Red Sox infielder Jemile Weeks, Angels righty Vinnie Pestano, and Cubs outfielder Mike Baxter have all accepted their outright assignments rather than electing to test the free agent waters, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports (Twitterlinks). The trio of players were all designated for assignment recently as their clubs looked to free roster space for deadline acquisitions. Weeks, 28, has seen only a smattering of big league action since playing as a full-timer in 2011-12. Pestano has been a solid reliever over several full seasons, but has struggled mightily with his control this year. The 30-year-old Baxter will also head to the upper minors to serve as depth after putting up a .246/.348/.263 slash over 66 plate appearances with Chicago.
Just acquired as the key piece in the David Price deal, new Tigers starter Daniel Norris showed plenty of promise in his first outing with his new club, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Inserted directly into the big league rotation after the swap, the southpaw held the Orioles to one run in 7 1/3 solid frames. Norris, 22, opened the year in the Blue Jays rotation and put up solid numbers despite struggling with his control, and will surely look to continue to whittle down the free passes. According to Baseball America’s top fifty midseason list, Norris rates as the 18th-best prospect in the game. As Fenech writes, he impressed his new team with his calm demeanor, quick and confident work on the mound, and varied arsenal.
Here’s more from Detroit:
The Tigers will get a look at another young lefty that came over in the Price trade, as the team announced that Matt Boyd will take a start tomorrow. Boyd has thrived this year in the upper minors, putting up a 1.65 ERA over 114 2/3 innings with 8.5 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9, though he scuffled through two prior starts with the Jays.
After striking a trio of big deals in which the Tigers parted with pending free agents to bolster their talent pool, GM Dave Dombrowski was looking ahead in his recent comments to reporters. As Fenech notes, though he is not currently under contract past the present season, Dombrowski spoke like a man who intended to continue on with the organization. There has been increasing speculation that other teams, such as the Red Sox, could look to make a run at bringing in the highly-respected executive, though we’ve yet to hear anything concrete on where things could be headed.
Dombrowski explained that the deals he struck make for “a much stronger organization going into next year.” Though the club added several notable arms, Dombrowski said that he does not expect to stand pat on the club’s rotation, which could be in need of several other pieces. “Our starting pitching will be addressed in the wintertime,” he said. “I assure you that our goal going into next year will be to try to win a world championship.”
It seems clear that the Tigers organization will continue to try to build around its veteran core in the near-term — after all, the team only traded players who were destined for free agency anyway — and a glance at the club’s future commitments reveals both needs and opportunities to match affordable young talent with a high-profile set of aging All-Stars. The club owes over $110MM to just five players (including pay-outs to the Rangers for Prince Fielder), and will lose several other important pieces to free agency. But arbitration shouldn’t be too terribly expensive — J.D. Martinez and Jose Iglesias are both in line for nice raises, but don’t have significant salaries to build off of — and the organization carried an Opening Day payroll over over $170MM, so there ought to be room to add.
The Phillies finally moved star lefty Cole Hamels at the trade deadline, ending a long saga in which the organization was often criticized for waiting to act. But as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports, Philadelphia’s front office feels that it accomplished what it set out to do in dealing Hamels, as well as Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere. “This was as well prepared as we’ve been,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “There were no shortage of suitors, and when you’re talking about five or six teams to cover all those players and all those prospects … we started to target some of those guys during the offseason. The scouting and the addition of the analytics portion of these evaluations put us in the best position to be ready to make the trades.” The club sought to balance the desire for quality with the need to add a number of young players with promising outlooks, and outgoing president Pat Gillick praised the job of Amaro and his staff. “He did an excellent job,” said Gillick. “He’s going to do things in a professional manner. He’s going to do things he thinks are in the Phils’ best interest. People might think he’s doing something to save his job, but I’ve always said I have confidence in him that he’s going to carry out his responsibilities in a professional manner.”
Here’s more from the National League:
The Marlins seem to have finally diagnosed the underlying issue that has sidelined righty Jarred Cosart for long stretches this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. Cosart, a significant trade acquisition last summer, has a disorder in his inner ear that has caused him difficulties with his balance. It’s not hard to imagine how significant an impact that may have had on the 25-year-old, who has struggled this year. The hope is that he’ll be able to receive treatment to ameliorate the issue and return to the bump later this year.
After being shipped from Miami to the Dodgers, starter Mat Latos will be pitching both to help drive Los Angeles into the post-season and to set himself up for free agency. As Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes, Latos has confirmed that early-season knee issues were a huge factor in his struggles. Since having his knee inflammation rained and undergoing a strength regimen to improve it, Latos says he’s noticed a vast improvement. “I got with the right people,” he said. “They put me on the right program and I’ve stuck with it. I think the results have showed. … Imagine having a lot of fluid in your knee, a lot of pain. That’s my landing foot, so I’m putting all my weight shifted onto that knee. It’s allowed me to clear over my front side and drive the ball down. My velocity has gone up.” Set to hit the open market in advance of his age-28 season, Latos will certainly present an interesting free agent case, especially if he can continue to put up top-of-the-rotation numbers in his new home and put the injury and performance concerns further in the background.
Another recent deadline mover, new Cardinals slugger Brandon Moss, says he’s very happy with where he ended up, as MLB.com’s David Cobb reports. “I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to be here,” he said. “There’s 28 places I could have gone if I was going to be traded and to be able to come here, I’ve said it a few times, it’s like winning the lottery.”
The Red Sox have released reliever Ronald Belisario, the club’s Triple-A affiliate announced on Twitter. It has not been reported whether or not Belisario exercised an opt-out clause of some kind to precipitate the move.
Since joining the Boston organization in the middle of last month, Belisario has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits but permitting three walks to go with his two strikeouts. But the results have been there all year at the Triple-A level. Including his time in the Rays organization, Belisario has tossed 36 2/3 frames of 2.70 ERA baseball at the minors’ highest level.
Belisario was somewhat less productive in a brief stint with Tampa Bay earlier in the year, allowing seven earned runs in eight frames. More concerning, perhaps, is that he showed a marked decreased in velocity. After averaging better than 94 mph on his fastball for his career, Belisario showed a sub-92 mph offering with the Rays.
While he also struggled to keep runs off the board last year for the White Sox, and has not posted above-average run prevention numbers since 2012, Belisario continues to fare well in the eyes of ERA estimators. He carries a lifetime 3.26 SIERA and has never ended a MLB season with a mark of over 3.46 in that metric.
It stands to reason that another organization will give the veteran a shot, particularly with the trade market now complicated by the need to pass players through waivers.
The Astros will option righty Lance McCullers Jr. to Triple-A after his rough outing last night, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reported on Twitter and the team later announced. Manager A.J. Hinch says that the team is hoping to provide a break to the rookie, who may not even take the hill while he’s down, as Ortiz adds (Twitterlinks). McCullers has been outstanding since receiving an aggressive promotion to the big leagues at age 21, putting up 76 2/3 innings of 3.17 ERA pitching with 9.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9, but that line looked even better prior to yesterday’s dud, in which McCullers allowed seven hits and six earned runs while recording only one out. That’s just one game, of course, and McCullers still surely features in the team’s plans the rest of the way. But Houston does need to manage his innings, as he’s already exceeded his prior career high for a single campaign, so it could be that the club will use this as an opportunity to save some bullets. There could be down-the-line implications as well, though it’s not likely a driving consideration since the team needs a fully available staff. McCullers has only picked up 78 days of service on the year thus far, and will be held under 130 total days even if he comes back right after the minimum ten day stay on optional assignment. That makes him a somewhat marginal future Super Two candidate, with any further time away from the big leagues decreasing his odds.
It was time for the Red Sox to nudge departing President and CEO Larry Lucchino out the door, writes Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, who says that undertones in the recent announcement suggest that ownership decided upon a change in direction. Buckley does credit Lucchino with a huge amount of credit for Boston’s successes (on and off the field) over his tenure.
With Lucchino heading out, there could be more changes in store for the Red Sox front office, the Herald’s Michael Silverman writes. The baseball operations department is unlikely to carry forward without at least some modifications, says Silverman, who reports that a new executive could well be placed on top of or alongside GM Ben Cherington.
While Angels lefty C.J. Wilson will seek a second opinion on his left elbow, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports, but it seems unlikely at this point that he’ll decide against season-ending surgery. Though the team has floated the idea of a rehab plan that could get him back in action late in the year, says Gonzalez, Wilson does not seem favorably disposed toward that option after battling with bone chips all year. “In the meantime, I’m working out and staying in shape, just in case they come up with some other magical course of action,” Wilson said. “But it seems more like a Hail Mary at this point. I want to pitch — that’s why I’ve pitched this whole time.”
There are many ways to break out the bunches of deals we see at the trade deadline every year, and the division of teams into buyers and sellers may no longer mean quite what it did before the addition of a second Wild Card. But it nevertheless remains clear that a good number of teams can be placed into those two camps, at least now that the moves are in the books, and we didn’t really see any club pull off the balleyhooed “buy and sell” (even if some tried).
Let’s focus here on the buy-side. Adding players for the stretch (and a possible post-season run) requires teams to identify needs, evaluate internal options, and value their own future assets in structuring deals. Needless to say, there’s far more to it than just getting the best or best-known player you can.
So, here’s the poll question: looking at the teams that made moves to bolster their current rosters, which one made the best additions, all things considered? I’ll organize the teams into rough groupings for ease of reading:
Two teams pushed their trade chips squarely toward the present, acquiring multiple players who will all become free agents after the season.
Royals acquire Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist — This seemed like the moment to push the chips in for GM Dayton Moore, and he did just that, adding two of the most hotly-pursue players. But those big adds came at the cost of appealing arms like Brandon Finnegan and Sean Manaea.
Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe & Kelly Johnson — After adding some solid pieces in areas of need, GM Sandy Alderson pulled the trigger on a marquee rental in Cespedes. The Mets’ overall mix looks much better right now, but they won’t own the rights to the futures of young pitchers Michael Fulmer and Casey Meisner.
Major Moves – Rent And Buy
Those weren’t the only clubs that paid high prices for rentals, but these teams also picked up significant players who will be controllable after 2015.
Astros acquire Scott Kazmir, Carlos Gomez & Mike Fiers — We’ve seen GM Jeff Luhnow as an accumulator of young talent; now, we got to see him spend it. He opted to add a high-upside rental arm, a year and a half of the excellent Gomez, and a controllable arm in Fiers, dealing from the team’s young depth (including high-rated youngsters like Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Jacob Nottingham) to do so.
Cardinals acquire Brandon Moss, Steve Cishek, Jonathan Broxton — While the relievers were available for little more than some salary relief, the reasonably affordable and controllable Moss cost highly-regarded pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky. But nobody knows young arms like St. Louis, and they filled a clear need with the slugger.
Dodgers acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson & Luis Avilan — Los Angeles took on a good bit of salary to add a group of solid arms to the big league roster (while also picking up future years of Wood as well as prospect Jose Peraza), and gave up Hector Olivera in the process.
Multiple Veteran Pieces
These teams bulked up on depth pieces who will fill particular roles on their clubs, generally keeping the acquisition costs down in the process.
Angels acquire David Murphy, David DeJesus, Shane Victorino — Los Angeles added three veteran platoon candidates to address its need for bats. It was an interesting strategy, but certainly added plenty of experience and clubhouse presence at a reasonable price.
Cubs acquire Dan Haren, Tommy Hunter — Chicago reportedly pursued some more impactful moves, but ultimately settled for veteran depth that did not require the team to part with significant future assets.
Several buyers made targeted buys of specific assets that, they hope, will fill a specific need.
Nationals acquire Jonathan Papelbon — It took some financial juggling and created a bit of controversy due to the presence of Drew Storen, but ultimately the Nats got a quality late-inning arm at the cost of some solid upper-level pitching depth (Nick Pivetta).
Giants acquire Mike Leake — San Francisco parted with righty Keury Mella and third baseman Adam Duvall to bolster its rotation with the reliable righty.
Twins acquire Kevin Jepsen — Despite its strong position in the standings, this was Minnesota’s only move. But giving up youth for veterans may not have made much sense, and the August trade market could present opportunities if the club stays in the hunt.
Orioles acquire Gerardo Parra — To add the solid Parra, who is currently in the midst of a career year, Baltimore gave up a good pitching prospect in Zach Davies.
Padres acquire Marc Rzepczynski — Do we call the Padres buyers? Their only move was to add a veteran middle-reliever, and they held multiple impending free agents, so it’s hard to give any other label.
Looking To The Future?
Rangers acquire Cole Hamels & Jake Diekman, Sam Dyson — It may not quite be fair to consider Texas here, since the main move was heavily driven by future considerations, but the club did have to beat out more obvious contenders to get Hamels. It took quite a haul, with top prospects Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, and Nick Williams among the pieces moved.
Back in April, we launched a new mobile version of MLBTR. The change to mobile-friendly was made to improve load time and user experience, and also because Google basically required it.
In looking at your survey responses, I noticed that some readers preferred the old desktop-style, full post MLBTR format on their mobile devices. Fortunately, we have a Desktop View button that brings back the old layout. Just go to the MLBTradeRumors.com homepage on your mobile device, scroll all the way to the bottom, and tap the button that says Desktop:
Your preference should be remembered the next time you visit.
(Side note: if you occasionally get the mobile version of MLBTR on a desktop computer, that’s a bug. Please contact us if that happens).
Over at Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel has placed current grades on all of the 58 prospects that he counts as changing hands at the deadline. Among the eight players to get a rating of 55 (on the 20-80 scouting scale), three went from the Rangers to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal: catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and righty Jake Thompson. No other club gave or received more than one such player at the deadline, in McDaniels’ estimation. It’s an interesting read and a great resource for assessing the summer prospect haul. Check it out before voting in tonight’s poll on which team made the shrewdest moves to build out their current roster.
A few more quick notes to round out he day:
Athletics assistant GM David Forst explained that the club was happy to have a chance at claiming infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia off waivers from the Blue Jays, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The 30-year-old was a roster casualty after Toronto’s flurry of deadline moves, despite his strong season thus far. “Danny is having an excellent year offensively,” said Forst. “His defensive versatility and track record of success against left-handed pitching fit our roster very well.” As Slusser notes, there’s some down-the-line benefit for Oakland, which also recently picked up Felix Doubront as a Jays cast-off: Valencia can be controlled for two more seasons via arbitration after earning $1.68MM in his first trip through the process this year.
The White Sox have promoted Nick Hostetler to the post of scouting director, as John Manuel of Baseball America writes. Previous director Doug Laumann will take a senior advisory role with the club. Hostetler has served in various scouting roles with the club since 2001.
The Blue Jays have outrighted outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A, Ben Nicholson-Smith reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old was recently designated for assignment after seeing his role taken by trade acquisition Ben Revere. Over 164 plate appearances for Toronto this season, Carrera owns a solid .279/.327/.374 with three home runs and two stolen bases. That represents his most significant big league action since his rookie campaign.
Angels reliever Vinnie Pestano has also cleared waivers and been outrighted, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. The recently-designated, 30-year-old righty has tossed 11 2/3 innings of 5.40 ERA pitching on the year, though he has had more success in the past. Over 202 2/3 career frames, he’s allowed just under three earned per nine. While he’s continued to strike out better than ten batters per nine, control issues (6.2 BB/9) have limited Pestano’s effectiveness this season.
The Cubs have designated lefty Clayton Richard for assignment, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com tweets. Outfielder Matt Szczur has been called up to take his roster spot.
This marks the second time that Chicago has DFA’ed the veteran since acquiring him from the Pirates earlier this year. Previously, Richard was designated off of the active roster (but not the 40-man). He was sent to Triple-A after clearing optional assignment waivers and accepting the assignment. It remains to be seen what precise transaction has taken place this time.
Richard came back up to start yesterday, twirling six innings of one-run ball, allowing only five baserunners to reach (all via base hits) and striking out three. Over 21 total innings on the season, he’s permitted ten earned runs and logged nine strikeouts against five walks. Richard has been quite strong at the Triple-A level this season, as he carries a 1.70 ERA over 69 frames.
3:23pm: The Pirates have now released a statement to announce that Burnett has been diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Burnett received a platelet-rich plasma injection, and is estimated time of return is four weeks, per the announcement.
2:46pm: Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that Burnett says he’s yet to even receive a diagnosis following his MRI.
AUG. 3, 1:44pm: FOX’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitterlinks) that Burnett received better news than he had hoped. Burnett has a strain in his right flexor tendon, but his ulnar collateral ligament is intact. He’ll undergo treatment with the hope of returning this season, per Morosi.
AUG. 2: After being placed on the 15-day DL with elbow inflammation on Friday, A.J. Burnett admitted that the injury may sideline him for the rest of the 2015 season. In an interview with MLB.com’s Tom Singer, Burnett predicted that his Monday appointment with Pirates doctors will reveal that he’s suffered damage to either his UCL or flexor tendon, yet the veteran righty has no plans to undergo surgery for either issue.
“It is difficult. I’m prepared for both…if I just need some rest or something more. In my mind, surgery is not an option. I’d built up some pain tolerance. It comes and goes, part of doing this 16 years. You figure out what you can and can’t do,” Burnett said. “It was just really bad on everything the other night. I never got loose, never got comfortable. We’ll find out tomorrow, when they look at it. I don’t expect it to go away, don’t expect it to get better.”
Burnett said he’d been dealing with some degree of elbow discomfort for years, though “it hasn’t been anything to worry about” until his start last Thursday. Given Burnett’s rough performance since the All-Star break (10.13 ERA over 16 innings), it could be that his injury has been bothering him for longer than just his most recent outing, or it could be that Burnett was simply regressing a bit after an outstanding first half.
While Burnett has ruled out surgery, he isn’t willing to return to mound unless he’s able to pitch effectively through the pain. He won’t try to tough it out just for the sake of coming back “if I can’t throw, or if I’m throwing what I was throwing the other night. I can’t do it to these guys.”
If the elbow injury indeed ends Burnett’s season, it will also mark the end of his 17-year career, as the veteran has already announced that he’ll be retiring once the 2015 campaign is over. Burnett went out on a high note, making his first All-Star team after posting a 2.11 ERA and 100 strikeouts (against 33 walks) over his first 119 1/3 innings. Even if the right-hander is done for the season, he’s already more than delivered on the one-year, $8.5MM deal he signed last winter to return to Pittsburgh.
Dodgers right-hander Brandon Beachy has cleared outright waivers after being designated for assignment last week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).
Beachy, who turns 29 in one month, signed a one-year, $2.75MM contract with the Dodgers this winter after being non-tendered by the Braves on the heels of his second Tommy John surgery. He’s spent most of the season on the 60-day disabled list, but he did reach the point last month where the Dodgers felt he could join the big league rotation. After pitching to a 3.28 ERA in six rehab starts, Beachy made a pair of starts with the Dodgers, allowing seven runs in eight total innings.
Beachy will have the option to reject an assignment to the minor leagues in favor of free agency, but as a player with fewer than five years of Major League service time, he would have to forfeit the remaining $947K on his contract to do so. His deal comes with a $3MM team option that jumped to $3.5MM upon making his first start of the season and will jump another $500K upon making five and 10 total starts. A $250K buyout would be added if he were to reach 10 total innings on the season. (Contract details via Cot’s Contracts.)
Because of that, it seems rather unlikely that Beachy would test the free agent waters at this juncture, though the Dodgers’ additions of both Mat Latos and Alex Wood have obstructed his path to another look in the big league rotation for the time being. Beachy, of course, has an excellent track record in the Majors when healthy. From 2010-13 with Atlanta, he posted a 3.23 ERA, 9.2 K.9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 267 2/3 innings. Durability has been an issue since reaching the Major Leagues, however, as he’s topped 100 innings just once in his career and made 10 starts in a season just twice.
The Athletics have claimed infielder Danny Valencia off waivers from the Blue Jays, the A’s announced (on Twitter). Valencia was claimed from outright waivers as opposed to revocable trade waivers, so no trade will need to be worked out.
Valencia, 30, was a surprise casualty of the Blue Jays’ flurry of trade deadline activity, as the team designated him for assignment late last week in spite of excellent numbers at the plate. The right-handed-hitting Valencia is hitting .296/.331/.506 with seven homers in 173 trips to the plate this season.
Throughout Valencia’s career, most of his production has come versus left-handed pitching (a very robust .326/.368/.497 batting line), but he’s actually recorded better numbers versus right-handed pitching in 2015. Valencia has seen most of his action at third base throughout his career — he was the Twins’ regular third baseman for two and a half seasons and finished third in the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year voting — but he’s played some left field, first base and second base over the past couple of seasons as well. As a player that has notable platoon splits and the ability to bounce around the diamond a bit, he fits the quintessential Athletics mold.
Valencia will have four-plus years of service time at season’s end, meaning he can be controlled through the 2017 season. Valencia and his representatives at MVP Sports won an arbitration hearing against the Blue Jays this winter, resulting in a $1.675MM salary. He’s owed about $577K of that sum through the end of the year. The Athletics had top waiver priority in the American League, so the first team that had the option of picking up Valencia is the team on which he ultimately landed.
The Blue Jays announced today that they have claimed right-handed reliever Ben Rowen off waivers from the Cubs and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo.
Rowen, 26, has made his way around the league over the past half-year or so. Signed to a minor league deal by the Dodgers this winter, Rowen was traded from L.A. to the Orioles in the trade that sent a Competitive Balance draft pick and Ryan Webb to the Dodgers. Despite outstanding minor league numbers, the O’s didn’t feel they had a roster spot for Rowen, and he was released from his contract, after which he inked a minors pact with the Cubs. Chicago selected his contract to the big league roster last week, but he didn’t get into a game with the Cubs before being designated for assignment.
The addition of Rowen to the Blue Jays organization makes particular sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Blue Jays bullpen has been shaky for much of the season, although activity at the trade deadline has helped to shore up the relief corps. (Aaron Sanchez should be pitching out of the bullpen full-time for the rest of the season, Mark Lowe‘s addition adds a power arm, and LaTroy Hawkins will add stability as well.) Additionally, Rowen has outstanding Triple-A numbers and a sidearm delivery that generates a huge amount of ground-balls — undoubtedly an appealing trait to a team in a homer-friendly park like the Rogers Centre.
In 46 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, Rowen has posted a 1.93 ERA with 6.0 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9. Minor League opponents batted a paltry .235/.267/.302 versus Rowen this season, so at the very least one can imagine that he’d be an option for the Blue Jays in September when rosters expand. However, strong enough numbers with Buffalo could also prompt the Jays to make a move prior to that cutoff.