San Diego Padres – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-01-22T21:36:50Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Padres Sign Carlos Torres To Minors Deal]]> 2019-01-21T06:13:39Z 2019-01-21T06:13:39Z The Padres have signed right-hander Carlos Torres to a minor league contract, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.  The deal includes an invitation to the Padres’ big league Spring Training camp.

Torres, 36, posted a 6.52 ERA over just 9 2/3 innings out of the Nationals’ bullpen in 2018, his lowest innings total in any of his nine Major League seasons.  It was a far cry from Torres’ usual workhorse performances of recent years, which included an average of 68 appearances and 77 innings per season from 2014-17 with the Mets and Brewers.

Torres’ walk rate and strikeout rate both took negative turns in 2017, however, and he was only able to land a minors deal from Washington last offseason.  (The Nats picked Torres up after he was released from another minor league contract with the Indians during Spring Training.)  Torres did have some good Triple-A numbers last year, however, so there’s some reason to believe that he could bounce back in 2019.  At worst, he’ll provide some additional veteran depth in what should still be a strong Padres bullpen next season.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Padres, Red Sox, Cubs]]> 2019-01-20T01:38:35Z 2019-01-19T18:21:45Z The Padres have done a tremendous job in recent years growing the top farm system in the game, but the organization underwent a financial reshaping that was just as important to long-term stability, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Mired in the debt inherited from previous owner John Moores, Executive Chairman Ron Fowler led the charge in two important ways: refinancing the debt (thereby lowering interest rates and freeing up money to funnel into baseball ops), and opening the organization’s spending ledger to the public – an uncommon degree of transparency for an MLB club. Acee’s entire article is well worth a read as it paints a fairly complete picture of San Diego’s battle to build a winning franchise that is also fiscally sustainable. Essentially, the Padres followed the structural rebuilding approach popularized by Theo Epstein in Chicago: improve fan experience with additions/renovations to the ballpark while pouring roster resources into the acquisition and development of amateur and international talent. Epstein’s focus on improving the ballpark itself was a strategy he employed in Boston with Fenway Park, and again with Wrigley Field in Chicago. Speaking of…

  • The Red Sox are treading awfully close to the penalty-inducing $246MM tax threshold, and’s Christopher Smith wonders if that might be why they didn’t make a push to sign reliever Adam Ottavino. Dave Dombrowski has said there’s no mandate from ownership to avoid the highest tax bracket – but that’s still the goal. It’s easy to wonder why the Red Sox haven’t made more of a push to reinforce the back end of their bullpen, but it’s not totally fair to assume Ottavino was available to them for $9MM a year, as merely matching the Yankees offer doesn’t steal the contract like a white elephant gift. Still, with Joe Kelly in LA and Craig Kimbrel twisting in the wind, there is a surprising lack of urgency to add to the current stable of arms in the bullpen, especially considering the narrow margin for error in the AL East.
  • Much has been made of the Cubs lack of activity this winter as well, burnished by Theo Epstein’s early-offseason assertion that the offense was broken. Owner Tom Ricketts, however, doesn’t see any room for an addition in the lineup, writes the Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma. Considering the overall youth of their core and the injuries that limited star Kris Bryant to 102 games last season, Epstein and Ricketts might both be right. The team clearly isn’t willing to give up on Jason Heyward yet, so you can pencil him into the starting spot in right, with Ian Happ in center and Ben Zobrist at second, Albert Almora Jr., Addison Russell, David Bote and Daniel Descalso make up the remaining bench unit, ostensibly filling the roster. Outside of fringe roster types, the Cubs offense might be a one-man-in, one-man-out situation for the rest of the winter.
  • There’s cause enough to be concerned about the Cubs offense in 2019, certainly, between Russell’s suspension, Zobrist’s age, and Willson Contreras’ obvious exhaustion near the end of last season, but internally, there’s much to be excited about. At the Cubs Convention this week, Bryant and Epstein both talked up new hitting coach Anthony Iopace, whom Epstein calls “the ultimate fox-hole guy,” per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). As the Cubs former minor league hitting coordinator, he has a rapport with many Cubs hitters already and should be able to hit the ground running. Bryant, for one, is excited about a new season under the infectious energy of “’Poce,” per’s Jordan Bastian. The Cubs brain trust appear firm in their belief that tinkering of internal processes is all the team needs to bounce back from a “disappointing” 95-win season and challenge for the top spot in the NL Central once again.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Padres, Reds, Indians Have Discussed 3-Team Scenario Involving Corey Kluber]]> 2019-01-15T02:23:32Z 2019-01-15T02:11:04Z The Padres, Reds, and Indians have engaged in discussions regarding a possible three-team trade scenario, according to Dennis Lin and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links).

Precise permutations aren’t known, but the concept at play appears to be one that would send Cleveland ace Corey Kluber to Cincinnati via San Diego. Neither is it clear how serious talks are; Lin does emphasize, though, that no deal is close at present.

It seems the driving force here is the Friars’ search for a third baseman — and their ongoing attempt to structure a significant deal that improves the MLB roster now without denting the future outlook. Having failed to line up in direct talks to this point, Lin suggests, GM A.J. Preller is attempting to piece together more complicated, three-team arrangements.

While the Padres have long been said to be seeking quality MLB starting pitching, in addition to a hot corner upgrade, the report makes clear that they aren’t interested in acquiring Kluber for their own purposes. Though the outstanding righty certainly would be the ace the club would like to pick up, his relatively advanced age (33 in April) is a turnoff. And though his contract rights — $52.5MM over the next three years, the latter two via club option — remain quite appealing, it’s still a hefty payroll commitment for a traditionally low-budget org.

Of course, that same essential description holds also for the Reds, another team that’s hoping to boost its immediate performance while maintaining its long-term vision for a young, sustainable core. The Cincy ballclub has long been said to have interest in Kluber, and may have a slightly different tolerance for the age risk that comes with him.

Still, it’s no surprise to hear Lin reiterate that the club still isn’t terribly inclined to deal top prospect Nick Senzel to facilitate a deal. Senzel will not be parted with lightly, but indications are that he may ultimately be the object of the Padres’ fascination here. He’d more or less step right in at third base in San Diego and deliver a prized combination of youthful upside and affordable team control.

That leads to the element of this concept that’s most curious of all. The budget-conscious Indians only embarked upon talks involving Kluber as part of an effort to trim some payroll and better situate their roster for the future — all without sacrificing a still-clear path to another AL Central crown. That entire undertaking makes the most sense if the club adds a player of Senzel’s ilk.

Senzel would fit perfectly in Cleveland, where he could line up in the infield or outfield. (The Reds, of course, have considered utilizing him on the grass due to their own bumper crop of quality infielders.) Presumably, the Reds and Indians have already explored a Senzel-for-Kluber deal directly and failed to find common ground. Otherwise, it’s hard to see why the intermediary would be needed at all.

If not Senzel, then what would the Indians want out of all this? There’d surely be some level of interest in some of the Padres’ young MLB assets, with outfielder Manuel Margot and catcher Austin Hedges looking to be hypothetical fits from an outside perspective. (Interestingly, those teams lined up last summer on a deal that sent Francisco Mejia — another theoretical match — to San Diego.) But it stands to reason that the Indians would no doubt also demand some top-end young talent to drive the deal. The San Diego farm is loaded, but its very best pieces (Fernando Tatis Jr., especially) may not be on offer.

All said, it’s possible to imagine some permutations that might make sense for all involved, depending upon how the teams value the various potential pieces. But it’s an awfully tricky match. All three clubs are quite payroll sensitive. Of them, the Indians are clearly in the best position to win now, yet they’d be giving up the win-now piece. If there’s real substance to these discussions, or better still an eventual transaction, it’ll certainly represent a fascinating potential case study for understanding contemporary baseball decisionmaking.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Padres Sign Eric Stout To Minors Deal]]> 2019-01-14T15:18:57Z 2019-01-14T05:59:41Z
  • The Padres signed left-hander Eric Stout to a minor league contract, according to Zone Coverage’s Brandon Warne (Twitter link).  Stout posted a 3.68 ERA, 2.63 K/BB rate, and 7.4 K/9 over 269 1/3 career innings in the Royals’ farm system, appearing as a reliever in all but five of his 153 career games.    Stout also made his MLB debut in 2018, appearing in three games for Kansas City.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Padres’ Third Base, Outfield Situations]]> 2019-01-13T01:26:22Z 2019-01-13T00:53:31Z Wil Myers was one of the Padres’ most popular options at third base last year, but it doesn’t appear he’ll factor in at the hot corner in 2019. On Saturday, Myers told reporters – including Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and AJ Cassavell of –  that he’ll be a full-time outfielder next season.

    Of course, Myers’ shift back to the outfield will have ripple effects on the rest of the Padres’ position player group. Not only will it add to an outfield logjam – one that also includes Franchy Cordero, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski – but it’ll make it all the more important for San Diego to find a starting third baseman. The Padres have been prioritizing third this offseason, as Cassavell reported last month and as Acee further emphasizes.

    One potential third base target could be free agent Mike Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer’s longtime Royals teammate, though Acee casts doubt on the Padres signing him. Meanwhile, they have “explored” trades for the Yankees’ Miguel Andujar (previously reported), the Reds’ Nick Senzel and the Cubs’ David Bote, according to Acee. Speculatively, both Andujar and Senzel may be unrealistic targets for the Padres (or just about anyone else), given their importance to their current teams. The 25-year-old Bote could be easier to land, on the other hand, as he’s stuck behind Kris Bryant in the Cubs’ pecking order at third base. An 18th-round pick of the Cubs in 2012, Bote debuted in the majors last season with a .239/.319/.408 line and six home runs over 210 plate appearances. He carries a much more imposing .281/.355/.502 slash and 15 HRs in 299 Triple-A PAs.

    Regardless of whom the Padres pick up to handle third in 2019, it doesn’t seem as if their entire contingent of outfielders will stick around for the foreseeable future. Except for Myers, the Padres could option anyone from the group to the minors. Nevertheless, the team’s “motivated” to part with at least one of its outfielders either prior to the season or before July’s trade deadline, Acee suggests. Should a trade happen, Cassavell contends one of Myers, Renfroe or Reyes would go, as they’re all relatively similar players. With a guaranteed $64MM coming his way over the next four seasons (including a $1MM buyout in lieu of a $20MM club option in 2023), Myers may be the most difficult of three to move. Indeed, as of last season and earlier this winter, trading Myers likely would have required San Diego to take on another team’s undesirable contract, Acee relays. So far, though, the Padres haven’t found a deal to their liking for the 28-year-old.

    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[NL Notes: Kluber, Padres, Dodgers, Harper, Nats, Cubs, Boras/Phils]]> 2019-01-12T21:25:24Z 2019-01-12T21:24:06Z The Padres persist in their dogged pursuit of Indians ace Corey Kluber, per’s JP Morosi, who notes that the club would prefer to hold on to each of its top five prospects. The Tribe reportedly “have interest” in lefty Adrian Morejon, who, despite his status as a consensus top 50-75 prospect, wouldn’t fall into the aforementioned category in a loaded Padre farm. Still, it’s tough to see a deal consummated without one of those players; Cleveland, after all, has been widely reported to be seeking a Chris Sale-esque return for Kluber, and wouldn’t likely settle for even high-grade chaff. If the club is still interested in dealing the 32-year-old ace, the Padres would be seem a perfect fit: the club is loaded not only with blue-chip prospects, but also sport a glut of young, if underperforming, outfielders at every position. Morosi lists Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe as options, though the Tribe may also have its eyes on Franmil Reyes and Franchy Cordero, in addition to the richly-paid Wil Myers.

    More from the Senior Circuit …

    • In the same article, Morosi reports that the Dodgers still “remain involved” in discussions for Kluber. The club certainly boasts its share of high-level farm talent – though it can’t match the San Diego riches – but thus far, under the tenure of Baseball Ops President Andrew Friedman, has been altogether opposed to dealing from the top of its farm. Multiple high-level departures would be an unequivocal sea change for the boys in blue, who may be feeling the pressure from a desperate fanbase after so many near-misses in the recent past. Adding Kluber to the top of the team’s rotation without a 25-man prune has to be tempting for even the most measured of front offices, but the slotted five (Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, and Rich Hill) already rival any in the game.
    • Though many executives questioned the veracity of the Nationals’ reported 10-year, $300MM offer to Bryce Harper on the last day of the season, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the offer was “indeed real,” and that the two sides continue to negotiate. Harper, it seems, would very much like to surpass the $325MM guaranteed to Giancarlo Stanton, though doesn’t appear to have the wind-ranging market he once envisioned. Some interested teams continue to disguise their intentions, but not the Cubs, who Rosenthal notes “would love” a shot at Harper, if only the front office could get the “unlikely” go-ahead from ownership.
    • Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia details the Fightins’ unique relationship with agent Scott Boras over the years, which reached a tipping point over 1997’s bitter dispute with number two overall pick J.D. Drew. The Phillies, of course, are set to meet with Harper today in Las Vegas, and have long been considered the near-favorite for his services. Per Salisbury, the club plans to address recent reports that the 26-year-old star is not fond of Philadelphia, which would seem to strike a death knell to the team’s chances. Among all potential suitors with near-term competitive ambitions, the Phils have the greatest need – and, perhaps, the most available cash – for Harper, and perhaps the team’s recent amenability with Boras could tip the scales in its direction.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> 2019-01-12T18:50:18Z 2019-01-12T18:15:47Z The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed yesterday at 1pm ET, and there has been a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track those settlements from the National League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

    It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

    As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

    Today’s Updates

    • Rounding out contract numbers for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dominic Leone will take home $1.26MM, Chasen Shreve will make $900K, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna will earn $12.25MM in his last season before free agency, per’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). Ozuna has the most high-impact potential as he looks to rebound from a still-productive season in 2018 that saw his power output hindered at times by a balky shoulder. He still managed 23 home runs and a .280/.325/.433 slash line while playing just about every day outside of a 10-day DL stint late in August.
    • The Diamondbacks came to terms with a slew of players, per Feinsand (via Twitter), including Matt Andriese for $920K, Steven Souza Jr. for $4.125MM, shortstop Nick Ahmed for $3.6625MM, and potential closer Archie Bradley for $1.83MM.
    • The Rockies and starting pitcher Jon Gray have come to an agreement on a $2.935MM deal, per Feinsand (via Twitter). Gray had an up-and-down 2018 that is generally considered to be more promising than the optics of his 5.12 ERA make it seem.
    • The Pirates have come to terms on one-year deals with both of their arbitration eligible players, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Left fielder Corey Dickerson signs for $8.5MM, and reliever Keone Kela takes home $3.175MM. It’s a small arb class for the Pirates, whose list will grow next season as players like Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Joe Musgrove, among others, reach their first season of eligibility.
    • The Dodgers signed a couple of their remaining arbitration-eligible players yesterday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Utility man Chris Taylor has a $3.5MM deal, while outfield Joc Pederson settled at $5MM.

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday]]> 2019-01-11T02:52:05Z 2019-01-11T02:51:58Z The deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures is tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET. With the vast majority of teams now adopting a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration — that is, halting negotiations on one-year contracts once figures have been exchanged and simply going to a hearing at that point — there will be a deluge of arbitration agreements in the next 24 hours. It’s a minor deadline day in terms of newsworthiness — outside of the largest cases, at least — as few arbitration cases will have a significant impact on their team’s overall payroll picture. From a broader perspective, though, the exchange of arb figures is perhaps more notable. With most or all of their arbitration cases out of the way, teams can focus more heavily on the trade and free-agent markets.

    As always, it’s interesting to refer back to MLBTR’s annual arbitration projections. Here are the day’s deals:

    • The Tigers will pay Shane Greene $4MM for the coming campaign, Murray tweets. Entering his second year of eligibility, the 30-year-old had projected at $4.8MM, owing largely to his strong tally of 32 saves. Despite appealing K/BB numbers, though, Greene finished the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA.
    • Righty Nick Tropeano settled with the Angels at $1.075MM. (That’s also via Murray, on Twitter.) That falls well shy of his $1.6MM projection. The first-year arb-eligible hurler was not terribly effective in his 14 starts last year and has just over two hundred career frames in the big leagues, due in no small part to a long rehab owing to Tommy John surgery.

    Earlier Updates

    • Newly acquired outfielder Domingo Santana will earn $1.95MM in his first season with the Mariners, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. That’s just a touch below the $2.0MM that MLBTR & Matt Swartz had projected. The 26-year-old Santana swatted thirty long balls and had a productive overall 2017 season, but only received 235 plate appearances in the ensuing campaign — over which he hit five home runs and carried a .265/.328/.412 slash — before being dealt to Seattle.
    • The Angels are on the hook for $1,901,000 to rehabbing righty J.C. Ramirez, Robert Murray of The Athletic tweets. Ramirez will receive a nominal raise on his 2018 salary after requiring Tommy John surgery after just two starts.
    • Phillies righty Hector Neris has settled at $1.8MM, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter links). He had projected at $2.0MM but will settle for a bit less in his first season of arb eligibility. Right-handed starter Jerad Eickhoff, meanwhile, is slated to receive $975K. His projected first-year salary was much higher, at $1.7MM, but Eickhoff presented a tough case since he missed virtually all of his platform season with arm troubles.
    • Southpaw Ryan Buchter has agreed with the Athletics on a $1.4MM deal, Nightengale of reports on Twitter. That lands just a smidge over his $1.3MM projection. Soon to turn 32, Buchter worked to a sub-3.00 for the third-straight season in 2018, but only threw 39 1/3 innings while working as a lefty specialist.
    • Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree will receive a $1,312,500 salary next year, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). Starter Steven Wright checks in just a shade higher, at $1.375MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Both players had projected in this range, with Swartz pegging $1.2MM for the former and $1.4MM for the latter. It’s Hembree’s first time through the process and Wright’s second.
    • First-time arb-eligible righty Scott Oberg settled with the Rockies for $1.3MM, according to Nightengale (via Twitter). It’s $100K over the projected rate for the 28-year-old hurler, who turned in far and away his most productive MLB season in 2018.
    • The Yankees have a $1.2MM deal in place with first baseman Greg Bird, Nightengale was first to tweet. Though he had projected a bit higher, at $1.5MM, Bird’s relatively robust number of home runs (31 total in 659 career plate appearances) were threatened to be overshadowed in a hypothetical hearing by his rough overall stats over the past two seasons. He’ll need to earn his way back into a larger share of playing time in 2019.
    • Infielder Travis Jankowski will earn $1.165MM with the Padres, per Murray (via Twitter). He projected at a heftier $1.4MM, but the Super Two qualifier will still earn a nice raise after his best season in the big leagues. Jankowski will be looking to crack 400 plate appearances for the first time in the season to come.
    • The Nationals have agreed to a $1MM contract with righty Joe Ross, Murray also tweets. Though Ross projected at $1.5MM for his first season of eligibility, that was based largely upon the innings he accumulated over the prior three seasons. Ross made it back from Tommy John surgery in time for only three outings in 2018.
    • A pair of backstops have also put pen to paper on new salaries. Curt Casali will earn $950K with the Reds, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). John Ryan Murphy has a $900K agreement with the Diamondbacks, the elder Nightengale tweets. Casali, a Super Two, had projected for a $1.3MM salary, while Murphy projected at $1.1MM in his first arb year.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Marlins Reportedly Engaged In “Substantive” Realmuto Trade Talks]]> 2019-01-10T21:01:14Z 2019-01-10T19:17:13Z Now that Yasmani Grandal has agreed to terms with the Brewers, the Marlins are ramping up trade talks surrounding J.T. Realmuto and are in “substantive discussions” with six teams, reports Joe Frisaro of Frisaro pegs the Dodgers, Braves, Astros, Rays, Padres and Reds as the six teams still in the mix for Realmuto. Frisaro further tweets that the Dodgers “may be [the] most motivated” to land Realmuto of the six current suitors.

    As one would expect, the report indicates that Miami’s asking price remains extremely high — at least one elite prospect and, in some cases, a big league catcher with some MLB experience already under his belt. For the six clubs in question, the Dodgers (Austin Barnes), Astros (Max Stassi), Padres (Austin Hedges) and Rays (Michael Perez) would best fit that billing. The Reds, too, have Tucker Barnhart as a catcher with MLB experience, though he’s signed through 2021 (plus a 2022 option) as part of a $16MM extension. He’s previously been rumored as a potential piece in talks with the Marlins, but while his salary isn’t exactly prohibitive, it’d be more logical to see Miami pursue younger, pre-arbitration options who are not yet eligible for arbitration. None of the aforementioned catchers, of course, would be a centerpiece to the deal but could give the Marlins a near-term replacement while they hope for higher-end talent to emerge from their system.

    When and whether anything more significant comes to fruition remains to be seen, but the timing of the report certainly makes sense. Now that Grandal is no longer an option for teams around the league who are in the market for a catcher, the Marlins can legitimately pitch Realmuto as the primary difference-maker available. As shown in MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker, light-hitting defensive specialist Martin Maldonado is the top remaining free agent. Pirates backstop Francisco Cervelli is an option on the trade market, but he’s earning north of $11MM next season, would be a one-year rental and has some concerning recent issues with concussions.

    All six of the rumored suitors have deep farm systems that also feature high-end talent, with each of the bunch possessing multiple prospects currently ranked among the game’s 50 best minor leaguers (per both and Fangraphs). However, teams throughout the league are increasingly reluctant to part with top-tier minor league talent — particularly when the prospective trade partner is also seeking a controllable MLB-level asset in return, as the Marlins appear to be doing in Realmuto discussions.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres, Robbie Erlin Avoid Arbitration]]> 2019-01-09T21:47:24Z 2019-01-09T21:47:24Z The Padres have avoided arbitration with southpaw Robbie Erlin by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.45MM, tweets ESPN’s Jeff Passan. That marks an $800K raise from last season’s $650K salary and checks in a fair bit north of Erlin’s projected $1.1MM salary (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). Erlin is repped by Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon.

    The 28-year-old Erlin was arbitration-eligible for a second time this winter and will go through the process once more next winter before becoming a free agent upon completion of the 2020 season. Erlin missed most of the 2016 season and the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery (hence the modest $650K salary in his first trip through the arb process), but he rebounded with a solid effort on the mound in 2018. The left-hander tossed 109 innings for the Friars and logged a 4.21 ERA, though his sterling 88-to-12 K/BB ratio and solid 46.7 percent ground-ball rate led fielding-independent metrics to view his work much more favorably (3.31 FIP, 3.41 xFIP, 3.52 SIERA).

    Erlin made 27 relief appearances and a dozen starts for the Padres last season, including a run of 10 starts to finish out his season. The Padres were cautious with those starts, never allowing him to reach 100 pitches and only allowing him to top five innings on one occasion, but he’ll likely open the season in the San Diego rotation with fewer restrictions now that he’s further removed from surgery.

    The Padres have now avoided arbitration with Erlin, righty Bryan Mitchell and infielder Greg Garcia, leaving right-hander Kirby Yates, outfielder Travis Jankowski and catcher Austin Hedges as their three remaining cases to be resolved. With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures looming on Friday, there figures to be a veritable avalanche of settlements on Friday (in addition to a few early deals today and tomorrow). Readers can keep up with all of the filings and settlements using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres Linked To Mike Moustakas]]> 2019-01-09T05:05:03Z 2019-01-09T05:05:03Z
  • Both the Phillies and White Sox are looking at Mike Moustakas as a fallback option in the event that Manny Machado signs elsewhere, writes Jon Morosi of The 30-year-old Moustakas is a fairly logical fallback option for either club should it miss out on Machado, though Moustakas is a less concrete upgrade over either club’s top incumbent options. Morosi notes that the Phils will likely try to trade Maikel Franco in the event that either Machado or Moustakas signs in Philadelphia, and presumably the ChiSox would shift Yolmer Sanchez into a utility role should it land either free-agent target. Morosi lists the Padres as a potential landing spot for Moustakas as well, though with a preexisting logjam of corner options in San Diego, that fit seems more difficult to envision without some additional roster shuffling by general manager A.J. Preller.
  • ]]>
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[3 Remaining Needs: NL West]]> 2019-01-06T04:27:27Z 2019-01-02T02:26:51Z In the latest edition of MLBTR’s “3 Remaining Needs” series, we’ll focus on the National League West, a division ruled by the iron-fist of the Dodgers — division champs for six years running. With at least two playoff teams in each of the last three seasons, however, the competition remains fierce. Though the Diamondbacks are likely to take a step back this year, the Giants have new leadership in the front office, the Padres have the foreword to their Cinderella story ready to print, and the Rockies will be giving all they’ve got in what could be Nolan Arenado’s last season in Colorado.

    [Previous installments: NL EastNL Central, AL West]

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    • Replace A.J. Pollock. Whether they move Ketel Marte to center field or find a replacement on the trade market, the position needs to be addressed. Jarrod Dyson doesn’t offer enough upside, even to build value as a trade candidate, nor do the veterans signed to minor league deals thus far this offseason (Abraham Almonte, Kelby Tomlinson, Matt Szczur). They can attempt to build the value of an otherwise depreciating asset, a la Socrates Brito, they can move Marte to center and sign a stopgap veteran to flip at the deadline, a la Asdrubal Cabrera or Brian Dozier, or they can engage the trade market for an option in between those two, a la Michael A. Taylor, Kevin Pillar or Randal Grichuk.
    • Trade Zack Greinke. Or if not Greinke, then at least one of Robbie Ray or Zack Godley. The Dbacks also have winter acquisitions Luke Weaver and Merrill Kelly slated for the rotation, plus Taijuan Walker aiming for a midseason return. That’s not necessarily a terrible collection if they’re looking to contend, but considering the Dodgers depth, the Rockies urgency, and the sleeping giant in San Diego, it’s a tough row to hoe for the Diamondbacks in the West, and the Wild Card race is no less forgiving – especially now that they’ve bolstered a perennial contender in St. Louis. Assuming Arizona is willing to take a step back – even if just for a year – then it behooves them to make room at the major league level for the group of Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener and Taylor Clarke, their #1, #2 and #11 ranked prospects (per All three are at least 24 and coming off strong seasons in either Double or Triple A. Clarke is the closest, but also has the lowest ceiling, which is even more reason to give him a go while the others season in Triple A. Besides, trading one of their major league starters will help accomplish task #3.
    • Further build prospect depth. They’ve got a ton of top 100 draft picks in June and already jumpstarted their youth movement by trading Goldschmidt and letting Corbin and (presumably) Pollock walk. While they’re at it, they should explore lesser returns for Nick Ahmed, Andrew Chafin, Yoshihisa Hirano or Alex Avila. They’ve resisted overtures for David Peralta thus far, but he’s 31 and still controllable on a year-to-year basis through 2020, which makes him perfect for a contender like Cleveland.

    Colorado Rockies

    • Upgrade at catcher. Extending Arenado maybe should be the main priority, but if he’s set on testing free agency, the Rockies would do just as well devoting their energy to making Colorado as attractive a destination as possible, and that means building a sustainable winner. The budget is likely too tight for Yasmani Grandal, but Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters struggled at the dish last season, so if they can backload a deal to spike after 2020 when most of their long-term money comes off the books,
    • Add a veteran to the bench. The Rockies are in the midst of a mini youth movement with David Dahl, Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia slated for significant playing time. They’ve added Daniel Murphy, who likely replaces DJ LeMahieu, but they could use a vet on the bench to fill the shoes of Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday and Gerardo Parra.
    • Keep an eye on pitching. The Rockies have their best rotation in years, but they could use an extra arm at the right price. Antonio Senzatela has the inside track on the fifth starter role for now, and they have a host of options in the organization, but there’s room for the right guy. Same goes for the bullpen, which is stocked with high-priced veterans like Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw and Mike Dunn. They need to replace the production they received last season from Adam Ottavino, but they may want to give this group a couple months to make it work. Basically, they have no cause to overreach on pitching, but if they have a target or two they like whose prices drop, they should be ready to bite.

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    • Find a catcher. Say what you will about Grandal’s playoff woes, but he was still a top-notch regular-season producer with the Dodgers from 2015-18. Now a free agent, reports have indicated the 30-year-old Grandal is unlikely to return to the Dodgers. At the major league level, the Grandal-less Dodgers are bereft at catcher aside from Austin Barnes, who took sizable steps backward last season after an excellent 2017. The Dodgers do have a pair of appealing backstop prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, but they aren’t ready to assume the reins yet. Los Angeles will at least need to find a stopgap, then, though free agency’s not teeming with possibilities. If healthy, the Pirates’ Francisco Cervelli– who has reportedly been on the Dodgers’ radar – would make for a nice one-year Band-Aid. Former Dodger Russell Martin might also be available, but the current Blue Jay owns a pricey $20MM salary. Welington Castillo of the White Sox ($7.75MM guaranteed) could become expendable if Chicago goes after Grandal, and the Mets have two trade candidates in Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. Of course, the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto is far and away the premier option on the market, and the Dodgers have been involved in talks for him. However, LA is not ready to meet Miami’s lofty demands for the 27-year-old.
    • Land another offensive threat, especially if Realmuto doesn’t end up in LA. The Dodgers’ offense led the majors in wRC+ and finished fourth in runs in 2018, but the group has since lost Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Manny Machado. The back-to-back NL pennant winners still carry a boatload of formidable producers – including Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Corey Seager (whose 2018 absence paved the way for the Machado pickup), Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson – but why stop there? The Dodgers don’t seem inclined to, judging by their interest in No. 1 free agent Bryce Harper and Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos – a righty who’d provide balance to a lefty-heavy lineup.
    • You can never have enough great starting pitching. Even though they traded Alex Wood to the Reds this month, the Dodgers’ starting staff remains as deep as any in the game. As things stand, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Caleb Ferguson and Dennis Santana represent a group of rather strong choices. Nevertheless, the Dodgers may want another front-end presence to join Kershaw (who hasn’t been as durable or as otherworldly of late) and Buehler, as they’ve pursued a trade for the Indians’ Corey Kluber. The two-time AL Cy Young winner has exceeded 200 innings in each season since 2014. That type of durability would be a breath of fresh air for the Dodgers, who have seen Kershaw, Ryu, Hill and Urias deal with significant injuries in recent years.

    San Diego Padres

    • Acquire a top of the rotation veteran. The Padres have been linked to Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray recently – they clearly want to bring in a veteran to anchor their young rotation. Clayton Richard, their innings leader form a year ago, was recently cut loose, signaling a raising of the bar in San Diego. They’re looking not just for an innings eater, but a quality ace to set the standard on the hill. Joey Lucchesi, 25 had a solid rookie season, sporting a 4.08 ERA, 2.98 BB/9 to 10.04 K/9, but he needs some help in the rotation if the Padres are going to start to push the Rockies and Dodgers.
    • Get a third baseman. Wil Myers, Christian Villanueva, Cory Spangenberg and Chase Headley were the four Padres who saw action at third in 2018, and three are now gone. Villanueva’s in Japan, Spanbenberg’s a Brewer and Headley has fallen off the map since the Padres released him last May. Myers, meanwhile, is more a fit at first base – where, because of Eric Hosmer’s presence, he can no longer play in San Diego – or in the corner outfield. As a result, upgrading at the hot corner is reportedly the Padres’ No. 1 priority heading into next season. Whether they can do it is the question. While the Padres seem bullish on Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar, whom the Bombers may move this offseason, they likely don’t have the ammunition at the major league level to acquire him. The Padres could also try for the Phillies’ Maikel Franco, whom they had interest in last summer and who will lose his spot in Philly if it signs Machado. In terms of salary, more expensive trade candidates include the Mariners’ Kyle Seager (though he could be immovable for Seattle), the Marlins’ Martin Prado, the Mets’ Todd Frazier, and current Cardinal and ex-Padre Jedd Gyorko. Free agency features Hosmer’s pal Mike Moustakas, among other less exciting choices.
    • Clear the outfield logjam. Along with Myers, the Padres have a gaggle of other MLB outfielders in Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski. Excluding Myers, San Diego could option any of those players to the minors, but the team may be better off moving at least one of them if it helps address a position of greater need. The Padres could try to deal Myers, but despite his middling production from 2017-18 and the $64MM left on his contract, they’re still bullish on the 28-year-old. It seems more likely another outfielder will go.

    San Francisco Giants

    • Acquire at least one starting outfielder. Perhaps the Giants could help the Padres with their backlog of outfielders, if the two division rivals are willing to make a trade. Few 2018 teams were worse off in the grass than the Giants, whose outfielders hit an ugly .238/.307/.363 with 0.1 fWAR over nearly 2,200 plate appearances. The only bright spot was Andrew McCutchen, whom the Giants traded to the Yankees in August and who’s now on the Phillies. So now what? Well, new team president Farhan Zaidi wants the Giants to get younger and more athletic. The 26-year-old Harper checks the young and athletic boxes, but there’s no indication the Giants are interested in coming anywhere close to his asking price. Unfortunately for the Giants, no one else in free agency looks like a perfect fit, but that’s not to say it would be wise to avoid the open market entirely. On the trade front, the Giants have reportedly shown interest in Blue Jays defensive standout Kevin Pillar, who will turn 30 on Jan. 4. Pillar has never been a real threat at the plate, meaning he wouldn’t do a lot to upgrade a San Francisco offense which scored the majors’ second-fewest runs in 2018. Nevertheless, as a player who has totaled at least 2.0 fWAR four years in a row, he’d give the Giants a desperately needed quality regular in the outfield. With Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson and Chris Shaw penciled into No. 1 roles, the Giants don’t have a single established starter in the grass at this juncture.
    • Add to the pitching staff. Derek Holland led all Giants in innings last season and was quite effective from their rotation, but he’s now a free agent. Whether he’ll return is unclear, but San Francisco’s probably going to have to re-sign him or bring in someone else capable of eating innings. Madison Bumgarner is coming off back-to-back injury-shortened years and, if he’s not a trade candidate prior to the 2019 campaign, may become one by midseason; Jeff Samardzija had a horrendous 2018, both because of injury and performance issues; Johnny Cueto may not pitch in 2019, having undergone Tommy John surgery; and while there’s hope for Dereck Rodriguez, Chris Stratton and Andrew Suarez, only Rodriguez’s production was worth writing home about last season. Yusei Kikuchi – whom the Giants “scouted extensively,” according to Zaidi – would’ve been a great fit. Sadly for San Francisco, he’s going to Seattle. The 27-year-old Kikuchi may have been the only long-term possibility in free agency for the Giants, as nearly everyone remaining on the market is over 30. But there are a lot of hurlers in that bunch who could be sensible, affordable short-term targets, and the Giants could use pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to their advantage to scoop up at least one of them. The same logic applies to the Giants’ bullpen. Their relief unit performed well last year, but there could be an opening or two to fill if the Giants trade Will Smith or Tony Watson.
    • Bolster the catching and infield depth. After undergoing season-ending hip surgery in August, catcher Buster Posey may not be ready at the start of the upcoming campaign. There’s little behind him in San Francisco, whose only other 40-man catcher is Aramis Garcia, though it could select ex-Phillies starter Cameron Rupp from Triple-A at some point. Free agent Nick Hundley, Posey’s backup from 2017-18, could return to the team. Across the infield, the Giants seem to have set starters at every position, but it’s not the promising group it would’ve looked like a few years back. Injury-prone first baseman Brandon Belt battled more health issues last season and dealt with a dip in production, and has been in trade rumors this month; second baseman Joe Panik was neither good nor healthy; shortstop Brandon Crawford wasn’t the same player from 2017-18 that he was over the prior two years; and third baseman Evan Longoria, at 33, appears to have hit a wall. Alen Hanson and Pablo Sandoval lead the Giants’ depth options, but there’s room for more. The team agrees, evidenced by its recent reported interest in free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Harrison.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Clayton Richard]]> 2018-12-30T22:54:36Z 2018-12-30T22:54:09Z 4:54pm: Toronto will pay half of Richard’s $3MM salary, AJ Cassavell of suggests.

    4:15pm: Both teams have announced the trade. The Blue Jays are also getting cash considerations in the deal.

    3:55pm: Richard’s going to Toronto, Nicholson-Smith tweets. The Blue Jays will give up minor leaguer outfielder Connor Panas, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The 25-year-old Panas, a Toronto native whom the Blue Jays chose in the ninth round of the 2015 draft, got his first taste of Double-A action last season and hit .232/.296/.359 with nine home runs in 407 plate appearances.

    3:35pm: The Blue Jays are close to acquiring left-hander Clayton Richard from the Padres, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. Richard has been in limbo since the Padres designated him for assignment on Dec. 20.

    The 35-year-old Richard has been a useful starter at times since his major league career began with the White Sox in 2008, but he’s now coming off an ugly season. Over 158 2/3 innings and 27 starts in San Diego, Richard pitched to a 5.33 ERA/4.68 FIP with 6.13 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 before undergoing season-ending left knee surgery in late August. On the bright side, Richard posted an excellent groundball rate (56.8 percent), which has been a staple throughout his time in the majors.

    Needless to say, Richard – who’s owed a guaranteed $3MM in 2019, the last season of a two-year contract – wouldn’t be a particularly exciting acquisition for Toronto. If healthy, though, he could eat innings for a retooling Blue Jays team which may have multiple questions in its rotation next season. The Jays look to have four-fifths of their rotation set with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki and the just-signed Matt Shoemaker in the fold. However, Stroman has frequented trade rumors throughout the offseason, Sanchez battled injury and performance issues from 2017-18, and Shoemaker was neither healthy nor especially effective with the Angels over the previous couple years.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Padres Still In Mix For Sonny Gray]]> 2018-12-30T19:51:51Z 2018-12-30T19:51:24Z Yankees right-hander and trade candidate Sonny Gray has been connected to the Padres, among many other teams, since the offseason began in earnest last month. The New Year is now around the corner and Gray remains a member of the Yankees, though the Padres are still “very much” involved in discussions centering on the 29-year-old, AJ Cassavell of reports.

    General manager Brian Cashman telegraphed that the Yankees would trade Gray this winter after the Red Sox bounced them from the playoffs in October, when he admitted it would make sense to send him elsewhere. Nevertheless, various reports have suggested the Yankees’ asking price has been too lofty for a hurler who struggled in 2018 and only has one year of control left (at a projected $9.1MM).

    As MLBTR has written seemingly ad infinitum over the past couple months, Gray’s coming off a season in which he registered a horrid 4.90 ERA and a personal-worst 3.94 BB/9 across 130 1/3 innings, leading the Yankees to pull him from their rotation. However, Gray maintained his velocity and offered appealing results away from Yankee Stadium, as he posted a 3.17 ERA/2.65 FIP on the road. There is no question other teams are well aware of Gray’s success outside of the Bronx, given that double-digit clubs have shown some level of interest in him since Cashman announced he was for sale.

    Based on both the road numbers he put up in last season and his productive stint in Oakland, where he pitched from 2013-17, Gray would be a much-needed upgrade for the Padres. In 2018, San Diego’s eighth straight sub-.500 season, its starters ranked 27th in the majors in ERA and 28th in fWAR. Of the 12 starters the Padres trotted out, only Joey Lucchesi enjoyed a decent amount of success over a large sample size.

    As a result of the adversity their rotation experienced in 2018, the Padres have been scouring the market for help, having shown reported interest in Gray, the Indians’ Corey Kluber, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, the Mariners’ Mike Leake, and free agents Dallas Keuchel and Yusei Kikuchi. Among that group, Gray may be the most realistic target for the Padres. Acquiring Kluber, Syndergaard or Stroman would presumably force the Padres to take a sizable bite out of their top-ranked farm system; Leake, meanwhile, has a no-trade clause and still has a significant amount of guaranteed money left on his contract; and both Keuchel and Kikuchi are in line for high-paying deals.

    In the event the Padres do land Gray, he could either help them return to relevance (if he rebounds) or end up as a midseason trade chip. Should San Diego fall out of the race by the summer, which has been an all-too-common occurrence in franchise history, it could further bolster its system by shipping Gray to a contender.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Padres' Pursuit Of J.T. Realmuto]]> 2018-12-30T19:04:23Z 2018-12-30T19:04:23Z
  • The Padres, who are known to be in the hunt for the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto, have shown more persistence than any other team in talks for the catcher, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With two years of control left and Miami nowhere near contention, Realmuto could be the most obvious trade candidate in the game. However, the Marlins may have to lower their asking price in order for a deal to come together prior to next season. They’re said to want a return consisting of at least one elite prospect, and the Padres happen to boast baseball’s top-ranked farm system, per both Baseball America and FanGraphs. So, if the Padres are truly motivated to land Realmuto, they may be in better position than anyone else. That said, San Diego would not be a popular bet to contend in 2019 even with Realmuto, making it highly debatable whether the team should rob from its system in a win-now trade.
  • Sticking with the Braves, they may pursue free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel if he becomes willing to accept a three-year offer, per Mark Bowman of That looks rather unlikely, however, considering Kimbrel’s current asking price reportedly ranges anywhere from $86MM to upward of $100M. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see the Braves in the race for Kimbrel, whom they drafted in 2008 and helped develop into one of the greatest closers ever. Kimbrel, now 30, was a Brave from 2010-14 before moving on to the Padres and Red Sox.
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