Mariners Have Inquired With Rockies On Drew Stubbs

The Mariners have inquired with the Rockies about the possibility of acquiring outfielder Drew Stubbs, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Colorado is willing to listen on Stubbs, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com, and would be interested in bringing back a controllable young arm in return.

Stubbs, 29, has played exclusively in center field with the Rockies, though he also has experience in right. He has posted a career-best .297/.335/.498 slash with ten home runs an 11 stolen bases in 258 plate appearances. That comes on the heels of three straight seasons of below-average production with the Reds and Indians, however, which led to his being dealt to the Rockies from the latter club in exchange for southpaw reliever Josh Outman.

The right-handed hitting Stubbs is earning $4.1MM through arbitration this year and should be in line for a nice raise in 2015, his final season of arb eligibility. That contract situation limits his trade value, of course. Colorado is not yet sure if they would like to part with Stubbs, Morosi adds. Of course, he is part of a fairly crowded outfield situation at present, particularly given reports that the club would like to bring back veteran Michael Cuddyer.


D’backs Shopping Aaron Hill, Barely Listening On Martin Prado

While the Diamondbacks are interested in moving second baseman Aaron Hill, they have indicated a lack of motivation in dealing jack-of-all-trades Martin Pradoreports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. According to Heyman, the club is “barely listening” to inquiries on the latter.

Both players are owed approximately the same amount in future guarantees: $28MM for Hill and $26MM for Prado, both through 2016. And both have scuffled at the plate, with Hill slashing .251/.285/.381 and Prado checking in with a .274/.319/.369 line. But the club appears to view Prado, who is two years younger and a more flexible option in the field, as a part of the team’s core moving forward.


Cubs Looking To Trade Edwin Jackson

The Cubs have attempted to deal away starter Edwin Jacksonreports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, but initial efforts have not been promising. Jackson, signed before the 2013 season, is playing on a $11MM annual salary this year and is owed the same amount for each of the next two campaigns.

Heyman adds that the Yankees did not seem interested in the 30-year-old righty, who has struggled to a 5.61 ERA through 110 2/3 frames this year. That follows on his poor numbers last year, when he threw 175 1/3 innings of 4.98 ERA ball. Jackson has restored his strikeout totals to the level they were when the Cubs signed him (8.1 K/9), but has struggled with control and has walked four batters per nine.



MLBPA Files Grievance Against Astros Relating To Unsigned Draft Picks

The MLB Player’s Association has filed a grievance action against the Astros relating to the team’s recent failure to sign top overall draft choice Brady Aiken, reports Murray Chass. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also reports the filing, via Twitter.

Though details remain vague, it appears that the union’s action alleges that Houston inappropriately manipulated the signing situations of Aiken and fifth-rounder Jacob Nix after a dispute arose over Aiken’s medicals. Ultimately, the Astros reportedly offered Aiken only $5MM after having reportedly agreed to a $6.5MM bonus. The club also did not go forward with signing Nix after having reportedly agreed to sign him for $1.5MM.

Having failed to sign Aiken, inking Nix to that reported over-slot bonus would have put the Astros well above their pool allocation for signed players and subjected them to the penalty of forfeiting each of their next two first-round choices. As MLB.com’s Jim Callis has explained, some have charged that Houston sought to sign Aiken at the lower price tag in order to make a run at 21st-round choice Mac Marshall, who had previously announced that he would go to college. Of course, it remains to be seen what precise allegations have been made by the union.

While the result sought in the grievance proceeding remains unknown, presumably the MLBPA could seek some relief for Aiken and/or Nix if not also some action against the club. As things stand, the pair of hurlers face the decision whether to matriculate at a university (both were UCLA commits) or play junior college ball and re-enter the draft next year.


Phillies Have Considered Releasing Ryan Howard After Season

TODAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has some additional details on Philadelphia’s efforts to deal Howard. The club has shopped him, indicating that it would eat “much or most” of his remaining salary. Rival executives say that Philly is working hard to line up a match.

As Heyman notes, an American League team would seem most likely to add the former MVP, and two GMs told him yesterday that Howard was probably worth between $3MM and $5MM annually at this point. (Though presumably that does not mean that a multi-year commitment at that price would be desirable.)

YESTERDAY: As his struggles worsen, the Phillies have had internal discussions about releasing one-time star first baseman Ryan Howard after the season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Howard is owed the rest of his $25MM salary this season and comes with $60MM in future guarantees.

It does not appear that the club has reached any finality in regards to Howard’s future. The possibility of a trade has been explored, but Philadelphia has not found another club interested in taking on any substantial part of Howard’s contract. That is not surprising, of course, given that the 34-year-old is slashing a career-low .224/.305/.377 through 417 plate appearances on the year.

Now, with Howard’s decline becoming more pronounced, Philadelphia appears set to give more playing time to younger first base option Darin Ruf, who was recalled today. Manager Ryne Sandberg did not call it a platoon situation, but suggested as much. “As far as the lineup, that will be a day-to-day thing,” he said. “I think it’s important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward,” the skipper added.

Howard signed his extension at the start of the 2010 season, coming off of a four-year run in which he put up a composite .278/.379/.589 line and hit 198 home runs. Though he continued to produce at an above-average clip at the plate for two more seasons, things began to head south when he tore his Achilles tendon while making the last out of the team’s Game 5 loss in the 2011 NLDS. (That, of course, was also the Phils’ most recent postseason game.) Since that time, Howard — long considered a substandard fielder and baserunner – has mustered only 917 trips to the plate and owns an OPS that falls below league average.


Astros Unlikely To Deal Chad Qualls

Though he could hold appeal as a setup option to a contender, Astros closer Chad Qualls appears unlikely to change hands at the trade deadline,MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Qualls, 35, has been lights out this year with a 1.78 ERA and 7.9 K/9 against just 1.0 BB/9.

GM Jeff Luhnow indicated that he has little interest in moving Qualls, who is playing out the first season of a two-year, $6MM deal that includes a $3MM option for 2016. Said Luhnow:

“I hesitate to use the word ‘untouchable,’ but he likes it here, he’s comfortable here, and he’s pitching well. To have a guy who’s capable of pitching late in the game, in close games, we’re going to have opportunity going forward. This is a team that’s improving, and as the team improves, you have more save opportunities, more opportunities to pitch at the end of close games. We need more Chad Qualls. We don’t need less.”

Qualls, likewise, says he hopes to finish out his career in Houston.

While it is always tantalizing to consider the possibility of adding young talent, it should be noted that Qualls’s contract does look fairly reasonable at this point. And neither would he figure to bring back a significant haul. Instead of rolling the dice on another veteran next year, Houston may well be best served by holding onto him for the time being.


Yankees Acquire Chris Capuano From Rockies

The Yankees have acquired lefty Chris Capuano from the Rockies in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced via press release. Capuano joined Colorado on a minor league deal after he was released by the Red Sox.

The 35-year-old starter had not been given a chance to pitch for a Rockies club that is desperate for pitching, despite throwing 19 1/3 strong innings at Triple-A (2.79 ERA, 9.8 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9). He had less success at the MLB level this year as a member of the Boston bullpen, however, as he worked to a 4.55 ERA in 31 2/3 frames while striking out 8.2 and walking 4.3 batters per nine.

Offering the potential to start or relieve, Capuano represents a solid and flexible depth piece for the Yankees. It is not yet clear whether or when he will get a chance at the MLB level for New York.


Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.

Tigers Looking For Left-Handed Relief Help

The Tigers made a huge move to fortify their bullpen last night by acquiring Joakim Soria from the Rangers, but they’re not done looking for bullpen help, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Detroit is on the hunt for a left-handed relief upgrade, though they’re not ruling out another right-handed option either, he adds.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that Phillies southpaw Antonio Bastardo is a target for GM Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers, which lines up with yesterday’s reports that Detroit was among the teams to scout Bastardo.

Ian Krol and Phil Coke have served as Detroit’s primary left-handed relievers this season, but each has an ERA north of 4.50, and sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP and xFIP don’t paint a much more optimistic projection. Both have been serviceable, albeit unspectacular against lefties, as Coke has yielded a .254/.306/.388 batting line to same-handed hitters, while Krol has been a bit worse at .241/.313/.397. Both have been dreadful against right-handed hitters, however, with Coke surrendering a .927 OPS and Krol surrendering an even more unsightly 1.114 OPS.

In addition to Bastardo, the trade market features Wesley Wright and James Russell of the Cubs, Tony Sipp of the Astros, Neal Cotts of the Rangers and perhaps Brian Duensing of the Twins (though that last name is my own speculation, as he’s yet to surface in trade rumors).


Mariners Acquire Kendrys Morales

The Mariners have acquired Kendrys Morales from the Twins in exchange for right-hander Stephen Pryor, the team announced.

Kendrys Morales

Morales’ stay with the Twins didn’t prove to be a lengthy one, as his tenure in Minnesota lasted just 39 games. The switch-hitting slugger’s overall numbers with the Twins don’t look like much, as he’s batted just .234/.259/.325. He did, however, just wrap up a 12-game hitting streak that saw him bat .292/.314/.417, so he’s showing some signs of life at the dish. Seattle designated hitters have batted just .217/.294/.343, so the bar for improvement isn’t set that high with the Mariners.

The Twins signed Morales shortly after the draft, paying him the prorated version of a $12MM base salary on a one-year deal. In other words, the Twins paid about $3.08MM for less than two months of Morales and turned that into the hard-throwing but control-challenged Pryor. The Mariners, on the other hand, appear to be on the hook for the remaining $4.3MM on Morales’ contract.

Pryor, who turned 25 yesterday, has spent much of the season with Triple-A Tacoma as he recovers from surgery to repair his latissimus dorsi muscle that he underwent in 2013 (as noted by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN on Twitter). In 31 innings with Tacoma this season, Pryor has posted a 4.65 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. However, Pryor does have some big league experience under his belt, as he has compiled a 2.81 ERA with a 35-to-16 K/BB ratio in 32 Major League innings. He’s averaged 96 mph on his fastball in his brief time in the Majors and can be controlled at least through the 2018 season. Pryor will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins.

Morales was said by agent Scott Boras to be interested in working out a long-term deal with the Twins. Morales also said (via interpreter) on a road trip to Seattle that the reason he didn’t sign with the M’s this past offseason was that didn’t want to be in the same situation (presumably referring to the possibility of taking a one-year deal and again being hit with a qualifying offer in the 2014-15 offseason). It’s possible that the Twins could again show interest in Morales as a free agent this winter, and if he can hit well over the final two-plus months with the Mariners, he figures to do better on the open market than he did last time around. Because he did not spent the entire regular season with one team, he is now ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL East Notes: Lester, Sox, Lackey, Soria, Yanks, Rays

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said on WEEI radio’s Dennis and Callahan show today that extension talks with ace Jon Lester have been tabled until the offseason. Lucchino reminded that Lester’s preference is to avoid negotiating during the season. Lester told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, that he wasn’t surprised to hear Lucchino’s comments (Twitter link). However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com does hear from a source that Lester would be open to signing a midseason deal if the Sox were to offer market value for his services right now. The other possibility for Lester could be a trade, if the Sox fall further back in the East — a concept which Lester admits he has considered (via the Globe’s Nick Cafardo). Lester said if it came to that, he wouldn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the organization.

Here’s more on the BoSox and the AL East…

  • Lucchino also said on WEEI that he expects the Red Sox to be active at the trade deadline, though he noted that nearing the deadline with a sub-.500 record is new territory for the Sox. Asked about buying or selling, Lucchino referred to the trade deadline as a “binary process” and implied that the Sox could do some of both.
  • Also of note from Lucchino is that the Red Sox plan to engage John Lackey in extension talks after the season. Lackey’s Tommy John surgery in 2012 triggered a $500K option for the 2015 season due to an injury clause in his contract. Lucchino is quoted: “I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’€™ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts.”
  • The Blue Jays were in the mix for Joakim Soria before the Rangers traded him to the Tigers, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Talks never became too serious or progressed to the stage where offers were exchanged, however.
  • Morosi also notes that the Yankees are still looking to add a starter to their ranks (Twitter link). Earlier today, he noted that the Yanks scouted Ian Kennedy‘s last start, though reports from earlier today indicated that the Padres would need to be “overwhelmed” to move him.
  • Rays president Matt Silverman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that there are some “obvious flaws” with the Competitive Balance Lottery, in which the Rays were not awarded a pick yesterday. As Topkin notes, seemingly less-needing teams such as the Cardinals, Orioles and Rockies all received picks. Silverman went on to say, however, that even if the lottery were better constructed, it would “only scratch the surface of the competitive balance issues plaguing baseball.”

Orioles Acquire Jimmy Paredes

The Orioles have acquired infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations, the team announced. Paredes, who had been designated for assignment by the Royals last week, has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

This isn’t the first time that Baltimore has shown interest in Paredes, as they briefly claimed him off waivers from the Marlins this offseason before losing him on waivers to the Royals just a couple of days later.

Paredes went from the Astros to the Marlins to the Orioles to the Royals on waivers this offseason and ultimately received just 10 plate appearances (which yielded a pair of singles) for Kansas City’s big league club. Most of his season was spent at Omaha, where he produced a strong .305/.332/.457 batting line in 280 plate appearances.

As a career .306/.343/.468 hitter that bats from both sides of the plate and can play multiple positions, it’s not surprising that Paredes continues to find clubs willing to give him a 40-man roster spot. However, he’s yet to produce in 406 big league plate appearances, having totaled just a .233/.272/.308 batting line.


Athletics Designate Jim Johnson For Assignment

12:04pm: The A’s announced that they have actually designated Johnson for assignment, not released him (though that could obviously be the ultimate outcome of the move). Evan Scribner has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to fill his roster spot.

11:55am: The A’s have released right-hander Jim Johnson, a source tells Jane Lee of MLB.com (Twitter link).

The 31-year-old Johnson was acquired by the A’s this offseason in a salary dump that sent Jemile Weeks and David Freitas to the Orioles. While many Baltimore fans were shaken by the deal after seeing Johnson lead the league in saves in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the move proved to be a wise decision by the O’s, as Johnson has struggled to a 6.92 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 56.8 percent ground-ball rate in 40 1/3 innings this season with Oakland. He lost his ninth-inning role to Sean Doolittle early in the season.

Johnson is earning $10MM in 2014 after avoiding arbitration for the final time this past winter. The A’s will eat the remaining $3.66MM on his contract if he is ultimately released. It seems unlikely that any team would claim him on waivers or trade for him as a result of that salary, though a team could show some interest if Oakland pays a large portion of the deal.


Dave Dombrowski On Joakim Soria, Future Moves

Last night, the Tigers landed one of the top available relievers on the trade market in Rangers right-hander Joakim Soria.  While Soria should go a long way towards shoring up Detroit’s bullpen, many have wondered if Detroit might continue to work the phones for an additional relief option, particularly given the struggles of left-handers Phil Coke and Ian Krol.  I asked Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski earlier today if he might go after a southpaw in the next week.

I don’t know I would get into what we’re specifically addressing, but we’re open-minded to different thought processes.  Our bullpen has struggled at times and we want to have people that put up zeroes out there,” Dombrowski said.  “We’ve tried a lot of guys at that and we remain open-minded if something makes sense to make us better before the trade deadline.”

The Tigers have been in need of bullpen reinforcements for some time and Dombrowski has been focused on Soria “for a while.”  The GM said that he started chatting with Rangers GM Jon Daniels in June and things picked up more and more with time.  And while Soria didn’t come cheap — he cost the Tigers promising pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel —  he believed that it was a price they could afford to pay thanks to their pitching depth.  Soria’s affordable $7MM club option also helped Dombrowski to pull the trigger since he will likely be more than just a rental.

I don’t think it made the deal, but it was a real plus for us,” the GM said.

Of course, if things went differently for the Tigers this season, they might not have had to make a trade like this at all.  Dombrowski acknowledged that he’d be in a “different situation” if Bruce Rondon was with the club.  They’re also “not counting” on a 2014 return for Joel Hanrahan and the odds were termed as being “highly unlikely.”

While Soria has a long history as a successful closer, Dombrowski is insistent that Joe Nathan will continue to pitch in the ninth-inning despite his struggles this season.  When asked what it might take for Soria to possible leapfrog Nathan and close out games, the Tigers GM declined to speculate or set expectations for the 39-year-old.  For now, Soria is there to help build a better bridge to Nathan and the veteran appears to be all for it.  Before pulling the trigger on the deal, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones asked Nathan and Ian Kinsler about how they feel Soria might fit in with the team.  One of the replies they got back was, “Why don’t we have him yet?’


Mozeliak On Trade Market, Starters, Catchers, Taveras

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was the latest guest on The GM’s Office, Jim Bowden’s video blog over at ESPN.com. Here are the highlights from their conversation, though the entire seven-minute interview is well worth your time…

  • Mozeliak feels that it’s “clearly a seller’s market” based on the returns that the few sellers are getting in trades. For now, the Cards are still trying to identify areas in which they can improve and how (or if) they can obtain those solutions in a tough market.
  • Asked about David Price, Mozeliak declined to mention specific names that they’ve considered, but he added, “We’re certainly not in this for the short term. I think one of the good things about the St. Louis Cardinals is the ability to have sustained success, and we want to continue that.”
  • “I think that is true,” said Mozeliak when asked if starting pitching would be his top need. Both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez have had some inconsistencies, he notes. “…looking at the next two months, if we could find a way to sort of bridge that gap between now and the time we may get [Michael] Wacha back, I think we want to try to do that.”
  • Mozeliak said the stress fracture in Wacha’s scapula is unique, and there isn’t a lot of history or data to help gauge his progress. The injury is currently healing, but the Cardinals are dedicating their time and energy to determining what led to the injury — be it his mechanics, something in the weight room or another cause.
  • Whether or not the team is comfortable with Tony Cruz and George Kottaras is a “fair question,” and the Cardinals plan to take as much of the remaining week as possible to make that determination. “One thing we’ve always said is we’d like to see what Tony Cruz is capable of doing on a day in and day out basis,” said Mozeliak. “But having said that, we also want to give ourselves the best chance to win.” The Cardinals will at least monitor the market for catching help, he adds.
  • Manager Mike Matheny has had a tough time trying to balance playing time for Allen Craig, a proven veteran in a down year, and Oscar Taveras, a top prospect who has started slow in the Majors, says Mozeliak. The need to win now complicates the scenario, and sending Taveras down to Triple-A in a week or so is an option.