While the baseball world waits to see if Ryan Dempster to the Braves actually happens, the Marlins and Tigers have pulled off an even bigger trade.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that Miami is sending right-hander Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to Detroit. According to his colleage Ken Rosenthal the Marlins will get pitching prospect Jacob Turner, plus minor leaguers Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn. And the two sides have also agreed to swap competitive balance draft picks, which marks the first time those have been included in a trade.
Sanchez is a significant upgrade for the Tigers’ rotation, but he’s also an impending free agent set to cash in big on the open market at age 28. He has a 3.75 ERA in 132 career starts, including a 3.94 ERA and excellent 110/33 K/BB ratio in 121 innings this season. And now he joins a rotation that already had Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello.
Infante was originally signed by the Tigers as an 18-year-old out of Venezuela in 1999. They traded him to the Cubs for Jacque Jones in 2007 and since then he’s also played for the Braves and Marlins. Infante has hit for more power than usual this season, but his .754 OPS is relatively close to his .714 career mark and he figures to play mostly second base for Detroit.
Turner was promoted from Triple-A last week because the Tigers needed rotation help, but after three starts they decided he was worth parting with to bring in a proven veteran like Sanchez. Turner was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 draft and ranked as one of MLB’s top 30 prospects in 2010, 2011, and this season according to Baseball America. He’s widely considered one of the top 10-15 pitching prospects in baseball.
At age 21 he may not be quite ready to thrive in the majors, but the Marlins did well to get a legitimate top pitching prospect in exchange for an impending free agent and a good but not great infielder. And obviously the Tigers, after spending all that money on Prince Fielder this offseason and finally taking over first place in the AL Central last week, are fully in win-now mode.
Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”
Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”
“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”
Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.
After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.
Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.
This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.
Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.
You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.
Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”
Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.
Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.
When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.
During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.