Minor MLB Transactions: 7/29/15

We’ve got some catching up to do on the minor moves front after a busy couple of days:

  • Reds outfielder/first baseman Chris Dominguez has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Dominguez has seen short big league stints in each of the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old has played mostly in the upper minors. He owns a .216/.264/.368 slash over 221 plate appearances on the year at Louisville.
  • The Pirates outrighted infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A after recently designating him for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). Following two seasons as a significant utility piece for the Nationals, Lombardozzi has received only 85 big league plate appearances over the 2014-15 campaigns. He owns a .303/.362/.352 slash in his 291 turns at bat for Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • After he, too, cleared waivers, Pirates third baseman Brent Morel elected free agency, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). The 28-year-old has spent at least some time in the big leagues in every season since 2010, putting up a .601 OPS in 712 plate appearances. In 326 times coming to bat at Triple-A this year, he owns a .266/.322/.441 batting line.
  • As expected, Astros outfielder Alex Presley has accepted an outright assignment with the organization, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. He previously agreed to an outright assignment in order to preserve his $1MM arbitration salary, and chose to do the same once again.
  • The Mariners acquired righty J.C. Ramirez from the Diamondbacks, Seattle announced. Ramirez, 26, made it up to the big leagues for the second time this year, throwing 15 1/3 innings of 4.11 ERA ball from the Arizona pen. He’ll return to his first professional team, which shipped him to the Phillies in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.

Trade Notes: Chapman, Chavez, Shields, Dodgers, Gomez, Kelley, O’s, Nats

The Reds are currently “examining offers” for closer Aroldis Chapman, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney, but at this time, there’s no sense as to whether or not they feel “devoted” to finishing a trade as they did with Johnny Cueto over the weekend. Chapman’s name has been connected to the Nationals (who have since acquired Jonathan Papelbon), D-Backs, Blue Jays and others in recent weeks, but because he’s controlled through 2016, the urge to move him isn’t as great as the urge to move Cueto or teammate Mike Leake.

A few more general trade notes for all you late-night readers…

  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick gets the sense that the Athletics won’t move right-hander Jesse Chavez (Twitter link). I listed Chavez in my breakdown of the trade market for starting pitching, but as Crasnick notes, he’s controlled through 2016 at what should be a reasonable rate. Chavez is owed just $2.15MM in 2015 and should get a nice, but not enormous raise in arbitration this winter. Following today’s trade of Ben Zobrist, A’s general manager Billy Beane said that he didn’t plan on moving pieces that are controlled beyond the current season.
  • Sticking with the ESPN group, Jayson Stark noted in today’s roundup of trade rumors that one exec predicted to him that James Shields would end up with the Giants. However, Stark hears that the Padres have changed their stance on trading within the division and now may be hesitant to trade their top chips to a division-rival. San Diego, of course, made a huge intra-division trade by acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers this offseason.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers, Stark also hears that L.A. could land two starting pitchers instead of one this week. He goes on to add that the Dodgers have a limited number of prospects they’re actually willing to deal, though, so if they can line up on a trade for a big name like Cole Hamels, they may not have the remaining pieces to add a second arm.
  • One executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he doesn’t think the Brewers particularly want to trade Carlos Gomez (Twitter link). The asking price on Gomez at this time is “very” high, the exec tells Rosenthal, adding that he thinks Milwaukee is hoping to get blown away but may otherwise hang onto the center fielder.
  • The Pirates have interest in Padres right-hander Shawn Kelley, reports John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times (on Twitter). A free agent following the season, Kelley has turned in a very strong 3.09 ERA with excellent strikeout-to-walk numbers in 2015. He’s averaged 10.9 K/9 against a minuscule 1.8 BB/9 in his first season with San Diego.
  • The Orioles‘ interest in Carlos Gonzalez was characterized by one source as “mild,” tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, Morosi tweets that the Orioles are still in the Justin Upton market. Baltimore is known to be looking for a corner outfield upgrade but has limited prospect depth from which it can deal to achieve that goal.
  • Morosi also notes (via Twitter) that the Nationals are interested in upgrading their bench, but the want to fully assess the health of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, both of whom are now off the disabled list. He notes that an extra outfielder would be a nice pickup for the team, speculatively listing both Will Venable of the Padres and Gerardo Parra of the Brewers as fits.

Rangers Out Of Market For Top Rentals, Have Talked To Padres About Pitchers

JULY 28: Not only are the Rangers in contact with the Padres regarding Ross and Cashner, they’re discussing the pair with San Diego as much as they’re discussing Hamels with the Phillies, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (Twitter link).

JULY 26: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported yesterday that the 47-50 Rangers were mostly seeking players who could help beyond 2015. Today, Wilson writes (Twitter links) that according to GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers are out of the market for top rental players, although they could pursue minor trades for impending free agents. The Rangers have, of course, lately been strongly connected to Cole Hamels, but Hamels is under contract for several seasons beyond this one.

The team has recently had discussions with the Padres about Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, Wilson writes. Cashner is under control through 2016, Ross through 2017. Ross, who has more years of control remaining and is a strikeout pitcher with an excellent ground ball rate, appears especially likely to require a significant return. The two pitchers were, until recently, frequently connected to the Astros, although Houston would seem less likely to acquire either of them now that they’ve traded for Scott Kazmir.



Reactions To The Ben Zobrist Trade

The Royals added their second major rental piece via trade earlier today, acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Athletics in exchange for right-hander Aaron Brooks and minor league lefty Sean Manaea. It’s another steep price for the Royals to pay, as they’ve now parted with their first-round picks from both 2014 (Brandon Finnegan) and 2013 (Manaea) in addition to their 2013 second-rounder (Cody Reed).

Here are some reactions from around the web…

  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with several Athletics players and GM Billy Beane about the move. “You’d rather be on the other end of it,” Beane told Slusser. “We’ve been on both sides in my tenure here, but you have to be realistic in evaluating your situation going forward. This season we had high hopes and we got off on the wrong foot….and it just snowballed.” Beane stressed that he has no plans to trade a player that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, Slusser adds. Beane said that Manaea wasn’t the type of player he thought he could get in a deal, but he’s happy to bring him on board. Athletics DH Billy Butler is familiar with Manaea from his time in the Royals organization. “I thought Manaea was untouchable,” said Butler, who praised Manaea’s “tremendous” arm.
  • Brooks was assigned to Triple-A following the trade, but he won’t stay there long. Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area tweets that Brooks will start Saturday’s contest for the Athletics. A roster move will have to be made prior to that happening, of course, though Brooks is already on the 40-man roster.
  • While Zobrist isn’t the player that he was a couple of years ago, he’ll still be a significant improvement over Omar Infante at second base (once he moves there upon Alex Gordon‘s return from the DL), writes ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required/recommended). Zobrist is at least a one-win upgrade, if not more, says Law, who finds the price paid by Kansas City a reasonable one. Manaea’s upside is tantalizing and Law has seen him at his best, but he also notes that he saw him unable to hold his velocity two weeks ago. Manaea’s injury history raises questions about whether he can handle the workload of a starter. If he proves durable enough, Law notes that Manaea can be at least a mid-rotation starter even with average velocity, or more if he can stay healthy and maintain his velocity deeper in games. Brooks fits the strike-thrower mold of Tommy Milone or Kendall Graveman he adds — a fringe rotation option for many teams that could succeed due to Oakland’s cavernous stadium.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (video link) broke down the prospects acquired in the trade, praising Manaea’s “solid first full season” but explaining that the lefty dropped off MLB.com’s Top 100 on their midseason update, in part due to missing the first half of 2015 with non-arm related injuries. Mayo feels that if everything comes together for Manaea, he can be “at least” a No. 3 starter, but “has a chance to be much more than that.” Brooks doesn’t come with a big upside but has average stuff across the board and four-pitch mix that can pitch as a fourth or fifth starter. The Athletics’ trade activity over the past week has done quite a bit to restore what had been a declining group of Top 30 prospects and deepen Oakland’s farm, Mayo adds.
  • The Royals were pursuing Zobrist even before acquiring Cueto, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The team had, in fact, pegged Cueto and Zobrist as its two top targets entering the trade deadline, and they’ve managed to secure both pieces. As McCullough notes, last season, the Royals “spun their wheels” and tried for incremental upgrades at the deadline, pursuing deals for Marlon Byrd and Alex Rios without success. Riding a World Series berth and record attendance, however, the Royals have been able to take a win-now, all-in approach that the organization and its fans haven’t experienced before.
  • One NL exec told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that Manaea was the most surprising prospect he saw traded today, calling him an “impact player” and opining that the A’s did well to acquire him in the deal (Twitter link). Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, tweets that he’s heard other teams praising the Athletics’ acquisition of Manaea as well.
  • MLBTR’s Zach Links was among the reporters on today’s conference call with Royals GM Dayton Moore. As Zach wrote, Moore said he doesn’t foresee making any significant additions between now and the trade deadline, so it would seem that the heavy lifting for Kansas City is out of the way.
  • Instagram users can check out our new @traderumorsmlb account for a glimpse of what Zobrist will look like in his new uniform when he joins the team, which will reportedly happen on Thursday.

Braves Designate David Carpenter For Assignment

The Braves announced tonight that they’ve designated right-handed reliever David Carpenter for assignment. The move creates a spot for Mike Foltynewicz to return to the big league club.

This marks the second DFA of the season for Carpenter, who is not to be confused with the Nationals reliever of the same name. Both David Carpenters, of course, have pitched for the Braves in the past two seasons, creating a bit of confusion around Atlanta’s pair of DFAs this season.

The Carpenter in question — David Lee Carpenter — has the more limited track record of the two. He’s pitched just 3 2/3 innings for the Braves this season, allowing three runs in that time but also fanning five without any walks. Carpenter has a 5.40 ERA over the life of his career — a span of 46 2/3 innings. He has a 4.02 ERA in 118 2/3 Triple-A innings to go along with averages of 7.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.


Henderson Alvarez Undergoes Season-Ending Shoulder Surgery

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder, manager Dan Jennings told reporters today. As MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes, Dr. James Andrews performed the operation, and there’s no timetable for his recovery at this juncture. It’s possible, though, that Alvarez’s readiness for the 2016 season could be impacted, according to Frisaro.

As was reported last week, Alvarez experienced a setback in his most recent attempt to rehab the shoulder, which brought his season into question. The 25-year-old was Miami’s Opening Day starter, but he’ll finish the 2015 season with just 22 1/3 innings, four starts and a dismal 6.45 ERA under his belt.

Originally acquired from the Blue Jays in the Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle/Josh Johnson blockbuster in the 2012-13 offseason, Alvarez looked to be an increasingly important member of the Marlins’ rotation in 2013-14 (and he may very well still be), as he tossed 102 2/3 innings of 3.59 ERA ball in 2013 and showed improved results (2.65 ERA) with an increased workload (187 2/3 innings) in 2014. The young righty’s season-ending no-hitter served as one of the bright spots to the 2013 campaign for the Marlins.

Alvarez and his now-former agents at Praver-Shapiro agreed to a $4MM contract this offseason, avoiding arbitration with Miami. He and his new agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council won’t have much of a case for a big raise this winter, so Alvarez will likely earn a very similar amount in 2016.

Given Alvarez’s injury and the likely departures of Dan Haren and Mat Latos (presumably via trade), pitching depth figures to be an area of focus for Miami this offseason. The Marlins do have Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler, David Phelps, Brad Hand, Jarred Cosart, Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino as rotation options, but that group is lacking in both experience and certainty.


Joe Thatcher Elects Free Agency

JULY 28: The Astros announced today that Thatcher cleared waivers and elected free agency. He and his representatives at Platinum Sports are now free to seek a deal with interested parties.

JULY 21: The Astros have designated left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher for assignment in order to clear room on the active roster for Vincent Velasquez, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (via Twitter).

Thatcher signed a minor league deal with Houston in the offseason but made the team out of Spring Training and has enjoyed generally successful results in his first year with the Astros. He’s posted a 3.79 ERA and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, though he’s also battled his command, yielding 5.2 walks per nine frames as well.

Thatcher is typically an effective weapon versus left-handed hitters, but that wasn’t the case in 2015. In fact, opponents as a whole batted .292/.376/.389 versus the 33-year-old. However, Thatcher did have his share of poor luck on balls in play; over the life of his career, opponents have notched a .321 BABIP versus Thatcher, but that number soared to .377 this season in Houston. He did have his share of good fortune as well, as both his strand rate and homer-to-flyball rate were a bit more favorable than his career norms.

Thatcher’s minor league deal had a $1MM base salary and called for up to $1.3MM worth of additional incentives, so his financial cost wouldn’t be exorbitant. Given the reasonable dollars and the fact that he has a 3.04 ERA with 10.0 K/9 vs. 3.0 BB/9 dating back to 2009, Thatcher looks to be capable of serving as a useful bullpen cog elsewhere, should the Astros attempt to gauge interest on the trade market. Of course, the return for a player that took a minor league deal in the winter and has since been designated — decent results notwithstanding — would be minimal.


Nationals Acquire Jonathan Papelbon

8:05pm: Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that the Nationals will receive $4.5MM from the Phillies in 2015, which covers all but about $400K of Papelbon’s remaining salary. Papelbon’s 2016 salary will indeed be $11MM, he adds, but $3MM of that will be deferred and paid in the 2017 season.

7:12pm: The Nationals announced on Tuesday evening that they have acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies in exchange for Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta. Not only has the team acquired Papelbon, though, they also announced that they have signed him through the 2016 season. Papelbon and the Nationals have reportedly agreed to restructure the pre-existing club/vesting option on his contract, reducing the value from $13MM to $11MM in exchange for having the option immediately exercised. The Phillies also announced the move, adding that they sent cash considerations to Washington along with Papelbon.

Jonathan PapelbonAmong the roadblocks that needed to be resolved prior to finalization of a complicated trade were Papelbon’s no-trade clause, his vesting option for the 2016 season and his adamant desire to remain a closer upon a trade to a new team.

The Nationals, of course, have Drew Storen pitching exceptionally well in the ninth inning this season, but the trade was reportedly contingent upon Papelbon becoming the team’s closer. As such, Storen will slide back to the eighth inning and return to a setup role which he has handled with aplomb in the past. This season, Storen has saved 29 games and worked to a 1.73 ERA, averaging 10.9 strikeouts and just 2.2 walks per nine innings pitched.

A need for a late-inning reliever, then, might not appear to be a strong one for the Nationals, but the rest of the bullpen has been suspect. When subtracting Storen’s 36 1/3 dominant innings, the Nationals’ other relievers have combined to post a considerably less dominant 3.68 ERA.

Papelbon will unquestionably deepen the team’s bullpen, though he may not necessarily be an improvement over Storen in the ninth inning. However, his acquisition will allow Nationals manager Matt Williams more flexibility when using Storen. Williams has deployed Storen, his best reliever, in the eighth inning just once this season, and he’s never used him for more than three outs. Whether or not Storen will be available in multi-inning (or at least four- and five-out situations) remains to be seen, but the Nats will now have a pair of relievers with sub-2.00 ERAs to close out the final two innings of the game.

For all the talk about Papelbon’s diminished velocity, he remains an elite reliever. He’s pitched to a 1.87 ERA dating back to Opening Day 2014, averaging 8.7 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in 106 innings of relief. Though he’s now averaging just over 91 mph on his heater, Papelbon has improved his control and become a significantly more ground-ball-oriented pitcher. His 51.9 percent ground-ball rate is the highest of his career and comes in a full 13 percent above his career mark of 38.9 percent. The result of his new approach on the hill has been a 1.59 ERA that would represent the second-best mark of his career and his best since 2006, were the season to end today.

Papelbon is earning $13MM in 2015, and about $4.9MM of that sum remains through season’s end. Papelbon was just 21 games finished shy of seeing his 2016 option vest anyway, but by agreeing to the restructured deal he’s traded a bit of financial upside for financial security and the opportunity to join a winning team. While Papelbon’s option was long viewed as a detriment to his trade value and, in the end, still proved to be that, he would almost certainly have been in position to receive a much more sizable commitment on the free agent market, so there’s some value in the deal for the Nats as well.

Turning to the Phillies’ side of the deal, Baseball America ranked the 22-year-old Pivetta as the Nationals No. 10 prospect on their midseason update. Per BA, the Canadian hurler’s 6’5″ frame allows him to throw a low-90s fastball with downward plane. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis ranked Pivetta 12th among Nats farmhands, noting that he can reach 96 mph with his heater and giving him a chance to start in the big leagues while noting that he’s somewhat of a project.

In 101 1/3 innings split between Class-A Advanced and Double-A this season, Pivetta has a 3.02 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. He’ll join Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Tom Windle and Joely Rodriguez as arms acquired by the Phillies dating back to the offseason’s trades of Jimmy Rollins, Antonio Bastardo and Marlon Byrd.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that there was a deal in the works, but both Jim Bowden and Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that there were hurdles to be cleared before a deal was struck. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reported (on Twitter) that a deal was close. Bowden reported that a Double-A pitcher was headed to the Phillies (Twitter links). Rosenthal reported (Twitter links) that the trade was contingent upon Papelbon becoming Washington’s closer and restructuring his option. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported Pivetta’s inclusion (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted the new terms of Papelbon’s 2016 salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Reactions To And Impact Of The Troy Tulowitzki Deal

The blockbuster trade sending start shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies to the Blue Jays is now official. He’s officially heading to Toronto along with veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins. In return, the Rockies will pick up the rest of the contract of Jose Reyes (saving about $50MM against Tulo’s deal) and add three quality right-handed pitching prospects (Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco).

Here are the some of the many reactions to the overnight deal, along with the latest notes from the teams involved:

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’ persistent approach paid off in the end, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. According to Rosenthal, Anthopoulos first contacted Rockies GM Jeff Bridich about the possibility of acquiring Tulowitzki this winter, but Bridich wasn’t interested in taking on Reyes as part of the return. The same held true in May, but there was a bit of traction in early July, and business picked up quickly on Monday night. (Rosenthal adds that Anthopoulos took the same dogged approach with A’s GM Billy Beane in offseason talks for Josh Donaldson.)
  • After being promised that he’d be consulted prior to any trade, Tulowitzki instead found out when manager Walt Weiss, with tears in his eyes, pulled the franchise cornerstone from the game in the ninth inning on Monday, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The Rockies, Passan continues, asked that Tulo not publicly demand a trade so as not to weaken their stance in discussions, and he obliged. Both Passan and Rosenthal note that Tulowitzki is not pleased with the manner in which his exit from Colorado was handled. Notably, Passan writes that the Rockies’ young players have said to one another since the trade that owner Dick Monfort should have flown into Chicago to inform Tulowitzki in person. This type of ugly exit sets a bad precedent with remaining stars around whom the Rockies want to build (e.g. Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson), Passan opines.
  • As for Arenado, he expressed some dismay at the situation to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post“I don’t know any of these dudes we got,” Arenado said. “But I think if we were going to trade Tulo, I would think it would be for an ace, an established veteran pitcher. Obviously we are starting to rebuild from the ground up.” (To be fair, it seems that Arenado was referring to the prospect pitching that came back in the deal, not the veteran Reyes.)
  • Rosenthal adds that the Blue Jays are still intent on adding starting pitching, and he speculatively wonders if the addition of Tulowitzki’s imposing bat will make it easier for the Blue Jays to part with Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to make that happen. But reports have indicated that won’t occur, and GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed in his press conference that the team does not intend to move its big league bats to add arms (via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, on Twitter). In Passan’s piece above, he notes that the team will be active on the pitching front but deal from its prospect depth instead of its big league roster.
  • The team does, however, intend to remain active on the market for relievers and, especially, starters. Anthopoulos said he hopes to make staff additions over the next few days, as Sportsnet’s Arash Madani tweets.
  • Coming out of this deal, the Jays could look to add another option in left field, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. He also cites a report from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun regarding the failure of Toronto’s recent attempt to pry Carlos Carrasco away from the Indians. Hoffman would have been a part of that deal, along with highly-regarded prospects Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey, which could explain in part how things worked out. (It’s also an indication of what kind of price Carrasco could command.)
  • Looking ahead, Anthopoulos says that the Blue Jays see Tulowitzki as a future piece for the club, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports on Twitter“We would have taken Tulowitzki in the offseason, we just couldn’t get a deal done,” said the Toronto GM. “This is not a July deal.”
  • Several rival executives believe the Rockies will keep Reyes with hopes that he’ll regain some value over the second half, Passan tweets. Certainly, playing at Coors Field promises to boost his batting line, though injuries have long been an issue for the Rockies. The strategy certainly does make some sense at first glance, though, as the team may not be prepared to hand the everyday job to prospect Trevor Story and Reyes could find a much wider market over the winter. I’d also add that he could factor as an August trade piece in the event that a contender has a need arise.
  • The Cardinals talked with the Rockies about Tulowitzki before he was moved, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Morosi notes that Tulowitzki is close with outfielder Matt Holliday, so that might have been a good fit for the shortstop.
  • The Rockies and Cardinals have discussed Tulo in the past, but a deal never came together because the asking price was “absurd,” one source tells Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch.  Various sources have indicated that the Rockies sought a package that included, at times, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and Matt Adams — and possibly all three. That was too much for the Cardinals, who also made it clear that Michael Wacha was not going to be in such a deal.
  • The Yankees, meanwhile, were never even engaged by the Rockies before the deal was struck, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. While New York had long seemed a plausible destination, we also heard earlier today that the Mets passed on an opportunity to get involved.
  • It was notable, of course, that the Jays made this big of a splash to add a position player, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that the team’s desire to add pitching shouldn’t preclude it from upgrading in any way possible. Bolstering the team’s lineup (as well as its defense) still adds runs to the ledger, and Cameron suggests that Toronto may well be correct in assessing that it made more sense to utilize its young arms in this deal than to move them for a rental arm (or, perhaps, a somewhat less productive and/or risky controllable starter). It’s a lengthy and detailed piece — all the more impressive since Cameron pulled it together not long after the deal went down — and is well worth a full read.
  • Obviously, Toronto did give up real value to bring in one of the game’s biggest stars. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs breaks down the three hurlers involved in the swap. He explains that Jeff Hoffman still has plenty of upside, but appears to have dialed back the aggressiveness in his delivery since his return from Tommy John surgery. Miguel Castro, meanwhile, has a live arm but needs significant refinement. And Jesus Tinoco fits roughly the same profile, delivering ample tools to dream on but figuring as a possible future pen arm if he does not develop as hoped.
  • For ESPN.com’s Keith Law, despite the promise of the departing arms, the deal represents a win for the Jays given that they did not have to part with either Norris or Aaron Sanchez. He sees Hoffman more as a future mid-rotation starter than a top-line arm, with Castro looking like a strong future reliever and Tinoco a back-end rotation piece.

Nationals Designate Dan Butler For Assignment

The Nationals have designated Triple-A catcher Dan Butler for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Jonathan Papelbon, tweets Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.

The Nationals picked up Butler from the Red Sox in a minor January trade that sent left-hander Danny Rosenbaum to Boston. Butler has a solid, if unspectacular track record at the Triple-A level and got a brief cup of coffee with the Sox in 2014, but he hasn’t performed up to his standards in 2015. This year, in 253 plate appearances at Syracuse, Butler is hitting just .231/.315/.312. Those numbers fall well shy of the .248/.329/.416 Triple-A batting line that he carried into the season.


Angels Designate Vinnie Pestano For Assignment

The Angels announced that they’ve designated right-hander Vinnie Pestano for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for newly acquired outfielder David Murphy.

Pestano, who was acquired from the Indians in a minor swap last August, now finds himself designated for assignment to make room for a former teammate. The 30-year-old Pestano appeared in 19 games for the Halos this season and totaled 11 2/3 innings with a 5.40 ERA.

Pestano at one point looked to be emerging as a key piece of the Indians’ bullpen, totaling 132 innings with a 2.45 ERA, 10.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 from 2011-12, but he began to struggle in 2013 and fell out of the team’s plans in 2014. He’s pitched just 30 1/3 innings in the big leagues over the past two seasons.


Angels Acquire David Murphy From Indians

The Angels announced that they’ve acquired outfielder David Murphy from the Indians in exchange for infield prospect Eric Stamets. Initial news of the swap came just minutes before the Angels announced the acquisition of fellow lefty-swinging outfielder David DeJesus.

David  Murphy

Murphy, 33, is making $6MM this season and has a $500K buyout on his $7MM 2016 team option. He has slashed .296/.344/.437 with five homers in 229 plate appearances this season for the Indians, serving primarily as a platoon option in the corner outfield.

The Angels already have lefty hitters (Matt Joyce and Kole Calhoun) in the outfield corners, although Joyce has struggled this season. It stands to reason, then, that Murphy and DeJesus will provide the Angels with a pair of lefty bats to deploy in left field and at DH. Either would make a fine platoon partner for the recently acquired Shane Victorino, and they could both find themselves in the lineup versus tough righties, perhaps at the expense of young first baseman/designated hitter C.J. Cron.  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Monday that Murphy was on the Halos’ radar.

When faced with the possibility that he could lose playing time back in January, Murphy said that he would be open to a trade.  Many months later, Murphy has been moved out of Cleveland, though his playing time didn’t dip much in 2015.

Stamets, a 23-year-old shorstop, was a sixth-round pick of the Halos in 2012. In Double-A this year, the defensive-minded Stamets has hit .248/.306/.360 with three homers in 241 plate appearances. The youngster has also swiped five bases.

Baseball America ranked Stamets as the No. 23 prospect in the Angels’ system following the 2014 season. “Stamets would be one of the top prospects in baseball if he could hit as well as he plays defense,” BA writes.

Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times first reported (via Twitter) that the Angels were about to acquire Murphy. Joel Sherman of the New York Post added that an agreement was in place (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted Stamets’ inclusion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Diamondbacks Discussing Aroldis Chapman With Reds

6:26pm: General manager Dave Stewart candidly acknowledged that he has indeed contacted the Reds regarding Chapman, according to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (All Twitter links). Said Stewart: “I’m going to go down that path and see where it takes us.” The GM didn’t characterize a deal as likely or unlikely, saying he didn’t know how things would play out, but he was clear that he didn’t want to do anything to hurt his team in the future, Gilbert adds.

2:32pm: The Diamondbacks have engaged in discussions with the Reds regarding ace closer Aroldis Chapman, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Cincinnati has a “huge” asking price and the chats could just be “due diligence,” per the report.

Regardless of how serious the interest is between the two sides, it’s notable that Arizona is looking into a deal. We heard yesterday that the team inquired on Cole Hamels of the Phillies, another notably available trade piece who comes with future control.

Arizona has control over current closer Brad Ziegler through a 2016 club option, but it would not be the only team that would love to add Chapman regardless of the team’s present 9th-inning situation. He’s arguably established himself as the best closer in baseball, and with another year of arbitration to go he’s a valuable commodity.

Considering Arizona’s interest in both Hamels and Chapman, it seems that the club is at least entertaining the idea of putting some impact pieces in place that would give it an outside shot at contention this year while also providing future value. We’ve heard of similar approaches being weighed by other clubs, and the D’Backs certainly do appear to have some future salary capacity to make that kind of move work.

That being said, investing in a relief piece is always a risky proposition, and Chapman will certainly not come cheap. Spending big on a closer (in both prospects and dollars) has already arguably cost the D’backs once in recent memory. Addison Reed, who was a major trade acquisition of the prior front office, has been playing at Triple-A as he tries to work out his struggles.


Angels Designate Jeremy McBryde For Assignment

The Angels have designated right-hander Jeremy McBryde for assignment, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Presumably, the move was made to clear space for the David DeJesus, whose acquisition has officially been announced by the Angels. (The Angels are also said to be in agreement on a trade to acquire David Murphy, though there’s been no team announcement regarding that move just yet.)

The 28-year-old McBryde signed a big league deal with the Angels over the winter despite never having pitched an inning in the Major Leagues. Though he entered the season with a strong track record at Triple-A, McBryde has struggled in 2015, posting a 5.63 ERA in 46 1/3 inning. McBryde is averaging a solid 8.5 K/9 against a less-spectacular 3.7 BB/9. His problems at the Triple-A level stem largely from a .362 batting average on balls in play that is significantly higher than his usual levels.


Angels Acquire David DeJesus

The Angels have acquired David DeJesus from the Rays just minutes after finalizing a deal to acquire David Murphy from the Indians, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman had first tweeted that DeJesus was on the verge of being dealt, and Yahoo’s Tim Brown tweeted that the Angels were on the receiving end. The Rays have since announced that DeJesus has been traded to the Halos for right-hander Eduar Lopez.

David DeJesus

In DeJesus, the Angels have acquired a second veteran bat that handles right-handed pitching well but is limited to a platoon role. DeJesus has seen just nine plate appearances against lefties this year, but he’s been solid versus righties, hitting .263/.331/.384. For his career, DeJesus has slashed .285/.362/.441 when holding the platoon advantage.

In Lopez, the Rays have acquired a young right-hander that ranked 22nd among Angels prospects entering the 2015 campaign, per Baseball America. The 20-year-old Dominican hurler has spent the season in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he has posted a 4.32 ERA with a 33-to-16 K/BB ratio in eight starts (33 1/3 innings).

DeJesus is earning $5MM in 2015 and has a 2016 club option for the same rate that comes with a $1MM buyout. Of his 2015 salary, approximately $1.91MM remains. Coupled with the buyout, the Rays will save about $2.9MM on this deal. The trade will also create more at-bats in the season’s final months for John Jaso, whose return has limited DeJesus’ role with the club.

While Murphy and DeJesus have somewhat redundant skill sets, the Angels could use either at designated hitter on days when facing a right-handed pitcher. That calls into question Matt Joyce‘s role with the team, as the free-agent-to-be and longtime platoon slugger has failed to produce anything close to his career norms in his lone season with the Angels. Joyce is currently on the 7-day disabled list, so there’s no need to take immediate action with his roster spot, but the presence of Murphy, DeJesus, Shane Victorino, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun in the outfield plus C.J. Cron and Albert Pujols as first base/DH options seems to leave Joyce without much of a role on the club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.