The Rays have joined the Mets in looking at possible trades for young Mariners infielder Nick Franklin, sources say. Tampa Bay may actually match up better with Seattle in such an endeavor, according to the sources. The Rays and Mariners had extensive trade talks earlier this winter involving superstar pitcher David Price so there’s, at the least, some familiarity with each others’ systems. Franklin is from the Orlando area and starred at his high school there. Source: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports
Heard while ago that Rays and Mariners were ready to pull trigger on Nick Franklin trade and Jeremy Hellickson‘s injury scuttled it. (Later) People misunderstanding: Never said Jeremy Hellickson was going to the Mariners before becoming injured. Adam Rubin at ESPN New York
(It would seem the Rays were going to deal another arm, before deciding otherwise after Hellickson’s injury.)
If any of the three compensation free agents is willing to wait until June 5th to sign, the draft pick compensation issue goes away and the players can be signed without forfeiture of a pick. The old teams, the Royals, Red Sox, and Mariners, would not gain a supplemental round pick in that scenario. If those teams perceive that threat to be real, it provides an incentive for them to explore deals to bring back Santana, Drew, and Morales, respectively. Source:Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors
(Morales would be a valuable trade chip to a contending team at the trade deadline.)
Jon Tayler at Sports Illustrated has put together a list of breakout stars for 2014. We can only hope he got this one right. Seattle Mariners: 1B Justin Smoak 2013 Numbers: .238/.334/.412, 20 HR, 50 RBI, 0 SB
This year could be as much make-or-break as breakout for the once-top prospect. Last year finally offered flashes that Smoak was ready to take the next step, though the numbers were still weak. But there is cause for optimism. Smoak’s walk rate, isolated power and line-drive rate all jumped from 2012 to 2013 as his OPS went up nearly 100 points in a season. With a better lineup around him, and likely hitting behind new Mariner Robinson Cano, Smoak can expect some more hittable pitches and more run-producing opportunities. An OPS in the mid-.800s isn’t out of the question if he can cut down on the strikeouts and keep building on the rest. In a suddenly thin 1B market, that would make him a top-10 option positionally.
So they said
Nelson Cruz on if he’s motivated to come back strong after the market dropped for him: “I don’t think I have to prove anything. It was a frustrating process, but I’m happy for the decision that I made. I’m really excited for the opportunity. I like challenges and I think it’s going to be a great challenge for me. Hopefully, I do my best and I look for the World Series.” Source: Brittany Ghiroli at MLB.com
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Top remaining free agent starter Ervin Santana‘s asking price hasn’t dropped with spring training starting; it remains about four years and $50-million, according to executives with interested teams.
The market has shown that the going rate for better starting pitchers is $50 million for four years, with Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez signing for exactly that figure and Ricky Nolasco getting $49 million for four years.
Garza and Nolasco had the advantage of having no draft choice attached to their signing by virtue of them not receiving qualifying offers thanks to midseason trades. Source:Jon Heyman at CBS Sports
Draft, Prospects & Farm News
Former Mariners analyst and area scout Tony Blengino has written a piece for FanGraphs in response to the Phillies rating out a player who chose not to sign with them to the NCAA for violating the un-realistic rules against players having “advisors” (agents) when negotiating with professional teams for possibly the largest financial transaction of their lives, at least to that point. All of this to maintain the anachronistic facade that college players play just for the fun of it, so the NCAA can continue to profit from their unpaid “student-athletes.” The article is titled Area scouting the home visit and the Phillies Wetzler affair and is very interesting as he goes into detail about the process used by area scouts to accomplish their mission.
Baseball Best Practice
The Red Sox believe in their system as much as their stars. It’s why they opted, unlike a certain behemoth from the Bronx, not to chase established talent in an inefficient free-agent market but rather to trust the cream of a well-regarded Minor League crop.“We recognize that our goal is to be as good as we possibly can be in 2014 but also 2015 and 2016 and beyond,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “To do what we want to do, year in and year out, there has to be integration of young players. We’re not going to force that unless we’re reasonably confident those guys can contribute right away.” Source: Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com
By The Numbers
Derek Jeter has a lifetime .381 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage. Cal Ripken Jr. had a lifetime .340 OBP and .447 slugging percentage. From: The Bill Chuck Files
Andrew McCutchen, Hanley Ramirez and Barry Bonds are the only players ever to total 150+ 2B, 100+ HR, & 125+ SB in their first five seasons. From: MLB Play Index
A’s and Rays both spending 23% of estimated payrolls on relief pitchers. #1/#2 in MLB. From:Dave Cameron at FanGraphs
The Red Sox figure to have a regular lineup in which the third baseman, shortstop and center fielder currently have a combined 817 big league plate appearances among them. Source:Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com
“I was in Seattle for three years,” [Chone Figgins] said to Bill Dwyre at the LA Times, “but it feels like it was just yesterday that I left the Angels.” He hit .308 last spring training for the Miami Marlins and was released March 20. He sat out the year and said it was near torture. “It drove me crazy,” he said.
Tuesday morning, after regular workouts, he worked with Dodgers legend Maury Wills at Wills’ bunting station. Wills said, in Figgins, he expected somebody having played in the majors and now on a minor league contract to have a chip on his shoulder. Instead, he got a hard worker. “I think he’s got a real chance,” said the 81-year-old Wills.
Figgins once hit for the cycle. He once had six hits in a game, and 53 in one month. He once led the majors by facing 3,058 pitches in one season. His batting average is .299 with runners on base, .293 with runners in scoring position. In 2009, he played in the All-Star game. Now, chances are, he’d trade a lot of that for a line-drive single in his first at-bat Wednesday, and maybe a three-for-four day. A few more like that and the question will change. What happened to him will become how much can he help the Dodgers? Source:Bill Dwyre at the LA Times
Comment From KK: Now that Cruz is out, what do the Mariners have to do to become a contender this season? If even possible.
Steve Adams: Adding Nelson Cruz wouldn’t have made Seattle a contender anyway. They’re behind two very deep, very talented clubs in the A’s and Rangers. I don’t think they’re one player from contending anyway. Rotation is thin and the outfield is weak.
Comment From Guest: Who lands Ervin Santana in your opinion?
Steve Adams: If I had to guess right now, the Mariners, but that’s just speculation. I’d have said Blue Jays for sure two weeks ago, but they really do seem to be steering clear of big FA commitments.
Comment From Justin: Who hangs up first, Rafael Montero for Brad Miller?
Steve Adams: I don’t think the Mariners are interested in dealing Miller.
Comment From Mike: Do you see Nick Franklin getting traded by opening day?? Thanks for the chat.
Steve Adams: I expect that to be the case. Yes. Mets, Blue Jays, Orioles all make sense. Basically any club willing to give up a well-regarded pitching prospect.
Comment From feenster: 3 playoff teams from the AL West this year?? Could it happen??
Steve Adams: Two yes. Three seems too many. Not that big of a believer in Seattle or Anaheim.
Comment From Joe: Could the Dodgers be in play for Franklin?
Steve Adams: Doesn’t make much sense after they gave Guerrero $28MM.
Comment From Jamesess: If Hart proves early he can play in the OF do the M’s jump on signing Morales to DH?
Steve Adams: Even if Hart can handle the OF (a move I wouldn’t like), they still have Morrison and Smoak. I can’t get behind an OF consisting of Morrison, Saunders and Hart. That would be a defensive train wreck.
Comment From Chad: Because of the Ben Wetzler situation, do you think the Phillies will suffer any backlash trying to sign future picks?
Steve Adams: I think they’ll have a hard time getting agents to cooperate pre-draft. Once they pick a guy though, I don’t know that a kid’s going to turn down $2MM or something because Philly screwed over Ben Wetzler.
Comment From Ryan: Nick Franklin for Juan Lagares? Fair trade?
Steve Adams: I’d rather have someone with more offensive upside than Lagares. Elite defender, but year-to-year defensive metrics will vary and he has very little bat. I don’t want to say Lagares isn’t a useful player, but it’s easier to find all-glove, no-bat outfielders than potential everyday second basemen.
Comment From Rob: Are you surprised Hahn hasn’t traded anyone to help with the abundance of platoons for CHW? DeAza should be attractive to a team needing a CF/LF, no?
Steve Adams: A little bit, yeah. I would think DeAza is a good fit for a club like Seattle or Baltimore.
Comment From Yanksfan: Will Murphy and Almonte be enough for the Yankees to get Franklin?
Steve Adams: Don’t think so. Mariners want pitching and already have Zunino as their catcher of the future.
Comment From Furgurbultube: Rafael Montero for Nick Franklin – who says no?
Steve Adams: If I were the Mariners I’d probably do that. Not so sure the Mets would.