Red Sox Feel They Can Re-Sign Miller If Traded

Boston’s Andrew Miller has been the most talked-about left-handed relief option on the trade market, and with good reason. The impending free agent has pitched to a 2.34 ERA with dazzling secondary stats: 14.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 52.5 percent ground-ball rate. ERA estimators such as FIP (1.69), xFIP (1.76) and SIERA (1.42) feel that Miller has been even better than that 2.34 mark, and he’s dominated both lefties (.420 OPS) and righties (.537 OPS) this season.

Here’s the latest …

  • The Red Sox are being “swarmed” with offers for Miller, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Needless to say, the club has kept its asking price high in light of the demand. A rival executive tells Nightengale that Miller is holding up the rest of the market.

Earlier Updates

  • Jon Lester helped the Red Sox out last week by publicly stating that he’d be willing to re-sign with Boston if traded, and it appears that Boston thinks the same scenario could play out with lefty reliever Andrew Miller. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald spoke to a source (Twitter link) who told him that the Sox “believe they have built up enough good will that [Miller would] consider coming back as free agent.”
  • Miller has drawn interest from the Braves, Royals, Dodgers and Pirates, but the asking price is said to be very high. The Sox are reportedly seeking a rival team’s top prospect and a lesser prospect in order to move their dominant setup man. Earning just $1.9MM in 2014, Miller is owed only $633K through season’s end.

Alex Rios Trade Talks Gaining Traction

THURSDAY, 11:08am: The Royals, Giants and Mariners are all in the mix for Rios, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. To a lesser degree, he adds, the Reds and Indians are in the mix. The Yankees aren’t heavily involved at this time, says Heyman.

WEDNESDAY, 2:03pm: Trade talks for Rios are “gaining traction” in several places, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

8:04am: The Rangers are willing to eat some of the remaining salary on Alex Rios‘ deal, but talks could still go down to the wire, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal hears that interest from several Rios suitors — including the Indians, Giants, Reds and Royals — has waned of late.

At least four teams were said to be in on Rios over the weekend, but there’s been little chatter regarding the right fielder since that time. The 33-year-old is batting a strong .305/.334/.430 this season, but his power has declined in 2014. Rios has just four homers on the season after belting 18 last year and 25 in 2012. He’s owed roughly $4.23MM of his $12.5MM salary for the remainder of the 2014 season, plus a $1MM buyout on a $13.5MM option for the 2015 campaign.

The Rangers have already dealt Jason Frasor to the Royals and Joakim Soria to the Tigers, and given Rios’ contractual situation, he’s a logical trade chip as well. However, the Rangers seem unwilling to listen to offers on Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish — both of whom they’re hoping will contribute to a contending club in 2015 once their roster is back to full health.


Latest On Royals’ Pitching Search

We took a look yesterday at the Royals’ search for an outfielder. Kansas City has also been mentioned alongside several starting pitchers in recent days, including A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, and John Lackey. (MLBTR links.) Here’s the latest:

  • The Royals have asked the Rockies about Jorge De La Rosa, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.  De La Rosa spent a few years with Kansas City before they dealt him to Colorado to complete the Ramon Ramirez deal in 2008.  Earlier this month, Rockies owner Dick Monfort told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post the team aimed to do everything they can to keep De La Rosa, who is eligible for free agency after the season.
  • The Royals are talking with the Phillies about A.J. Burnett, but nothing is close, tweets Rosenthal. With bats in scarce supply, Kansas City is still exploring the pitching market, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star adds on Twitter.

Yesterday’s Updates

  • The Royals are in on Ian Kennedy of the Padres, along with the Pirates and Marlins (and still others), tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Of course, as Rosenthal notes, it is not clear that San Diego will deal away Kennedy.
  • Boston is looking for power pitching in return for Lackey, but K.C. places a high value on its young arms, tweets McCullough.
  • The Royals have indeed inquired on Colon, but got the sense that New York did not intend to move him, tweets McCullough.
  • The Phillies have had recent discussions with the Royals about Burnett as well as Antonio Bastardo, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. As for Colon, his market is not developing with any clubs, let alone the Royals, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • As of earlier this morning, the Royals were unwilling to meet the Red Sox‘ asking price on Lackey, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Kansas City remains interested if the price comes down, adds Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
  • While the team is looking into adding a starter (and/or an outfielder or reliever), McCullough tweets, GM Dayton Moore says he is still counting on internal production to drive results.


Twins, Suzuki Again Discussing Extension

The Twins have re-started extension talks with catcher Kurt Suzuki, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There is a reasonable chance that agreement will be reached, he adds.

Last we heard, an extension seemed unlikely, and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted this morning that traction was nonexistent, but apparently a new effort is underway. That being said, prior reports have suggested that Minnesota could still look to deal Suzuki in August if it holds onto him and cannot nail down an extension. Suzuki’s trade market looks to have dried up significantly, with the Cardinals acquiring A.J. Pierzynski and reports indicating that the Orioles are not interested.


Chances Of David Price Trade Increasing

David Price didn’t have his best start for the Rays yesterday, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts in seven innings, but that won’t curb any trade interest in the Cy Young candidate. Price may have thought that he dodged a bullet yesterday, as he admitted to reporters that he thought the trade deadline was Wednesday afternoon. As we well know around these parts, that’s not the case, and the Tampa Bay ace could find himself on the move before 3pm CT today. Indications have been that the Rays will hang onto Price, but we’ll keep track of the final developments right here…

  • Talks on Price have picked up some steam since Jon Lester was dealt, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. A deal now appears more likely than it did last night.
  • The Rays entered deadline day expecting to hold, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But the team will continue listening on Price, waiting to see if a big offer comes through the door at the last minute.
  • A source familiar with conversations says it is “doubtful” that the Dodgers will land Price, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has long been said to be one of the possible landing spots for the outstanding lefty, though GM Ned Colletti said last night that he has no interest in dealing away his team’s three blue chip prospects (to say nothing of more than one of them) in any trade.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Athletics, Twins Swap Tommy Milone, Sam Fuld

The Twins have acquired lefty Tommy Milone from the A’s in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld, the teams have announced.

Tommy Milone

Milone (pictured) lost his rotation spot with the Athletics earlier this month when the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and any hope of him regaining that spot likely faded with Oakland’s morning acquisition of Jon Lester. The 27-year-old Milone had asked to be traded somewhere that he had a chance to start, and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. Specifically, the spacious Target Field seems a good fit for Milone’s fly-ball arsenal.

Milone had pitched to a solid 3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings this season. He owns a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Athletics. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. For the time being, Milone will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins. However, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that it may be a procedural move more than anything. Milone just pitched Tuesday and is expected to be with the Twins soon, Wolfson hears.

Milone will add to a growing crop of Major League ready arms for the Twins, who have Alex Meyer and Trevor May knocking on the door at Rochester. Though several current members of the Major League staff have underperformed, including Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey (the latter two are currently on the DL), Minnesota could have a wildly different rotation in 2015.

Interestingly, the Twins claimed Fuld off waivers from Oakland earlier this year when he was designated for assignment. Presumably, he can form some form of platoon with the newly acquired Jonny Gomes in order to fill in for the now-departed Yoenis Cespedes.

The 32-year-old Fuld has been excellent for the Twins in 2014, slashing .274/.370/.354 with a homer, a dozen steals (in 15 attempts) and standout defense in both left and center field. In addition to platooning with Gomes, he can serve as a center field option for the A’s with Craig Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp currently ailing. Fuld is a career .240/.323/.337 hitter and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2016 campaign.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Milone was headed to Minnesota (Twitter link), and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Fuld was going back to Oakland (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


A’s Acquire Lester, Gomes; Cespedes To Boston

10:09am: Dave Cameron of Fangraphs reports another wrinkle in the trade: Cespedes’ contract calls for him to be non-tendered at the end of his deal (if he is not first extended) in order to assure him early free agency, and he therefore is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer following the 2015 season (Twitter links).

9:14am: The Red Sox are sending under $1MM to the A’s in the trade, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Meanwhile, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America tweets that the value of the Competitive Balance pick that Boston receives will be roughly $800K.

8:54am: Passan tweets that Oakland is also sending a competitive balance draft pick to the Red Sox in the trade, and Boston is sending cash to Oakland. The A’s landed the second pick in Comp Round B in last week’s lottery.

8:49am: The Athletics have acquired Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that Lester had been traded to an unknown club, while Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com first connected the A’s and Lester earlier this week.

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The addition of Lester will give Oakland an incredibly formidable rotation for the balance of the regular season, but perhaps more importantly, in the playoffs. Lester, who has posted a 2.52 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate, will join fellow trade acquisition Jeff Samardzija, free agent signing Scott Kazmir and homegrown star Sonny Gray atop Oakland’s rotation.

It’s possible that the struggles of Jason Hammel, acquired from the Cubs along with Samardzija back on July 4, prompted A’s GM Billy Beane to aggressively pursue another sizable rotation upgrade. While the loss of Cespedes will hurt Oakland’s lineup, the team can afford to part with some offense; the A’s rank first in the Majors in runs scored, sixth in on-base percentage and eighth in slugging percentage. Gomes won’t replace Cespedes’ power or his .256/.303/.464 batting line, but he’s a formidable opponent against lefties, having slashed .302/.400/.431 against southpaws in 2014 and .279/.379/.495 in his career.

Cespedes will bring the Red Sox a much-needed outfield bat, though he’s only under team control through the 2015 season due to a clause in his contract that allows him to forgo arbitration and hit the free agent market after his initial four-year term. He’s slated to earn $10.5MM next season — the same sum that he is owed in 2014. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Cespedes recently voiced a disinterest in playing center field with the A’s, but he did so through a teammate rather than by approaching manager Bob Melvin directly, which likely didn’t sit well with the team (Twitter links).

Yoenis Cespedes

The pair of blockbuster trades by Beane signifies a clear “all-in” philosophy on the 2014 season. Oakland has traded its best prospect (Addison Russell), a 2013 first-round pick (Billy McKinney) and one of its most dangerous bats (Cespedes) in an attempt at the most dominant pitching staff it can muster for the playoffs. There will be no compensation if (or, perhaps more appropriately given his likely price tag — when) Lester departs as a free agent, as baseball’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players who did not spend the entire regular season on one team from receiving qualifying offers.

For the Red Sox, who hope to re-sign Lester as a free agent this offseason, this trade at least gives them a chance, perhaps a slight one, to have Lester and Cespedes on the same team in 2015 when the club takes another shot at contending. Beyond that, the addition of a draft pick is an interesting wrinkle, as it allows Boston to enjoy the best of both worlds, in a way. GM Ben Cherington could have kept Lester and extended a qualifying offer in hopes of recouping a draft pick if Lester signed elsewhere in free agency. Now, the Sox will get a bonus pick regardless (albeit a slightly later one), and they also are guaranteed a middle-of-the-order bat for the 2015 season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Boston engage Cespedes in extension talks either, though that is nothing more than my own speculation at this juncture.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Marlon Byrd Rumors: Thursday

36-year-old Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is hitting .270/.318/.477 with 20 home runs in 446 plate appearances, making him one of the better power hitters available in advance of this afternoon’s trade deadline.  Byrd has no-trade protection for the Royals, Mariners, Rays, and Blue Jays, plus about $2.6MM in salary remaining this year.  He’s owed $8MM for 2015, with another $8MM that could vest for 2016 based on plate appearances.  Furthermore, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted Monday that Byrd will only waive his no-trade clause for those four teams if his option is exercised.  The latest on Byrd:

  • The Phillies’ asking price for Byrd is extremely high, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  He says the Phillies gave the Mariners a list of three good prospects and suggested the Ms pick two of them.  That request, plus Byrd’s no-trade protection, “seemed to scuttle things” between the two clubs.  ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted yesterday that the Mariners were out on Byrd.  A source who spoke to Heyman says the Phillies believe what they’ve been offered so far for Byrd is “embarrassing.”
  • The Yankees, Pirates, and Giants are among the teams that have been previously linked to Byrd and have not been ruled out.

Astros Fielding Interest In Cosart, Not Shopping Keuchel

The Astros are “very busy” taking calls on righty Jarred Cosart, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Houston has taken lefty Dallas Keuchel off the market, however, though it always seemed a longshot for him to be dealt.

Houston has been said to be willing to listen on its young starting pitching, which has featured some better-than-expected performances. Of course, the biggest surprises have comes from Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Unsurprisingly, the Astros appear more hesitant to deal either of those arms.

But Cosart, 24, has turned in a solid season in his own right. He owns a 4.41 ERA through 116 1/3 frames with 5.8 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 and a sterling 56.5% groundball rate. That has been good for a 4.02 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, and 4.42 SIERA — hardly ace-level numbers, to be sure, but useful and promising enough given his age. Of course, much of Cosart’s value lies in the fact that he will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2017.

 


Athletics “Appear To Have Deal” For Lester

Red Sox ace Jon Lester has been traded, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter link).   The A’s appear to have a deal for Lester, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  WEEI’s Alex Speier adds that he’s trying to confirm, but he hears Lester and Jonny Gomes might be traded for Yoenis Cespedes.


New York Notes: Yanks, Byrd, Murphy, Colon

With the trade deadline less than seven hours away, here are some notes out of the Big Apple…

  • The Yankees aren’t focusing on any major trades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They’re looking for an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki in right field — Marlon Byrd is still possible, he notes — as well as some help for the bullpen.
  • The Nationals have called the Mets to express interest in Daniel Murphy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but a trade between the division rivals is unlikely. Rosenthal noted earlier today that Washington also has interest in Asdrubal Cabrera.
  • The Orioles have checked in on Bartolo Colon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Mets aren’t sure whether or not they’ll trade him at this time yet. The Mets have signaled a definite willingness to move Colon, though GM Sandy Alderson isn’t one to simply dump salary in trades, so based on Heyman’s writing, it seems that the O’s probably haven’t made any form of significant offer.
  • There’s no traction between the Royals and the Mets for Colon, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino adds that barring a change, the Mets don’t seem likely to be active today, but he’d be surprised if Colon were with the Mets in 2015.
  • Sherman also hears that the Mets are likely to stand pat today (Twitter link). The Mets feel that a better market will develop for Colon in the offseason, when he’ll have just one year and $11MM remaining on his contract.

John Lackey Rumors: Thursday

Yesterday revealed there’s a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade right-hander John Lackey in advance of this afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline. The Royals, Indians, and Dodgers have been linked to the right-hander, while the Angels and Brewers are reportedly not pursuing him. The Marlins were also linked to Lackey, though reports on the likelihood of that deal vary from “zero chance” to the two sides still discussing potential deals. Here’s the latest Lackey buzz as the deadline looms…

  • The Pirates were known to have interest in Jon Lester before he was traded to Oakland, but prior to that trade today Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe said the Bucs were in on Lackey as well.  Cafardo also weighed in on previous interest from San Francisco, writing, “The Giants, who acquired [Jake] Peavy last weekend, were also in the hunt for another arm, and Lackey was also mentioned.”

Blue Jays Focused On Pitching Upgrades

The Blue Jays aren’t pursuing any bats at this time, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Instead, the team is focused entirely on adding to its pitching staff.

Sherman doesn’t specify whether the club is looking at starters or relievers, but it stands to reason that the Blue Jays will look to both markets. Toronto’s offense will likely improve with the upcoming returns of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, but they’ve long been connected to upgrades in the rotation and in the bullpen. However, some reports have said that they won’t be able to add much in the way of payroll.


Four Teams Have Checked On Asdrubal Cabrera

8:18am: Rosenthal tweets that the Jays, however, aren’t expected to add a hitter. Their talks with Cabrera were earlier this week.

7:43am: The Nationals, Blue Jays and two other clubs have been in contact with the Indians about switch-hitting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Despite the apparent interest, Cabrera isn’t a lock to be traded, they add.

Cabrera was linked to the Nats last night, and Morosi noted yesterday that the Jays and Giants had checked in as well. The Indians were said to be ready to move Cabrera and Justin Masterson as of yesterday afternoon, and they’ve since dealt Masterson to the Cardinals.

The 28-year-old Cabrera is hitting .246/.305/.386 with nine homers and seven steals on the season. While defensive metrics have never liked his glovework at shortstop, his bat is above average for the position, and some clubs could look at him as an option for second base, where he played a good amount earlier in his career.


Jon Lester Rumors: Thursday

As of late last night, the Pirates and the Cardinals were said to be the two teams most aggressively pursuing Jon Lester, who was scratched from Wednesday’s scheduled start. At one point yesterday, the Orioles looked close to a deal, but conflicting reports emerged on the severity of those negotiations. Regardless, Baltimore does seem to be in the mix, and a late-to-the-party mystery team was revealed to be the Athletics. We’ll keep track of the final stages of the Lester sweepstakes in this post…

Earlier Updates

  • Hall of Fame reporter Peter Gammons tells WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan that the Dodgers aren’t in the mix to acquire Lester at this point (Twitter link).