Detroit Tigers

Kemp, Cespedes, Porcello on the Move In Wild Wild West Meetings

kemp-gordon

The Dee Gordon – Matt Kemp victory celebration is a thing of the past.

 

Ron Burgundy would be going crazy right now if he were in “Sahn De-ago”.  After a bunch of minor moves and a couple of big ones, there was a flurry of active Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The team that was the busiest was the Los Angeles Dodgers, which dealt star outfielder Matt Kemp, young second baseman Dee Gordon, and veteran Dan Haren (who may retire instead).

Kemp, the runner up to the 2011 NL MVP/Prize Winning Cheater Ryan Braun was sent to the San Diego Padres along with catcher Tim Federowicz for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Weiland, and prospect Zach Eflin. The Dodgers will also include $32MM to cover part of the $107MM still owed to Kemp.

The 30-year old had an explosive season in 2011, when he led the league in home runs (39), RBI (126), total bases (353) and runs scored (115). He also won his second Gold Glove Award and second of three Silver Slugger Awards. Injuries derailed Kemp’s career in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but he bounced back nicely last season. After  a slow start, Kemp put up pretty good numbers – 25 HR, 89 RBI, and a .506 Slugging Pct.

Grandal is a 26-year old former first round draft choice (12th overall picky by Cincinnati in 2010), who has 216 games of Major League experience. He topped 100 games played (128) for the first time this past season and produced 15 HR and 49 RBI to go along with a .728 OPS. The Padres acquired him in December, 2011 as part of a four player package from San Diego in return for pitcher Mat Latos.

Plain and simple, this was a salary dump by the Dodgers.

The Dodgers also acquired shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies for Eflin and Tom Windle. The Dodgers sent second baseman Dee Gordon, who stole 64 bases last year, pitcher Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and a player to be named later/cash to the Miami Marlins for prospect Andrew Heaney, 1st baseman Enrique Hernanedz, catcher/infielder Austin Barnes, and pitcher Chris Hatcher.

The Dodgers also did business with their SoCal rivals, the Los Angeles Angeles, acquiring Gordon’s replacement, Howie Kendrick, for Heaney. The nine-year veteran can be expected to hit in the .290s with some power and about 14 steals (he stole 14 bases in four of the last five seasons). Heaney was the 9th overall pick by the Marlins in the 2009 draft and made his Major League debut last season with five starts and two relief appearances. The results were not good, but the left-hander pitched very well in a minor league season split between Double- and Triple-A.

Yoenis Cespedes was used by Oakland at July’s trade deadline to land Boston ace Jon Lester. Now the Red Sox have used Cespedes as part of a package to acquire right-hander Rick Porcello from the Detroit Tigers. Pitchers Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier are headed to Detroit with Cespedes for the New Jersey native who had a breakout 2014 season.

The 27th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Porcello topped 200 innings for the first time, won 15 games, and had a career best 3.43 ERA. Cespedes drove in 22 runs in his first 24 games with Boston, but slumped over the last month of the season.

Detroit then went out and got Porcell’s replacement, sending shortstop Eugenio Suarez and pitcher Jonathan Crawford to the Reds for pitcher Alfredo Simon. Used as a reliever in five of his six previous seasons, Simon was a full-time starter for the Reds this past season and made his first All-Star team. The 33-year old neared 200 innings pitched, won 15 games, and put together a respectable 3.44 ERA and 1.207 WHIP. Suarez could have a shot at the starting shortstop job, with incumbent Zack Cozart coming off a sub.-600 OPS season.

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Cashman and Dombrowski Set The Record Straight on Robertson and Scherzer

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The Yankees never intended to resign David Robertson once they signed Andrew Miller.

 

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski met with the media at the Winter meetings in San Diego Tuesday afternoon and had something interesting things to say.

Cashman admitted that once the Yankees signed Andrew Miller (four years, $36MM), they had no intention of resigning closer David Robertson, preferring a 2015 draft pick instead. The Yankees never made an official offer to Robertson, who signed a four-year, $46MM deal with the Chicago White Sox. Miller and Dellin Betances will each get a shot to close in the coming season, with manager Joe Girardi using them situationally.

There’s been some speculation that 2014 2nd round pick (from Mississippi St.) Jacob Lindgren could be in the mix, but although he struck out 48 batters in 25 innings, he also walked 13. Lindgren will likely start the season at Double-A Trenton, the highest of the four levels he pitched (and struggled) at this past season, or advanced ‘A’ Tampa.

Dombrowski addressed a statement attributed to the Tigers earlier on Tuesday concerning their free agent starter Max Scherzer. ESPN’s Buster Olney had reported that Scherzer remained a top priority for the Tigers and that they were willing to spend the money necessary to keep him.

Earlier this year, Scherzer had turned down the Tigers six-year offer worth $144MM. This time it was Dombrowski’s turn to do the rejecting.

“I don’t know where he (Olney) got that from,” Dombrowski said. “That’s not accurate. I’m not sure where it comes from, how it comes. I know it didn’t come from this room, but that’s not accurate.”

“The other thing I’ll say is I hope Mr. I (owner Mike Ilitch) didn’t see that,” Dombrowski said, “because he’d be saying, ‘Well, where did that come from?’1

Dombrowski went on to add that starting pitching “was not a priority” and no talks had taken place between the two sides.

 

1 – mlive.com

Traded: Yankees Go From DJ to DIDI

didi

The last time the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a three-team trade (2009) the players involved included Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, Ian Kennedy, and Edwin Jackson. The names weren’t as sexy this time around when the three teams agreed to a deal earlier Friday.

The Yankees, looking for a shortstop to replace their future Hall-of-Fame inductee, Derek Jeter, picked up the underwhelming Didi Gregorious from the Diamondbacks. The Tigers received gritty starter Shane Greene from the Yankees and the Diamonbacks got pitcher Robbie Ray and infielder Domingo Leyba.

This one is a head scratcher for fans of both the Yankees and the Tigers. The Diamondbacks clearly did not believe that Greene was worth taking straight up  for Gregorious. The Tigers felt Greene was worth sending two players to the Diamondbacks. And the Yankees already have a good glove, can’t hit shortstop in Brendan Ryan. (UPDATE – Cashman was on WFAN and said that Gregorius, who struggles against left-handers, will platoon with Ryan.)

Replacing Jeter is an unenviable task for anyone, but should Yankees GM Brian Cashman get someone who is better suited to play every day (or platoon)? Gregorius was signed as teenager by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. Nearly a year ago today, he was part of another three team deal, one that involved the Cleveland Indians and the Diamondbacks.

Arizona sent pitchers Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, and Matt Albers to Cleveland, who also received utility man Drew Stubbs from Cincy. The Reds also sent Gregorious to the desert with Cleveland sending 1B/OF Lars Anderson and reliever Tony Sipp to the same destination. The Indians sent of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and infielder Jason Donald to the Reds.

Gregorious got an eight-game call up for the Reds in 2012, but played 103 games in his rookie season the following year with the Diamondbacks. His numbers were decent for a light hitting newbie – a .252/.332/.373 slash line – however, his sophomore year went in the wrong direction. The 24-year old put up a .226/.290/.363 line in 80 games.

Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America had Gregorious as their 80th best prospect out of their top 100 and MLB.com had him rated at number 63. The ranking were based on the 2012 minor league season that Gregorious split between Double-A (81 games) and Triple-A (48 games). The native of the Netherlands had a combined .717 OPS with 7 HR and 54 RBI in 129 games. He slugged .393 by adding 21 doubles and 11 triples.

The shortstop, who has also played some second base, has worked hard on his defense. He committed 32 errors in the minors in 2010, but had 13 for the Diamonbacks in 2013, and six last year. The Yankees are taking a low risk here in what they gave up, but are taking a big gamble on Gregorius showing an improved bat for a team desparately in need of run production. For now, Gregorius seems like the next Bubba Crosby.

Greene was a pleasant surprise as 25-year old rookie that was forced into the rotation due to injuries to CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda. The Yankees had selected Greene in the 9th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur draft out of Daytona Beach (FL) Community College.

Greene won four of his first five decisions, tossing 7.1 shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles, and eight scoreless frames against the Tigers. He beat the Tigers a second time three weeks later after he allowed two earned runs in seven innings. Perhaps his shaky five starts in September convinced the Yankees to deal Greene while there was still a market for him. Apparently those two wins over Detroit convinced the Tigers he was worth it.

Greene finished the season 5-4, 3.78 with 9.3 Ks per nine innings and eight home runs allowed in 78.2 innings pitched.  With the uncertainty of the health of the starting rotation, Yankees fans better hope Cashman is swinging a deal for a pitcher or signing one of the big time free agents.

The acquisition of Ray by the Diamondbacks is an interesting one. The 23-year old is still somewhat of an unknown commodity. He made six starts and three relief appearances for the Tigers this past season and was roughed up, though he was impressive in his first two starts (11.1 IP, 1 ER 7 K). The 6’2″ left-hander was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 12th round of the 2010 draft and was traded to Detroit last December as part of a package to get Doug Fister.

Ray averaged better than 10 Ks per nine innings in a 2013 season that was split between Advanced A’ Potomac (Carolina League) and Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern League). Perhaps it was the trip to the Majors, but Ray wasn’t as effective last season at either Triple-A Toledo or with Detroit.

Leyba just turned 19 in September and had an impressive 30 games (.914 OPS) stint for Western Michigan in the Midwest League, after a rough 37 games in the New York-Penn League.

Signed: Torii Hunter Goes Home

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Prior to leaving as a free agent after the 2007 season, Torii Hunter spent 15 years in the Minnesota Twins organization. He was the 20th overall pick in the 1st round of the 1993 MLB Amateur draft and made his Major League debut four years later. Hunter spent the 2008-2014 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers, but he’s coming home for 2015.

Hunter will spend his 17th full season in the Majors back where it all started. The Twins and Hunter agreed to a one year deal Tuesday that will reportedly pay him $10.5MM. According to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles were also interested in signing Hunter.

The nine-time Gold Glove winner averaged nearly 20 home runs and 85 RBI in his six years out of a Twins’ uniform. Best known for the spectacular defensive play that he made look routine, Hunter was a full-time centerfielder until the 2010 season. He then became the regular right fielder for the Angels and Tigers.

Hunter called the Metrodome home when he was with the Twins and will have to get used to playing full-time in the Target Field outfield. While the Twins don’t currently look competitive for the postseason, Hunter will also serve as a mentor to some of the younger players on the roster. He’ll also be playing in Minnesota for the first time without Tom Kelly or Ron Gardenhire as the manager. Gardenhire was fired after this past season and was replaced by Paul Molitor, who was a member of the 1997-1998 Twins when Hunter made his debut.

Hunter is 8th all-time on the Twins home runs list with 192, nine behind Gary Gaetti. He’s also 5th all-time in strikeouts with 870, seven in back of Gaetti. Hunter, who will turn 39 in July, has played in the postseason eight times but has never made it to the World Series.

Free Agent: Victor Martinez Staying Home For Big Money

vmart

According to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, Victor Martinez will be the first big winner in the 2014-2015 free agent sweepstakes. And the man called “V-Mart” doesn’t even have to leave town.

Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski said last week that signing V-Mart was a “priority”. It appears he meant it. Rosenthall reported that the two sides are close to a new four-year agreement. Rumors have the deal set for as much as $80MM. Martinez will reportedly average $17MM over the life of the contract ($68MM in total).

Martinez first signed a four-year deal with the Tigers in 2010. After injuries derailed his 2012 season and affected the start of the 2013 season, the Tigers’ DH had a monster 2014 campaign. The switch-hitter posted career highs in batting average (.335), home runs (32), hits (188), on-base percentage (.409), sluggung percentage (.565) and OPS (974). The latter two numbers were tops in the American League and Martinez also drove in 103 runs.

The former full-time catcher spent the first seven-plus seasons with the Cleveland Indians before he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox during the 2009 season. He spent the following season with Boston before departing for the Tigers prior to the 2011 season.

Martinez was the Tigers primary DH, and spelled Miguel Cabrera at first base for 35 games.

Superman is Alive and well and living in Detroit

Up, up, and away!

Up, up, and away!

by Designated For Assignment Staff

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s……Ezequiel Carrera.

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The New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium Monday night, but it could have been an early blowout if not for Carrera. With the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury hit a drive to deep centerfield.

Carrera, playing shallow, raced back and took off like the caped Kryptonian…or at least, Jim Edmonds. The centerfielder snared the baseball and held on as he came in for a heavy landing. What could have been a three-run triple, possibly even an inside-the-park grand slam, turned into a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees eventually got a second run in the inning before second baseman Ian Kisler robbed Chase Headley of another run and ended the frame.

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Lester and Price Lead The Winners and Losers of Deadline Day

Tigers supergroup

Three Cy Young winners All in a row.

It’s been a five days since the craziness of the final hours of the Major League Baseball trade deadline came to an end. I cannot recall the last time there was such monumental team changing/game changing deals on July 31. Lately, many of the bigger trades have taken place as the deadline neared. This year, it was a frenzy right down to the final minutes, with some deals announced shortly after the deadline had passed.

So, who came up as the winners and losers at the deadline? Let’s take a look.

Winners

Oakland A’s: This isn’t Moneyball, this is sending and receiving at its finest. The A’s needed to strengthen their starting rotation and add some veteran presence to it. Prior to the deadline, they went out and got Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samarzdija and fellow starter Jason Hammel for a package that included highly rated shortstop prospect Addison Russell.

Inserted in the A’s rotation, Samarzdija pitched to his reputation, but Hammel struggled, leading GM Billy Beane to pull off a bold move. He sent his slugging left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for their ace, Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. The A’s outfield had been thinned with an injury to Coco Crisp, so the addition of Gomes gave them another World Series ring-wearing veteran.( Beane would later flip aggrieved starter Tommy Milone for outfielder Sam Fuld to strengthen the bench and play centerfield while Crisp is out)

Lester was the key maneuver, though, joining a rotation of Samarzdija, veteran Scott Kazmir and youngsters Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez. The left-hander started his first game as an Athletic on Saturday, in front of a charged Oakland crowd. Lester allowed three earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched in the A’s 8-3 victory. It was Lester’s 110th career victory and his first in a uniform other than that of the Boston Red Sox. (A day later Lester took out a full page ad in the Boston Globe to thank the fans.)

Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly. That’s a pretty intimidating starting rotation right out of the box. Now add David Price to it and look out. That’s exactly what Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski was able to do on Thursday. As soon as Lester was dealt by Boston, Tampa Bay Rays’ Executive VP of Operations and GM, Andrew Friedman, began to get inundated with calls about Price.

The 2012 AL Cy Young winner still had another year on his contract, so Tampa did not need to trade him this year with the worry of losing him to free agency in the offseason. But Friedman found a deal he liked and brought in the Seattle Mariners as a third team to get it done.

The Rays sent Price to Detroit, who in turn traded centerfielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners and Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames to the Rays. The Rays also received second base prospect Nick Franklin from Seattle.

The Tigers now have the last three AL Cy Young winners with Verlander (2011, also MVP), Price (2012) and Scherzer (2013). Sanchez is now the best number four starter in the Major Leagues. The Tigers still need to work on their bullpen –as the Phillies can attest, a great rotation (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt) doesn’t always get it done – which has not performed up to par, but they may not need to make too many appearances with a group of starters that can routinely pitch into the 7th and 8th innings. Price makes his Tigers’ debut Tuesday evening in a place he has started 23 games, Yankee Stadium. (Price is 10-5, 3.66 vs. the Yankees, including 6-2 in the new Yankee Stadium.)

Boston Red Sox: There were a lot of disgruntled Red Sox fans on Thursday, most of them not wanting to see Lester go. But with a better than 50/50 chance of Lester returning as a free agent, GM Ben Cherington took a team that went from first to worst and got it back on the road to future success.

In Cespedes, he got a bona fide power hitter whose power had been lessened by the A’s spacious home ballpark. Now he has the Green Monster to pepper shots off of. It also gives David Ortiz more protection in the lineup than he had with Mike Napoli and allows manager John Farrell to move Dustin Pedroia into the number two slot in the order. Cherington also sent John Lackey to St. Louis for first baseman Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly

Craig drove in 90-plus runs the last two seasons before an ankle injury robbed him of much of the current season. He’ll give depth to a lineup that has struggled to score runs this season. The Red Sox also added youth with the just turned 30-year old Craig and the 26-year old Kelly. The right-hander was solid the past two seasons as a reliever and occasional starter, and helped the Cardinals to their second NL pennant in three years in 2013.

Kelly was limited to 10 starts between the Majors (7) and minors (3) this season due to a strained hamstring that kept him out of action for three months. He’ll join the only remaining Boston starter, Clay Buchholz, from the rotation that began the year. (The Red Sox had already dealt Jake Peavy prior to the deadline and sent lefty Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs on the 31st.)

The Sox also dealt veteran shortstop Stephen Drew, to the Yankees of all people, to free up playing time for Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, and Mookie Betts. The aforementioned Peavy deal brought them pitcher Edwin Escobar, ranked in the 2014 top 100 MLB prospects by Baseball America and MLB.com, and a possible addition to their bullpen in right-hander Heath Hembree.

 

Losers:

Philadelphia Phillies: One has to wonder how GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has managed to keep his job. Yes, the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and repeated as NL pennant winners a year later. But the writing was on the wall for quite some time and Amaro ignored it. He also doled out way too much money for too many players and was unable to move any of them by the deadline.

One of those players was starting pitcher Cliff Lee. The former AL Cy Young Winner still has about $37.5MM owed to him for the next two years. Whether he’ll be able to play or not is another matter. Lee was bothered by elbow problems this season, which made him and his contract harder to move. But Amaro should have done something, even if it meant not getting much in return. He may have been able to move some of Lee’s salary. He didn’t and Lee re-injured his elbow and is likely done for the season, which means no waiver trade either.

First baseman Ryan Howard is not what he used to be, which was a home run smashing, RBI-producing, bad-fielding first baseman. Okay, he is still the last part. Amaro foolishly gave Howard a six year, $106MM extension after the 2012 season. It’s a deal that will be paying Howard $25MM the next two years when he is 35 and 36. The Phillies are just lucky, if you want to call it that, they have a $10MM buyout on a $23MM option in 2017.

If you are to believe the reports, Amaro was also asking for too much in return for outfielder Marlon Byrd. As of this writing, the 36-year old had a .799 OPS with 21 HR and 63 RBI in 110 games. Ah, but Amaro’s over-generosity did him in again. There are plenty of teams that want Byrd for this year, maybe even next season at the $8MM it may cost them. But they don’t want a 38-year old Byrd with another $8MM in 2016.

Amaro was clearly counting on Byrd not being able to attain the vested portion of his contract – 600 plate appearances (PA) in 2015 or 1100 PA between this year and next. Byrd already has 462 PA as of this writing, with nearly two full months of the season left.

Amaro could have also moved A.J. Burnett, whose performance has dropped off from last season. Burnett makes $15MM and has a mutual option with just a $1MM buyout for next year. In today’s market, Amaro did a good job on Burnett’s deal. Burnett is the most likely of the Phillies to pass through waivers and be dealt. He’d better be or Amaro’s trade season will be a complete flop. Not that it still won’t be a complete flop even if Amaro does move Burnett.

There were a number of teams that hoped to improve with minor moves that fall somewhere in between winner and loser. Time will tell which of the categories those deals fall into.

 

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Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.