Huh, and you probably thought New Years Eve day was going to be pretty boring for baseball news. Not so.
The Padres just announced that they have acquired outfielder Carlos Quentin from the White Sox for prospect right-hander Simon Castro and prospect left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
Quentin, a San Diego native, will be reunited with Josh Byrnes, who traded him to the White Sox for Chris Carter in December of 2007 when he was general manager of the Diamondbacks.
Quentin, 29, earned $5.05 million this season while batting .254/.340/.499 with 24 home runs, 77 RBI and an .838 OPS over 483 plate appearances. He is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. While he’ll give a boost to the punchless Padres’ lineup, he’s leaving behind the best ballpark for right-handed power for one that’s in the middle of the pack. He’s also a liability defensively in a pretty big outfield.
As for the White Sox, I guess we can say the rebuilding effort is back on. Castro, 23, was hyped as a top prospect in the Padres’ organization last winter, but posted a disappointing 5.63 ERA and 94/34 K/BB ratio over 115 innings this past season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. Hernandez, 22, posted a 3.49 ERA and a quality 94/22 K/BB ratio over 116 innings in 2011 between High-A Lake Elsinore, Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. For what it’s worth, Baseball America did not include either of them among the Padres’ top 10 prospects earlier this month. That being said, they should rank much higher in the depleted White Sox system. And with Quentin gone, Dayan Viciedo should finally get a chance to play everyday.
It’s sort of a head-scratcher for the Padres in that they aren’t expected to contend this season, but they had the excess pitching depth in the minors to make this deal without hurting them in the long-term. Of course, there’s always the chance they can use Quentin as a trade chip around the deadline.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.
Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.
Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.
As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.
Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe …
Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.
Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.
Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.
Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.
Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.
His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …
It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?
Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.
Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.
Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.
Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.