Orioles, Rockies discussing Colorado’s spare outfielders
The slow-developing outfield market lost another mid-tier free agent Tuesday, when the Rockies agreed to a three-year, $27.5 million deal with Gerardo Parra. Like Denard Span, who signed a three-year, $31 million contract with the Giants last week, Parra represented something of a risk after batting just .237/.268/.357 following a deadline trade to Baltimore. But the Rockies apparently were comfortable writing off that skid to Parra’s mid-year city and league change, investing in him through the 2018 season with a $12 million fourth-year option.
Colorado was always something off an odd fit for Parra, because the Rockies already had plenty of left-handed-hitting outfielders. Nonetheless, rumors tying them to the ex-D’backs outfielder persisted and eventually a deal came to fruition. Now, Walt Weiss has four lefty-swinging outfield regulars for three spots: Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, and Carlos Gonzalez all bat from that side of the plate, and Brandon Barnes and Kyle Parker are available as right-handed batters off the bench.
At least one of the three southpaw incumbents is virtually certain to leave Denver in the coming weeks—perhaps as soon as later this week, if the Rockies were merely waiting to lock Parra up before agreeing to export one of their own. The lingering questions are who’s going and where.
The Giants and Mets satisfied their appetites for left-handed-hitting outfielders through free agency, the former with Span and the latter with Alejandro De Aza, who figures to share center field with Juan Lagares. The Nationals are out, too, after acquiring Ben Revere from the Blue Jays for Drew Storen last week. And while SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo had the Angels showing interest in Parra several days ago, they don’t appear to view any of the other Rockies as a viable consolation prize. Sources told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that they’ve yet to have “substantive trade conversations” with general manager Jeff Bridich.
That brings us to the Orioles, who could be in the market for a Chris Davis replacement, should the slugger price himself out of Baltimore or elect to go elsewhere in free agency. According to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, Dan Duquette and Bridich are in “ongoing trade talks,” though it’s unclear which of the Rockies has caught the O’s eye and how close the sides are to striking a deal.
Speaking speculatively, the Cardinals could also emerge as a trade fit. Shipping Jon Jay to the Padres earlier this winter left Brandon Moss as the Redbirds’ only lefty-batting big-leaguer with significant outfield experience. And despite two appearances in center field for Oakland in 2013, Moss is no one’s idea of a capable up-the-middle defender.
Since Parra’s signing freed up at least one Rockies outfielder for trade, it did nothing to trim the supply of available outfielders, which continues to outpace demand. We’ll learn in the next few days, though, if it’s enough to get the wheels turning, with just over a month left before pitchers and catchers report.
Mets seeking a reliever to pad their setup crew
The New York Post’s Mike Puma wrote over the weekend that the Mets would like to augment their bullpen with a veteran late-inning arm, but they aren’t desperate to do so. Manager Terry Collins already has right-handers Addison Reed and Hansel Robles, and left-hander Jerry Blevins figuring into his primary setup group, with several depth options behind them. Given the inherent volatility of relievers, the more you have the merrier you’ll be, but the Mets will only add a major-leaguer to the group if it’s one they like coming to Queens on their terms.
In particular, that means the Mets are likely shopping only for relievers who are willing to accept a one-year deal and hit the market again next winter. Blevins returned on a one-year, $4 million pact, and Sandy Alderson and Co. seem to be hoping that as spring training nears, prices will drop.
With more right-handed veterans than southpaws in tow, it stands to reason that a lefty would top the wishlist. Puma suggested that indeed is the case, with Antonio Bastardo leading the list of candidates, per his sources in the industry. The 30-year-old was excellent for the Pirates last year, continuing to navigate a bloated walk rate by punching out nearly 27 percent of the batters he faces while holding like-handed batters to a .438 OPS. Trouble is, Bastardo is setting his sights high, looking for a three-year pact, and the Mets—with homegrown alternatives like Dario Alvarez and Josh Smoker available—aren’t going there.
A more viable choice might be a righty with reverse splits—like, say, Tyler Clippard, who spent the second half with the Mets after coming over in a trade with the A’s. Clippard, who turns 31 on Valentine’s Day, saw his value erode a bit with a rocky first half in Oakland, where he issued 21 walks in 38 2/3 innings as Bob Melvin’s closer. Clippard was better in that department as a setup man for Familia, but his regression from his 2014 All-Star heights was ill-timed. If he bets on himself to bounce back, a one-year return to Queens could be mutually beneficial.
Lazaro Armenteros’ workout draws “mixed at best” reviews
The latest teenage Cuban phenom drew a slew of scouts to a recent workout, as teams decide how much to pony up for one of the last elite amateurs available in this year’s signing period. Unfortunately for Lazaro Armenteros, ESPN’s Eric Longenhagen heard Sunday that his showcase left many evaluators wanting more.
Billed as a potential five-tool talent, Lazarito—who’s a chiseled 6-foot-2, 205 pounds—looked more like a corner outfielder than one who could stick in center, even though he clocked in as a plus to plus-plus runner. That’s likely to diminish his eventual signing bonus, given the premium teams place on potential up-the-middle stars, and given the extra pressure a move to a corner would place on his high-ceiling bat.
While the “early returns” appear relatively negative, it’s possible that clubs are pumping the brakes on their interest in Armenteros in hopes of driving down his going rate. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants are among teams that have already blown past their bonus pools this year, giving them an extra incentive to keep spending, since they’ll be restricted from doing so in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 international signing periods. Even if reports prove more bearish than anticipated, clubs that haven’t yet eclipsed their pools would almost certainly have to do so to land him.
Several other notable Cuban prospects, led by outfielder Jorge Ona, are likely to become available to major-league clubs in the coming weeks, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Armenteros will be able to sign beginning on February 10th, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.