Brandon Webb had a rough outing in an instructional league game yesterday, allowing two runs in two innings, and John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that scouts from 21 teams were on hand to watch the rehabbing right-hander.
As an impending free agent it may have been Webb’s final outing in a Diamondbacks uniform and because the former Cy Young winner hasn’t started a major-league game since Opening Day of 2009 it makes sense that so many teams want to get some looks in before he hits the open market.
What they saw wasn’t very impressive, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Webb’s “fastball sat in the low-80s and topped in the mid-80s” after similarly underwhelming velocity reports in outings last week. Of course, that’s to be expected after missing essentially two full seasons with shoulder problems that required surgery and Webb didn’t seem particularly worried about eventually regaining his old stuff:
I’m not real worried about that. I think my movement and the change-up and curveball is enough to keep the hitters off, and I think with time off the velocity will come back.
There’s a good chance he’s right and Webb’s dominance was never based on overpowering velocity in the first place, as his pre-surgery fastball clocked in at an average of 88 miles per hour. Webb has said that he’d prefer to re-sign with the Diamondbacks, but new general Kevin Towers seemingly hedged his bets a bit about the likelihood of that happening:
I think we have to look at the pool of players that are out there. As we approach the free-agency season, we’ll have to weigh him against the people that will be available in the next month or so. We know what type of pitcher he is when he’s healthy and feeling good. We’ll evaluate our position as we approach the off-season.
Webb earned $15 million during the past two seasons while throwing a grand total of four innings, but his next contract will likely be very heavy on incentives and very light on guaranteed money.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.