Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Left field & right field


This is the sixth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Jayson Werth (Phillies) – It seemed inconceivable two months ago, but the Phillies have been willing to discuss Werth because of their need for pitching and their ability to plug the game’s No. 1 prospect, Domonic Brown, into his spot in right field. A trade, however, did seem a bit more likely a couple of weeks ago than it does now. The Rays, considered one of the top suitors, no longer appear to be in the mix, and the possibility of Roy Oswalt coming to Philly, a move that may have required a Werth trade, has diminished. Besides, teams have to be wondering if Werth is really worth that big of a ransom. He’s a free agent at season’s end, his production has dropped every month this season and he’s been downright ordinary outside of Citizens Bank Park (.259/.365/.414 with three homers in 174 at-bats). He’ll probably finish out the year in Philadelphia.
Corey Hart (Brewers) – Hart was up for grabs over the winter after back-to-back disappointing seasons, but no one bit. After losing playing time to Jim Edmonds initially, he’s come back with what could go down as a career year, as he has 22 homers and 70 RBI through 89 games. Like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, Hart is a free agent after 2011, and the Brewers may well have to part with at least one member of the group with all being due for big raises in arbitration over the winter. Hart, making $4.85 million this year, figures to see his salary jump to $8 million-$10 million if he goes on to have a 35-homer season. The Giants have led the way in trade talks regarding Hart, though those whispers were louder earlier this month than they are now. He could also be an option for the Padres and Rays.
Josh Willingham (Nationals) – The Nats probably can’t risk going long-term with both Adam Dunn and Willingham, so one could be moved this week. Another right-handed slugger, Willingham has less to offer defensively than Werth or Hart, but he’s just as good of a hitter as either. He’s batting .273/.401/.479 in 311 at-bats so far this season. A major cause for concern is his history of back problems, but that’s a bigger worry for the team that eventually signs him to a long-term contract. He’s played in 96 of the Nationals’ 99 games this season, and he hasn’t actually missed time because of his back since 2008. Willingham has the same contract situation as Hart: he’s making $4.6 million now and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next year. Since he doesn’t cover as much ground in the outfield, he should be less attractive to the Giants and Padres than Hart. However, he could really help the AL East powers with his bat.
Luke Scott (Orioles) – One of the game’s most underrated hitters, Scott has quietly batted .295/.364/.583 with 17 homers in 254 at-bats for the Orioles this season. Of course, Camden Yards has played a role there. In fact, Scott’s road OPSs the last three years are completely pedestrian: 753, 727 and 743 so far this season. Then again, he never gets to face Orioles pitching and that’d probably be good for an extra 50 points of OPS if he changed teams. While he’s been used primarily as a DH the last two years, Scott is a solid defender in left field and he’s gaining some experience at first base. He should be an option for NL teams as well as AL squads. Baltimore is willing to move him since he’s 32 and he’s due a nice raise before becoming eligible for free agency after next year. His left-handed bat would look very good in the middle of the heavily right-handed White Sox lineup.
Scott Podsednik (Royals) – The Royals have never been ones to admit defeat, and with David DeJesus down, they might just hold on to Podsednik just so that they don’t have to resort to committing so many at-bats to Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier. Still, they’d be crazy not to part with him if the price is right. Podsednik has been a fine top-of-the-order hitter this year, batting .308/.352/.400 with 30 steals in 42 attempts, but at age 34, it’s not like he’s a big part of the Royals’ future. Other than the injury-prone Coco Crisp, Podsednik is the one true leadoff man available, and that could be worth an extra prospect in trade talks. He’s another possibility for San Diego, and the Dodgers may want him as a fourth outfielder.
Garrett Jones (Pirates) – Jones took the league by surprise as a 28-year-old rookie last year, hitting .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers in 314 at-bats for the Pirates. NL pitchers, though, have had a lot more success against him in year two. His current .270/.333/.422 line is a lot closer to what his minor league numbers suggested he’d hit. Jones won’t even be arbitration eligible next year, so the Pirates may want to keep him around as an extremely cheap regular. Still, if they can get a couple of intriguing prospects for him now, they should go for it and then start looking to find the next Jones. The Angels are believed to have asked about him, and he could also be a fit with the White Sox or with the Rangers as a replacement for Magglio Ordonez.
Jose Guillen (Royals) – Guillen has been on the block for a year and a half, but now that he has just a bit more than $4 million left on his three-year, $36 million contract, a deal is finally realistic. The 34-year-old has 16 homers and 59 RBI this season, though his overall .271/.333/.457 line is less impressive. He’s also a liability in the outfield. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Padres and Giants could be interested in Guillen, and it’s believed the Royals and Mets have discussed various forms of deals involving Guillen and Jeff Francoeur.
Austin Kearns (Indians) – It looked like Kearns might revive his career in Cleveland after he hit .373/.429/.627 in April, but the 30-year-old has done little while playing regularly over the last three months and he’s currently down to .266/.349/.408 on the season. On the plus side, he has hit .288/.366/.449 away from Progressive Field. Kearns also remains a quality defensive outfielder capable of playing part-time in center if necessary. The Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants are among the teams that could use him as a fourth outfielder.
Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) – Just like in his previous seasons, Fukudome opened 2010 in grand fashion and then faded fast. He still has an adequate .253/.356/.410 line for the season, but he’s been a liability since his big April. The Cubs will be willing to eat a portion of the $4 million+ he’s owed over the rest of this year and the $13.5 million he’s due next year, but since he doesn’t seem like a good bet to help a contender right now, an in-season deal remains unlikely. He’ll probably get moved over the winter.
Jeff Francoeur (Mets) – Francoeur hasn’t posted a 700 OPS against righties since 2007, but he still thinks of himself as a full-time outfielder and he’s made it clear he’d welcome a trade away from the Mets if it came with more playing time. If he goes anywhere this week, it will probably be to Kansas City. However, even if the Royals truly want him, they’d be better off signing him after he’s non-tendered this winter.
Ryan Church (Pirates) – Church has had a disastrous season in Pittsburgh, hitting just .187/.242/.319 in 166 at-bats, and at this rate, he could well end up in Japan next year. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but he hasn’t been the same player since suffering multiple concussions in 2008. The Pirates will gladly give him away if anyone comes calling.
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The Red Sox get their ace! Boston signs David Price to a 7-year, $217 million deal


Multiple reports circulated in the past week that the Red Sox would need to unload the money truck in order to sign David Price. Well, the truck just got unloaded: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

This is, by far, the largest free agent contract the Red Sox have ever given a pitcher. It beats Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million deal signed last offseason as the largest ever free agent pitcher contract. Clayton Kershaw‘s contract extension with the Dodgers was for $215 million.

Price went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA pitching in the AL East while with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being traded to the Tigers just before the 2014 trade deadline he went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. He returned to the AL East with the Blue Jays this year, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He also pitched in the playoffs for the Jays starting three times in four overall appearances.

The Red Sox were in dire need of pitching and they were said to be gunning for Price to fill that need. Target: acquired.

Major League Baseball’s annual drug testing report has been released

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator. It’s the annual report, mandated by the JDA, which says how many positive drug tests there were, what the drugs were, etc.

The notable numbers, which cover the period starting when the 2014 World Series ended until the 2015 World Series ended:

  • Total number of tests administered: 8,158. 6,536 of them were urine tests, 1,622 of them were blood tests for HGH;
  • 10 tests resulted in positives which led to discipline: 7 for PEDs, 2 for stimulants, one for DHEA;
  • The previous year there were 7,929 total tests with 12 which resulted in discipline;
  • There were the same number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted this year as last: 113. All but two were for attention deficit disorder. One was for gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in men due to a hormone imbalance, one was for a stress fracture in someone’s elbow.

A use exemption line item which had appeared on the list for the previous several years — hypogonadism — was not there, so congratulations to the anonymous player who was either cured or who retired.

As we always note, the number of players who got exemptions for ADD drugs is a bit higher than the occurrence of ADD in the population at large and, once you eliminate kids from ADHD occurrences, it’s likely considerably higher. But that’s none of my business.

Kendrys Morales wins the Edgar Martinez DH of the Year Award

Kansas City Royals' Kendrys Morales watches his solo home run during the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Only seven hitters in the American League got enough plate appearances while primarily serving time as DH to qualify for the batting title in 2015. And of those some of them — most notably Edwin Encarnacion — played a fair bit of defense, meaning that there weren’t too many guys who could really be called true DHs in the game. Still they give out an award for being the best DH, you only need 100 plate appearances as a DH to be eligible and Kendrys Morales just won it:

Morales received 50 of the 88 first-place votes cast to garner the honor for the first time in his nine-year career . . . Boston’s David Ortiz, a seven-time winner of the ODH Award, finished second with 34 second-place votes after batting .267 (132-for-495) with 35 doubles, 32 homers and 99 RBI in 134 games as DH for the Red Sox this past season . . . Kendrys batted .295 (156-for-529) with 39 doubles, 21 home runs, 104 RBI and 78 runs scored in 141 games as DH for the Royals.

Defense — which for this award has to be thought of as a demerit, right? — couldn’t have separated these two as they both slummed it at first base for nine games. Overall I’d rather have had Ortiz, who walked more, hit for greater power and, batting average notwithstanding, got on base at almost exactly the same clip as Morales did. Similar arguments could be made for A-Rod and Prince Fielder, but no one asks me about such things. They do ask club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments, however, who vote on the award.

It’s an award that has been around a while — this was the 42nd year for it — but it’s just been known as the Edgar Martinez Award since 2004. It would’ve been really weird if it had been called that in 1978. Martinez was just 15 then.

Twins sign Korean slugger Byung-ho Park to four-year contract

Byung-ho Park
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With a week remaining in their exclusive negotiating window to sign Byung-ho Park the Twins have agreed to a deal with the Korean slugger. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that it’s a four-year, $12 million contract, on top of which the Twins will pay Park’s old team a $12.85 million posting fee for those negotiating rights.

Four years and a total commitment of $24.85 million is certainly a sizable investment, but it’s significantly less than most projections had the Twins spending to get Park under contract.

Last offseason the Pirates bid $5 million to negotiate with Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang and then signed him to a four-year, $11 million deal. His success in MLB raised the level of interest in Park, who posted similarly spectacular numbers in Korean, but in the end the price tag wasn’t significantly higher. Based on reports from Korea, it sounds like the Twins low-balled him in negotiations and Park basically just accepted it because he wants to play in MLB.

Three weeks ago I wrote a lengthy breakdown of how Park could fit into the Twins’ plans when they secured the high bid, but the short version is that he’ll slot into the lineup as the starting designated hitter and look to prove that his exceptional production in Korean can carry over to MLB. Park hit .343 with 53 homers, 146 RBIs, and a 1.150 OPS in 140 games for Nexen this past season and has topped a 1.000 OPS in each of the past three years.