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MLB News and Rumors: Tigers, Rangers swap stars

MLB News and Rumors: Tigers, Rangers swap stars
November 21, 2013
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With the offseason now in full spring, news will continue to become more and more frequent. In this new MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.

Here are the stories from Wednesday, November 20th.

Top Stories

  • The shocking news of the day was the trade of Prince Fielder. The Tigers sent the big slugger to Texas for Ian Kinsler. Along with Fielder, Detroit also sent Texas $30 million. There were reports that the Tigers had become concerned about how Prince would age and about his performance in this past postseason. With Fielder now off the books in Detroit, the Tigers have some money to try to lock up Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer. The move also allows MVP Miguel Cabrera to slide back to first, with Kinsler manning second. This seems to also mean that the Tigers will not look to re-sign Omar Infante. With a hole now at third base in Detroit, top prospect Nick Castellanos could be an option. He started off his career as a third baseman, but Detroit moved him to the outfield due to Cabrera and Fielder blocking his path at the infield corners. This trade could be just the start of what very well may be a crazy and very entertaining MLB offseason.

  • The Indians made their 40-man roster moves before the deadline on Wednesday, adding 1B Jesus Aguilar, OF Carlos Moncrief, INF Erik Gonzalez, RHP Bryan Price, and RHP Austin Adams. Along with these five additions, Cleveland also designated INF Cord Phelps for assignment. The 40-man roster is currently full, so once free agent signing David Murphy is added, a subsequent move will need to be made.

  • The Cardinals extended manager Mike Matheny's contract through the 2017 season. During the press conference announcing Matheny's new contract, General Manager John Mozeliak revealed that pitcher Chris Carpenter has informed the team that he will officially retire. Carpenter finished his career with a record of 144-94, with a 3.76 ERA and 33 complete games.

  • Alex Rodriguez stormed out of his own grievance hearing Wednesday afternoon, after the arbitrator ruled that Commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify before Rodriguez's defense attorneys. The Yankee third baseman said that he will no longer participate in “this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails.”

Other News and Notes

  • Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reported that there is mutual interest between the Dodgers and Dan Haren.

  • Jim Bowden reported that the Angles are making re-signing Jason Vargas a priority, and the team has spoken with many relievers, such as Joe Smith, J.P. Howell, and Edward Mujica.

  • Buster Olney tweeted that the Royals have had internal conversations about attempting to trade for Oakland's Brett Anderson.

  • The Diamondbacks designated former Indian Tony Sipp for assignment. This is the second time Sipp has been DFA'd by Arizona this year.

User Comments

November 21, 2013 - 3:07 PM EST
I also believe the reason the Tigers traded Fielder is to have the money to sign a closer either Wilson or Nathan. The rich get richer when the organization is run right. I do remember the Tigers were the joke MLB back in the 90's.

I think Bourn will have a bounce back year. If he does I think next off season would be best time to potential trade him before his skills really falls. But if teams that need CF this year, and feel that Choo, Granderson, and Ellsbury are to expensive choices than the Indians should listen to offers.

If teams are looking for cheaper CF the Indians should maximize the value in trading Stubbs.
November 21, 2013 - 1:27 PM EST
As far as who plays LF if Bourn is moved...

Well Murphy/Raburn could play LF with Swisher in RF. Could still find another OF bat too in a trade. Guy like Joyce from TB maybe (just an example) if you wanted to keep Swish at 1B.

Agree Brantley is a much better LFer than CFer, but I'd be willing to lose some defense there if it meant improving the team in other ways.
November 21, 2013 - 1:24 PM EST

Disagree that you don't have a guy to hit 3rd or 5th if you move Kipnis up to the leadoff spot. Brantley can hit 3rd or hell Gomes could (assuming he hits like he did in 2013 again). Cabrera also could hit 3rd assuming he bounces back some (don't need to trade both Cabrera and Bourn). In any case, Kipnis should hit leadoff whether Bourn is here or not.

If no deals are made...

1. Kipnis - 2B
2. Swisher - 1B
3. Gomes - C
4. Santana - DH
5. Brantley - LF
6. Murphy/Raburn - RF
7. Cabrera - SS
8. Bourn - CF
9. Chisenhall/Aviles - 3B

I do think Bourn can bounce back...but even if he gets back to his career numbers, he's not that good offensively. A .335 OBP is pretty bad for a leadoff hitter...
November 21, 2013 - 1:17 PM EST
All fair points Michael. But the bottom line is this is a money issue. The Indians will probably have a payroll around $80-90 million next year. They are at $83 million right now. How do they create money to fill their other needs? It is an opportunity cost issue....and when it boils down to it I don't see where Bourn has that much of an impact on this team compared to the other needs they have.....and I think he is very replaceable with guys already here.
November 21, 2013 - 12:58 PM EST
Moving Brantley back to center will take us back to 2012 when the outfield was a mess. Brantley is a much better left fielder than center fielder. Who plays left field once Brantley moves to center? I understand all your points and they do make some sense, but its still seems like a Bourn trade that would only create more problems than it would solve.

Tony, speaking of Lindor, any news on his recovery? Haven't heard anything about it and the Indians seem to be quiet on the matter. It seems kind of troublesome for someone so young to have a back injury already. Is he swinging a bat yet or working out? Thanks
November 21, 2013 - 12:57 PM EST
No doubt Bourn is a bounce back candidate. Short & Long term flexibility are really what it comes down to.

Here's a thought to entertain...what if...the Tribe could not resign Justin Masterson bc they lacked the financial flexibility to do so? I suppose they could back load a deal for him but, they would still have to pay the price.

The point is, right now might be the best time to move Michael Bourn. He still has value and a somewhat reasonable contract in comparison to some of the salary demands that are being reported. IF Bourn is in decline they won't be able to move his contract at a later point. That's where it has potential to seriously hamstring this team.
November 21, 2013 - 12:51 PM EST
I like Michael Bourn, in fact I called for the Tribe to sign him. He was an undervalue contract and would still be on this mkt. However, there is a real risk involved in keeping Michael Bourn over say Nick Swisher. Swisher can and apparently has already been (for the most part) relegated to another position (1b). Bourn does not offer that commodity as Swisher does. Speed generally fades with age add a leg injury and there is a chance Bourn loses a step. Did Bourn in fact begin a decline in speed / step. I can't honestly say, because I didn't target watching Bourn's game, but his numbers give rise to concern. Ultimately, it's a numbers game ($$$) for the Indians, if they can move Bourn or ACab or both and bring in SP in there stead it has to be considered. For the Tribe the most cost effective means of acq. talent is through trades and draft picks, so it is simple... they have to explore ways of creating financial flexibility and improving the team long and short term. That may come through trading a few players the Tribe would ideally like to have around, possibly even a guys that fit the Tribes mold.
November 21, 2013 - 12:48 PM EST
I understand trading Cabrera. We have Aviles and hopefully Lindor's back is ok and he can eventually take over at short. For Bourn though, we have no young outfielders that can come up and play everyday in center. I like Naquin but think he is at least a year or two away from being able to play in the majors. It just seems that trading Bourn this year would be taking a few steps back after a 92 win season. I also don't see the decline that a lot of people see. Sure the steals and on base percentage were down, but I think some of its due to the league change and getting to know the pitchers. I think Bourn can easily rebound this year and hit .270 to .280 and have 30 plus steals. I agree with Kipnis and Brantley but also think once you move those guys down, the rest of the lineup gets weaker. Who hits 3rd, 5th etc.
November 21, 2013 - 12:43 PM EST
Should also note, Bourn's career OBP is .335.

Kipnis had a .335 OBP in 2012 even. So even if Kipnis were to regress back to 2012 form, he's still a better leadoff option than Bourn has been in his career.

Bourn should be hitting no higher than 6th in the Tribe lineup.
November 21, 2013 - 12:40 PM EST

Jason Kipnis had a .360 OBP this year, just his 2nd big league season. Michael Bourn in his entire big league career has never had an OBP that high and only once been over .350 even.

Kipnis is already a better leadoff option than Bourn, so the issue of who hits leadoff without Bourn is very simple. Even Brantley could hit leadoff and you wouldn't lose much.

Tony is being generous calling Bourn barely above league average last year for a leadoff hitter. Easily could say he was well below average as far as leadoff hitters go.

As far as who plays have Stubbs, Brantley, and Murphy who all are capable of playing CF.
November 21, 2013 - 12:13 PM EST
Bourn is a guy that could very well be in decline, which means his contract becomes an albatross for the Indians the next few years. But that said, the only reason the Indians should look to trade him is to create payroll space. As things sit right now, they are about tapped out. The payroll is at $83 million right now with Murphy signing. That is above last year's payroll and they are not expected to increase it much, and if they do, it only goes up a little. They still need to sign a starting pitcher and get a pen arm. This is why trading Cabrera or Bourn is something being discussed as the Indians need to do something to create payroll space to make the moves they want to make.

As for leadoff, Bourn is a rather overrated leadoff guy. People see a little guy and someone with speed and automatically think that makes a good leadoff guy.....but he was barely league average as a leadoff guy last year, if even that. I'd rather someone like Kipnis leadoff anyway and put Brantley up in the order a little.
November 21, 2013 - 11:52 AM EST
Why does everyone want to trade Bourn now? Everyone complains when the front office doesn't spend, then when they finally do everyone wants them to trade the guy they just spent money on. 13 million isn't a lot for a player anymore. Spend the money on a front of the rotation starter or a middle of the order bat? What front of the rotation starter or middle of the order bat make 13 million a year? Those kind of players make 20 plus. Who would play center and leadoff? Don't say Stubbs. We would just be creating more holes rather than filling them.
November 21, 2013 - 11:02 AM EST
Lineup protection is kind of a myth though. Plus it's not like Victor Martinez is chop liver. OBP was only 7 points worse than Fielder last year and OPS only 34 pts worse. Kinsler getting on base in front of Miggy will help just as much (if not more) than a guy like Fielder hitting behind him.

Plus this move likely pushes Miggy to the cleanup spot where he belongs. Good move for the Tigers (sadly).

Definitely hoping the Tribe can pull off something similar with Bourn. He's pricy but when the prices for Choo, Ellsbury, Gradnderson, etc get out of hand, teams may look at Bourn as a not too bad....
November 21, 2013 - 10:56 AM EST
Yep, I'm just leery about a guy whose game is based on speed and defense when he has injury problems with his legs and is on the wrong side of 30. Obviously, other teams will feel the same way, but it only takes one. I just think at $13 million a year on a $80-85 million budget that it is a luxury that they cannot afford to have: a good defensive outfielder who has average impact on the offense. It would be one thing if that $13 million were on a front end of the rotation starter or a middle of the order bat raking.
November 21, 2013 - 10:40 AM EST
Tony I think you make a great point about the Bourn deal. It could be a real burden the next 3 yrs. still it was considered an under mkt deal at the time and with prices soaring another team may be willing to roll the dice. The Tribe could do so in similar fashion taking on a lesser contract, but one that seems to be a lesser burden or they could look for salary relief seeking a cpl prospects in return.
November 21, 2013 - 9:14 AM EST
This Tigers move is shocking. It helps long term as they get out from under the Fielder contract (in a small reason the same reason I'd like to trade Bourn)......but in the short term there no longer is no protection for Cabrera. There is something to be said that with Fielder in Detroit the last two years that Cabrera won MVPs both years. I walk him all day and take my chances against Martinez - who is a good hitter, but is no Fielder.
November 21, 2013 - 7:42 AM EST
Moving Fielder could mean the Tigers have some $ to extend Scherzer. Seems like Omar Infante is gone.

Sipp would be an interesting add on a minor league deal.

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