Six weeks after calling up George Springer from Triple-A the Astros are set to promote another stud hitting prospect to the big leagues, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that first baseman Jon Singleton is on his way up from Triple-A.
And here’s where it gets even more interesting: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Astros and Singleton have agreed to a long-term contract that guarantees him at least $10 million and could be worth up to $35 million. Handing out long-term deals to inexperienced players has become increasingly popular in recent years, but to do so the day you call a prospect up from the minors is taking things to another level.
Houston reportedly tried to do that same thing with Springer before calling him up and Pittsburgh is said to have tried to do the same with Gregory Polanco, but both of those prospects balked at the idea. Passan says if the Astros pick up all three options in the deal they’ll control Singleton through his first year of free agency.
Singleton was acquired from the Phillies in the mid-2011 trade for Hunter Pence and ranked as a top-100 prospect according to Baseball America and MLB.com heading into this season. He’s improved his stock further by hitting .267 with 14 homers and a .941 OPS in 54 games at Triple-A as a 22-year-old, making big strides with his strike zone control to lead the Pacific Coast League with 42 walks.
Houston’s first basemen have been awful this season, hitting a combined .181 with five homers and a .561 OPS in 58 games, so it won’t take a whole lot for Singleton to provide a big upgrade. Meanwhile, after struggling initially Springer is hitting .259 with 10 homers and an .844 OPS in 41 games overall, playing a huge part in the Astros’ recent turnaround.
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.