Royals To Acquire Liam Hendriks From Blue Jays

The Royals and Blue Jays have agreed to a trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Right-hander Liam Hendriks is heading to Kansas City in the deal, according to Rosenthal, but other details have yet to be reported.


Dodgers Acquire Darwin Barney

5:43pm: MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs are sending $500K to the Dodgers in the trade (Twitter link).

2:32pm: The Dodgers have bolstered their infield depth and their defense with the acquisition of Darwin Barney from the Cubs, both teams announced. Chicago will send Barney and cash considerations to Los Angeles in return for a player to be named later, according to releases from each team. It was reported earlier today that Barney, who was designated for assignment last week, was garnering trade interest.

Darwin Barney

The 28-year-old Barney hit just .230/.265/.328 in 217 plate appearances with the Cubs this season, but his bat has never been his calling card. Barney consistently rates as one of the best defensive second baseman in the Major Leagues, and this year was no different. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games was +15.5, while Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at +7 runs in limited time. Per DRS, Barney has  saved 46 runs over the past three seasons.

Dee Gordon has established himself as Los Angeles’ everyday second baseman this season, so it doesn’t seem likely that Barney will be seeing everyday at-bats with the Dodgers. However, his glove makes him a nice bench piece that the team can use to improve its defense late in games. Barney was drafted as a shortstop and spent more time at short than at the keystone in his minor league career. Despite a lack of experience at the position in recent years, Barney could be used as a replacement if the team wants to either replace the defensively challenged Hanley Ramirez or shift him over to third base late in games.

Barney is earning just $2.3MM this season and is controllable through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. His bat makes him a non-tender candidate in the offseason, but he will only cost the Dodgers about $804K from here through season’s end.

Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune first reported that the two sides were nearing a trade (on Twitter), and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweeted that it was a deal. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs would receive a PTBNL in return (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rakuten Golden Eagles Sign Nick Evans

5:40pm: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets that Evans’ deal is official, and he will fly to Japan tomorrow.

JULY 28, 2:49pm: The Diamondbacks now announce (via Twitter) that Evans has been released to make roster room for Jordan Pacheco (who is returning from the DL).

JULY 26, 10:23am:  Nick Evans has an agreement with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The Diamondbacks will remove Evans from their 40-man roster.

Evans had collected 21 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks this season and had previously played parts of four seasons for the Mets between 2008 and 2011. The 28-year-old has spent most of the 2014 season with Triple-A Reno, where he hit .354/.423/.631 in 227 plate appearances.



Astros Open To Trading Keuchel, McHugh, Cosart

The Astros have previously said that they weren’t inclined to move left-hander Dallas Keuchel or right-hander Collin McHugh, both of whom are in the midst of breakout seasons, but Luhnow softened his stance when speaking to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (12:23 timestamp in the update window). The Houston GM tells Rosenthal that the lack of available starting pitching has prompted him to consider dealing Keuchel, McHugh, or right-hander Jarred Cosart:

“We do seem to have an excess of pretty good young starters so we wouldn’t rule anything out. We’d have to get back a big-league piece, preferably a bat, in a package that makes sense for the future and present.”

The 26-year-old Keuchel can be controlled through the 2018 season, while McHugh, 27, and Cosart, 24, are controllable through the 2019 campaign. Keuchel and McHugh, in particular, have had surprisingly strong seasons, with Keuchel posting a 3.11 ERA in 127 1/3 innings, and McHugh notching a 3.45 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings (10.4 K/9).

Keuchel was Houston’s seventh-round selection in the 2009 draft, while McHugh was claimed off waivers (Houston had tried to trade for him in 2013), and Cosart was acquired in the Hunter Pence deal back in 2011. None of three are eligible for arbitration after the season. Keuchel will be arb-eligible following the 2015 season, while Cosart and McHugh are eligible following the 2016 season.


Mariners, Orioles Have Inquired On Lester

Jon Lester has emerged as perhaps the most sought after name on the trade market, and there will be plenty of buzz about him in the next three days. We’ll track all of today’s Lester updates in this post…

  • The Red Sox are getting “hit hard” on both Lester and John Lackey, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), and teams within the AL East are among those showing interest. Lackey’s contract contains a club option for the league minimum in 2015 that triggered after he missed a year of his current contract due to Tommy John surgery.
  • Indeed, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi tweets that the Orioles have reached out to Boston to express interest in Lester. Baltimore certainly has the pitching depth to make a push for Lester, although they’ve shown a past reluctance to part with any of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey or Eduardo Rodriguez.
  • Rosenthal also tweets that the Mariners have inquired on Lester, who is a native of Tacoma. The M’s have been connected to David Price since the offseason, but Lester would come with a slightly lower cost of acquisition given his proximity to free agency. Seattle has plenty of minor league talent as well, though top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton have both dealt with injuries in 2014.

A’s Designate Kenny Wilson For Assignment

The A’s have designated outfielder Kenny Wilson for assignment, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The move creates room for speedster Billy Burns, who will be recalled to replace Craig Gentry. Gentry has suffered a non-displaced fracture in his hand.

Wilson has been with the Blue Jays (twice), Twins and A’s this season, posting a combined .218/.295/.303 batting line between Double-A and Triple-A with those three organizations. He’s said to be a solid defender in center field, but his bat has taken a step back after a solid 2013 campaign in which he batted .270/.349/.386. Despite his meager on-base percentage in 2014, Wilson has swiped 24 bases. The fleet-footed 24-year-old has racked up 40 or more steals in three separate seasons.

Burns was acquired from the Nationals this offseason in the Jerry Blevins trade and has impressed Oakland with his blazing speed. After stealing 74 bases with a .425 on-base percentage in 2013, he’s batted .250/.333/.330 with a crazy 51-for-56 success rate in stolen base attempts at Double-A this season.


Mariners, Braves Most Active Teams For Denorfia

4:11pm: The Mariners and Braves are the two teams pursuing Denorfia most heavily right now, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

11:04am: The Padres have received a lot of interest in outfielder Chris Denorfia and a trade is likely to happen “sooner rather than later,” sources tell Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.  The Giants, Mariners and Blue Jays are all interested, and the Royals have also talked to the Padres about a possible move, and could get in on Denorfia if they can’t acquire Alex Rios or Marlon Byrd.

San Francisco and Seattle are new names connected to the Denorfia sweepstakes, and like the Jays and Royals, both teams would be helped by a right-handed hitting outfield bat.  Denorfia could form a platoon with Gregor Blanco in center for the Giants, as Angel Pagan‘s injury status is still up in the air, or Denorfia could potentially platoon in left field with Tyler Colvin with Michael Morse seeing more time at first (if Brandon Belt‘s concussion continues to linger).  The Mariners have also been linked to Byrd, though since the M’s are one of the four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list, Denorfia could be easier to obtain.

Denorfia is a free agent this winter, and the 34-year-old hasn’t helped his value by hitting only .244/.295/.321 over 266 PA this season.  That total includes a .644 OPS against left-handed pitching, though Denorfia has an .810 career OPS against southpaws.


Suzuki Extension Looks Unlikely For Twins

JULY 28: There were no extension talks between the Twins and Suzuki over the weekend, Wolfson tweets. One source tells him that “nothing’s going to get done” by Thursday.

JULY 25: The Minnesota field staff is making the case that the club should hold onto Suzuki, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It is not likely that an extension will come together quickly, however, says Rosenthal.

We looked earlier today at the latest on trade interest in Suzuki.

JULY 24: Extension talks are ongoing, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Suzuki’s representatives at MVP Sports are seeking a contract commensurate with the annual values given to free agents Carlos Ruiz (three years, $26MM), Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($21MM over three years), and A.J. Pierzynski (one year, $8.25MM) over the last offseason.

JULY 22: There’s mutual interest in an extension, manager Ron Gardenhire told hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio today (Twitter link). Gardenhire’s comments, of course, don’t mean the two sides are any closer to a deal.

JULY 21: The Twins and catcher Kurt Suzuki recently engaged in extension talks, but the two sides aren’t seeing eye to eye in terms of contract parameters, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino characterizes the talks as “exploratory” but notes that establishing fair parameters looks like it will be a challenge.

The news is significant, as Suzuki figures to be a prime trade chip if the Twins aren’t able to secure a new contract with the first-time All-Star. Signed to a one-year, $2.75MM contract (with $500K of incentives), Suzuki seems a highly unlikely candidate to receive a qualifying offer after the season. As such, a trade may be the only way for the Twins to receive long-term value, should Suzuki sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter.

Suzuki, 30, has served as Minnesota’s primary backstop all season and slashed a strong .305/.364/.389. While he’s cracked just a pair of homers, he’s shown the best full-season walk rate of his career (7.5 percent) and is striking out at a career-low rate (8.8 percent). That strikeout rate is currently the sixth-lowest in all of Major League Baseball (among qualified hitters).

Defensively speaking, Suzuki has been a mixed bag. He’s thrown out a solid 24 percent of opposing base-stealers and rates as one of the best in the league at blocking potential passed balls and wild pitches, per Baseball Prospectus. However, he ranks at the bottom of the league in terms of pitch framing, per BP and Matthew Carruth at StatCorner.com.

Both the Cardinals and Orioles have seen their starting catchers go down with serious injuries, while other contenders such as the Dodgers and Blue Jays have also received below-average offense behind the plate.


Phillies Make Hamels Available; Dodgers Interested

3:50pm: In today’s Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN’s Jayson Stark touched on Hamels’ availability (highlights from the rest of the piece can be seen here, though it’s worth reading in its entirety).

Officials from other teams tell Stark that the Phillies are asking for each team’s top three or four prospects in any Hamels deal, but they’re only willing to eat about $10MM of the remaining $90MM+ on Hamels’ contract. Stark quotes one unnamed executive, who told him, “Ruben wants his doors blown off in order to trade him. And you don’t get your doors blown off if this kind of money is attached. It doesn’t work that way.”

Meanwhile, Morosi hears that the Dodgers and Cardinals are the two most likely clubs to acquire Hamels (Twitter link).

3:03pm: Though we’ve been hearing for weeks that the Phillies won’t move ace Cole Hamels, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the team has now made the lefty available, and the Dodgers are interested (Twitter link). However, the asking price on Hamels is still said to be very high, per Morosi.

Recently, it was reported that Hamels could block trades to 20 teams. The nine teams to which Hamels cannot block a trade are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Padres, so he wouldn’t have any say should the Dodgers put together a strong enough offer.

Hamels, 30, is enjoying yet another strong season atop Philadelphia’s rotation, having pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 47.5 percent ground-ball rate in 122 1/3 innings. He’s earning $22.5MM in 2014 and is guaranteed $90MM from 2015-18, with a $20MM club option for the 2019 season that can vest at $24MM with 400 innings from 2017-18 or 200 innings in 2018. He has about $7.87MM remaining on this year’s salary, meaning that he’s guaranteed another $97.87MM and could earn as much as $121.87MM before hitting free agency.

The Dodgers appear to be looking to make a big splash on the pitching front, as they’ve been oft-linked to David Price and have recently been heavily connected to Red Sox ace Jon Lester. Los Angeles has reportedly been loath to part with both Corey Seager and Joc Pederson in trades, but it’s worth wondering if they’d part with both hitters in order to acquire someone with so much team control remaining. Left-hander Julio Urias has seen his stock skyrocket in 2014 as well, while other pitching prospects such as Zach Lee, Chris Anderson and Tom Windle have delivered relatively disappointing results this year.

The Dodgers’ interest in Hamels isn’t entirely surprising, as the team could lose Zack Greinke to an opt-out clause following the 2015 season. Hamels would give them a dominant arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw in the event that Greinke signs elsewhere.


Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.

Yankees Designate Jeff Francis For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they have designated veteran lefty Jeff Francis for assignment and recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 33-year-old Francis appeared in just two games for the Yanks, allowing a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. In total this season between New York, Cincinnati and Oakland, he’s posted a 5.85 ERA with a strong 15-to-3 K/BB ratio.


Rusney Castillo To Have Private Workouts For Four Teams

Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.

Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.

Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.

Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.

While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.

Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.


Passan’s Latest: Crawford, Syndergaard, Tulo

The Dodgers have been floating Carl Crawford‘s name in trade talks, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.  It isn’t know how much the Dodgers are willing to eat of the roughly $69.25MM owed to Crawford through 2017, yet needless to say, it “will need to be a lot.”  L.A. was reportedly open to hearing offers for Crawford last winter, though there unsurprisingly wasn’t much interest given Crawford’s large salary, injury problems and declining performance over the last four seasons.

Here’s some more from Passan’s latest “Ten Degrees” column

  • The Cardinals and Mets are staying in touch with the Rockies about Troy Tulowitzki‘s availability, and the Mets are willing to include top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard as part of a trade package.  Colorado isn’t budging, however, unless Tulowitzki actually demands a trade, which could be part of the “let him be the bad guy” strategy that Passan considers “a ludicrous way to run a franchise.”
  • The Phillies are still looking for “a return of any kind” in exchange for Cliff Lee, according to two executives on teams interested in the veteran southpaw.  This implies that the Phils want more than just salary relief, which could be difficult given the size of Lee’s contract.
  • The four-year, $70MM extension offer the Red Sox made to Jon Lester last offseason may have made sense on paper for a team that is loath to spend big on a pitcher into his 30′s, yet Passan feels this offer was such a lowball that it has turned the Lester extension talks “into a season-long story” and cost Boston its hometown advantage in re-signing the ace.  One Red Sox insider tells Passan that “the likelihood of Boston re-signing Lester lessens by the day” and trading Lester might now be the best way for the Sox to get some value for the left-hander.
  • The Red Sox and Rangers had serious trade talks about Lester in the 2012-13 offseason, even to the point of exchanging some player names.  This obviously doesn’t mean Texas would get in on the bidding on a Lester trade now, given that they’re far out of contention and Lester is only signed through the end of the season.

Indians “Very Willing” To Trade Justin Masterson

Though he won’t be activated from the disabled list until this Friday, the Indians are “very willing” to trade Justin Masterson, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Cleveland’s preference would be to obtain controllable starting pitching in return for their embattled right-hander.

Masterson has struggled for much of the 2014 season, posting a 5.51 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate. More concerning, perhaps, is the stark decline in his fastball velocity; after averaging 91.6 mph on his heater in 2013 (and 91.9 mph in 2012), Masterson averaged just 89.1 mph before being placed on the disabled list with a knee injury. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before the All-Star break that he felt Masterson’s knee injury forced him to alter the way he landed coming off his delivery, which got his mechanics out of sync and could have been partially to blame for the velocity issues.

The 29-year-old is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and it seems unlikely that a team would surrender top talent to acquire a two-month rental that has struggled so greatly in 2014. As such (and this is my own speculation), Masterson might be more of an August trade candidate. If he can come back healthy and effective, scouts might be willing to overlook some of his early-season struggles (to an extent).

Masterson is earning $9.7625MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the final time this offseason. Cleveland had interest in extending its now-former ace (Corey Kluber likely holds that distinction now), but even when Masterson himself suggested seemingly below-market two- and three-year deals at $17-18MM annually, the Indians didn’t bite. Of course, at this point, that looks like it could have been a shrewd move on Cleveland’s behalf.


Nationals Notes: Astros, Hill, Prado, Iglesias

It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…

  • The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend.  Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
  • The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado.  Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second.  Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach.  Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
  • With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended.  The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
  • Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams.  The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
  • Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller.  Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.