The Orioles don’t have a deal with Vladimir Guerrero, as Jim Bowden reported Saturday, but they are at least looking into signing the aging slugger.
The Baltimore front office undoubtedly spent the weekend sorting out positives and negatives. Vlad might hit well at Camden Yards, but bringing him aboard would mean moving Luke Scott to the outfield, where he hasn’t played regularly since 2008 because of issues with range. Then there’s the other side, suggesting that it might be worth the potential power surge if Guerrero is willing to take an incentive-driven contract with a low base salary. But the Rangers are also thought to have some interest and the Angels could be open to a reunion, so it’s possible that his asking price hasn’t completely tumbled into a desperation level.
Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun was exploring the pros and cons this morning over on his blog “The Schmuck Stops Here.”
If the price is right, I think Guerrero would be a low-risk gamble with a high upside. If he can jack up one more season like last year, he could be the final piece in a potentially explosive batting order that could truly change the subject at Oriole Park this summer.
Mark Reynolds might put together a good season, J.J. Hardy might bounce back, Nick Markakis could turn his power numbers north, Adam Jones could reach stardom and Matt Wieters may figure it out. If that all happens, the Orioles will greatly improve. But those are big “ifs” and there are a lot of them. Plus, there’s a ceiling for their success in the American League East anyway if things do finally go right.
The O’s have the ability to make strides and the addition of Guerrero could help fill a few more seats at one of baseball’s best ballparks. Maybe that’s worth it. But it seems more likely that it will be a waste of the club’s financial resources. Pumping that money into the draft and the international market would be wiser.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.