Padres Procure Pham
Jeff Passan of ESPN dropped a bombshell on Friday morning with a report that the Padres were nearing a deal to acquire Tommy Pham from the Rays. Bob Nightengale of USA Today followed shortly thereafter confirming that the deal had been done.
Pham, who will turn 32 in March, is coming off of a strong season for the Rays where he slashed .273/.369/.450 with 21 long balls and 25 stolen bases in 145 games. Pham should slot into the second spot in the Padres' lineup, sandwiched between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, which should lead to ample opportunities to rack up counting stats.
Prior to the deal, early NFBC drafters had taken Pham off of the board just inside the top 70 players overall. His draft stock shouldn’t be impacted much with the move, as the downgrade moving to the National League should be offset by the stronger supporting cast in the Padres’ lineup.
In addition to Pham, the Padres also acquired INF/RHP Jake Cronenworth in the deal. The 25-year-old had a terrific season at Triple-A Durham in 2019, slashing .334/.429/.520 with 10 homers, 45 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 419 plate appearances. He also registered a 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP and 9/8 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings on the mound. With an impressive showing in the spring, he could have an opportunity to break camp with the Padres as a super utility option.
In return for Pham and Cronenworth, the Rays received Hunter Renfroe, Xavier Edwards and a player to be named later.
The player who will jump right into the Rays’ lineup is Renfroe. The 27-year-old slugger blasted a career-high 33 homers for the Padres in 2019 while slashing just .216/.289/.489. That included a cringe-inducing .161/.263/.299 with just six long balls in 59 games after the All-Star break. Renfroe should serve as the Rays' everyday right fielder to begin the season and is likely to bat in the middle of the lineup. The move away from Petco Park should increase his already gaudy home run totals, but aside from the power Renfroe is pretty useless from a fantasy perspective.
In addition to Renfroe, the Rays get an interesting prospect in Xavier Edwards. The 20-year-old was a first round selection (38th overall) in the 2018 draft. In his second year of pro ball as a 19-year-old in 2019 he slashed .322/.375/.396 with one homer, 43 RBI and 34 stolen bases in 123 games between Class-A Fort Wayne and High-A Lake Elsinore. He's quickly becoming one of the top middle infield prospects in all of baseball and could see action with the big league club as soon as the 2021 season.
Concentrating on Cole
By all accounts, the Yankees are going all out to sign the best pitcher on the market this winter. Previous reports indicated New York ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman their approval to open the club's coffers to bring in Cole, essentially throwing their checkbook at him.
Heyman hears the Yankees don't want to be denied. He lists the Phillies, Rangers, Dodgers and Angels as other teams in pursuit of Cole. Cole is rumored to prefer a West Coast destination but it looks like the Yankees might be the highest bidder. The Yankees met with Cole on Tuesday and promised him "the dollars will be there."
Jeff Passan of ESPN reported later Saturday that teams are moving quickly to present free agent ace Gerrit Cole with their initial contract offers. Passan lists the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers as the favorites to land the elite right-hander.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network chimed in as well, indicating that teams interested in the right-hander have been asked to submit offers by early next week. He's expected to shatter the record contract for a starting pitcher, which is currently held by David Price at $217 million.
If that wasn’t enough, Peter Gammons cryptically tweeted out on Saturday that the Yankees would not be denied in their pursuit of Cole. Whether or not that’s inside information that the team was close to an agreement on a deal, or simply a prediction that they would ultimately win the bidding war, is anyone’s guess.
Bob Klapisch of the New York Times reported Sunday that the Yankees have a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table for Cole. That would be the largest contract in history for a pitcher, both from a total and AAV perspective -- though it likely still isn’t enough to get a deal done.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported later in the day on Sunday that while that may be in the neighborhood of their initial bid -- the Yankees have not yet submitted their first offer to Cole.
The 29-year-old hurler went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 33 starts and punched out 326 batters in 212 1/3 innings this year for the Astros. Unsurprisingly, Cole has been the top starting pitcher off the board in early NFBC drafts. He has been the sixth person off the board on average -- going as high as #1 overall.
Home on the Range
As a team, the Rangers owned a miserable 5.06 ERA (24th best in MLB) and 1.46 WHIP in 2019. Outside of Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, their starting rotation was an absolute disaster -- and in need of a major upgrade heading into 2020.
The took a couple of major steps toward addressing that situation on Friday. First, they officially signed former Twins’ hurler Kyle Gibson to a three-year, $28 million contract. The deal also includes an additional $3 million in possible incentives that the right-hander could earn.
The 32-year-old went 13-7 with a 4.84 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 160/56 K/BB ratio across 160 innings for the Twins in 2019, though he battled ulcerative colitis throughout the season which may have contributed to his struggles.
One veteran right-hander just wasn’t enough for the Rangers though. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Friday evening that the club had agreed to a two-year contract with former Brewers’ hurler Jordan Lyles. Jeff Passan of ESPN chipped in the financial details, noting it would be a $16 million contract.
The 29-year-old hurler posted a 4.15 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 146/55 K/BB ratio over 141 innings between the Pirates and Brewers in 2019. He was outstanding after the mid-season trade to Milwaukee though, going 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 58 2/3 innings in 11 starts there. The move to the American League and the hitter-friendly ballpark in Arlington aren't going to do him any favors though.
What’s Next for Rendon?
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Friday that the Phillies “plan to strongly pursue” free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon.
Nightengale adds that the Phillies view Josh Donaldson as "a potential fall-back plan" if the team is unable to land Rendon. Jon Heyman of MLB Network says that Philadelphia has also shown interest in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, but Nightengale hears that Rendon "has become their No. 1 target."
Adding Rendon to the recent Zack Wheeler signing would put the Phils over the luxury tax threshold, but owner John Middleton doesn't seem to care as he seems determined to make a big splash in free agency for the second offseason in a row.
The Phillies aren’t the only club that seems to be prioritizing Rendon though. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported Saturday that the Rangers plan to “aggressively pursue” the superstar third baseman.
The Rangers have a pressing need at the hot corner with youngster Nick Solak currently topping their depth chart at third base. With Gibson and Lyles already added to their starting rotation, it looks as though the Rangers will now turn their attention toward upgrading their offense.
Rendon is the top hitter available on the free agent market this winter and is expected to earn a contract north of $200 million. He is fresh off the best season of his career in which he slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs, 126 RBI and 117 runs scored. He also thrived in the postseason as his Nationals went all the way to a World Series title.
Hall of Fame adds Two
To kick off the winter meetings on Sunday night in San Diego, Major League Baseball announced the results of the voting from the Veteran’s Committee for Hall of Fame.
Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller were elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday by the Veteran's Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
There were ten candidates on the Modern Baseball Era ballot in total -- Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker. Simmons and Miller will be formally inducted into Cooperstown -- along with those elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America through the normal voting process (the results of which will be announced on January 21) -- during Hall of Fame weekend in July.
The nominees required 12 votes from the 16 member committee to gain induction. Here’s how the voting played out: Simmons 13, Miller 12, Evans 8, Parker 7, Garvey 6, Whitaker 6. Everyone else received three or fewer votes.
Miller and Simmons are both absolutely deserving of induction in the Hall of Fame and I have no issues with both getting in. It’s a travesty that Lou Whitaker was snubbed yet again though.
American League Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Twins have interest in free agent southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu… The Twins signed Alex Avila to a one-year, $4.25 million contract… Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the Angels have a meeting with Martin Maldonado scheduled for next week… Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers have "no interest" in Addison Russell, which contradicts an earlier report from Jon Heyman of MLB Network… The Indians signed catcher Beau Taylor to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp… Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that Sergio Romo "is close enough to a deal that it should be resolved next week."... Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Yankees have made Brett Gardner another contract offer… The White Sox claimed hard-throwing right-hander Tayron Guerrero off of waivers from the Marlins… Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Astros are in the mix for free agent hurler Josh Lindblom… According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Athletics are among the teams interested in veteran right-hander Sergio Romo… The Royals signed Trevor Rosenthal to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Chris Sale (elbow) told reporters on Friday that he "has no doubt" that he will be ready for spring training… The Tigers signed outfielder Jorge Bonifacio to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training… Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox have interest in re-signing Rick Porcello.
National League Quick Hits: The Cubs added a piece to their bullpen, signing Dan Winkler to a one-year, $750,000 contract. Robert Murray reports that the deal also includes an additional $750,000 in possible incentives… The Mets bolstered their bullpen as well, signing right-hander Brad Brach to a one-year, $850,000 contract that also includes a $1.25 million player option for 2021… Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Starling Marte "is said to be available, but there’s no evidence trade talk has gained much traction yet."... Cardinals’ right-hander Carlos Martinez (shoulder) has been cleared to begin his throwing program. He’s tentatively expected to return to the Cardinals’ starting rotation in 2020… The Mets designated right-hander Chris Flexen for assignment on Friday. The right-hander then went and signed a contract with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization… According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, eight teams have checked in on free agent outfielder Kevin Pillar… Nick Senzel said Friday that rehab from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder has gone as planned… The Padres have made it known around the league that outfielder Wil Myers is available via trade… The Mets have interest in signing free-agent right-hander and former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello… The Mets signed Francisco Rios to a minor league deal… The Nats inked Kyle Finnegan to a minor league contract… The Brewers brought back Keon Broxton on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp… The Diamondbacks signed former Brewers’ hurler Junior Guerra to a one-year, $2.55 million contract with a club option for the 2021 season.