The Athletics designated Jake Elmore for assignment earlier today, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Twitter. Elmore, a 27-year-old utilityman, was picked up in a minor trade over the offseason.
Elmore did not crack the Oakland roster this season, but does have 209 MLB plate appearances under his belt. In 211 plate appearances at Triple-A, he owns a .282/.374/.365 line. Though he doesn’t offer much pop, and has yet to hit a long ball in 2014, Elmore has contributed nine stolen bases.
The Tigers have officially agreed to acquire David Price from the Rays, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is a three-way trade between the Tigers, Rays, and Mariners.
Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson will go to the Mariners, with Nick Franklin (from Seattle) and Drew Smyly (from Detroit) heading to Tampa in the blockbuster. Minor league shortstop Willy Adames is also going to Tampa from Detroit in the deal, per a tweet from Rosenthal.
The move brings and end to near-ceaseless speculation regarding the now-former Rays lefty, who has been one of the game’s best pitchers in recent seasons. Still only 28, Price is under control for one more season through arbitration, though he will certainly not come cheap.
Playing this year on a $14MM salary, Price will be in line for a big raise next year. Of course, one key element of his value lies in the fact that his new club will have an opportunity to explore an extension. The reason that Price figures to draw a big salary next year is obvious: he has continued to be outstanding. At present, he owns a 3.11 ERA with a remarkable 10.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9 over 170 2/3 innings.
The return for the Rays is not particularly splashy, but delivers obvious value. Smyly, 25, was outstanding last year as a reliever and has since converted into a solid starting option. He carries a 3.77 ERA through 100 1/3 innings, with 7.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.9% groundball rate. While his strikeout numbers are down since moving to the rotation, he can be controlled through 2018.
The 23-year-old Franklin, meanwhile, seemed without a future in Seattle after the club added Robinson Cano. Though he has spent time at both short and second, many observers believe he is better suited for the keystone going forward. He had a solid 2013 at the MLB level (.225/.303/.382 in 412 plate appearances), and though his numbers were off this year in limited action, Franklin has continued to swing a big stick against Triple-A pitchers.
Then, there is Adames, who could be something of a wild card in the deal. Just 18, he has a promising .269/.346/.428 slash line through 400 plate appearances at the low-A level this year. He entered the year as Baseball America’s 30th-ranked Tigers prospect, but appears to be raising eyebrows around the game.
That brings us to Seattle, which quietly managed to address its center field need without giving up an indispensable piece of the future. In fact, the 27-year-old Jackson will be at least a mid-term piece for Seattle. He is playing on a $6MM salary this year before hitting arbitration for the final time. He currently sports a .270/.330/.397 line that is approximately league average (as it was last year). With solid contributions in the field and on the bases, he is certainly an above-average big league regular.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Jackson and Smyly were part of the deal (via Twitter). Mike Salk of 710 ESPN tweeted that Jackson would head to Seattle. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported Franklin’s inclusion (via Twitter).
In short, both of baseball’s worst teams from 2013 have shuffled a series of young players in a deal that could have wide-ranging repercussions for both franchises. Miami was said to be chasing a young arm, and that’s exactly what they got. But it came at a fairly steep price.
In Cosart, the Marlins are getting a pitcher who came to Houston in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal and has blossomed somewhat in the last two seasons. The 24-year-old has a 4.41 ERA through 116 1/3 frames with 5.8 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 and a sterling 56.5% groundball rate. That has been good for a 4.02 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, and 4.42 SIERA — hardly ace-level numbers, to be sure, but useful and promising enough given his age. Of course, much of Cosart’s value lies in the fact that he will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2017.
Miami also added some other useful pieces in the trade. Hernandez reached the big leagues this year at just 22 years of age, and owns an impressive .284/.348/.420 slash line through 89 plate appearances. He had slashed .336/.379/.503 in the upper minors, which itself represented a major step up in his results for the youngster. Wates, 25, is something of an on-base machine: he owns a .303/.381/.415 career triple-slash in the minors. Though he does not bring much power to the table, he does have 31 stolen bases this year in his first extended action at Triple-A.
For Houston, the deal brought a variety of goodies in return. Moran was the 6th overall pick in last year’s draft, and numerous reports suggest that he was seriously under consideration with the Astros’ first overall selection. Though he has not exactly dominated at High-A at age 21 (.294/.342/.393), he is not far removed from the amateur ranks and has plenty of time to develop.
Marisnick, meanwhile, is expected to slot right into the club’s lineup. A perennial top-100 prospect who was somewhat blocked in Miami, he has struggled in limited MLB exposure (.183/.231/.248 line in 169 total plate appearances). But the right-handed hitting outfielder, still only 23, has a .277/.326/.434 line in his 377 Triple-A plate appearances.
And then there is the compensation pick, which will come in the first available slot and carries a good bit of value (delivering immense flexibility to a Houston club that will have two high first-round choices next year). The final piece, Martes, is just 18 years old. The Dominican native has worked at the Rookie level this year, tossing 29 innings of 4.97 ERA ball and working both in relief and as a starter.
Brian McTaggart (via Twitter) first reported the deal. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter), Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter), and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) all reported details of the players involved.
Roberts, a long-time division rival of the Yankees after spending his entire career in Baltimore prior to 2014, signed a one-year, $2MM deal as a free agent in the offseason. He struggled at the plate in his lone season in Yankee pinstripes, slashing .237/.300/.360 with five homers and seven stolen bases.
Roberts was among the league’s top second basemen last decade, but injuries derailed many of his would-be peak years. He’s undergone hip surgery and hamstring surgery in recent years in addition to dealing with concussion symptoms. In his career, the switch-hitter is a .276/.347/.409 hitter with 97 homers and 285 stolen bases.
Russell, 28, has posted a 3.51 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a career-best 40.9 percent ground-ball rate. While he’s picking up more grounders than ever, Russell has also shown the worst command of his career — a trend he will hope to correct with the Braves. Russell has typically handled left-handed hitters pretty well, but the opposite has been true in 2014; right-handed batters have a meager .364 OPS against Russell, while same-handed batters have an alarming .295/.358/.525 batting line against him. In his career, however, lefties have batted .240/.276/.416 against Russell. He is earning just $1.9MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015.
The switch-hitting Bonifacio, 29, had a solid debut season for the Cubs before being included in the trade. He’s hitting .279/.318/.373 with a pair of homers and 14 steals (in 20 attempts). Defensive metrics have liked his work at second base, third base and in center field this season, though his career marks aren’t as strong.
Bonifacio had an interesting offseason, as he was tendered a contract by the Royals and agreed to a $3.5MM salary before being released (and subsequently paid only a portion of his still non-guaranteed deal). The speedster latched on with the Cubs in Spring Training and played well, though he’s spent a portion of the year on the disabled list.
As for Caratini, he was a second-round pick by the Braves in 2013 and ranked as the organization’s No. 7 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason top 20 list. The 20-year-old Caratini has batted .279/.352/.406 in 87 games at Class-A this season. He’s a switch-hitting catcher who also plays third base. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com feel that he’s a good enough defender to handle either position, but clearly he would have more value behind the dish. Though Callis and Mayo praise his defense, they feel that his bat is a better tool.
The Twins have signed catcher Kurt Suzuki to a two-year, $12MM contract extension with a third-year vesting option, according to director of communications Dustin Morse. The vesting option, like his annual salary, is for $6MM and can be triggered based on plate appearances in 2016. Suzuki is represented by MVP Sports Group.
Last offseason, the Twins made the decision to move Joe Mauer from catcher to first base, inking Suzuki to a one-year, $2.75MM deal as the star’s replacement behind the dish. Suzuki has performed well, hitting .304/.367/.386 in 347 plate appearances and making his first All-Star team. He hit .235/.290/.353 in the three years prior, so his offense has been a nice surprise for the Twins.
Defensively, Suzuki certainly passes the eye test and has tons of experience behind the plate. He also seems to have a good reputation among the pitchers who he is responsible for tending to, and is an able blocker. But he has struggled in the pitch-framing department, ranking dead last in baseball with -17.1 runs on the year according to Stat Corner. Baseball Prospectus, likewise, rates Suzuki as a positive in stopping balls in the dirt but a negative at winning strikes.
It does not seem that the Twins achieved much of a discount by locking up Suzuki, but they certainly did prevent him from finding a bigger deal and bolting after the season. That has plenty of value for a club that will surely be looking to bring several young pitchers on line this year and next. For Suzuki, signing now not only let him choose to stay in place (after bouncing around quite a bit in recent years) but also protected him from a market that can often be hard to gauge. While he looked like one of the few desirable catchers set to hit free agency, neither are there many teams that looked to be big players for his services.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the extension. Yahoo’s Tim Brown first reported the term, with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter) and Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (via Twitter) providing information on the vesting option. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Yankees acquired infielder Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. The D’Backs will receive catching prospect Peter O’Brien and a player to be named later or cash considerations and are not contributing cash to the deal, tweets MLB.com’s SteveGilbert. The Yankees have now officially announced the deal.
Prado, 30, is hitting .270/.317/.370 in 436 plate appearances for Arizona this year while playing mostly third base. He was a major piece of the January 2013 trade that brought Justin Upton to the Braves. Shortly after the acquisition, Prado signed a four-year, $40MM extension with the D’Backs. He has about $3.6MM remaining this year, and $11MM in each of the 2015 and ’16 seasons.
O’Brien, 24, is hitting .267/.312/.593 with 33 home runs between High-A and Double-A in 413 plate appearances. Baseball America ranked him 23rd among Yankees prospects prior to the season, praising his power but questioning his defense.
3:17pm: Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets that the Yankees will pay nearly all of the nearly $5MM that remains on Drew’s deal. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Drew will play second base for the Yankees.
The 31-year-old Drew was linked to the Yankees for much of the offseason but elected to wait until midseason before signing a one-year deal worth the pro-rated verstion of the $14.1MM qualifying offer which he rejected. His return to Boston hasn’t gone well, as he’s slashed just .176/.255/.328 in 145 plate appearances. D
rew’s bat has picked up over the past two weeks, as he’s hit .267/.377/.511 with a pair of homers, but the overall numbers still look grim. He seems likely to see time at some combination of second base and third base, with Derek Jeter still manning shortstop. Drew is a free agent at season’s end and cannot receive a qualifying offer.
The departure of Drew will allow the Red Sox to shift Xander Bogaerts back over to shortstop, while Johnson can serve as a stopgap at third base while Will Middlebrooks heals from an injury.
2:32pm: The Indians are paying the entirety of the $3.33MM remaining on Cabrera’s deal, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, who says that Cleveland is very high on Walters.
2:21pm: The Nationals have officially announced the acquisition of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrerafrom the Indians in exchange for infielder Zach Walters and cash considerations.
The 28-year-old Cabrera is hitting .246/.305/.386 with nine homers and seven steals on the season. While defensive metrics have never liked his glovework at shortstop, his bat is above average for the position, and he could fill in for the Nationals at second base, with Anthony Rendon sliding back over to third base on a full-time basis in the wake of Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury.
Cabrera grades out better in his career at second base than his career at shortstop, albeit in a much smaller sample size (1341 innings at second base). Cabrera has about $3.33MM of this season’s $10MM salary remaining, and he is a free agent at season’s end.
The 24-year-old Walters entered the season as Washington’s No. 14 prospect, per Baseball America. He received a brief promotion to the Majors but didn’t capitalize on his time there, hitting just .205/.279/.462 in 43 plate appearances. While he did belt three homers, he also whiffed 16 times in that small sample. BA praised his raw power but questioned his plate discipline and noted a high number of seemingly careless throwing errors. While he has a chance to stick at shortstop with some offensive upside, BA feels he likely profiles as a utility infielder that can fill in at various positions.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported that Cabrera had been traded (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian added that the Nats were his destination (Twitter link). Hoynes then tweeted Walters was going to Cleveland, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted details on the cash considerations.
The Orioles have issued an announcement of the 1-for-1 swap of lefties. Baltimore will acquire Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com first reported (via Twitter).
In return, Boston has picked up left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, per a tweet from Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (via Twitter) first reported that a young arm was included in the deal.
Rodriguez represents a significant return for Boston on Miller, who emerged as the most sought-after left-handed reliever but is set to reach free agency at year’s end. He had been nothing short of dominant this year, posting 14.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 and generating a 52.5% groundball rate.
Miller’s excellent 2.34 ERA is actually higher than advanced metrics would suggest, as Miller owns lower marks per ERA estimators such as FIP (1.69), xFIP (1.76) and SIERA (1.42). Miller has held down both lefties (.420 OPS) and righties (.537 OPS) on the year.
Rodriguez came into the year as Baltimore’s 3rd-best overall prospect, per Baseball America. The 21-year-old has not taken a step forward at Double-A, however, as he owns a 4.79 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 through 82 2/3 innings on the year. Though he profiles more as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, Rodriguez had been on a fast track to the big leagues and still has plenty of value.
Denorfia, 34, is hitting just .242/.293/.319 this season, but he’s a proven weapon against left-handed pitching — a clear point of weakness for Seattle. While he hasn’t hit lefties or righties in 2014, Denorfia is a lifetime .301/.367/.447 hitter against southpaws. He’s also a plus defender at either corner outfield spot and can handle center in a pinch, though defensive metrics don’t like his work there.
The Mariners have hit just .244/.298/.371 against left-handed pitching this season, and their outfielders have been even worse against southpaws, hitting a combined .246/.287/.346. Denorfia is a free agent at season’s end.
Almonte, 24, opened the season as Seattle’s leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder, but he struggled offensively, hitting just .198/.248/.292 in 113 plate appearances before being sent down. He’s been markedly better at Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .267/.333/.390 with six homers and seven stolen bases on the season. Baseball America ranked him as Seattle’s No. 17 prospect heading into the season.
As for the 25-year-old Kohlscheen, he was unranked by BA but is enjoying a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A. The Auburn University product, drafted in the 45th round in 2010, has a 2.70 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 56 2/3 innings of relief work this season.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that Denorfia was going to Seattle (on Twitter), while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted Abraham’s inclusion, and MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweeted Kohlscheen’s inclusion.
11:35am: The teams have announced the trade. Nightengale tweets the exact figure that will be heading to Oakland: $650K.
10:09am: Dave Cameron of Fangraphs reports another wrinkle in the trade: Cespedes’ contract calls for him to be non-tendered at the end of his deal (if he is not first extended) in order to assure him early free agency, and he therefore is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer following the 2015 season (Twitterlinks).
9:14am: The Red Sox are sending under $1MM to the A’s in the trade, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Meanwhile, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America tweets that the value of the Competitive Balance pick that Boston receives will be roughly $800K.
8:54am:Passan tweets that Oakland is also sending a competitive balance draft pick to the Red Sox in the trade, and Boston is sending cash to Oakland. The A’s landed the second pick in Comp Round B in last week’s lottery.
The addition of Lester will give Oakland an incredibly formidable rotation for the balance of the regular season, but perhaps more importantly, in the playoffs. Lester, who has posted a 2.52 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate, will join fellow trade acquisition Jeff Samardzija, free agent signing Scott Kazmir and homegrown star Sonny Gray atop Oakland’s rotation.
It’s possible that the struggles of Jason Hammel, acquired from the Cubs along with Samardzija back on July 4, prompted A’s GM Billy Beane to aggressively pursue another sizable rotation upgrade. While the loss of Cespedes will hurt Oakland’s lineup, the team can afford to part with some offense; the A’s rank first in the Majors in runs scored, sixth in on-base percentage and eighth in slugging percentage. Gomes won’t replace Cespedes’ power or his .256/.303/.464 batting line, but he’s a formidable opponent against lefties, having slashed .302/.400/.431 against southpaws in 2014 and .279/.379/.495 in his career.
Cespedes will bring the Red Sox a much-needed outfield bat, though he’s only under team control through the 2015 season due to a clause in his contract that allows him to forgo arbitration and hit the free agent market after his initial four-year term. He’s slated to earn $10.5MM next season — the same sum that he is owed in 2014. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Cespedes recently voiced a disinterest in playing center field with the A’s, but he did so through a teammate rather than by approaching manager Bob Melvin directly, which likely didn’t sit well with the team (Twitterlinks).
The pair of blockbuster trades by Beane signifies a clear “all-in” philosophy on the 2014 season. Oakland has traded its best prospect (Addison Russell), a 2013 first-round pick (Billy McKinney) and one of its most dangerous bats (Cespedes) in an attempt at the most dominant pitching staff it can muster for the playoffs. There will be no compensation if (or, perhaps more appropriately given his likely price tag — when) Lester departs as a free agent, as baseball’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players who did not spend the entire regular season on one team from receiving qualifying offers.
For the Red Sox, who hope to re-sign Lester as a free agent this offseason, this trade at least gives them a chance, perhaps a slight one, to have Lester and Cespedes on the same team in 2015 when the club takes another shot at contending. Beyond that, the addition of a draft pick is an interesting wrinkle, as it allows Boston to enjoy the best of both worlds, in a way. GM Ben Cherington could have kept Lester and extended a qualifying offer in hopes of recouping a draft pick if Lester signed elsewhere in free agency. Now, the Sox will get a bonus pick regardless (albeit a slightly later one), and they also are guaranteed a middle-of-the-order bat for the 2015 season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Boston engage Cespedes in extension talks either, though that is nothing more than my own speculation at this juncture.
Lackey, 35, has a 3.60 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, and 46.9% groundball rate in 137 1/3 innings this year. His 2014 numbers closely resemble his work last year, a resurgent season after his 2011 campaign culminated in Tommy John surgery and he missed all of 2012. A second round draft pick in 1999, Lackey spent the early part of his career as a front of the rotation workhorse for the Angels.
Lackey joins Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn at the front of a St. Louis rotation that suffered several blows this year. Jaime Garcia is out for the season after rib surgery this month, while Michael Wacha will return in September in the best case scenario as he recovers from a stress reaction in his pitching shoulder. In addition, the Cards received unspectacular work from Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly. Masterson is due back soon from a DL stint for knee inflammation, and hopes to put this year’s struggles behind him before reaching free agency. The Cardinals are currently in third place and 2.5 games out in the NL Central, and one game out in the Wild Card.
The Cardinals also receive Littrell, a 22-year-old starter in High-A ball who was drafted in the fifth round last year out of the University of Kentucky. He owns a 3.60 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 0.72 HR/9 in 100 frames this year. Littrell did not rank among the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects prior to the season in the eyes of Baseball America, though BA ranked the team’s farm system seventh overall.
Kelly, 26, posted a 4.37 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9, and 54.3% groundball rate in 35 innings for the Cardinals this year. He won the team’s fifth starter job out of spring training, but injured his hamstring in mid-April and missed nearly three months. Kelly will have two years and 116 days of Major League service after 2014, meaning he’ll likely miss Super Two status and won’t become arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season. He’s under team control through 2018. Kelly boasts an average fastball velocity near 95 miles per hour, a 3.25 career ERA, and 29 1/3 innings of postseason experience, but his peripheral stats don’t quite match up.
Craig, 30, has slumped to a .237/.291/.346 line in 398 plate appearances this year. He hit .306/.358/.492 in 1,420 plate appearances prior to 2014, suggesting he could bounce back for Boston. Craig signed a five-year, $31MM deal with the Cardinals in March 2013, of which about $26.4MM remains through 2017. The deal also includes a club option for 2018. Craig has appeared at first base and the outfield corners in his career, though he’s generally regarded as a below-average defensive outfielder. The Red Sox have designated hitter David Ortiz potentially through 2017, though first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Shane Victorino are signed only through 2015.
The 2011 Tommy John procedure plays a large role in Lackey’s trade value. When the Red Sox signed Lackey to a five-year free agent deal in December 2009, concerns over his elbow led to a clause creating a club option for the league-minimum salary for 2015, which was triggered with the Tommy John procedure. That means playing for little more than $500K next year after earning more than 30 times that much in each of the previous four seasons. Lackey has told the Cardinals he plans to honor the club option, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
This season, Lackey has a bit over $5MM in salary remaining, plus a $500K assignment bonus for being dealt. He had been scheduled to start tomorrow in Boston as the Red Sox kick off a three-game set against the Yankees.
Parra, 27, is hitting .259/.305/.362 in 440 plate appearances this year, playing mostly right field for Arizona. Parra has typically posted stellar defensive metrics, though he’s been about average this year based on UZR and DRS. He has about $1.6MM remaining on his contract this year, and is arbitration eligible for 2015. A left-handed batter, Parra could enter something of a platoon with Khris Davis in left field. Or, he may just spell Davis, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun as an oft-used fourth outfielder.
Haniger, 23, is hitting .255/.316/.416 in 271 plate appearances at Double-A this year. Baseball America rated Haniger the third-best prospect in the Brewers’ weak farm system prior to the season, calling him the team’s most advanced hitting prospect. The Brewers drafted Haniger 38th overall in 2012 as a supplemental draft pick for the loss of Prince Fielder. Banda, 20, is a southpaw starter with 83 2/3 innings at Low-A this year. Baseball America ranked him 27th among Brewers prospects prior to the season, though they say the team viewed him as a potential mid-rotation starter.