Former Mets GM and current Sirius/XM radio host Jim Duquette tweeted something that caught my eye a few minutes ago:
Major League Scout – “Hearing more managerial
changes by the end of the month. Could be up to 10 changes by the end of
Ten? Really? My reaction was the same as Duquette’s: Wow. Duquette thinks that 3-5 firings by the end of the season is more reasonable. I think he’s right.
But just for fun, here’s my list of guys who, based on my gut, a hunch and some moderately informed approximatin’ have a decent-to-certain chance to find themselves out of a job come this fall, for whatever reason. Note: I’m being intentionally bearish on many of these guys just to see if I can get to ten:
- Cito Gaston of the Blue Jays: Maybe he won’t be fired given how good the team is going, but there have been multiple indications that he’s going to retire after this season and that the team is just fine with that. Maybe everyone changes their mind about it if things continue to go well, though;
- Dave Trembley of the Orioles: I was actually surprised he outlasted Trey Hillman;
- Bob Geren of the Athletics: This is probably a longshot, but there was talk about it last year and things aren’t substantially better this year. The A’s tend not to make moves just to make moves;
- Fredi Gonzalez of the Marlins: Matthew is going to have more on him at around 6PM Eastern, but for now it’s worth noting that he was on thin ice last winter. Can the Hanley Ramirez Hullabaloo work to his political advantage?
- Jerry Manuel of the Mets: The Mets are obviously in dire shape. I mean really, they have the same record as the Red Sox for crying out loud!
- Bobby Cox of the Braves: This is a retirement, not a firing obviously. Although if Nate McClouth and Melky Cabrera don’t start hitting Cox may end the season in handcuffs after he murders them both;
- Lou Piniella of the Cubs: I think Sweet Lou will be allowed to see the season through and then retire.
- John Russell of the Pirates: He hasn’t done anything offensive to baseball and nature or anything, but the Pirates may be operating their franchise under numerology principles. Since Jim Leyland left, they’ve had managers serve for two, four, and five years each. If they fire Russell, they’ll have a three to complete the set.
- Ken Macha of the Brewers: It’s getting ugly in Milwaukee. And, as I mentioned yesterday, this is a team that fired their manager just before the playoffs.
- Joe Torre of the Dodgers: This is all a function of how much of a headache he really gets on the behind the scenes stuff. For all that gets written about it, I don’t think anyone besides Torre knows if he’ll come back for more. And even he may not know yet.
- A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks: The bullpen is bad and you can only fire so many players. In a lot of ways Hinch’s hiring was a grand experiment. That experiment appears to be failing.
That makes 11, although (a) some of those are long shots; and (b) Gaston, Cox, Torre, Piniella and Torre wouldn’t be firings, technically speaking.
So, six firings. Seem reasonable to you?
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.
UPDATE: The deal is official. Bowman adds that Johnson will make $2.5 million in 2016.
6:11 p.m. ET: Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2015 until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.
After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in late July, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.
It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.