Rumors

  • Quick Hits: Prospects, Pirates, Brewers

    Service time is often among the most important factors when determining when to promote a top prospect, a new analysis by Baseball Prospectus suggests (via FOX Sports). For followers of teams such as the Astros, who recently netted themselves an extra year of control of George Springer by waiting two weeks into the season to call him up, the findings don't come as a surprise. The study did produce an interesting data point, however. "Fourteen times in the last seven years, a player who ranked No. 1 on one of our Top 10 prospect lists debuted in April," BP's Zachary Levine writes. Among that group, eight were on their club's Opening Day roster, meaning the team valued that player's potential early-season contributions over the possibility of an extra year of control down the road. While the gaming of service time of top prospects is common, it's perhaps not as rampant as you might expect, the study suggests. Here's a look elsewhere around the majors:

    • Being traded to the Pirates is an excellent opportunity for Ike Davis to maximize his considerable talent, Richard Justice writes for MLB.com, praising the clubhouse environment, management and fan support in Pittsburgh.
    • The Brewers and Mets had several conversations about a potential Davis trade, but never got close, Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash tells Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. McCalvy reports that the Mets wanted young starting pitching, such as righty Tyler Thornburg, in return. 
    • Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan examined what might be fueling Edinson Volquez's early-season success for the Pirates. In addition to showing an improved ability to throw strikes, the right-hander is also throwing better-quality balls when he does miss the zone, Sullivan concludes. If Volquez can maintain these improvements, it'll be yet another successful reclamation project for Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.
  • NL East Notes: Mets, Braves

    Mets manager Terry Collins says he expects Lucas Duda to settle in and produce now that the Ike Davis trade has opened up the club's full-time first base job, MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports. Duda, however, says he doesn't feel much has changed. "If I don't produce, I'm not going to play. No matter what the situation is, if I don't get the job done, somebody else will," the slugger commented. More NL East links ...

    • A competing GM told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) that the Mets were right to choose Duda instead of Davis. "They're both platoon guys, but Duda [is] a little better against lefties," the GM said.
    • One MLB executive speaking with Newsday's David Lennon (Twitter link) guesses that the Mets may receive either the Pirates' 2013 fifth- or sixth-rounder as the player to be named later in the Davis deal. That would be either fifth-round pick Trae Arbet, a shortstop drafted out of high school, or sixth-round draftee Adam Frazier, a college shortstop. Neither player was ranked among the Pirates' top 30 prospects by Baseball America this offseason.
    • The Braves brought on Aaron Harang near the end of Spring Training to eat innings in the season's early going, but now that he's posted a Majors-leading 0.70 ERA in four starts, their plans have changed. In fact, Harang was removed after giving up zero hits through seven innings against the Mets yesterday to help preserve his arm. Manager Fredi Gonzalez says he wants 25-27 more starts from the veteran, according to David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • West Notes: Padres, A's, Angels

    Jason Lane, a 37-year-old converted outfielder pitching at the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, is turning heads early in the season after posting a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego suggests that Lane could be an option for the big league club if the Padres need to add depth later in the year. "If you took away the age factor, I think people would be really fired up about him," Padres Farm Director Randy Smith said. "But for us, age is irrelevant because his arm is fresh." Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions ...

    • Sean Doolittle's five-year deal with the Athletics is out of step with Billy Beane's traditional approach to relief pitching, SBNation's Steven Goldman says, adding that it's generally advisable not to go long-term with relievers. However, Doolittle does have his merits, Goldman says, noting his lack of a platoon split and relatively fresh arm. Ultimately, the move may be aimed at saving on arbitration costs if Doolittle starts racking up saves for the A's as the team's closer, his article notes. MLBTR's Jeff Todd offered the same theory in his writeup of the Doolittle deal.
    • Albert Pujols doesn't want to distract his Angels teammates as he nears 500 career home runs, but tells MLB.com that he's "pretty sure I'm going to be pretty emotional about" reaching the milestone. As MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez notes, Pujols is at 498 total homers after adding his sixth of the season today.
  • Lannan Accepts Mets' Outright Assignment

    SATURDAY: Lannan has accepted the assignment, ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets.

    WEDNESDAY: The Mets have outrighted left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A Las Vegas and purchased the contract of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, tweets MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. Lannan will have the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets that Matsuzaka will work out of the bullpen for now.

    Lannan, 29, appeared in five games for the Mets this season, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in four innings of work. Of those seven hits, three cleared the fence for a home run. The veteran has never pitched outside of the NL East, but he's donned the uniform of three teams in that division: the Mets, the Phillies and the Nationals. After posting a 4.01 ERA in 783 2/3 innings with the Nationals from 2007-12, Lannan has struggled. With Philadelphia and New York, he's managed a combined 5.86 ERA with a 40-to-29 K:BB ratio in 78 1/3 frames.

    Matsuzaka spent some time with the Mets in 2013 after signing a minor league deal midway through the season. He started slow but fared well down the stretch, yielding just four earned runs over his final 26 1/3 innings while striking out 21 and walking nine. Matsuzaka then signed another minor league deal with the Mets this winter. He's allowed two runs and punched out 12 hitters in 12 Triple-A innings this season. Matsuzaka's minor league deal calls for a $1.5MM base salary in the Major Leagues, and he also received a $100K retention bonus at the end of Spring Training after he did not make the Opening Day roster.

  • NL Notes: Braves, Mets, Cubs, Willis

    The Braves don't get as much attention as the Cardinals, Athletics or Rays for being well-run teams, but perhaps they should, the New York Post's Joel Sherman suggests. The Braves' relative lack of postseason success may be one factor, says Sherman, but they've made the postseason three times in the past five seasons. Consistency may be one secret to their success. "They have had strikingly little turnover on the baseball side and their philosophy has been consistent throughout," says one NL scout. "They are very clear about the type of player they are looking for and acquire those types." The Braves are off to a great start this season despite losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery, and Sherman contrasts the Braves' decision-making heading into the season with that of the Mets. When Medlen and Beachy went down, the Braves acted decisively to replace them, quickly signing Ervin Santana even though he had declined a qualifying offer. The Mets, meanwhile, still have a need at shortstop, and Stephen Drew is still available on the free-agent market. Here are more notes from throughout the National League.

    • Cubs GM Theo Epstein will watch NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon pitch on Friday, 670TheScore.com's Bruce Levine tweets. Rodon currently appears highly likely to be the first overall pick in the draft in June, and the Cubs pick fourth. Much can change between now and then, however, and it makes sense for the Cubs to do due diligence.
    • Dontrelle Willis, who was recently released by the Giants, is considering becoming a pitching coach, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. That might seem a little surprising, given Willis' own unorthodox mechanics (as MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez joked), but coaching isn't merely teaching what one used to do, so there's no reason a pitcher with an idiosyncratic delivery couldn't teach pitchers whose deliveries are more typical.

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