Phillies Designate Reid Brignac For Assignment

The Phillies have announced that they’ve designated Reid Brignac for assignment and recalled fellow infielder Freddy Galvis from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, essentially replacing an older, lefty-hitting utilityman with a younger, switch-hitting one. Brignac, 28, was hitting .222/.300/.346 in 91 plate appearances with the Phillies. He hit better for Lehigh Valley, batting .299/.375/.521 in 138 plate appearances there.

Brignac signed a minor league deal with the Phillies last winter. He has previously played for the Rays (for whom he was once a top prospect), Rockies and Yankees, posting a .222/.266/.314 line in parts of seven big-league seasons.


Mets Place Bartolo Colon On Revocable Waivers

The Mets have placed starting pitcher Bartolo Colon on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. Colon is in the first year of a two-year, $20MM deal that will pay him $11MM in 2015, so any team to claim him would risk being responsible for that salary. The Mets do, of course, retain the right to pull Colon back if any team claims him.

Exactly how teams will value Colon is unclear. He has performed fairly well this season, with a 3.85 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and an excellent 1.2 BB/9 in 161 1/3 innings so far, and seems, on the surface, to be worth his contract. He’s already 41, however, so some teams might view him with trepidation. One report last month indicated that the Mets would be willing to absorb about $2MM in salary if they traded Colon.

Besides the Mets, the team most obviously impacted by the news that Colon is on waivers is the Angels, who are looking for starting pitching after losing Garrett Richards to a season-ending injury. It’s unclear whether Colon will slip all the way to the Angels in the waiver process. As Rosenthal notes, he would have to pass through 28 teams before the Angels would have the chance to claim him. Given the likelihood that he would help a contending Angels team, that seems somewhat unlikely, but it’s not unheard of that Colon would make it that far — other contending teams passed on Marlon Byrd last year and allowed the Pirates to claim him, for example, even though Byrd didn’t have a significant salary.


Red Sox Sign Rusney Castillo

The Red Sox have announced the signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year contract potentially worth $72.5MM, assuming that Castillo does not opt out of the contract before 2020.

Castillo will receive $100K in salary for 2014, but with a $5.4MM signing bonus. He will then receive $10.5MM per season from 2015 through 2017, then $11MM in 2018 and 2019. He will then have the ability to opt out of the deal or to take a $13.5MM salary for 2020. The deal also contains a limited no-trade clause.

Rusney CastilloThe 27-year-old Castillo’s name has generated increasing interest over the past several weeks, but Boston’s agreement with the Roc Nation Sports client is significantly larger than most had figured. Previous reports indicated that Castillo could land a five-year deal valued somewhere between $50MM and $60MM, but this contract will eclipse Jose Abreu‘s six-year, $68MM pact with the White Sox for the largest contract ever issued to a Cuban free agent.

Castillo, who also drew interest from the Tigers, Giants, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Mariners, held a showcase for scouts earlier this month. Scouts from 28 of the 30 Major League teams were apparently on hand, and the general consensus was that Castillo was a highly impressive talent who was capable of helping a Major League club in 2014.

Ben Badler of Baseball America’s most recent scouting reports cite Castillo’s 70-grade speed as his best tool, but scouts at his showcase noted that he had surprising power and an average throwing arm in the outfield, leading many to believe him capable of becoming a five-tool center fielder. Some have compared him to a more powerful version of Brett Gardner, though that is a best-case scenario outcome.

Many expected Castillo to sign with a contending team because of his proximity to the Major Leagues, but Castillo instead will be the second significant 2015 piece that Boston GM Ben Cherington has added during the 2014 season. Though the Red Sox are in last place, they’ve added Castillo and countryman Yoenis Cespedes to the fold, each of whom was acquired with the intention of helping Boston’s chances next year.

The signing of Castillo adds to a crowded outfield picture in Boston. Shane Victorino and Cespedes are both under contract through 2015, with Cespedes set to earn $10.5MM and Victorino earning $13MM. The team also acquired Allen Craig from the Cardinals in the John Lackey trade, and Craig is guaranteed $26.5MM through the 2017 season. While he can play first base or DH, of course, the Red Sox have Mike Napoli and David Ortiz entrenched at those respective positions next season.

Beyond the guaranteed contracts, Castillo’s presence further muddies the long-term roles of both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts with the organization. Bradley has proven himself an elite defensive center fielder this season, but he’s failed to adapt to Major League pitching and has authored a meager .210/.286/.300 batting line in 494 career plate appearances. Betts, a second baseman by trade, is blocked at his natural position by Dustin Pedroia and therefore converted to center field in 2014. However, with Castillo in the fold, the Red Sox now have a full outfield of guaranteed contracts, which could make it difficult for him to find everyday at-bats next year. However, Betts’ .335/.417/.503 batting line at Triple-A this season is a strong indicator that he is a Major-League-ready talent.

It’s certainly possible that the addition of Castillo will lead to some further roster shuffling by the Red Sox this offseason. Cherington and his staff will have a number of different resources — both veterans on guaranteed contracts and controllable, high upside prospects — at their disposal should they wish to leverage the trade market to address some or all of their starting pitching needs.

William Perez Villalba of Glorias del Beisbol Cubano first noted on Facebook that the two sides were in agreement on a six-year, $72MM deal, with MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez confirming that the two sides were “on track” for a deal in that range. ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reported that Castillo would receive seven years and $72.5MM. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford were the first to report key details about the structure of Castillo’s contract.

Photo courtesy of Larry Marano.



Alex Gordon Plans To Exercise 2016 Player Option

Alex Gordon says he plans to exercise his $13.25MM player option with the Royals for 2016, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. Gordon is in the midst of a four-year, $37.5MM deal that covered, or covers, the 2012 through 2015 seasons.

Assuming Gordon continues to produce next year, exercising the option would be a highly unusual decision. Declining the option would allow Gordon to become a free agent after 2015, and he’ll head into the 2016 season as a 32-year-old. If he exercises the option, he could leave lots of money on the table. His numbers the last four seasons (he’s hitting .282/.357/.446 this year while providing plenty of defensive value in the outfield, resulting in 5.6 fWAR so far) indicate that he’s worth far more than $13.25MM.

Exercising the option would also cause Gordon to hit free agency at an older age, reducing his potential for a lucrative long-term deal. McCullough writes that Gordon compares favorably to Hunter Pence, who received a $90MM deal from the Giants, and reports that executives throughout the game feel Gordon should be able to get five years and $75MM-$90MM if he declined the option and hit the market after the 2015 season.

Gordon is represented by Casey Close, who did not comment on Gordon’s option. “Casey’s not the boss of me,” says Gordon. “I’m sure he’ll have things to say and whatnot. But when it comes down to it, it’s my decision.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article1281436.html#storylink=cpy

Minor Moves: Nate Schierholtz

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.

  • The Nationals have selected outfielder Nate Schierholtz‘s contract today, as James Wagner of the Washington Post originally tweeted. Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington tweets that Michael Taylor has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Nate McLouth has been placed on the 60-day DL to clear space for Schierholtz on the 40-man roster. The Nats signed Schierholtz to a minor league deal earlier this week after the Cubs released him. After a productive season in Chicago in 2013, he was a disappointment in 2014, hitting .192/.240/.300 in 341 plate appearances. The Nationals will hope he’ll provide them with left-handed hitting off the bench.

Reactions To And Fallout From The Castillo Deal

One potential reason the Red Sox reached a deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is the way the free agent market shapes up this winter, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. The Red Sox needed offensive help, but the class of free agent hitters isn’t strong, and the struggles of 2013-14 free agents like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Shin-Soo Choo demonstrate that you can get less than what you pay for. The pitching market is stronger, so the Red Sox have made a variety of moves to improve their 2015 offense, freeing them to pursue pitching this offseason. Here’s more on Castillo and the Red Sox.

  • The Giants and Phillies were among the top contenders to sign Castillo before the Red Sox eventually signed him, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
  • The Red Sox view Castillo as a free swinger with excellent power and speed, one evaluator tells ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes. An evaluator for another team, however, tells Edes that they see Castillo as more of a 15-20 homer player than a 30-homer player. Edes also notes that Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird was a key to Castillo’s signing. “There was no stone unturned with Allard,” says a source from within the Red Sox. “He knows everything about the kid.”
  • The Castillo signing is just the latest in a long line of franchise-changing moves for the Red Sox, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. The upheaval began with the 2012 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, and that trade may have helped give the Red Sox the financial flexibility they needed to agree to terms with Castillo.
  • The Castillo deal might not work out, but given the alternatives on the free agent market, it made sense for the Sox to sign a relative unknown for a modest yearly salary, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Castillo will make far less than expensive veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford currently do, and this offseason market isn’t a strong one for hitters.
  • Castillo won’t join the Red Sox’ active roster immediately after the signing becomes official, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets. Unsurprisingly, they feel he’ll need time to adjust after not playing competitively for more than a year.
  • Scouts like Castillo’s speed and body type, but aren’t unanimously thrilled about his hitting, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Castillo could be a plus defensive outfielder, though, which means he won’t have to be a dominant offensive player to be worth $12MM per season.
  • The Yankees liked Castillo as a player, but didn’t bid on him because of their issues with the luxury tax, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes (Twitter links). At a luxury tax rate of 50%, Castillo would have effectively cost the Yankees $108MM rather than $72MM.
  • The Tigers were not “ever really close” to signing Castillo, GM Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com’s Jason Beck). “We were basically told earlier in the week — I think first thing Monday — that we were no longer a participant,” says Dombrowski, who adds that the Tigers viewed Castillo as a good defensive center fielder with base stealing ability who might hit 15 homers per season.

Walt Jocketty Likely To Remain With Reds

Walt Jocketty will remain the GM of the Reds beyond this season, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Jocketty’s contract is up after the season, and the Diamondbacks could make changes after a disappointing year. That led to speculation that Jocketty could head to the desert to reunite with Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, with whom he worked in St. Louis. Apparently, though, Jocketty is staying put.

Rosenthal notes that there could be tricky times ahead for the Reds. They already have about $80MM in payroll obligations for next season, not including Johnny Cueto‘s option and arbitration-year salaries for players like Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman and Mike Leake. After next season, several of their starting pitchers are eligible to become free agents. As Rosenthal points out, the Reds are likely to deal one or more starters this offseason.


Week In Review: 8/16/14 – 8/22/14

Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR.

Key Move

  • The Red Sox agreed to sign outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5MM deal.

Trades

Signed / Agreed To Terms

Claimed

Designated For Assignment

Outrighted

Released

Key Minor League Signings


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Quick Hits: Tigers, Gore, Norris, Cabrera, Walters

GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers don’t expect to be able to find improvements from outside the organization to improve their offense down the stretch, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. “[T]he reality, is I don’t know where you’re going to find a bat to help your lineup. Runs are tough right now. It’s hard to find hitters right now.” Trades in August are difficult to complete due to waiver rules, and it doesn’t sound like the Tigers will be making any. Dombrowski also confirmed that Andy Dirks‘ hamstring injury will keep him out the rest of the season. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • The Royals feel they need a pinch-runner, so outfielder Terrance Gore is likely to be promoted to the big leagues once rosters expand in September, even though he’s not on their 40-man roster, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. The 23-year-old is hitting just .225/.292/.262 in 305 plate appearances this year, most of them spent with Class A+ Wilmington. He does, however, have 44 stolen bases and has only been caught seven times.
  • Top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris is another potential callup, MLB.com’s Jamie Ross writes. “You could see him. No guarantees, but you might,” says Jays manager John Gibbons. The 21-year-old has zoomed through three levels this year, most recently striking out a ridiculous 32 batters in 16 2/3 innings with Triple-A Buffalo.
  • Both the Nationals and Indians are happy so far with their deadline swap of Zach Walters and Asdrubal Cabrera, Bill Ladson and Daniel Popper of MLB.com report. Cabrera has played strong defense at second base in Washington, while Walters is off to a strong start in 35 plate appearances with Cleveland, hitting .212 with a .257 OBP, but with a terrific .576 slugging percentage even before homering tonight.

Red Sox Notes: Draft, Betts, Lester

The Red Sox have fewer wins than the Royals since the start of the 2012 season, but having losing years before and after a World Series victory has its advantages, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. They’re going to have a very valuable top draft pick next year (if the season ended today, they would pick in the top ten, just as they did in 2013) and a bigger international signing pool. Meanwhile, they retain the financial edge they have over other teams — they’re already reloading for 2015 with the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, along with the impending addition of Rusney Castillo, all of whom will have significant salaries going forward. Here are a couple more quick notes out of Boston.

  • The Red Sox placed Mookie Betts, Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa on revocable waivers today, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. All are valuable young players, so it’s a strong possibility they’ll be claimed, at which point the Red Sox will pull them back. It probably isn’t likely any of them will be traded.
  • With Cespedes and Craig in the fold and Castillo soon to join, manager John Farrell says the Sox will hunt for pitching this offseason, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier tweets. Boston, of course, dealt Jon Lester and John Lackey at the trade deadline, although it remains possible that the Red Sox could re-sign Lester when he becomes a free agent this winter.

West Notes: Dodgers, Aiken, Padres, Posey, Angels

The Dodgers will change their Triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to the Oklahoma City RedHawks next season, Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma City is currently affiliated with the Astros. Mandalay Baseball Properties will reportedly sell the RedHawks to a group tied to the Dodgers for a sum in the $22MM to $28MM range. Baldwin writes that the Dodgers are trying to get out of Albuquerque, a difficult environment in which to evaluate prospects because its park is so favorable to hitters. The move is part of what could be a big shakeup in the Pacific Coast League, with the Athletics also moving from Sacramento to Nashville (currently a Brewers affiliate) and the Giants moving from Fresno to Sacramento. It’s unclear where the Astros and Brewers will end up in such a scenario. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Brady Aiken may have selected a junior college after being selected first overall and then going unsigned in a dispute with the Astros, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aiken could end up at Yavapai JC in Arizona, which has helped develop future big-leaguers like Curt Schilling, Kole Calhoun, Bob Milacki, Billy Hatcher and Kyle Blanks.
  • Carlos Quentin is likely “on his way out” with the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a recent chat. Quentin is under contract for $8MM in 2015, but the Padres likely won’t want to keep him, given his struggles to stay healthy. (What they might do with him is a different question — it’s hard to imagine Quentin having much trade value, given that he’s hit poorly in limited action this season.) Seth Smith and Rymer Liriano are the only near-locks for spots in the San Diego outfield next year, Lin writes.
  • With Andrew Susac emerging as a potential starting option at catcher and Buster Posey showing signs of wear, the Giants might consider moving Posey to a new position in the future, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News writes. The Giants have no plans to move Posey at this time, however. If Posey does eventually move, he will probably move to first base.
  • With Garrett Richards out for the rest of the season, the Angels will presumably be looking for pitching, and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com has a list of pitchers who might be available. Given the obstacles to making August trades, perhaps it’s no surprise that it isn’t an incredibly inspiring list, with some of the better options possibly being either unwilling to play for the Angels (A.J. Burnett, who can block trades to West Coast teams) or unlikely to make it all the way to them on waivers (Mat Latos).

Manny Machado Likely Out For Season

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is likely out for the rest of the season, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports tweets. He will have knee surgery at some point within the next week. The Orioles announced last week that Machado had a right knee ligament sprain and had previously been hopeful that he would be able to return as soon as next Wednesday. He has been out since August 11, when he twisted his knee while swinging.

Machado’s absence will be tough for the Orioles, who currently are 73-53 and atop the AL East. Machado has hit .278/.324/.431 this season, and as usual has contributed plenty of value with his defense. He has, however, been limited to 82 games, having missed all of April with a separate knee injury. The Orioles could respond by moving Chris Davis to third base and having Steve Pearce play first, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com suggests (via Twitter).


Levine On Fielder, Rangers’ Trades, CBA

Thad Levine of the Rangers recently did a Reddit AMA in which he discussed a number of aspects of his job as an assistant GM. Here are a few highlights.

  • Levine says the Rangers’ acquisition of Prince Fielder was driven primarily by the departures of other power hitters, including Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz.
  • In addition to the Mark Teixeira trade (a clear win for the Rangers that brought back Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Neftali Feliz), Levine names the trades of Edinson Volquez for Hamilton, Frank Francisco for Napoli, and Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and two others for Nelson Cruz and Carlos Lee as his favorite trades for the Rangers.
  • There are pluses and minuses to today’s fast-paced media culture, Levine says. On one hand, he says, tweets often inspire real-life trade talks. On the other, it can be hard to keep news of a trade from breaking before informing the players involved. News of the Rangers’ trade of Ian Kinsler, for example, broke before the team could inform him.
  • Levine says he thinks the next CBA will focus on a worldwide draft, as well as raising the lowest team payrolls and limiting the highest ones.
  • One unusual clause one player requested in his contract was $250K for his wife’s “equestrian expenses.” Players from Asia will often include clauses in their contracts to pay for interpreters and massage therapists.

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AL West Notes: Angels, Feldman, A’s, Cano

The Angels have had a run of terrible luck in the second half, losing both Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) for the remainder of the 2014 season (Skaggs will miss most or all of 2015 as well). Following the news of Richards’ diagnosis yesterday, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters he would be on the lookout for further pitching help. As quoted by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links): “Between now and Sept. 1, we’ll try to be as open as we can be. And after Sept. 1, hopefully what we’re missing in Garrett Richards we’re able to somewhat make up for in volume and depth.”

Here’s the latest on Anaheim’s search for pitching and other Angels-related matters…

  • The Angels have been connected to Bartolo Colon in the wake of these injuries, but Peter Gammons reports (Twitter links) that he’s heard Astros right-hander Scott Feldman‘s name in connection with the Halos as well. However, neither right-hander had been put on waivers as of earlier this morning, and Gammons notes that it might be difficult for the Angels to land a pitcher on waivers because, as one baseball source explained to him, the Orioles and Yankees “are claiming everyone.”
  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times looks at the diverse background of educations in the Athletics‘ front office and how those varying personalities fuel the team’s analytical approaches. Baxter spoke with assistant GMs David Forst and Farhan Zaidi for the piece, with Zaidi noting: “It cultivates a lot of debate in our office, just having diverse educational backgrounds and having people that aren’t necessarily guys who have spent their whole careers in the industry … As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed.”
  • Robinson Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and has been worth five-plus wins above replacement this season, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes that his on-field work isn’t the only way he contributes to the Mariners. Divish spoke with skipper Lloyd McClendon and outfielder Dustin Ackley about Cano’s positive and relaxed personality and the impact that his demeanor has on the team.

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