Phillies no longer covet Yasmany Tomas?
Along with news from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that the Cuban slugger might head to San Diego for next month’s Winter Meetings comes this nugget from MLB.com’s Paul Hagen: the Phillies, once perceived as the favorites to land Tomas, may be cooling on the idea.
Hagen wrote on the Hot Stove blog Thursday that concerns about Tomas’ defense are beginning to outweigh excitement for his power, which could play exceptionally well in the launching pad that is Citizens Bank Park. Manager Ryne Sandberg is currently set to use the 37-year-old Marlon Byrd in left field, but Byrd's cost-friendly deal—which pays $8 million for 2015 and has a club option for the same amount for 2016—could make him an attractive trade chit to help general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. patch numerous other holes.
As Hagen pointed out, with Domonic Brown expected to move over to right field, the Phillies’ internal options on Ben Revere’s other flank are Aaron Altherr, Darin Ruf, and Grady Sizemore. Tomas projects as a tremendous upgrade over that trio, but Amaro also must fill out a gutted rotation, which features Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and a plethora of question marks. Trading Byrd for a pitcher would address one of them and simultaneously clear a spot for Tomas, but it might not be the optimal allocation of the team’s resources.
That’s especially the case if Philadelphia views Tomas as a designated hitter who’d be miscast in left. The Phillies have previously overlooked unsightly defense from a middle-of-the-order bat—namely, Pat Burrell, a -14.1 FRAA fielder in 2008, his last year with the squad—but their philosophy might have changed, at least when it comes to long-term investments.
Tomas should have no shortage of suitors, even if the Phillies drop out. Heyman noted that former Giants manager and now-adviser Felipe Alou suggested that his employer consider the 24-year-old as a candidate at the hot corner if Pablo Sandoval isn’t re-signed. That idea seems far-fetched, but the Giants could sign Tomas and then figure out whether he fits best at third or in left, where they’ve dealt with the lumbering Burrell and Michael Morse en route to championships in 2010 and 2014.
The Padres, Royals, and “other surprise teams” remain in the running, according to Heyman, who later labeled the Braves as a “dark horse.” Given the report of Tomas’ intent to meet with representatives in San Diego, we almost certainly won’t see a resolution within the next three weeks.
Nationals still open to trading a starting pitcher
One of the first sizzling rumors to come off the Hot Stove this offseason had the Cubs pursuing a swap that would’ve brought Jordan Zimmermann to Chicago. The trade hypothesized by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times has not yet materialized, though it’s worth noting that he merely said that names have been discussed, not that any deal was on the verge of completion. Major-league sources dismissed to other reporters that Mike Rizzo and Theo Epstein had even gotten that far, but rumors surrounding Washington’s rotation aren’t likely to die any time soon.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted Thursday morning that both Zimmermann and fellow right-hander Doug Fister are on the block this winter—assuming that some team, somewhere is willing to meet Rizzo’s asking price. The Nats are, predictably, in no hurry to move one of their high-end pitchers, even though both are a year away from free agency.
Both project to be worth their 2015 salaries—Fister signed for $7.2 million, Zimmermann for $16.5 million—if not to come out as significant bargains, and either would be a hot commodity at the July trading deadline if the Nationals, considered pennant favorites, somehow fall out of the running. Thus, it’s no surprise that the team doesn’t view a deal involving its no. 2 starter as a cost-cutting move:
The #Nats are informing teams that ace Jordan Zimmermann is available,but only if they get strong return,emphasizing it is not a salary dump
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 20, 2014
For Rizzo to trade either Zimmermann or Fister, he’d likely need to be overwhelmed with players that either bolster Washington’s 2015 hopes or prolong its already-wide-open competitive window.
Orioles shot down bad-contract trade idea with Braves
The Braves would like to unload the three-year, $46.35 million remnants of B.J. Upton’s disaster deal. The Orioles could do without the $38.75 million they still owe Ubaldo Jimenez over the same term. So, might the two sides swap them for each other?
MASN’s Roch Kubatko was told that the O’s flatly rejected the Braves’ overtures, showing no interest in taking the elder Upton off of new general manager John Hart’s hands.
The 30-year-old was better in 2014 than he was in his first year in Atlanta, though that’s largely because he could scarcely have been worse. A 0.7-win player last season, Upton put up a .242 True Average, up from .212 in 2013, and was less-below-average outfielder, if you have faith in single-year defensive metrics. Jimenez, meanwhile, missed a month with a sprained ankle and was a sub-replacement-level pitcher when active, logging a 4.81 ERA in 125 2/3 innings.
A bad-contract barter is probably the only way that the Braves and Orioles could crawl out from under what they owe Upton and Jimenez, respectively, but finding partners won’t be easy. The fit here is poor, because Baltimore already has Adam Jones entrenched in center field and, per Kubatko, plans to retain Alejandro De Aza as a part-time left fielder. Nick Markakis could return to round out the outfield, with David Lough around as a fourth outfielder and Steve Pearce able to play there when not at first base.
Almost any free agent outfielder, no matter how cheap, has a strong chance to outperform Upton, barring a remarkable turnaround. Hence, Dan Duquette will keep looking for a way to export Jimenez for a different player—whose contract outstrips his value, but whose skills better fit Buck Showalter’s roster.