Rangers To Acquire Cole Hamels In Eight-Player Deal

After months of rumors, Phillies ace Cole Hamels has reportedly been traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal.  The Rangers acquired Hamels, reliever Jake Diekman, and $9.5MM in cash for veteran lefty Matt Harrison, pitching prospects Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, and outfield prospect Nick Williams.

Jul 10, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels is headed to the Lone Star State.

Tonight’s win left the Rangers four games out in the AL Wild Card, but the Hamels deal was likely completed with future seasons in mind as well.  Hamels is signed through the 2018 season and is guaranteed $82.1MM through the end of his contract, plus a 2019 club/vesting option.  Hamels finished his illustrious Phillies career with a flourish, pitching a no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.  The Phillies had drafted Hamels out of high school in the first round in 2002, and he won 114 games for them with a 3.30 ERA, three All-Star Game appearances, and four top-eight Cy Young finishes.  The 31-year-old also sports a 3.09 ERA across 13 postseason starts and was NLCS and World Series MVP when his Phillies won it all in 2008.

Hamels will pair with Yu Darvish, who is presently recovering from Tommy John surgery, atop the Rangers’ rotation, thereby giving Texas a formidable one-two punch to compete in the AL West next year. Joining that pair will be some combination of Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez.

The Giants, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Yankees had also been linked to Hamels in recent days.  According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the lefty wielded his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Astros.  The Phillies did not need Hamels’ consent to trade him to Texas.  With the Royals adding Johnny Cueto on Sunday, teams still seeking an ace in advance of Friday’s trade deadline may turn to the Tigers’ David Price.

Thompson and Alfaro, each top 50 prospects in the game depending on who you ask, are the best pieces coming back to the rebuilding Phillies.  Originally a second-round pick by the Tigers in 2012, Detroit traded Thompson to the Rangers a year ago in the Joakim Soria deal.  Thompson, currently pitching in Double-A, was labeled a “potential No. 2 or 3 starter” by Baseball America prior to the season.  Alfaro, also last seen at Double-A, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law despite a significant ankle injury suffered in June.  Williams is known for an “explosive tool set,” per BA, and he’s currently hitting .300/.357/.480 at Double-A.  The Rangers got quantity in this deal too, as MLB.com says Eickhoff could become a No. 3 starter and BA says Asher profiles as a potential No. 4 starter.

Harrison’s inclusion has a financial element, since the 29-year-old southpaw is owed more than $32MM through 2017.  The Phillies will be on the hook for all of that, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Phillies taking him back may have improved their prospect return, as Harrison has made only nine starts since 2013 due to injuries.  Most recently, he had spinal fusion surgery in his lower back in June of last year and returned to a big league mound this month.

Diekman, a 28-year-old southpaw, has struggled out of the Phillies’ bullpen this year with a 5.15 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.  He has posted strong strikeout rates throughout his career, but this year his walks ballooned and his batting average on balls in play jumped to .381.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first noted that the Rangers and Phillies were moving closer to a Hamels agreement, and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan said the two sides were getting close.  Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Grant, and Sullivan added further details.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the amount of money going to the Rangers.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers To Acquire Latos, Wood, Jim Johnson In 3-Team Deal; Olivera To Braves

The Dodgers, Marlins and Braves have reportedly swung what appears to be one of the most complex three-team trades in recent history, though nothing will become official tonight. The “basic” structure of the deal (though there’s nothing basic about this move) is as follows: the Dodgers will receive right-hander Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins. They’ll also add top prospect Jose Peraza and pitchers Alex Wood, Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan from the Braves. Atlanta, in turn, will receive Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, lefty Paco Rodriguez and minor leaguer Zachary Bird from the Dodgers. The Braves are also picking up Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft (No. 35 overall). The Marlins will come out of this deal with three minor league pitchers — Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo — plus the financial relief of shedding the remaining $14.3MM that is owed to Latos and Morse.

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Mat Latos is headed to the Dodgers.

In making this trade, the Dodgers bolster their rotation not only for the remainder of the 2015 season but also potentially through the 2019 campaign. Latos, who is earning $9.4MM in 2015 and has $3.6MM of that sum remaining on his contract, is a free agent at season’s end, but Wood can be controlled for four years beyond the current campaign.

While he’s battled injuries and struggled early in the season, Latos has increased his velocity and upped his results since returning from a DL stint (as noted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams when examining his trade candidacy). All told, the 27-year-old Latos owns a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings on the year. But ERA estimators view him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor, and that has shown up in his last seven starts, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 45 2/3 frames with a 43:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Wood is perhaps the more intriguing name here for the Dodgers, though. The 2012 second-round pick was never vaunted as a Top 100 prospect, but he’s emerged as a reliable cog in the Braves’ rotation over the past few seasons. Though many have expressed long-term health concerns with Wood and his numbers are down in 2015, his overall body of work is nonetheless impressive. Wood has a lifetime 3.10 ERA in 368 2/3 big league innings with very strong averages of 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 to go along with a 46.5 percent ground-ball rate. Both Latos and Wood will join co-aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Dodgers’ rotation, but multiple reports have indicated that a pursuit of David Price still cannot be ruled out, so there’s even further room for upgrade on the heels of this swap. (Those who truly enjoy speculation could wonder if Wood himself would be an appealing piece for the Tigers in a trade, in fact.)

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Alex Wood could be a long-term rotation piece for L.A.

In landing Johnson, the Dodgers are picking up a reliever that was serving as Atlanta’s closer and doing so quite well. Johnson led the AL in saves from 2012-13 before a down season in 2014. Atlanta snatched him up on a one-year, $1.6MM contract with enough incentives to carry the deal to $2.5MM if he maxes it out. He’s been an outstanding buy-low piece for the Braves and will carry a 2.25 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 60.8 percent ground-ball rate into the Dodger bullpen, where he’ll help set up for Kenley Jansen.

The 26-year-old Avilan gives the Dodgers another left-handed relief option to pair with J.P. Howell and Ian Thomas, though it’s debatable whether he’s a long-term improvement over Rodriguez, who heads to Atlanta in the deal. Avilan has a 3.58 ERA on the season with a 31-to-10 K/BB ratio (though two of the walks were intentional) in 37 2/3 innings. He’s upped his velocity this season and his strikeout rate as well, but Avilan’s previous good fortune in terms of homer-to-flyball ratio has dried up this season, and he’s near the league average (above it, in fact) in that regard for the first time in his career. Avilan hasn’t missed a ton of bats throughout his career but does have strong overall totals against left-handed hitters.

Morse doesn’t really fit on the Dodgers’ roster and was likely included as a means of offsetting some salary, so it’s possible his stay with the Dodgers will be brief, at best. Los Angeles designated Eric Stults for assignment immediately upon acquiring him from the Braves earlier this year and did so with Ryan Webb as well, so there’s certainly precedent for them to flex their financial muscle as a procedural necessity and simply cut ties with the unwanted or superfluous players in a deal.

Dealing Peraza away was probably a tough pill to swallow for the Braves, who have long lauded him as one of their top prospects. The 21-year-old entered the season as a consensus Top 50 prospect in the game, and though his offensive numbers are down somewhat, that’s not necessarily a red flag for someone playing at the minors’ top level at the age of 21. That’s not to say, of course, that Peraza’s numbers are poor; he’s hitting .295/.319/.380 this season. Peraza ranks as the game’s No. 26 prospect on the midseason Top 50 from Baseball America and No. 30 on MLB.com’s midseason update to their own Top 100 prospect list. Peraza began his career as a shortstop and eventually moved to second base, but it’s not certain where the Dodgers project him in the future. He has little power but draws rave reviews for his speed and glove, and he’s swiped 149 bases over his past 310 minor league contests. I feel it should be noted that Peraza, too, could be a piece that the Dodgers will consider dealing, as they’re reportedly reluctant to part with their own top prospects: Corey Seager and Julio Urias.

As for the Braves, they’ll finally land a player they pursued extensively this offseason in the form of Olivera. Atlanta simply couldn’t match the Dodgers’ enormous $62.5MM offer to the 30-year-old infielder, but $28MM of that came in the form of a signing bonus that is to be paid in three installments. The Dodgers have already paid Olivera $12MM of that sum, per Cot’s Contracts, so at most, it’s a $50.5MM deal over six years, which is much more palatable for the Braves (who have notably shed significant payroll from their books by moving Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel since Olivera signed.) Some of that salary is already off the books as well, though Olivera’s earning only $2MM this season, so that means of saving is minimal.

Olivera, a right-handed hitting third baseman/second baseman, was said at the time he signed to be a safe bet to post strong average and OBP marks due to his pure hitting abilities and a keen eye at the plate. The question was how much power he’d show in the Majors, but some felt that he could be a 20-homer bat on a yearly basis. He’s looked sharp to this point in the minors, hitting .348/.392/.493 across three levels and reaching Triple-A. The Braves undoubtedly consider him to be a major component of their long-term future in the infield, though the specific position he’ll play is yet an unknown.

In Rodriguez, they’ll pick up a left-handed reliever who could be out for the season but has pitched well when healthy. Rodriguez had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow in late June — a procedure that will sideline him for eight to 10 weeks. However, the former second-round pick has been excellent while on the mound. He was the first player from the 2012 draft to reach the Majors, debuting the same year he was drafted, and he sports a lifetime 2.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.

The 21-year-old Bird has largely unimpressive numbers in the minors — a 4.74 ERA in 351 minor league innings — but MLB.com rated him 15th among L.A. farmhands. Per their scouting report, he made big strides with his velocity late in 2014 and has gone from a low-90s heater to a mid-90s offering that “threatens triple digits” at times. He still needs to get a better feel for his offspeed pitches and has a long ways to go as a slider, they add.

With all that said, we’re at last to the Marlins’ portion of the trade, which looks meager. Of the three names in question, only Brigham ranks among L.A.’s top 30 prospects, per MLB.com, who rank him 28th. Brigham had Tommy John surgery in college in 2012 and missed all of 2013 before pitching himself into the fourth round, their scouting report notes. He’s 90-94 mph with his fastball and has shown shaky control, though some of that can be attributed to the surgery. He’s punched out 75 hitters in 75 innings this year but has also walked 38 and has a 5.52 ERA.

Guzman is a 20-year-old starter pitching at the Class A level who has notched a 3.90 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in 83 innings this year. The 22-year-old Araujo is in his second stint with Class-A Advanced and hasn’t found very favorable results. He’s missed plenty of bats (55 strikeouts in 50 innings) with solid control (14 walks) but has been hittable and ultimately surrendered a 5.40 ERA this season.

The Marlins had a number of ways they could go in terms of dealing Latos, but it seems they either prioritized shedding the Morse contract or simply didn’t find that teams were willing to offer much in return given his rental status, health concerns and early struggles. In the end, while this trade started off being termed the “Mat Latos trade,” it will be more remembered as a deal that netted the Braves their second baseman or third baseman of the future in exchange for a promising young arm and one of their top prospects.

Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported (on Twitter) that Latos and Morse were headed to the Dodgers. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link) reported the financial components for Miami/L.A. and the inclusion of the Marlins’ draft pick. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweeted that a third team was potentially being brought in. Frisaro reported the prospects going to Miami. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the Braves’ inclusion (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the Braves would get a young starter (Twitter links), and Rosenthal tweeted that Wood was the pitcher in question. Bowden tweeted Johnson’s inclusion. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first suggested Peraza’s name (on Twitter) and Sherman confirmed his inclusion (via Twitter). Bowman also tweeted that Olivera was in the deal, and Bowden tweeted that Avilan was as well. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that Bird was headed to Atlanta. Bowman added that Rodriguez was going to the Braves.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Medical Concerns Derailed Carlos Gomez-Mets Deal; Brewers Still Plan To Trade Him

11:45pm: Agent Scott Boras adamantly denied that anything is wrong with Gomez from a health standpoint. Via Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Carlos Gomez has never seen a hip doctor and has never had a hip issue in his playing career. Anyone who suggests that is inaccurate and baldly misrepresenting the truth of the player’s condition.”

11:17pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that it was actually the Mets who backed out of the deal due to concerns over Gomez’s hip. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News also hears that Wheeler’s elbow was not the issue (Twitter links).

11:13pm: Tonight’s near-trade of Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores has fallen through, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that Milwaukee’s concerns regarding Wheeler’s medicals caused the deal to collapse. The Brewers, though, are still planning to trade Gomez by Friday’s trade deadline, Nightengale adds.

Wheeler, of course, had Tommy John surgery this spring, so it stands to reason that the Brewers weren’t comfortable with his progress (or perhaps the lack thereof) since the operation in March. By multiple media accounts, the names in the trades were agreed upon, though there was no official announcement of the deal from either club.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said following tonight’s game that a trade “will not transpire,” so it seems that if Gomez is to be traded, it will be to a team other than the Mets — the organization that originally signed him back in 2002.

Gomez should still hold widespread appeal around the league, as he’s earning $8MM in 2015 and has a more-than-reasonable $9MM salary for the 2016 season. Among contending clubs, the Orioles, Astros, Pirates and Giants have all been linked to outfield upgrades over the past few weeks. The Angels, too, have been in the market for an outfield upgrade, though they’ve added three new players this week (Shane Victorino, David Murphy and David DeJesus), so they’re likely out of the mix for outfielders at this time.

And, while the trade ultimately won’t be pushed across the finish line, it does speak to the Mets’ willingness to deal from their current big league roster in order to upgrade the offense. Flores has been a regular contributor to the team in 2015, though they do have internal replacements including Ruben Tejada, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. A report from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan earlier in the night also mentioned that Juan Lagares‘ name had come up as a potential piece for the Brewers t acquire, further demonstrating a willingness on Alderson’s behalf  get creative in order to augment his offense. The Mets have also been prominently connected to names such as Justin Upton, Jay Bruce and Gomez’s Milwaukee teammate, Gerardo Parra.



Pirates Acquire Joe Blanton

The Pirates announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Joe Blanton from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations. Blanton had been designated for assignment by the Royals earlier this week despite generally solid numbers, and he’ll join the Pirates’ roster tomorrow.

Blanton made a nice comeback to the Majors this season after spending the 2014 season away from the game. He’s pitched quite well overall for the Royals, working to a 3.89 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a 48.4 percent ground-ball rate in 41 2/3 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen. Blanton’s 90.8 mph average fastball is the fastest of his career, though one can imagine that’s partly attributable to the fact that 11 of his 15 appearances have come in a relief role.

The veteran Blanton seems likely to be asked to help the Pirates in a relief capacity, but he could also emerge as an option at the back end of their rotation eventually. Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano have all turned in excellent seasons thus far, but each of Jeff Locke, Vance Worley and Charlie Morton has posted an ERA above 4.00.


Astros Designate Roberto Hernandez

The Astros designated righty Roberto Hernandez for assignment to open a roster spot for Jed Lowrie, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  Lowrie will start tomorrow for the Astros at third base, after recovering from May thumb surgery.

The Astros signed Hernandez to a minor league deal in February, and he made the team out of spring training.  His contract was worth $2.65MM.  Hernandez, 35 in August, posted a 4.36 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, and 51.9% groundball rate in 84 2/3 innings, including 11 starts.


Matt Holliday Re-Injures Right Quadriceps

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday left tonight’s action with a right quadriceps injury, Kevin Modelski of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It remains unclear at present how serious the injury is, though it occurred to the same muscle that Holliday tore. He missed five weeks for the initial tear.

Obviously, a similar absence would increase the Cardinals’ need to add a bat. The team has long been expected to make a move to fill in for first baseman Matt Adams, and recently called up top prospect Stephen Piscotty to add support. St. Louis has been said to be weighing a move for Adam Lind (or someone of his ilk), and that seems all the more likely now.

The 35-year-old Holliday hasn’t posted his usual power numbers in 2015, but he’s still batting an excellent .291/.411/.422 in 253 trips to the plate. An update on his health will be made tomorrow morning, at which time we’ll know more on whether or not the unfortunate news will prompt the Cardinals to jump into what has already been an exceptionally active trade market this week.


Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros Show Initial Interest In David Price

David Price has generated significant early interest since the Tigers declared themselves open to offers earlier today. Several teams have already emerged as early leaders to get the ace lefty.

Per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays, and Yankees are all in contact with Detroit and make up the “four main teams” in the mix. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who was first to note that the Blue Jays had made contact on Price, adds the Astros as a team that is in discussions (Twitter link).

Especially with Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels now off the market, Price is undoubtedly the best pitching trade piece remaining. He was dealt at the last minute in 2014 for an interesting package in a three-team deal, and now seems destined again to be one of the most-watched names in the final two days leading up to the deadline.


Astros, Padres “Gaining Steam” In Trade Talks; Houston Focused On Ross

7:30pm: The Astros are more interested in Ross than they are in Cashner, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

6:01pm: The Astros and Padres appear to be making some headway when it comes to a trade involving some of San Diego’s pitching, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One source told Drellich that things are “gaining steam,” though multiple people close to the situation told him that there’s nothing “in the red zone” just yet.

Drellich lists Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner as possible fits for the Astros, and it should also be noted that the Padres have reportedly been pushing to unload the remaining three and a half years on James Shields‘ backloaded four-year, $75MM contract. ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently reported that rival teams expect the Padres to pull off some form of “huge” trade, though there’s nothing yet to indicate the magnitude of a potential swap between Houston and San Diego.

Houston is still interested in Cole Hamels, Drellich hears, but they don’t expect to acquire him. The Rangers are regarded as the favorite, Drellich writes, and all of these moving pieces could align to give us an indication as to what’s to come in the next two days. Not even an hour ago, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that talks between the Padres and Rangers regarding Cashner and Ross had cooled off. As Stark tweets, that may serve as another sign that Texas is the favorite for Hamels. It would make sense, then, to hear that the Rangers’ talks for Cashner and Ross have slowed just as the Astros’ talks with the Padres — perhaps for one of those two pitchers — are beginning to gain traction.


Tigers Preparing To “Reboot,” Listening On Price, Cespedes

The Tigers are lining up for a sale, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the team is telling rivals that they are “rebooting.” GM Dave Dombrowski confirms that he’s ready to listen on all of the team’s pending free agents, as Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets.

That means that Detroit is willing to sell David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and other pieces. “We’re only going to make a trade if we think it makes sense for us,” said Dombrowski (via Beck, on Twitter). “But we think [the reboot] gives us a chance to restock our club.”

Needless to say, adding Detroit’s expiring veteran assets will have a significant trickle-down effect. Price will land atop the market for starters, possibly impacting the Phillies’ efforts to move Cole Hamels as well as the value of other arms. Clubs interested in corner outfielders can now look to Cespedes as well as Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez (among other options).

Those two aren’t the only veteran Tigers that should draw interest. Closer Joakim Soria becomes one of the more appealing rental relief arms, while Rajai Davis could be a nice piece (especially in high-leverage situations down the stretch and in the post-season) for a team that has a need in center field. Catcher Alex Avila can also be had, and Alfredo Simon may make for a useful swingman piece.

Price’s market, of course, is where most of the immediate interest will go. As Stark writes, teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Yankees have been waiting on other pitching moves to see whether Price would be available. Now that he is, expect his market to heat up quickly.

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Angels Sign Wesley Wright To Minor League Deal

The Angels have signed left-hander Wesley Wright to a minor league contract, according to a tweet from Wright’s representatives at Reynolds Sports Management. The veteran reliever will report to Triple-A Salt Lake for the time being.

Wright, 30, began the season with the Orioles after agreeing to a one-year, $1.7MM free agent contract. He spent the 2014 season with the Cubs and enjoyed good success as a member of the Chicago bullpen, making him a somewhat surprising non-tender. Last year, Wright pitched to a 3.17 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate while holding opposing lefties to a .273/.321/.273 batting line.

In 2015, though, Wright has been plagued by a strain and inflammation in his left shoulder. He spent three months on the disabled list before being activated and promptly designated for assignment. Wright tossed just 1 2/3 innings for the Orioles this year but has been a reasonably effective relief pitcher for much of his career.

Dating back to 2011, Wright has a 3.27 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 168 innings of relief between the Astros, Cubs, Rays and Orioles. He could emerge as a left-handed relief option for the Angels, who currently have lefties Cesar Ramos and Jose Alvarez pitching well in the bullpen.


Rangers Designate Wandy Rodriguez For Assignment

The Rangers announced (via EVP of communications John Blake) that they have designated left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for assignment. Lefty Alex Claudio and righty Jon Edwards were promoted from Triple-A as well, with right-hander Phil Klein being optioned to the minors.

The DFA of Rodriguez is somewhat of a surprise, as the left-hander has been a mostly solid rotation piece for Texas this season and has even been rumored as a potential trade candidate. The DFA, though, certainly doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade. It does allow potentially interested parties, though, to show limited interest with the hope that Rodriguez will eventually become a free agent and be available for the league minimum.

The 36-year-old Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Braves this winter but didn’t make the team’s rotation in Spring Training despite quality numbers. (That spot went to fellow lefty Eric Stults.) Rodriguez worked to a 3.20 ERA with a 50-to-23 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings over his first 11 starts this year, though he’s recently been hit extremely hard in a pair of outings. Rodriguez has a 9.97 ERA over his past 21 2/3 innings, although the vast majority of that damage came in a pair of brutal outings where he combined for 15 runs in five innings. He’s mixed in a pair of very solid five-inning starts in that time as well.

Overall, Rodriguez has a 4.90 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate in 86 1/3 innings this season. He’s never been a hard thrower, but he’s creeping ever closer to the “crafty lefty” territory, as his 2015 heater is averaging just 88.4 mph. Recent meltdowns notwithstanding, Rodriguez has a fairly palatable 4.27 FIP and 4.28 xFIP on the season, so one would think that he could still be a passable back-end starter for a team with a top-heavy rotation.


Pitching Notes: Leake, Astros, Pirates, Angels, Johnson, Royals

The sudden availability of David Price will shake up the starting pitching market, of course, but there are plenty of less significant, but still notable developments to cover. Let’s take a look in at a few notes on the pitching market.

  • Reds starter Mike Leake is among the many pitchers still being considered by the Blue Jays, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Per Rosenthal, the club is looking at a variety of arms at a similar level of ability, with the hope of getting the best value out of a deal.
  • The Astros are “monitoring” the market for bullpen pieces, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. They have given at least some thought to quality arms like Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, and Francisco Rodriguez. Houston is also still involved on Cole Hamels, though it still doesn’t seem that they are terribly likely to get him, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Pirates, meanwhile, seem to be looking more at middle relief options, per MLB.com’s Tom Singer. And the Angels are also looking to add another arm to their pen, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. Los Angeles is looking for something on the order of last year’s addition of Jason Grilli says Gonzalez. Presumably, the same holds for Pittsburgh, which sent Grilli out west last summer in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.
  • With many teams (including those just noted) looking to add arms, the Braves are “getting lots of play” on righty Jim Johnson, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Johnson isn’t too expensive, has been solid this year, and has obviously spent a lot of time in high-leverage situations, so it stands to reason that he’ll be moved to a contender looking to build out their stable of relief arms.
  • The Royals asked the Tigers about Price before acquiring Johnny Cueto, but moved on to the righty when they learned that Price was not yet being marketed, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets.
  • Wondering who the teams listed above could target? MLBTR recently listed the starters and relievers most likely to be available at this year’s trade deadline.

Red Sox Designate Jemile Weeks For Assignment

The Red Sox have infielder Jemile Weeks for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for Josh Rutledge, tweets Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. Rutledge was acquired in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to the Angels.

Weeks’ stay on Boston’s big league roster was brief, as he was only recalled earlier this week. He picked up nine plate appearances with the Red Sox, collecting three singles in that time and also striking out twice.

The younger brother of Rickie Weeks, Jemile is a former 12th overall draft pick (Oakland, 2008) that hasn’t seen his career pan out after a promising rookie campaign in 2011. That year, he appeared in 97 games with the A’s and batted .303/.340/.421 with 26 doubles, eight triples, a pair of homers and 22 steals. He’s hit just .226/.307/.311 in 574 plate appearances between the A’s, Orioles and Red Sox since that time.


Reactions To The Jonathan Papelbon Trade

The Nationals entered the trade market yesterday to add Jonathan Papelbon from the division-rival Phillies. Before moving on Papelbon, the Nationals looked into both Craig Kimbrel of the Padres and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. But the team moved on when it was quoted an asking price of two top young players (from among Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Joe Ross). It’s no surprise, then, that the team moved on to Papelbon — who was a “backup” trade target, per the report.

Here’s more on the deal:

  • In exchange for Papelbon (and for keeping $4.5MM of his contract), the Phillies will get righty Nick Pivetta. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, the righty has a good arm and frame that bodes well, though he has the upside of a back-of-the-rotation starter. If he can’t reach that level, though he figures to be a middle relief piece down the line. ESPN.com’s Keith Law largely concurs in that assessment, noting that Pivetta lacks significant upside. It’s easy to see, then, how the deal made sense for both clubs: the Phillies could use a mediocre starter at the back of their rotation, while the Nationals have enough current and future options to make that a largely unnecessary luxury.
  • The move generated some controversy, owing to the fact that the club reportedly promised to use Papelbon as its closer despite the presence of high-performing reliever Drew Storen. The thrice-deposed 9th-inning man declined to say much about the move, but did indicate that he and his agent are having ongoing discussions with GM Mike Rizzo. As Svrluga writes in an even-handed take on the matter, it’s clear that Storen did not deserve to be demoted out of the ninth inning. But the club also had a valid desire to bolster its late-inning relief corps, and adding Papelbon was a good piece for the team to add. As he notes, teams have increasingly recognized the value of filling high-leverage innings with quality arms, regardless of who actually takes the closer role.
  • Jonah Keri of Grantland writes that the trade checks plenty of boxes for the Nats at a reasonable cost. In spite of the off-field risk involved with replacing Storen, it seems to Keri like a worthwhile gamble.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that the Nationals have shown a lack of confidence in replacing Storen. He says that the move might be more palatable had the club added a clearly superior pitcher, such as Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, but suggests that bringing in a similarly effective reliever was something of a slap in the face to a player that the Nats drafted and developed.
  • From my perspective, adding Papelbon says less about how the Nationals feel about Storen than it does the club’s desire to maximize the impact of a bullpen addition with a minimal expenditure of resources. As Rosenthal has observed (Twitter link), Washington seemed reluctant to add significant salary obligations to this year’s payroll at the deadline. It likely would have cost more in salary, prospects, or both, to add a different arm that could simply be slotted into a set-up role. And the team may well have ascribed some value to adding a player with Papelbon’s late-inning and big-game experience, whether or not that was tied to Storen’s own spotty track record in very limited postseason innings. It’s true that Storen did not “deserve” to lose his role, of course, and that he’ll sacrifice some earning capacity through arbitration with the lack of save opportunities. But we see such moves happen all of the time from clubs looking to save money, make upgrades, and otherwise improve their short and long-term position. While the clubhouse aspect and Storen’s feelings certainly should factor in the team’s decisionmaking, then, I’m not sure there’s a compelling fairness point to be considered.

Latest On Padres: Baez, Kimbrel, Deadline Strategy

2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.

11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.