Yankees Outright Esmil Rogers

The Yankees announced today that right-hander Esmil Rogers has been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in order to clear a spot on the 40-man and 25-man roster for outfielder Taylor Dugas.

The 29-year-old Rogers has already been designated for assignment and outrighted this season, but the Yankees selected his contract over the weekend to add some depth to the bullpen. Rogers didn’t make an appearance with the team in his most recent stint with the team and currently sports an unsightly 6.27 ERA on the season. He’s averaged 8.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 with a 42.5 percent ground-ball rate this season in addition to being quite unlucky on balls in play, leading to significantly better marks in FIP (4.63), xFIP (4.10) and SIERA (3.72). Having been previously outrighted, Rogers does have the option of rejecting the Triple-A assignment in favor of free agency.

As for Dugas, the 2012 eighth-rounder has struggled quite a bit in the minors this season. In 199 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, he’s batted .198/.316/.235 with no homers and six steals (in eight tries). Taylor didn’t rank among the Yankees’ Top 30 prospects, per MLB.com and Baseball America, but Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel noted that he could have a future as a fourth or fifth outfielder due to above-average speed and an ability to play all three outfield spots. Dugas does have a keen eye at the plate, as BA wrote prior to the 2013 season that he had the best plate discipline in the Yankees’ farm system.


MLBTR Chat Transcript

Click here to read a transcript of this week’s live chat, hosted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams.


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Angels GM Jerry Dipoto To Resign

Jerry Dipoto has made “a final decision” to resign as the Angels GM, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. That appeared to be where things were headed last night, though a report indicated that the club’s owner and president were attempting to convince Dipoto to stay on.

February 21, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (left) talks to general manager Jerry Dipoto (right) during spring training at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

While not unexpected at this point, the overall situation is rather stunning. The Angels are facing some tough decisions over the next month as the team tries to keep up with the Astros in the AL West after opening play today four games back. All said, it’s rather an inopportune time to be making such significant changes in the front office. It remains to be seen how the team will fill the void left in Dipoto’s wake.

The base cause for the signing appears, by all accounts, to be an authority struggle between Dipoto and skipper Mike Scioscia. Prior differences seemed to have been resolved with ownership intervention, and the organization had already exercised Dipoto’s option for the 2016 campaign. But tensions re-emerged over the last several days, according to reports. Without rehashing all the information that has come out, suffice to say that Angels owner Arte Moreno was ultimately unable to maintain a workable allocation of power between the pair of key baseball men.

Dipoto took the GM seat for Los Angeles in the fall of 2011 after the firing of predecessor Tony Reagins. He oversaw major free agent acquisitions, including Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson, although those major outlays have often been connected to Moreno’s involvement.

More recently, Dipoto has looked to build the team’s pitching staff through the trade market. He shipped away starting second baseman Howie Kendrick to acquire young lefty Andrew Heaney this offseason after moving slugger Mark Trumbo to acquire Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago.

Dipoto also bolstered last year’s club with relievers Joe Smith (signed to a three-year pact) and Huston Street (added in a summer trade). Street ultimately agreed to an extension recently, with the team getting two more years of his services, plus an option year, for a seemingly reasonable $18MM commitment.

But the crowning achievement of Dipoto’s transactional history with the Halos is probably the Mike Trout extension. Having already established himself as the game’s very best player at just 22 years of age, Trout signed on to a six-year, $144.5MM deal. It’s a significant commitment, to be sure, but that money pales in comparison to the overall cash later promised by the Marlins to Giancarlo Stanton. Notably, Stanton was in a much different situation given his service time. But the Trout contract looks to be rather an incredible bargain, given that the club is committed only through his peak prime years with relatively little overall risk.

The Dipoto-constructed Angels had some disappointments along the way, missing the post-season in his first two seasons at the helm despite the major free agent signings. But the club put up 98 wins and an AL West title last year before running into the Royals buzzsaw in the playoffs.

Los Angeles has had its issues this year, with the team’s overall offensive production sagging despite big seasons from Trout and Pujols. Offseason acquisition Matt Joyce has simply not hit, and the club was backed into an awkward situation with Hamilton that ultimately saw him shipped to the Rangers for some salary savings.

Despite the turmoil, however, the club is as noted still very much in the thick of things heading into trade deadline season. As good as Houston has been, putting up an AL-leading 46 wins at the start of the day, the Angels have every opportunity to take another division crown. That’s especially true, perhaps, given that the club reportedly reserved payroll capacity to be deployed over the summer. Now, the question is not only how it will put those funds to use, but who’ll make that decision.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images



Minor Moves: Tabata, Romak, Wheeler

We’ll track the day’s minor moves here:

  • The Pirates have outrighted outfielder Jose Tabata to Triple-A, per the International League transactions page. Recently designated for assignment, Tabata still has another year left on the extension he signed early in his career. It’s no surprise, then, that Tabata appears on the Triple-A Indianapolis roster (Twitter link), meaning that he’s accepted his assignment rather than sacrificing his remaining guaranteed money to become a free agent.
  • Pursuant to an upward mobility clause like the one we explained yesterday, the Diamondbacks have notified the rest of the league that infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak is available to any club that is willing to add him to its active roster, MLBTR has learned. The 29-year-old is obviously hoping for a chance at big league playing time, but has also asked the team to sell his contract to a Japanese or Korean club if an MLB job is not available. Despite a very strong recent track record at Triple-A, Romak has only received 23 big league plate appearances in his career (all coming last year with the Dodgers). Thus far in 2015, he’s slashed .299/.375/.541 with 13 home runs over 323 trips to the plate. Notably, Romak has also spent time at second base this season for the first time in his career, adding to his versatility after logging plenty of minor league innings in the corner outfield and at both first and third.
  • The Twins have released third baseman Ryan Wheeler, Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports on Twitter. Wheeler, who’ll soon turn 27, signed with Minnesota in May after being released by the Angels. He’s struggled ever since, putting up a .233/.243/.315 slash in 74 plate appearances at Triple-A. Wheeler received limited MLB playing time in each of the last three years with the Diamondbacks and Rockies. All said, he has put up a .233/.280/.335 slash in 225 turns at the plate.

East Notes: Encarnacion, Jays, Yankees, Niese

Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion achieved ten-and-five rights yesterday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. It once seemed quite unlikely that the now-32-year-old would ever establish himself enough to earn a no-trade clause, as Davidi explains. Toronto can control Encarnacion next season with a $10MM club option, but his future beyond that remains unclear. “I like this city, I’d love to stay here but it’s not my choice,” said Encarnacion. “They have to decide what they’re going to do, if they’re going to sign me or not. I’m open to be here and to stay here in Toronto.”

Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the east:

  • All indications are that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos “has been busy trying to make something happen for a while now,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto may be willing to give significant value for a truly high-quality player that makes a perfect fit for the club’s overall situation, says Davidi, much as it did in signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. That being said, it seems unlikely that Anthopoulos and Co. will part with its best young talent for a pure rental, the report suggests.
  • Anthopoulos tells reporters that the Blue Jays nearly pulled off two trades in May, but has not come as close since, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports (Twitter links). The GM added that he’ll consider moving prospects for rentals if the price is right, noting that he discussed a deal last summer involving young players Kevin Pillar and Sean Nolin.
  • he Yankees are in a solid position right now, but need to address three pressing questions, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. First, the club need to decide whether and when it will pull the struggling CC Sabathia from the rotation, and whether it will replace him with an outside addition (Sherman suggests Jeff Samardzija as a viable option). Another veteran, outfielder Carlos Beltran, has produced at the plate but not in the field, and Sherman wonders whether he could be a trade option for the Angels to plug in at DH. And New York must also decide how much it is willing to cough up to add the versatile Ben Zobrist, per the piece, if and when he’s made available by the A’s.
  • Meanwhile, across town, the Mets are in no rush to deal Jon Niese, writes Newsday’s David Lennon, who explains that the club still needs innings from him given limitations on its younger starters. Of course, Niese (and his salary) could ultimately be part of a deal — whether to add a bat or future assets. But as things stand, it does not appear that there is much momentum towards any kind of trade. Indeed, per Lennon, the Mets have not even had “serious conversations with two teams (Cubs, Dodgers) that reportedly have interest in the lefty.

MLBTR Seeking Photoshop Experts

As you may have noticed, MLB Trade Rumors has launched a brand new Instagram account: @TradeRumorsMLB.  As the trade market heats up, MLBTR is looking for talented photoshop artists who can expertly (and quickly) make a jersey swap photo.

Are you the kind of photoshop expert we’re looking for?  If so, we want you to create a sample photo of Cole Hamels in a Yankees jersey and email it to MLBTRonInstagram@gmail.com.  The position is part-time and compensated.  Good luck!


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Angels Attempting To Keep Jerry Dipoto As GM

11:54am: If Dipoto ultimately leaves, there are some indications that assistant GM Matt Klentak would be handed the reigns, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter).

If you’re interested in getting some more insight on Klentak, give a listen to his appearance on the MLBTR Podcast back in October.

10:36am: The Angels are attempting to keep GM Jerry Dipoto in his position, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Club owner Arte Moreno and president John Carpino are “trying to broker a peace” between Dipoto and skipper Mike Scioscia, per the report.

Numerous reports suggested that Dipoto cleaned out his office and informed at least some personnel that he planned to resign last night. It seemed that we were but an announcement away from learning that the Halos would need a new general manager, and while that still may be the case, it seems that the club’s top leadership is not interested in replacing Dipoto.

Whatever the long-term prospects are for Dipoto and Scioscia to deliver harmonious and successful leadership for the Angels, it is obvious that this is not an opportune time to make a change in the GM seat. Los Angeles is just four games back in the AL West despite a somewhat tepid start, and has some obvious roster holes to fill over the coming month.


Blue Jays Designate Steve Tolleson

The Blue Jays have activated infielder Steve Tolleson from the DL and designated him for assignment, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. With Tolleson’s rehab assignment done, the club was forced to make a decision on his roster status.

With Devon Travis and Jose Reyes both healthy and set to play regularly, and Ryan Goins and Danny Valencia set to take the club’s reserve infield slots, Tolleson simply didn’t fit on the 25-man. But he has been useful this year in limited action, hitting a solid .268/.333/.439 over 45 plate appearances.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the 31-year-old will remain in the Toronto organization. If he clears waivers, he’ll have a choice whether to elect free agency, as is his right given that he’s previously been outrighted.


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Jerry Dipoto Likely Out As Angels GM

9:54pm: Rosenthal provides an overview of the situation, writing that “he and his staff viewed Scioscia and the coaches as practically insubordinate” in declining to utilize statistical information.

9:15am: The current situation is “chaotic,” tweets Passan, with “high-ranking members of the organization” unsure whether or not Dipoto is still the general manager.

9:07am: Dipoto cleared out his office and told members of his staff he was resigning, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.

9:01am: A second source tells Crasnick that Dipoto is leaving the organization. (Twitter link.)

2:21am: Jerry Dipoto is “definitely out” as Angels GM after apparently resigning his post last night, sources tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Multiple Angels players entered last night’s game under the impression that Dipoto was no longer at the helm, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweets.

While the club has yet to make anything official, multiple reports emerged over night suggesting that change was afoot. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reported that Dipoto was considering resigning in the wake of the Angels’ organizational tensions. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, meanwhile, tweeted that two sources told him Dipoto had packed up his office (though he noted the possibility that Dipoto might simply have been acting “out of emotion”). Crasnick tweeted that strife between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia had only increased since Rosenthal reported earlier this week that the two again weren’t getting along (after having also had significant disagreements in 2012). Crasnick also indicated that Dipoto approached Angels owner Arte Moreno with an ultimatum that “backfired.”

With the Halos experiencing a somewhat underwhelming start to the year, tensions apparently boiled over recently. According to a Rosenthal report, a pair of meetings called by Dipoto — one with Scioscia and his staff, and the other will both uniformed staff and players — turned “contentious” last weekend. The club’s top baseball decision maker reportedly drew strong reactions from an unnamed coach as well as Hall of Fame-bound first baseman Albert Pujols.

The immediate issue seemed to involve the manner in which information on in-game decisions (e.g., shifting, strategies against certain hitters) was distributed to players. But Rosenthal raised the possibility that there were deeper philosophical and relational differences between the club’s two key leaders.

The working relationship between Dipoto and Scioscia was once said to be nearly irreconcilable, but they had seemingly worked together in at least a reasonably workable truce. When asked about the report earlier this week, Scioscia said that the pair continued to “work together the same way that we’ve worked the last couple years” (via Gonzalez, on Twitter).

In recent days, however, those former hostilities had seemingly been rekindled. Two club officials spoke anonymously with Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown, with one telling him that there were “a lot of closed doors” around the club’s facility Tuesday, given the persistent tension.

The second source indicated that he or she felt the end result could be rather drastic change. “Something’s going to give this time,” said the source. “Looks irreparable.” Owner Arte Moreno had managed to patch things up previously, at least for a good stretch, but it remains to be seen what can be salvaged this time around.

Then, there’s the reported involvement of Pujols, the team’s highest-paid player, who has finally played up to his massive contract this year. The highly respected veteran said today that he was not going to comment on what had gone on in the clubhouse, as Gonzalez reported.

But Pujols did address the idea, as reported by Rosenthal, that he had said that the club simply does not have as good a roster as it did last year. As Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweeted, Pujols said he would never disrespect his teammates in the manner implied in that supposed comment. According to Gonzalez’s sources, however, Rosenthal’s report was quite accurate (Twitter link).

Regardless of what actually happened, there’s yet another layer to the controversy. Gonzalez writes that there was “anger” among the players that the story was leaked in the first place. And Pujols also called it “really embarrassing” (to whoever revealed the information) that the story had reached the public sphere. “We’re supposed to be a family here,” he said.


Athletics Sign First-Rounder Richie Martin

10:43pm: Martin will earn $1.95MM, Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets. It would appear, then, that Oakland has just under $300K to play with for selections made after the tenth round. Bonuses for players selected outside of the slotted rounds count against a team’s total allocation only to the extent that they exceed $100K.

5:33pm: The Athletics have announced the signing of first-round draft pick Richie Martin. The University of Florida shortstop was taken with the 20th overall selection.

Bonus terms have not yet been reported, and unsurprisingly were not announced by the club. Oakland’s first pick came with a $2,214,000 pool allocation (via Baseball America).

Most prospect writers placed Martin in the 30 to 40 range among draft-eligible prospects. Baseball America ranked him highest (31st), citing Martin’s strong overall athleticism and defensive ability. At the plate, BA says that the infielder is a line-drive hitter who could have some future power potential.

ESPN.com’s Keith Law was somewhat less impressed, rating Martin 75th on his board. While he praised Martin’s improvement as a hitter, Law says that the former Gator “projects as an average hitter with below-average power” and could add value on the bases.

Martin becomes the last of the A’s picks from the first ten rounds to reach agreement (via MLB.com’s bonus tracker). As things stand, the club has undertaken $827,800 in above-slot obligations to sign high school righty Dakota Chalmers and UNC outfielder Skye Bolt, and has saved $632,900 on its remaining picks. The team can go up to 5% over its total pool allocation without losing draft picks (instead only paying a tax on the overage), freeing an additional $272,205.

Put it all together, and the A’s were capable of spending up to $77,305 over slot on Martin (in total, $2,291,305). If the bonus comes in below that number, the difference could be applied toward later-round selections.


Red Sox Sign Andrew Benintendi, Austin Rei

10:23pm: Boston has announced the signings of both Benintendi and third-rounder Austin Rei. The catcher will receive an at-slot, $724,400 bonus, Callis tweets.

Rei is a defensive specialist; indeed, Callis calls his work behind the plate the best of all this year’s draft-eligible collegians. The questions come with the bat, though there are signs that Rei can contribute on offense. As MLB.com wrote in ranking him 87th on its board, Rei rates solidly in terms of bat speed and approach.

10:30am: The Red Sox have agreed to terms with No. 7 overall draft pick Andrew Benintendi, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). The lefty-swinging outfielder out of the University of Arkansas will receive the full slot bonus of $3,590,400, per Callis, who feels that Benintendi possessed the best all-around tools of any college hitter in this year’s draft class.

Andrew Benintendi

Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Benintendi eighth among draft prospects, while Benintendi ranked ninth per Baseball America and per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Benintendi a bit lower at No. 21, though he noted that, “No one has improved his stock this spring more than the sophomore draft-eligible Benintendi…” which is lofty but likely deserved praise after Benintendi led the SEC in OBP, homers and slugging percentage.

Callis and Mayo praised Benintendi’s smooth swing and ability to consistently barrel up the ball. That’s complemented by plus speed, the MLB.com duo notes, giving Benintendi a chance to be a base-stealing threat and to stick in center field. BA notes that Benintendi didn’t play summer ball last year and wasn’t even on some clubs’ radars entering the season, but he quickly caused a “who’s-who of scouting directors and front-office officials” to fly in to watch his performance as the season progressed. McDaniel pegs the potential of each of Benintendi’s five tools as solid-average or better, and BA notes that the only real knocks on the 5’10” outfielder are his size and lack of a lengthier track record.

With Benintendi’s agreement in place, eight of the Top 10 picks in this year’s draft have either signed or agreed to terms, though just three have signed for the full slot value of their pick. (Minnesota’s Tyler Jay and Philadelphia’s Cornelius Randolph are the others.)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays Designate Ronald Belisario

The Rays designated reliever Ronald Belisario for assignment after tonight’s game, the club told reporters including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter).

Tampa Bay recently decided to add the 32-year-old to its big league roster when he exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league deal. Since that time, Belisario has thrown eight innings for the club — including his appearance tonight — and allowed seven earned runs. He has compiled six strikeouts against four walks on the year.

Belisario was throwing rather well in Triple-A, sporting a 3.26 ERA with 5.3 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 30 1/3 frames. And he’s had success in the big leagues in the past. But clubs considering Belisario will surely note that his fastball velocity (in his few big league outings this year) was down about two miles per hour from recent seasons.


Pirates Face Roster Decision On Clayton Richard

Pirates lefty Clayton Richard has a clause in his deal that provides a 72-hour window during which Pittsburgh must make him available to other clubs, Nathan Baird of JConline.com reports. That “upward mobility” provision went into effect today.

Here’s how it works, per the report: If another team is willing to put the veteran hurler on its big league roster, then the Pirates must either deal him to that club or, instead, add him to their own 25-man roster. In the event that no suitor emerges, however, then the Bucs can keep Richard at Triple-A.

Once a 200-inning starter for the Padres, the 31-year-old fell apart in 2013, struggling to a 7.01 ERA and ultimately undergoing shoulder surgery. He has not returned to the big leagues since, but is thriving this year at Triple-A Indianapolis. Over 62 frames in ten starts, Richard owns a 1.89 ERA with 4.4 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.

Richard expressed interest in continuing his career with the Pirates, but said he is ready to do so at the major league level. “I can’t say what they see,” said Richard. “I know what I feel, and I’m to the point now where I’m ready to face big league competition.”

He also tells Baird that he’s more than willing to work from the pen to get back to the majors. Richard previously declined an opportunity to opt out of his deal at the start of the season, though this time around the decision seems to be out of his hands entirely.


Cuban Outfielder Yadiel Hernandez Defects

Highly regarded outfielder Yadiel Hernandez has left Cuba’s national team — which was playing in North Carolina — in hopes of achieving MLB free agency, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. Hernandez placed 16th on BA’s most recent list of top Cuban prospects.

That being said, Hernandez is not a prospect in the sense we use the term for players already playing within the MLB hierarchy. He is already 27 years old and an established player in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, so it would seem that he profiles more as a near-term contributor. Because of his age and experience, Hernandez will not be subject to international spending limitations (as with countryman Hector Olivera, most recently).

Badler explains that Hernandez is a small and not overly toolsy player who profiles as a corner outfielder. That seems to be a rather unexciting profile, at least at first glance.

But the left-handed hitter has excellent on-base ability. Indeed, he slashed .369/.509/.535 over 369 plate appearances in his most recent campaign in Cuba, walking 77 times — good for a 20.9% walk rate (which is higher than all currently qualifying MLB hitters, for some frame of reference). In its full scouting report (subscription required, and recommended), Baseball America likened his overall skill set to that of Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava.