The Astros will hold one of four regional draft workouts on Sunday, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. Sunday's workout will be near Los Angeles. Others will be held in Florida, Georgia and Houston. About 20 prospects have been invited to Sunday's workout. It's unclear who they are, but some potential No. 1 overall picks are expected to participate in the workouts. Houston-area high schoolers Cavan Biggio, Josh Pettitte and Kacy Clemens -- all sons of former Astros stars -- are likely to be invited to the Houston workout. Here are more notes on the upcoming draft.
- Baseball America's list of the top 250 2013 Amateur Draft prospects is headed by Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray. BA's scouting report (subscription-only) compares Gray's evolution as a prospect to that of former top overall pick Stephen Strasburg, and his stuff to that of another former top pick, Gerrit Cole. Stanford pitcher Mark Appel comes in at No. 2, followed by San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
- John Sickels' latest mock draft for MinorLeagueBall.com still has Appel going to the Astros, with Gray going at No. 2 to the Cubs, noting that Appel and Gray are by far the best pitchers available. Sickels' first real outside-the-box prediction is Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe heading to Miami at No. 6 -- Renfroe's stock has been rising, and Sickels guesses he might appeal to the cost-conscious Marlins.
- Appel isn't worried what fans might think of his decision to turn down the Pirates after they selected him at No. 8 overall in 2012, Chelsea Janes of USA Today sports writes. "I've always been someone that's kind of a people pleaser; I think most people are. They don't like it when people don't like them," says Appel. "I learned very quickly that it's going to be very difficult to please everyone."
The Twins are piecing together a "promising future," and Miguel Sano, who is hitting .362/.457/.681 for Class A+ Fort Myers, is a key part of that, argues ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider-only). Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, has also played brilliantly in the minors, hitting .331/.436/.574 for Class A Cedar Rapids. Minor-league pitchers Kyle Gibson and D.J. Baxendale have performed well, too. Olney cites Peter Gammons' comparison of the Twins to the 2007-2008 Texas Rangers, who were about to emerge as an AL powerhouse. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Mark Reynolds, who is batting .263/.353/.564 this season, could be hitting his way out of the Indians' price range for 2014, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. If Reynolds keeps hitting, the only way he'll still be in Cleveland in 2014 is if the Indians sign him to a contract extension before he hits free agency. Ocker also suggests that the Indians should sign Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis to multi-year deals.
- Yan Gomes' play makes the offseason trade that brought Gomes and Mike Aviles to the Indians for Esmil Rogers look like "a steal," MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes (on Twitter). Gomes has hit .273/.283/.545 for the Indians this season, and Aviles has also been productive. Rogers' meanwhile, has struggled out of the Blue Jays' bullpen.
- The Reds would like to keep Shin-Soo Choo beyond this season, Ken Rosenthal says in a video at FOXSports.com. Choo has hit .314/.462/.569 this year, however, and Rosenthal notes that the thought of shopping a hot-hitting outfielder on the free agent market this winter must be tempting to Scott Boras, who represents Choo.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.
- The Padres signed outfielder Mike Wilson to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com's transactions page. The former Mariners prospect hit .239/.343/.452 for Triple-A Tacoma last year. He has 27 career big-league at bats.
- The Braves have signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel to a minor-league deal, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Beimel missed 2012 due to injury. He pitched 25 1/3 innings for the Pirates in 2011, posting a 5.33 ERA with 6.04 K/9 and 3.20 BB/9.
- The Twins will sign outfielder Jordan Parraz and assign him to Double-A, MLBTR has learned. Parraz, 28, hit .141/.230/.321 in 78 at bats for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate this season.
- The Marlins have signed infielder Gil Velazquez, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports (on Twitter). Velazquez, 33, has a career .245/.307/.327 line in the minors. He played in the Yankees' farm system earlier in 2013 before being released.
- The Yankees have signed third baseman Josh Bell to a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of CLNSRadio.com reports. Bell has hit .195/.223/.265 in 272 career big-league at bats. He received 55 at bats for the White Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte in 2013 before being released.
Braves lefty Eric O'Flaherty has a torn UCL and will likely need surgery, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). GM Frank Wren tells O'Brien (also via Twitter) that the Braves are unlikely to make an immediate trade to replace O'Flaherty in the bullpen, noting that Wren doesn't expect other teams to trade top relievers this early in the season. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
- The Mets have not yet discussed the possibility of acquiring first baseman Daric Barton, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says (on Twitter). Sherman writes (also via Twitter) that a Mets employee says the team will likely at least consider Barton, however. The Athletics designated Barton for assignment Saturday afternoon. Mets first baseman Ike Davis has struggled terribly this season, posting a line of .160/.245/.267.
- Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury might be distracted by his impending free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald suggests. Lauber quotes Mike Napoli, who discusses how pressures from friends and family during a contract year can take a player out of his comfort zone. "I could see where guys, because of that free agent year, if you start off rough, it’s like you want to do so good that you’re overdoing it," Napoli says. Shane Victorino says that he hasn't noticed Ellsbury overburdening himself, however. Ellsbury is hitting .247/.312/.346 so far this year.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner says this season has been "amazing" so far, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I didn’t but into the doomsday scenario that many people did. Because I knew that we had some good kids at Triple A. But more importantly, I knew that the guys we got in the offseason were veterans," Steinbrenner says. "[T]his is what you expect veterans to do." Newly-acquired veterans Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay have played key roles in the Yankees' 27-16 start.
- Steinbrenner tells McCullough he won't address manager Joe Girardi's contract until after the season, but Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News argues that Girardi deserves a new contract now, given his performance as the team has struggled with injuries.
The impending return of Franklin Gutierrez from the disabled list could lead the Mariners to designate Endy Chavez for assignment, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The M's have no plans to carry six outfielders, and Baker thinks they won't drop Jason Bay or Raul Ibanez, since they've been hitting well. That leaves Chavez without a chair. Chavez has hit .282/.288/.310 so far this season. Here are more notes from the two West divisions.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane are in Chapel Hill today to watch a draft prospect, Mark Berman of FOX 26 reports (on Twitter). That would likely be UNC third baseman Colin Moran, who the Astros could be considering selecting with the top overall pick.
- The Angels could form a good team of players they've traded, let go or left unsigned, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times argues. That includes Matt Harvey, who rejected their $1MM offer and went to UNC after the Angels drafted him in the third round in 2007. DiGiovanna writes that Harvey, Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren would form a very strong non-Angels rotation. The Angels' 15-27 record naturally leads to second-guessing.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten says he assumes Don Mattingly will remain the team's manager for the rest of the season, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. Nonetheless, Kasten doesn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement of Mattingly. "I assume so because I assume we're going to play the rest of the year even better than we've played so far and I like the way the ballclub is set up," Kasten says. The Dodgers are currently 17-23.
- Kasten sounds more enthusiastic about about the Dodgers' international scouting efforts. "With this recent group of hirings, we made sure to cover not just Japan and not just the Dominican Republic, but also more in Venezuela and even other countries in South America," Kasten says, noting that the Dodgers are also hunting for talent throughout Europe. Hernandez reports that the Dodgers are also planning to renovate their Dominican facility.
Ken Rosenthal's new video for FOX Sports offers a variety of trade tidbits on the Cubs, Brewers and Marlins.
- Matt Garza of the Cubs makes an intriguing trade candidate, but Rosenthal says that one can't rule out the possibility that the Cubs will keep Garza and extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the season, hoping to collect draft-pick compensation. Scott Feldman might also be traded, but Rosenthal notes that his peripherals indicate he has been lucky so far.
- Alfonso Soriano has only one year left on his eight-year, $136MM contract, which could make him a more attractive trade target than in years past, Rosenthal notes, but Soriano also has a no-trade clause, allowing him to control his destination.
- The Brewers, meanwhile, have fewer trade options, Rosenthal argues. Corey Hart is hurt, Rickie Weeks is in the midst of a poor season, and Aramis Ramirez is owed $16MM in 2014 and has a $4MM buyout on his mutual option the following season. The Brewers will be "reluctant" to trade Yovani Gallardo, whose contract carries him through next season and gives the Brewers an option on his services in 2015.
- The Marlins have received calls on relievers Steve Cishek, Ryan Webb and Mike Dunn, Rosenthal reports.
The Athletics have designated first baseman Daric Barton for assignment, the team reports (on Twitter). The move clears roster space for outfielder Chris Young, who had been on the disabled list. Young's return allows the Athletics to move Brandon Moss from the outfield back to first base.
The A's had previously designated Barton for assignment in late March, but he cleared waivers and stayed in the organization, then made his way back to the 40-man roster when the A's purchased his contract March 8. He has received 21 at bats with the A's since then, hitting .143/.217/.286. Barton has hit .248/.359/.370 in his career.
The Angels have claimed infielder Chris Nelson off waivers from the Yankees and designated outfielder Scott Cousins for assignment, the Angels report (on Twitter). The Yankees designated Nelson for assignment two days ago.
Nelson hit .222/.243/.278 in ten games with the Yankees, who acquired him for a PTBNL or cash two weeks ago after the Rockies designated him for assignment. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2004 Draft.
Cousins has hit .179/.230/.285 in 179 career at bats with the Marlins and Angels. He had appeared in seven games with the Angels so far this year, but received only five plate appearances.
Let's take a look around the National League ...
- Pitcher Tim Stauffer was called up by the Padres, meaning that the team will not risk losing him to a June 1 opt-out clause, notes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Returning for the second time in his career from major arm surgery, Stauffer was thrown right into the fire and worked 1 2/3 effective innings last night against the Nationals.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. believes his club has the pieces in place to be much better offensively and is not looking for outside help at the moment, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "I don't see us making any trades any time soon," Amaro said. "There's too many teams that are in it, not enough teams that are out of it." Amaro is preaching patience with struggling hitters like Delmon Young and Ryan Howard: "Right now we have to be patient to see if Delmon starts swinging it. And Ryan [Howard] is going to have to start swinging it. If those guys do then we'll be OK. If they don't we'll have to figure out what we're going to do." As Salisbury notes, the Phillies rank near the bottom of baseball in most major offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.304, 25th); OPS (.683, 26th); and runs scored (3.61, 27th).
- Prospective free agent Matt Garza will make his season debut for the Cubs this Tuesday, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Garza, who last checked in at eighth on Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, will be an interesting player to watch over the coming weeks. Depending upon his performance and the intentions of the Cubs, he could be an extension candidate, prime mid-season trade bait, and/or a major 2014 free agent target.
- To make room in the rotation for Garza, Miles further notes, the Cubs will bump Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen. The right-hander, who is in the first half of a two-year, $10MM deal with the Cubs, has struggled since a promising start to the 2013 campaign. After allowing just five earned runs and logging 29 1/3 innings in his first four starts, Villanueva has conceded eighteen earned runs and lasted only 23 1/3 innings over his next four outings. Pitching from the pen, Villanueva is much less likely to profile as a potential trade candidate for the Cubs.
- In spite of a nice 2012 season in which he slashed .263/.299/.504 and hit 20 home runs over 398 plate appearances for the Mets, outfielder Scott Hairston says that the team never formally offered him a contract this offseason. As Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports, Hairston felt that New York "wanted to go in a different direction," leading him to look elsewhere for a multi-year deal and regular playing time. He ultimately landed a two-year deal with the Cubs that guarantees him $5MM. Now, both player and team seem to be regretting how things turned out: the Mets outfield has been terrible, and Hairston has struggled in limited action for Chicago with a .125/.154/.354 line over just 52 plate appearances.
In order to make room for the recently-acquired Reid Brignac, the Yankees have designated fellow infielder Alberto Gonzalez for assignment, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. As McCullough further tweets, Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he wanted Brignac's left-handed bat to platoon on the left side of the infield with the right-handed swinging David Adams and Jayson Nix.
Gonzalez was acquired by New York just over two weeks ago, and saw only nine plate appearances for the team. Over a total of 35 plate appearances this year with the Yankees and Cubs, Gonzalez has put up a .250/.286/.375 line.
The Rockies have traded utility infielder Reid Brignac to the Yankees, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman adds (via Twitter) that the Rockies will receive $75,000 cash in the deal. Brignac was designated for assignment by the Rockies on Thursday.
Brignac, 27, has made versatility his calling card. As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk recently explained, Brignac has been trusted to man both middle infield positions, as well as third base and the corner outfield, at the big league level. He has not done much with the stick in his career, however, posting a lifetime .228/.270/.321 line.
For a Yankees team that continues to be hit with new injuries, Brignac will provide flexibility. He joins a middle-infield mix headlined by Robinson Cano but otherwise featuring less-than-inspiring names like Alberto Gonzalez and Jayson Nix. Brignac follows third baseman Chris Nelson as a Rockies castoff that ended up in New York this year. He will hope to stick longer than Nelson, who only wore pinstripes for 37 plate appearances.
We will start the weekend off with a few notes from around baseball:
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that the Pirates and Twins may have interest in infielder Reid Brignac. The Rockies recently designated Brignac for assignment to clear room for DJ LeMahieu. The 27-year-old Brignac had slashed .250/.294/.375 over 53 plate appearances in his first season in Colorado. He owns a career line of .228/.270/.321 in 719 plate appearances for the Rays and Rockies.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required) suggests some key adjustments for the Mariners, who he believes can compete this season. Bowden argues that the Mariners could improve their disappointing offense by trading from their pitching depth, as well as by promoting top prospects Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino.
- Highly-rated prospect Jake Odorizzi could throw his first pitch for the Rays as soon as Monday, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, as he appears first in line to fill in for injured starter David Price. If he is called up, Odorizzi would become the first of the four prospects acquired in the James Shields trade to see action for the big club. Baseball America rated Odorizzi as the Rays' fifth-best prospect going into the season, and he has been solid at Triple-A so far, posting a 3.83 ERA over 44 2/3 innings to go with 9.5 K/9 and 3 BB/9.
One of baseball's rising stars recently told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he was concerned about the flurry of contract extensions in baseball and the effect it could have on all players. Free agency, the player argued, helped to make the players union into the powerhouse that it is today. More extensions around baseball means fewer top players reaching free agency, which leads some to believe that there won't be anyone to drive the top of the market. However, agent Scott Boras and union chief Michael Weiner don't view the increasing number of contract extensions as a problem.
Weiner says that he only asks that players exercise their Basic Agreement rights and is fine with players taking extensions over free agency when it suits their needs. Boras has a slightly different take on things, saying that some players don't have the right agent representing them in contract talks with their club.
“The biggest problem the union faces is that there should be more criteria and practical experience before agents can be qualified to represent players with the decisions at hand,” Boras said. “A large number of players believe that a social relationship is the primary foundation — in other words, ‘I like the guy,’ rather than qualifications."
Rosenthal goes on to note that precautions against deals that are too team-friendly are built into the regulations. Agents are required to consult with the union when representing arbitration-eligible players or working on a contract that will cover arbitration years. Meanwhile, agents without arbitration experience must consult with an attorney who has gone through the process before. That means that Anthony Rizzo's seven-year, $41MM pact - which was widely viewed as a win for the Cubs - had input from the union along the way.
While the money is still flowing in for players with extensions, its hard to entirely dismiss what the open market can do in terms of pushing the ceiling. Justin Verlander, for example, would have given a bigger boost to David Price if he had waited to hit the open market after the 2014 season and signed for $30MM rather than $25.7MM per year in his extension with the Tigers. For now, the union is fine with the status quo, but Rosenthal could see things changing if the union feels as though its not getting its fair share of revenue.
The Marlins have announced that right-hander Jon Rauch has been designated for assignment. The move creates a spot on the 40-man roster for Duane Below, who was recently claimed off waivers from the Tigers.
Rauch signed a one-year, $1MM deal with the Marlins in February, but pitched to a 6.89 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 15 2/3 innings. The 34-year-old owns a career 3.88 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 594 big league innings. Before he signed with Miami, the Brewers were among the clubs with interest in Rauch.
While the Blue Jays may be the only AL East team currently under .500, the club is 7-3 in their past 10 games, and injured shortstop Jose Reyes may return sooner than expected. The club was a major mover last offseason, but additions such as Reyes, R.A. Dickey, and Josh Johnson have been unable to provide much of an impact. Here is a look at today's news out of the ultra-competitive American League East..
- Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com notes that the Yankees now have players making a total of $97MM currently on their disabled list. Andy Pettitte became the latest high-priced Yankee to head to the DL, as Vidal Nuno will be promoted in his place.
- Travis Ishikawa has extended the opt-out in his contract with the Orioles, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The 29-year-old first baseman is currently batting .304/.383/.504 over 154 PA with Triple-A Norfolk.