Kimbrel, Keuchel The Latest...

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T15D23
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Kimbrel, Keuchel The Latest...

Postby T15D23 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:05 pm

Would the Tigers trade Matthew Boyd?; the latest on Kimbrel and Keuchel; more notes
Ken Rosenthal

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Would​ the Tigers​ trade​ Matthew​ Boyd? Of​ course they would —​ but​ preferably for a specific​ target, according​ to major-league​​ sources: A premium young hitter who would complement the young pitchers rising through their system.

Boyd, 28, is emerging as one of the game’s better left-handers, producing a 3.13 ERA in his first six starts, with underlying numbers suggesting that figure should be even lower. His trade value, if he continues to pitch well, should be quite high, as he is earning a relatively modest $2.6 million this season, and will remain under team control for three more years through salary arbitration.

All of that also will make him valuable to the Tigers as they continue to rebuild, and some rival executives are skeptical the team would set a realistic price on Boyd when he is so far away from free agency. Then again, perhaps the Tigers will take a different approach after their experience with righty Michael Fulmer, whose trade value plummeted due to injury before they seriously considered moving him. Fulmer recently underwent Tommy John surgery.

Other circumstances have changed as well.

The Tigers’ top three prospects and six of their top 11 are pitchers, according to MLBPipeline.com. Right-hander Franklin Perez, the prize of the Justin Verlander trade, pitched only 19 1/3 innings last season due to lat and shoulder issues and has yet to pitch this season due to shoulder tendinitis. But righty Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, threw a no-hitter in his debut at Double A on Monday night. Another former first rounder at Double A, righty Matt Manning, also is a top 50 prospect.

What the Tigers lack are offensive prospects of similar pedigree. Such players do get traded on occasion; the Padres landed Fernando Tatís Jr. for James Shields and the White Sox acquired Eloy Jiménez for José Quintana. And, for a pitcher with the same amount of remaining control as Boyd, right-hander Chris Archer, the Rays last season obtained outfielder Austin Meadows, righty Tyler Glasnow and top pitching prospect Shane Baz.

Archer, though, had a more established track record than Boyd, and his future salaries — $7.5 million this season, then club options of $9 million and $11 million for 2020 and ‘21 — were locked in at club-friendly rates. Adding to the Tigers’ degree of difficulty: Teams in most cases hoard their prospects, and a number of other lefties (Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Mike Minor) also figure to be available, though none have as much team control remaining as Boyd does.

Of course, the Tigers need not trade Boyd at the non-waiver deadline. They can wait until the offseason, the 2020 deadline, even beyond that. Closer Shane Greene, who is 11-for-11 in saves opportunities with a 1.38 ERA, will be in demand if he sustains his early success; he is under control through 2020. Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, a potential free agent, is another chip, though the Tigers have been trying to trade him for two years, and have yet to receive an offer to their liking.

With Castellanos, the Tigers might need to lower their sights — they asked high on J.D. Martinez in the 2016-17 offseason, rival executives say, then traded him to the Diamondbacks for a package of questionable merit (shortstop Sergio Alcantara, their No. 15 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com; second baseman Dawel Lugo, who ranks No. 18; and shortstop José King) when he was two months from free agency.

Castellanos is not as gifted a hitter as Martinez, and the Tigers can make him a qualifying offer to ensure draft-pick compensation. After changing agents from David Meter to Scott Boras, Castellanos probably would be a long shot to accept the offer for a one-year deal in the $18 million range. But the Tigers still would be better off making the best trade possible.

Boyd, too, is represented by Boras, so the Tigers probably can forget about signing the pitcher to a club-friendly extension in the immediate future (Boras clients Stephen Strasburg and Xander Bogaerts only agreed to extensions in their free-agent years, and only when they received deals that approached market value.)

The Tigers then, must decide: Will they be more proactive with Boyd after losing a trade chip in Fulmer, more pragmatic with Castellanos after failing to get a big return for Martinez? They need to maximize the few assets they have.

Keuchel and Kimbrel, Kimbrel and Keuchel, Continued

The season is five weeks old. The amateur draft is five weeks away. Free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel have held out this long, so why not just wait to sign until after the draft, when they no longer will be subject to draft-pick compensation?

Both pitchers might opt for such a course, but it would not necessarily be a preferred outcome. The sooner they sign, the more money they will earn. And if they agree to one-year deals — Keuchel’s desire, though not Kimbrel’s, according to sources — the more time they will have to build value for next offseason, when they will be free agents who no longer are subject to qualifying offers.

If Keuchel and Kimbrel wait until after the draft, it will be nearly July before they return to the majors (Kimbrel, as a reliever, likely would be in game condition before Keuchel). Then again, more teams will bid if the acquisition cost does not include a draft pick and the accompanying pool money, giving the pitchers more choices and perhaps greater leverage.

In the meantime, games continue to come off the calendar, games in which Keuchel and Kimbrel could make a difference for contenders in need of help for their rotation or bullpen. Those teams can wait five weeks to pounce and preserve their draft pick and pool money. But in the hotly contested NL, in particular, how much ground might they lose by delaying?

Mets’ Alonso: a later Gator

Rookie slugger Pete Alonso was the Mets’ second-round pick in 2016, but the team’s third overall selection behind right-hander Justin Dunn, who went to the Mariners in the Robinson Canó/Edwin Díaz trade, and lefty Anthony Kay, who is now the team’s No. 8 prospect and has a 1.85 ERA in five starts at Double A.

Think that is surprising?

Alonso, the 64th selection overall, was the fifth player chosen from the University of Florida in the same draft.

Here were the Gators chosen in front of him.

No. 6: LHP A.J. Puk, Athletics.
No. 29: RHP Dane Dunning, Nationals
No. 47: RHP Logan Shore, Athletics.
No. 48: OF Buddy Reed, Padres.

Puk is recovering from Tommy John surgery and could join the A’s in the second half. Dunning, who went to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade, also is recovering from Tommy John. Shore, who went to Detroit in the Mike Fiers trade, is the Tigers’ No. 16 prospect. Reed, who followed Harrison Bader as Florida’s center fielder, is the Padres’ No. 17.

Believe it or not, Florida did not win a game in the 2016 College World Series, getting swept out of the tournament after consecutive losses to Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech.

Points for Gio: A bow to the new age

Most contracts for starting pitchers include incentives for games started, but lefty Gio Gonzalez negotiated a point system with the Brewers that will acknowledge his contribution if he is used as an opener, or as a reliever after an opener. His incentives package reflects the different ways pitchers are getting used in today’s game, but the idea actually is not new.

Brewers general manager David Stearns negotiated a similar points structure with left-hander Chris Capuano on a minor-league deal in 2016. Other teams employed the concept as far back as 1990, according to a player representative with access to a database, but packages like Gonzalez’s almost certainly will become more common as teams continue to blur the lines between starters and relievers.

Gonzalez, who received a $2 million guarantee, will receive two points for each appearance of three innings or more, one point for all other appearances. The bonuses kick in when he reaches 25 points, and can help him earn another $2 million.

Around the Horn

*First baseman Luke Voit, traded by the Cardinals with international bonus slot money to the Yankees for left-hander Chasen Shreve and righty Giovanny Gallegos on July 29, 2018:

.283/.387/.538

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, acquired by the Cardinals from the Diamondbacks for right-hander Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Andy Young and a competitive balance round B pick on Dec. 5, 2018:

.270/.362/.541

*Reds right-hander Luis Castillo hinted at a breakout when he posted a 1.09 ERA in five starts last September, and his early 2019 performance appears to be a continuation of his new normal.

Castillo, the major-league leader with a 1.23 ERA, also ranks in the top 10 in fielding-independent pitching, expected slugging percentage and lowest hard-hit percentage — all good indicators that his success should be sustainable.

*The fact that the Reds lead the NL with a 3.38 ERA after finishing next-to-last at 4.63 in 2018 is one of the bigger surprises of April, and a testament to the impact of new pitching coach Derek Johnson, assistant pitching coach Caleb Cotham and bullpen coach Lee Tunnell.

Johnson and Tunnell came from the Brewers, who also lost their hitting coach, Darnell Coles, to the Diamondbacks. Coles, along with new assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske, appears to be making a difference. After parting with Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock and playing most of the season without Jake Lamb, the DBacks rank third in the NL in runs per game, after finishing 10th last season.

*As I reported in my Full Count video for Fox Sports over the weekend, the Orioles already are listening to trade offers for right-handed reliever Mychal Givens, who would be a logical fit for the Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox, among other contenders.

Givens is earning $2.15 million this season, and is under control for two additional years. Some clubs fear the Orioles might price him too high — the O’s have a new GM, Mike Elias, and among their expensive players, Givens is the only asset.

*Just like last season, the Brewers appear in need of starting pitching. And just like last season, the team doesn’t quite see it that way.

Once Freddy Peralta and Jimmy Nelson are healthy and Corbin Burnes is back from the minors, the Brewers will have eight legitimate major-league starters. At that point, they will consider any and all usage patterns, from openers to six-man rotations to tandem starters. They will need to manage the innings of Nelson and their younger pitchers.

*The Athletics are another team with an evolving rotation.

Right-hander Edwin Jackson, who signed a minor-league contract on April 11, is working his way back to the majors. Left-hander Jesus Luzardo has resumed throwing as he recovers from a muscle strain in his throwing shoulder. Lefty A.J. Puk and righty Jharel Cotton are on track to return from Tommy John surgery after the All-Star break, though how much they can contribute is uncertain.

One other name to keep in mind: Right-hander Daniel Mengden, who has a 3.00 ERA in five appearances (four starts) at Triple A.

*The Mets, who rarely get credit for their scouting and player development, have put together a strong group of homegrown players. Their current 25-man roster includes 11 players, many in prominent roles, who began their careers in the Mets’ organization.

Right fielder Michael Conforto, outfielder Brandon Nimmo and first baseman Dominic Smith were first rounders, Alonso and left-hander Steven Matz second rounders. But the Mets also have had success lower in the draft. Right-hander Jacob deGrom was taken in the ninth round, super-utility man Jeff McNeil in the 12th, righty Robert Gsellman in the 13th, righty Seth Lugo in the 34th.

*Teams find relievers in all kinds of ways. The Mariners might have discovered two for decidedly low prices.

Brandon Brennan was a Rule 5 draft pick from the Rockies. Connor Sadzeck arrived in a trade from the Rangers for minor-league pitcher Grant Anderson. Two seemingly innocuous transactions, two meaningful additions to the Seattle bullpen — at least so far.

Both Brennan and Sadzeck are 27-year-old right-handers with above-average fastballs. Both are holding opponents to an OPS below .500. Brennan’s second pitch is an above-average changeup. Sadzeck’s is a slider he commands well in the zone.

*And finally, who knew that the Marlins’ farm system in the 2000s would prove a breeding ground for a number of major-league coaches and managers?

Three current hitting coaches — the Brewers’ Andy Haines, Cubs’ Anthony Iapoce and Phillies’ John Mallee — were minor-league instructors and/or managers with the Marlins. A fourth, the Blue Jays’ Guillermo Martínez, was an infielder in the system.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and catching instructor Tim Cossins worked a combined 19 years for the Marlins, and Astros bench coach Joe Espada worked for the club in both the minors and majors.
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T15D23

- 11/25/03 GBMA

- 6/11/04 GBCJ

- 6/9/07 God Bless Leo

- 10/16/07 God Bless Huck

- 11/12/11 God Bless Mom

- 09/24/14 God Bless Dad

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