Minor Moves: Redmond, Roberts, Dayton, Conrad

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
  • The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
  • The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page.  Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014.  He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Allan Dykstra (Rays), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.

White Sox Designate Eric Surkamp For Assignment

The White Sox tweeted they have designated left-hander Eric Surkamp for assignment. The White Sox also tweeted they have added right-hander Scott Carroll to the 40-man roster by purchasing his contract from Triple-A Charlotte, a move necessitated when Matt Albers (who, as chronicled by MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, was injured in Friday’s brawl with the Royals) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a compression fracture on the pinky of his throwing hand.

Carroll, who made 19 starts for the White Sox last year and has posted a 2.45 ERA with a 6.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in three starts (14 2/3 innings) for Charlotte in 2015, could be an option to step into the rotation to fill the void created by the five-game suspensions given to Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija stemming from Friday night’s brouhaha. Both Sale and Samardzija are appealing their suspsensions. Manager Robin Ventura also mentioned the recently recalled Carlos Rodon as a possibility for a spot spot.

After being the lone lefty out of the White Sox’s bullpen for most of 2014 and appearing in 35 contests, Surkamp’s stock dropped with the offseason acquisitions of left-handers Zach Duke and Dan Jennings. The 27-year-old started the season at Charlotte and has struggled so far to the tune of a 5.68 ERA and identical K/9 and BB/9 marks of 8.5 in 6 1/3 innings over four games.


Hamilton Trade Expected To Be Finalized Today

SUNDAY: The trade is expected to be finalized today, tweets Sullivan. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan adds (via Twitter) the trade is now in the “I-dotting, T-crossing stage.”

SATURDAY: The Rangers are still awaiting approval on the rumored Josh Hamilton deal, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Sullivan’s source with the Rangers see no impediment to finalizing the agreement. As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the swap is slow moving because it involves five parties – the Angels, Rangers, Hamilton, the commissioner’s office, and the players’ union.

The Rangers are expected to cover about $7MM of the roughly $82MM remaining on his contract. Since Texas has no income tax, Hamilton is reportedly willing to renegotiate the size of his contract. Per Sullivan, the club is eager to complete the trade. Hamilton is in the midst of rehab for a shoulder injury. The Rangers would like to get him out to their Arizona facility at the earliest opportunity.

Some might recall that Hamilton was “booed out of Texas,” writes Yahoo’s Tim Brown. However, he’ll be quickly forgiven if he helps the anemic Rangers offense produce some runs. Per Brown, his former teammates are looking forward to reuniting with Hamilton. Many hope that he can fall back into his old support system. That could help him focus on health and production.

The Rangers are the beneficiaries of the “arrogance” of Angels owner Arte Moreno, opines Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register. Moreno was the one who wanted to acquire Hamilton in the first place. GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would have happily added Hamilton’s bat to the lineup, so the decision to discard him must have come from Moreno. It’s fair to wonder if Moreno should take a lighter hand in the Angels’ baseball operations.

Surprisingly, the move makes sense for all five parties involved, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Rangers take a minimal risk on a guy who was a core component of several successful seasons. The $6MM Hamilton will forgo doesn’t devalue his deal due to the different income tax laws. The MLBPA is looking out for Hamilton’s welfare even though they’re usually against restructuring contracts. Meanwhile, the Angels and the commissioner’s office avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.

 



Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Owings, Balfour, Blue Jays

On this date in 2006, Julio Franco became the second oldest player to steal a base at the the age of 47, as Leo Panetta of NationalPastime.com writes.  In 1909, Arlie Latham, who played two games at second base for the Giants, swiped a sack at the age 49.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..


Adam Wainwright Could Be Out For Season

11:41am: Cards GM John Mozeliak told KMOX Sports (on Twitter) that he “would imagine” that the injury is season-ending, but the team will wait for official word on Monday.

9:58am: The Cardinals confirmed (on Twitter) that Wainwright suffered an Achilles injury.

9:00am: Wainwright will see a doctor on Monday and receive a prognosis then, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

8:30am: The expectation is that Adam Wainwright is done for the season after suffering an Achilles injury last night, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The Cardinals pitcher has yet to undergo an MRI, however.

Wainwright suffered his injury in the fifth inning of Saturday night’s game against the Brewers as he was running out a pop-up.  Wainwright, who has pitched four scoreless innings, was running to first when he came up lame after hurting his left ankle, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  The veteran left the park in a walking boot and was stunned by the freak injury.

I’ve never had anything down there to compare it to.  I’m thinking what in the heck just hit me. I thought the catcher’s mask must have hit me. Or the bat must have hit me. It was crazy,” said Wainwright. “I wasn’t even going that hard. I just popped it up. I saw that it was in play so I started to run and my foot just shut down on me. It’s in the back of my ankle. Everything right now is all speculation. I’ve not got my hopes up or down.”

Wainwright was doubly disappointed because, as he told reporters, he felt the best he had all year heading into Saturday night.  If Wainwright is in fact done for the year, it’ll be the second time in his career that he has suffered a lost season.  The 33-year-old (34 in August) missed the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery.

Through four starts this season, the three-time All-Star has posted a 1.44 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9.  For his career, Wainwright has pitched to a 2.98 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.


Cafardo On Hamels, Soriano, Red Sox

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe credits Phillies GM Ruben Amaro for his offseason signing of Aaron Harang.  The veteran right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball through the first month of the season after coming to Philly on an affordable one-year, $5MM deal (Harang spoke with MLBTR last month about joining the Phillies).  While it’s been tough for Amaro to find the right deal for Cole Hamels, a few more good starts may net him a prospect for Harang.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • There have been no calls on Hamels regarding a trade since the last week of March, a Phillies source tells Cafardo.  Recently, Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote that rival evaluators believe the pitcher wants out of Philadelphia.  Through four starts this season, Hamels has pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
  • Rafael Soriano has returned to the Dominican Republic for workouts as he awaits an MLB opportunity.  We learned yesterday that the Twins are among the teams interested in Soriano. The Tigers and Blue Jays would also make sense as potential landing spots for the reliever. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently reported that there has been contact between agent Scott Boras and the Mariners regarding Soriano and the Pirates, Indians, and Dodgers could be “logical suitors.”
  • The Red Sox have received kudos from around baseball for signing right-hander Alexi Ogando as a free agent and many teams are now kicking themselves over not signing him. “They’ve used him so well at the beginning of the season, biting off as much as he can chew and slowly but surely increasing to high-leverage situations,” said one National League scout. “He’s got some real action on his fastball and electric stuff at times. He’ll occasionally leave a pitch over the plate, but this is like a bonus guy. A lot of teams missed the boat and the Red Sox were one of the few teams willing to offer a major league deal.”
  • When asked if he’d ever want to be a manager, Red Sox special assistant Jason Varitek told Cafardo, “Maybe someday. Not right now.”  Varitek wants to watch his kids grow up before possibly pursuing such a role.

Dodgers To Sign Mike Carp

The Dodgers have signed first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  Carp’s deal will be worth $1MM if he reaches the major league team.

Carp was previously with the Nationals but elected free agency on April 6th after declining a minor league assignment.  The 28-year-old lost a spring battle for a left-handed-hitting bench role to Clint Robinson, who enjoyed a big spring. Carp had underwhelming numbers in Grapefruit League action, meanwhile, following a 2014 season in which he slashed just .175/.289/.230 in 149 plate appearances.

It was not long ago that Carp looked like a rather useful player and he’ll look to get back on track in sunny Los Angeles.  In 2013, with the Red Sox, he took 243 turns at bat and his .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs.  Combined with a productive 2011 campaign in Seattle, sandwiched around a less useful campaign, Carp was expected to play an important role in Boston’s championship defense.


Quick Hits: Manfred, Ramirez, Soriano

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred would prefer for the Athletics to remain in Oakland, writes Bill Shaiken of the LA Times. The A’s are currently waiting to learn if the NFL’s Oakland Raiders will remain in the city or move to Los Angeles. Manfried also suggested that public financing would be helpful. “We want to remain loyal to [small market fans], but those markets also have to participate in providing the kind of facilities necessary to keep a Major League Baseball team.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez won’t let the club’s slow start affect his decision to retire, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Milwaukee is quickly falling out of contention in the tough NL Central. Ramirez is off to a slow start, but you have to imagine he’ll be a trade candidate this summer. Assuming he’s dealt, he’ll have an opportunity to finish his career with a contender – it just probably won’t be the Brewers.
  • The Twins remain among the teams interested in free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Wolfson believes the fit is much better with the Tigers and Blue Jays. While Minnesota could definitely use some relief reinforcements, the club doesn’t figure to contend this season. As such, they probably view Soriano as a piece they could trade at the deadline.

East Notes: Phillies, Franco, Red Sox, Victorino

Phillies tickets sales are at their lowest since the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover wonders if the fans will return when the team begins to turn the corner in a few years. Philadelphia has a history of punishing noncompetitive teams. Other franchises like the Nationals, Indians, and Braves have seen a much more tepid fan response to winning. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly confident that ticket sales will return to previous levels once the team reaches the postseason.

  • The Phillies will remain patient with top prospect Maikel Franco, writes Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. With the major league club scuffling and Franco off to a quick start (.343/.389/.537 at Triple-A), there is some pressure to get a look at him in the majors. Service time considerations and the performance of Cody Asche will affect when Franco is activated. Unlike the Kris Bryant situation, Franco appeared to need further development during spring training. It doesn’t look like the Phillies will keep Franco in the minors purely for service time considerations.
  • The early returns from the Red Sox rotation have been bad, writes Joel Sherman of the NY Post. Boston starters have a collective 5.46 ERA entering today (and Justin Masterson is off to a poor start). The shaky performances have strained a “dubious” bullpen. Given the deep farm system, the team remains poised to acquire a top trade target like Cole Hamels.
  • Boston has placed outfielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, writes Jeff Seidel for MLB.com. The club has recalled Matt Barnes in a corresponding move. For those wondering why Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo wasn’t called upon, he’s currently rehabbing a right shoulder injury. He’s expected to return to the Triple-A lineup next week.

Latest From Rosenthal: Papelbon, Braun, Young, Redmond

Some within the industry believe the Nationals should trade for Jonathan Papelbon and install Drew Storen as the setup man, says Ken Rosenthal with FOX Sports (video link). While there is some concern over Papelbon’s velocity, he’s off to a great start and “never misses his spots.” His $13MM vesting option for 2016 remains an obstacle. Rosenthal notes that the Tigers and Blue Jays are other possible destinations. I agree that these three clubs could all use relief help. To me, it makes more sense for the Nationals to address their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have a tougher path to the postseason, so they could really use the reinforcements now. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Brewers may shift to a rebuilding stance, and teams are in constant contact about Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Another star, Ryan Braun, will be difficult to trade. He’s slumped to start the season. He’s owed $105MM through 2020, and his no trade clause includes every team by the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman credits his analytics department for recommending Chris Young. The outfielder is off to a blazing start with four home runs and a .357/.426/.762 line in 48 plate appearances. The Yankees have become familiar with buying low. They also acquired Chris Capuano, Martin Prado, and Brandon McCarthy at discount prices.
  • The Marlins are en route to their fourth consecutive victory, but manager Mike Redmond may remain on the hot seat. As one insider told Rosenthal, once owner Jeffrey Loria gets an idea in his head, “he can’t let it go.” If that’s the case, Redmond will need his team to go on an impressive streak.

Rangers, Angels Reach Agreement On Hamilton Deal

SATURDAY 4:54pm: The Angels and Rangers have agreed to the deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The deal still needs to be approved by the MLBPA and by MLB, however. There are no specific indications that will be a problem, but approval might not be as automatic, particularly in the union’s case, since Hamilton has reportedly agreed to forgo salary in the trade.

12:46pm: Hamilton would receive a significant buyout if he were to excercise his opt-out, Rosenthal tweets. That makes sense — if not for a buyout, there would be few scenarios in which it would make sense for Hamilton to opt out of the $30MM he’s set to make in 2017.

12:02pm: The Rangers will take on less than $7MM of Hamilton’s contract, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, meanwhile, writes that the Rangers will pay $2MM-$3MM. Hamilton will eat about $6MM of the contract himself, according to Grant, since he can make up at least some of the difference due to the fact that Texas does not have a state income tax. That means the Angels could still save $8MM-$13MM. Hamilton will also receive an opt-out clause after 2016.

FRIDAY 7:15pm: The talks are still “complex” and “volatile” and remain incomplete, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). If the deal is completed, the Rangers will take on less than $15MM and will not send any players to their division rivals.

Multiple reports indicate that the lack of state income tax in Texas is playing a role, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting that Hamilton will cede some pay to make the deal work. Hamilton’s gains through tax avoidance would, presumably, even things out (to some extent, at least) on his end.

If the proposed transaction is indeed one in which the Rangers would assume some of the contract without sending anything in return, and in which Hamilton would give up some guaranteed money, it is not hard to see the complexities. Both the league and union would surely want to take a close look at a deal of that nature.

6:16pm: The Rangers will pick up about $15MM of Hamilton’s salary, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Los Angeles will pay the remainder of the $83MM that he is owed.

6:10pm: The deal “has been agreed to” though there remain several “ancillary” matters to be addressed, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

5:31pm: The Rangers are nearing a trade to acquire Josh Hamilton, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. There is still “legal work” remaining before the deal can be finalized, but Sullivan says an announcement could come Monday.

The details of the arrangement remain unknown, but Shin-Soo Choo is not involved in the prospective trade, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Choo had at least appeared to be a plausible piece to be included in a deal given his huge salary and rather pronounced struggles.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas would either need to have virtually all of Hamilton’s salary covered — or, would add him if and when he negotiates a release. Indeed, per another Shaikin tweet, some cash savings for the Angels may the only substantial element in the deal.

Hamilton, 33, has disappointed in Los Angeles since inking a five-year, $125MM contract before the 2013 season. He has slashed .255/.316/.426 in a Halos cap, a useful enough line but hardly enough to justify his contract. Injuries dogged Hamilton last year, who is still working back from offseason shoulder surgery.

Of course, Hamilton earned that sizeable contract with his play in Texas, where he produced at a .305/.363/.549 clip for five seasons while swatting 142 long balls. Though he did not end his stint with the team on the best off terms, Hamilton will forever be associated with the Rangers — the place where he became a star.


International Notes: Fanning, Capitales, Atkins

Jim Fanning, the first general manager of the Montreal Expos, has passed away at age 87, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun notes (on Twitter). Fanning played briefly for the Cubs as a catcher in parts of the 1954 through 1957 seasons, but he was better known for the career he built after he was through as a player. He assembled the original 1969 Expos team, beginning with the 1968 expansion draft, and, during his tenure, acquired Expos greats like Rusty Staub, Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. After Charlie Fox replaced Fanning in 1976, he continued to work for the Expos, eventually taking over as manager in 1981 in time for their first and only playoff appearance. Later in his career, he worked in the Rockies and Blue Jays organizations. In 2000, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are more notes on baseball throughout the world.

  • The Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League have announced (link in French) that they will have four Cuban players this season, via an agreement with the Cuban government. Those include outfielder Yuniesky Gourriel, the son of the legendary Lourdes Gourriel and the the brother of star Yulieski Gourriel and the promising Lourdes Gourriel Jr. Outfielder Alexei Bell, shortstop Yordan Manduley, and pitcher Ismel Jimenez will also join the Capitales. It’s unclear whether any of them are big-league talents, although it’s worth noting that the Can-Am League (from which, for example, the Twins signed Chris Colabello) will make it easier for scouts for affiliated teams to see them.
  • Former Cubs and Astros pitcher Mitch Atkins has signed with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan, J.M.G. Baseball announces (via Twitter). The 29-year-old Atkins last appeared in the big leagues in 2011. He pitched much of the last two seasons in the Braves organization, also pitching in independent ball and in winter ball in the Dominican.

Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero

The Blue Jays have released lefty Ricky Romero, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Romero will make $7.5MM in the last year of a $30.1MM contract he signed in late 2010. He will receive a $600K buyout for 2016.

Romero, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, was once a promising young starter. His best year was 2011, when he posted a 2.92 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 225 innings and finished tenth in AL Cy Young balloting. The following season, though, was a huge step backward — he had a 5.77 ERA and led the league in walks, then had elbow surgery after the season.

After that, Romero never returned to form. He spent much of 2013 in the minors, and the Jays outrighted him in June and then again in October. A knee injury ended his 2014 season after nine minor-league starts, and he had not yet pitched in 2015. According to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (via Twitter), Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that since Romero was in the last year of his deal and was not close to being able to help, there was no reason for the team to keep him.


Rays Designate Allan Dykstra For Assignment

The Rays have designated first baseman Allan Dykstra for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The move clears space for pitcher Everett Teaford, whose contract the Rays selected from Triple-A Durham.

Dykstra collected the first 38 plate appearances of his big-league career with the Rays this season, hitting .129/.289/.226 before being optioned to Durham when James Loney returned from injury. The 27-year-old Dykstra is now in his eighth season in the minors and could be on his way out of his third organization despite a first-round draft pedigree and consistently impressive-looking minor-league stats. He hit .280/.426/.504 in 439 plate appearances with the Mets’ (admittedly hitter-friendly) Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season.


Ben Zobrist To Have Knee Surgery

Athletics utilityman Ben Zobrist confirms that he will have arthroscopic knee surgery, which likely means he will be out four to six weeks, Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet California writes (via Twitter). That Zobrist would have surgery seemed increasingly likely earlier today, when the A’s placed him on the disabled list and promoted infielder Max Muncy to take his place on the active roster.

Via the Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey (on Twitter), Zobrist says he’s hopeful he can return by the start of June, giving the A’s four more months of regular-season baseball with him before he becomes a free agent. But the injury limits the amount of time the Athletics have to recoup the investment they made this offseason when they sent top prospect Daniel Robertson (along with big-leaguer John Jaso and another prospect, Boog Powell) to Tampa Bay for Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. Zobrist had been very durable before this season, having played 146 or more games in every year since 2009.