘s Alden Gonzalez has also reported the Angels are in the mix

The 36-year-old former first-round pick (of the A’s in 1998) pitched nine seasons in the big leagues (five with Oakland, four with St. Louis) and was an All-Star in 2003 and 2004.

– Joey Nowak

12/17 Roundup

The pool of potential closers available on the free-agent market shrank on Tuesday, when the Hot Stove was focused on relief pitching.

The Orioles were on the hunt for a closer after trading Jim Johnson to the A’s earlier this offseason, and they now appear set to use some of the savings from that deal on Oakland’s former closer. Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s in 2013, reportedly is in agreement on a two-year contract with Baltimore.

The Cubs also might have snatched up a new ninth-inning man after reaching a reported one-year pact with Jose Veras. That would leave Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez among a dwindling group of free agents with recent success as closers. The Padres appear to be targeting Benoit for an eighth-inning role in front of Huston Street.

In other news from around the league:

  • Highly touted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has informed his Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to be made available to Major League teams. But even with NPB and MLB having a new posting agreement in place, the Eagles do not have to post Tanaka, and it appears they might be reluctant to do so.
  • One club that figures to pursue Tanaka if he becomes available is Arizona, which is looking to add more starting pitching this offseason.
  • The Yankees are close to signing a pair of veteran players, reportedly reaching an agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Meanwhile, New York still would like to add free agent Mark Reynolds but is facing competition from the Angels and Twins, among others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network. Jeff Baker is another veteran bat drawing interest from the club, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Braves’ search for additional starting pitching likely concluded with Monday’s signing of Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, despite the fact that the righty won’t be ready until May as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta had explored trades for the likes of the Rays’ David Price and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija but found the asking prices too steep.
  • Our Tom Singer checks in on free-agent righty A.J. Burnett, who has yet to make a decision about whether to retire, return to the Pirates or perhaps pitch for another team. It’s a delay that is making things difficult for Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington.
  • After losing out on Juan Uribe, the Marlins continue to search for a third baseman. The club is looking at both free agents and trade possibilities.
  • The Mets’ top priority is to trade one of its first basemen, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The Brewers and Pirates are the two remaining clubs that seem like obvious trade partners for such a deal. Pittsburgh is interested in both Davis and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, according to Heyman.
  • The Cardinals’ recent signing of free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis likely will turn out to be their last significant move of the offseason, as GM John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday.
  • On the other hand, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said his club still is looking hard at free agents, with the bullpen one area to address. Houston already has signed relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

– Andrew Simon

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