AL East Notes: Buchholz, Donaldson, Warren, Norris

Though Clay Buchholz figures to draw plenty of interest on this year’s trade market, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that the Red Sox should be steadfast in their refusal to trade him. Lauber notes that Buchholz, earning $12MM in 2015, is slated to earn $13MM and $13.5MM via club options over the next two seasons — bargain rates for a pitcher with his talent, even if it comes with inconsistency and injury risk. Meanwhile, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a different approach, opining that the Red Sox owe it to themselves to at least entertain offers for Buchholz. MacPherson looks back to last year’s return for 1.5 years of Jeff Samardzija and notes that 2.5 years of Buchholz could bring a similarly strong return. Though the team will need pitching in 2015, MacPherson writes that Buchholz’s value is unlikely to ever be higher, and a team willing to pay for the type of pitching he’s been doing over his past 10 starts (2.33 ERA) may very well make too good of an offer to refuse. MacPherson wonders if old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, now with the Cubs, would be interested in parting with some premium young talent to acquire Buchholz.

A few more notes from the AL East…

  • Prior to the Red Sox‘ signing of Pablo Sandoval last year, the team inquired with the Athletics about Josh Donaldson but were told he was not available, reports Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. That would seem to line up, to some extent, with comments from A’s officials early last winter indicating that little consideration would be given to moving Donaldson. (“That would be stupid,” one official told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser last October.) Donaldson, of course, wound up with the division-rival Blue Jays and is enjoying a monster season.
  • With Ivan Nova now healthy and back in the Yankees‘ rotation, Adam Warren will shift into the team’s bullpen, the right-hander tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. As Feinsand notes, Warren was the likeliest candidate to do so, given his recent success in the bullpen and the fact that he’s already exceeded last year’s innings total while working as a starter.
  • Bud Norris has struggled a good deal for the Orioles this season, but there’s no current talk of removing him from Baltimore’s rotation, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Some have speculated that Norris is pressing in light of his upcoming free agency, and as Connolly writes, Norris indirectly touched on that topic following another rough start Monday. “I don’t know where my future’s gonna take me,” he said. “All know is I can handle what’s in front of me right now and trying to work through this is the No. 1 priority and getting back out there and helping my team win games.” Norris said he’s not worried about the possibility of losing a starting spot to Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson, but Connolly wonders how long the club will stick with the struggling veteran.
  • Manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, that the Orioles are trying to get Norris on a roll. “That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Showalter. “He has some periods where he’s pitched well, but not as consistent as he did for a long period of time last year, and will again. I try to keep in mind we haven’t even played half the season yet and Bud will do some good things for us.”

Jared Burton Granted Release By Rangers

Right-handed reliever Jared Burton asked for and was granted his release from the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter).

Burton inked a minor league deal with New York this offseason but failed to make the club in Spring Training, so he re-signed a new minor league deal and went to the team’s Triple-A affiliate, where yielded three runs in four innings before being released. Burton latched on with the Rangers in late May and has pitched quite well for Triple-A Round Rock, surrendering just one run with an 11-to-3 K/BB ratio in 10 innings there.

Now 34 years old, Burton was a key member of the Twins’ bullpen from 2012-14. He signed a minor league deal prior to the 2012 season as he worked his way back from shoulder injuries and proved to be one of the better bargain pickups in all of baseball that winter. Burton worked to a 2.18 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 48.5 percent ground-ball rate in 62 innings for the Twins in 2012, prompting the team to re-up with the righty on a two-year, $5.4MM contract.

Burton was solid in the first season of the deal before taking a step back in 2014. Last year, his K/9 rate, BB/9 rate, ground-ball rate and velocity all went in the wrong direction. Burton, however, still displayed an effective split-finger changeup (which he’s previously termed a “splangeup”).

The veteran was plagued by a lat injury earlier in the season while with the Yankees, but he’s back to full strength now and could be a bullpen option for a club that is thin on experienced arms. Given the sheer volume of teams that are on the lookout for affordable bullpen help, I’d imagine that Burton and agent Dave Pepe of Pro Agents, Inc. will have interest from multiple clubs.


Giants Designate Casey McGehee For Assignment

The Giants announced this morning that Casey McGehee has been designated for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for infielder Ehire Adrianza, whose contract has been purchased from Triple-A.

There was some confusion surrounding McGehee’s first removal from the roster this year. The Giants announced that he’d been designated for assignment, but McGehee had merely been designated off the 25-man roster in order to be optioned to Triple-A. As a player with five-plus years of big league service, he had the right to refuse the option, but he accepted and remained on the 40-man roster.

Today, the Giants explicitly stated in the announcement that McGehee has been removed from the 40-man roster, making this a standard DFA in which the team will now have 10 days to trade McGehee, release or attempt to outright McGehee. (He could refuse an outright assignment without forfeiting his 2015 salary due to service time.)

McGehee was acquired from the Marlins this offseason in a trade that sent Luis Castillo and Kendry Flores to Miami. San Francisco had hoped that McGehee would produce something similar to the .285/.355/.357 batting line he posted in his return to the Majors last season, helping in part to offset the loss of former franchise cornerstone Pablo Sandoval.

That hasn’t been the case, however, as McGehee has struggled to a .213/.275/.299 batting line in 138 plate appearances this season. He did hit well in his initial demotion to Triple-A, slashing .357/.391/.571 with two homers in 46 plate appearances, though, and he’s batted 5-for-17 with a pair of doubles and three walks since rejoining the big league club.

McGehee, though, didn’t receive a crack at regular playing time upon being brought back from Triple-A due to the strong play of Matt Duffy at the hot corner. Duffy has slashed .303/.349/.491 this season, usurping McGehee as the everyday third baseman and leaving him without a clear path to playing time as a member of the Giants.

This offseason, McGehee avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.8MM contract. He’s still owed $2.54MM of that salary, so it seems unlikely that a team would claim him off waivers and take on the remainder of that deal. However, the Giants will have the ability to eat some cash in a potential trade of McGehee, and teams with interest could also simply wait to see if McGehee ends up a free agent, at which point he could be signed for the pro-rated version of the league minimum. (That portion of his salary would then come off the Giants’ books, though they’d still be responsible for the lion’s share of his remaining contract.)



Red Sox To Sign First-Rounder Andrew Benintendi

The Red Sox have agreed to terms with No. 7 overall draft pick Andrew Benintendi, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). The lefty-swinging outfielder out of the University of Arkansas will receive the full slot bonus of $3,590,400, per Callis, who feels that Benintendi possessed the best all-around tools of any college hitter in this year’s draft class.

Andrew Benintendi

Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Benintendi eighth among draft prospects, while Benintendi ranked ninth per Baseball America and per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Benintendi a bit lower at No. 21, though he noted that, “No one has improved his stock this spring more than the sophomore draft-eligible Benintendi…” which is lofty but likely deserved praise after Benintendi led the SEC in OBP, homers and slugging percentage.

Callis and Mayo praised Benintendi’s smooth swing and ability to consistently barrel up the ball. That’s complemented by plus speed, the MLB.com duo notes, giving Benintendi a chance to be a base-stealing threat and to stick in center field. BA notes that Benintendi didn’t play summer ball last year and wasn’t even on some clubs’ radars entering the season, but he quickly caused a “who’s-who of scouting directors and front-office officials” to fly in to watch his performance as the season progressed. McDaniel pegs the potential of each of Benintendi’s five tools as solid-average or better, and BA notes that the only real knocks on the 5’10” outfielder are his size and lack of a lengthier track record.

With Benintendi’s agreement in place, eight of the Top 10 picks in this year’s draft have either signed or agreed to terms, though just three have signed for the full slot value of their pick. (Minnesota’s Tyler Jay and Philadelphia’s Cornelius Randolph are the others.)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Which Rule 5 Picks Are Still With Their New Teams?

There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…

  • Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season.  As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
  • Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
  • Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
  • Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
  • J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
  • Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
  • Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
  • Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
  • Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call.
  • Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
  • Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
  • David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015.
  • Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.

Follow MLB Trade Rumors On Instagram

Today, MLB Trade Rumors is proud to announce the launch of our new official Instagram account: @TradeRumorsMLB.  No, we won’t be posting pictures of our lunches.  Instead, each day, we’ll be sharing conversation-inspiring images about the hottest topics in baseball.  From there, we invite you to give us a like, weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section, and even share the link with a friend.

Today’s Instagram picture asks you to predict which team will acquire Cole Hamels.  Will it be the Rangers, who have had talks with the Phillies this month regarding the left-hander?  Will the Yankees win the Hamels sweepstakes now that they’re not ruling out a pursuit of the superstar pitcher?  Could the surprising Astros make a run at the Philadelphia ace?  Or will it be one of the many other contending clubs that have interest in the 31-year-old?  Follow us on Instagram today and let us know!


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AL West Notes: Angels, Astros, L.J. Hoes, Athletics

As the Angels continue to hover around the .500 mark, internal tensions have arisen, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It appears that the particular issue that has led to some discord involves the respective roles of the front office and field staff regarding the use of data in on-field decisionmaking. Of course, GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia have had some well-publicized differences of opinion in the past, and Rosenthal suggests that there are signs of a new rift.

Here’s more from the AL West:

  • The Astros have a variety of difficult 40-man decisions upcoming, as they did last year when they ultimately left Delino DeShields Jr. unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes (in a piece we cited yesterday regarding the club’s pitching needs). That could seemingly drive a deal or two this summer or in the future. GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledges the roster pressure, but rejects the idea that he’ll move valuable assets solely for that reason. “Yeah, I mean, you could argue that we have a lot of guys to protect, and we’re going to leave some unprotected, so why not turn that into something we can use right now? It’s a fair argument,” Luhnow said. “At the same time, we’re looking for the best 25 players, and we never know if that’s going to come from those guys that need to be added to the 40-man (roster) down the road or now. You have to balance the short term and the long term. We’re certainly going to be open to trading players. Whether they’re already on the 40-man or have to be added to the 40-man this offseason to ease the logjam a little bit, we wouldn’t trade someone just to ease it.”
  • Per Drellich, one Astros 40-man occupant who could conceivably be dealt is L.J. Hoes, who is currently playing at Triple-A. The Orioles have some interest in Hoes — who they shipped to Houston as part of the Bud Norris deal a while back — as well as Alex Presley, who is not on the 40-man. Likewise, the Angels are “thought” to be giving some consideration to Hoes, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 25-year-old Hoes has slashed an excellent .335/.417/.466 over 255 plate appearances at Fresno this year, with eleven stolen bases and three long balls.
  • Athletics GM Billy Beane is still considering his trade deadline options, as Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com reports. Oakland had been on a nice run before being swept by the Royals over the weekend. “Time will tell, it’s an important time period,” said Beane. “Despite having played better in the last couple weeks, we’re still in quite a hole. Any definitive direction would be decided by how we do moving forward.” If the club does ultimately pull the trigger on a sell-off, Beane suggested that he may be inclined to seek younger assets to bolster the club’s prospect pool. “At some point, if we consider going another direction,” he said, “we’re probably best served to take a [look at] depth and rebuild our farm system. That’s the currency for us. We fully expected [the farm system] i not to be at its peak because we’ve traded a lot of players.”

NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Phillies

Braves assistant GM John Coppolella tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that the club is still working to put a winner on the field at present, though it won’t lose focus of its longer-term needs. “We don’t want to lose 100 games or put our fan base through any type of extended suffering,” he said. “We are trying to walk two parallel roads: making this team better and building for the future. So, it’s one eye on the present and two eyes on the future.” While that means that the club will weigh present needs in considering trades this summer, it still appears unlikely that Atlanta will be a significant buyer. Instead, it seems, the club may not be aggressive in moving veterans if it’s still in playoff contention — an easier decision, perhaps, given that the Braves moved their best shorter-term assets before the season. “When we get to the Trade Deadline, we won’t look to ship out everyone who is on a free-agent contract or everybody who is over the age of 30,” he said. “We’re going to look to make good solid baseball trades that will be made in the best interest of this franchise. I don’t know if we’ll be as active as we have been previously. We’ll see what comes up at the Deadline, but by no means will we totally gut this team.”

  • The Mets‘ long-term plans at short probably will not involve Wilmer Flores, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests on Twitter. New York will either fill that slot via trade or turn to 24-year-old Matt Reynolds, who is currently in his second stint at the Triple-A level. Of course, it’s worth noting that the organization has an even younger option in Gavin Cecchini. The 21-year-old is enjoying his best season as a professional at the Double-A level, where he’s slashing .285/.340/.423 over 262 plate appearances.
  • The Phillies‘ front office announcement today also revealed something about the club’s ownership situation, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. John Middleton — who owns the single largest stake in the club (48%) — was front and center during today’s press conference, putting a new face on the organization. “We spent $18 million buying our initial interest in this team,” Middleton explained. “We’re a long way from $18 million now, so you have to take a greater role in the team. You have to.”
  • Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail emphasized that he is prepared infuse analytics into the organization’s decisionmaking, as Nick Suss of MLB.com reports. With Middleton noting the importance of updating the club’s use of data, including a customized system that the club expects to bring on line in September, MacPhail indicated that his aim is to harness statistical analysis with a focus on the people performing and utilizing it. “The more experience you have with it and the more you get a better sense of which formulas really are predictors of performance and which ones aren’t, it’s something that knowledge accrues over time,” MacPhail said. “But I think it’s absolutely essential that you marry that with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change. Weaknesses get exposed and they get exploited. People make adjustments. So you need to look at every single facet that is possible when you’re making player evaluations.”

Draft Signings: Abdullah, Simcox, Pruitt

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s notable draft signings here, with slot values via Baseball America.

  • Dodgers eleventh rounder Imani Abdullah will sign for $647,500, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com tweets. SB Nation’s Eric Stephen has done some digging on the young hurler, who is fairly new to the mound and did not earn placement on any major prospect lists. He had been set to play for San Diego State University. All but $100K of L.A.’s spending on the projectable righty must be accounted for from its overall bonus allocation. The Dodgers have yet to agree to terms with many of their picks from the first ten rounds, including four of their first five selections (three of whom just finished playing in the finals of the College World Series).
  • The Tigers have agreed to a $600K bonus to land 14th-round pick A.J. Simcox, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports on Twitter. A half-million of that payday will count towards the club’s overall pool limits. The University of Tennessee product is said to be a slick defensive shortstop. Baseball America graded him the 217th-best player available, saying that Simcox has a “line-drive swing” but has shown little in the way of power potential.
  • Another $500K bonus is set to hit the books, this one going from the Blue Jays to 24th-round pick Reggie Pruitt, Callis tweets. The Vanderbilt commit drew some relatively high grades entering the draft, with Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs placing him 146th on his list. MLB.com had the outfielder in the 189th slot on its board, crediting him with outstanding speed while noting that his swing mechanics need work.

Dylan Bundy Shut Down Indefinitely

Highly-regarded Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been shut down indefinitely as he continues to deal with shoulder issues, manager Buck Showalter told reporters (press conference video and story via the Baltimore Sun). There is currently no schedule for the former fourth overall draft pick to return to action.

Bundy reached the majors briefly in his first full season as a pro at just 19 years of age, and entered the 2013 campaign rated as the game’s second best overall prospect. But he never threw a competitive pitch that season and ultimately required Tommy John surgery.

More recently, elbow issues have given way to shoulder concerns for the 22-year-old. Bundy experienced soreness about a month ago while working at Double-A and has not pitched since.

As the Sun’s Dan Connolly reports (links to Twitter), famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews found evidence of calcification in the back area of the shoulder. The incomparably experienced Andrews indicated to Bundy that he’d never before observed that type of calcium buildup in that area. Per the report, the calcium accumulation should at some point no longer cause pain, but Bundy will need to wait until then to get back on the mound.

That makes for an uncertain timeline. “Dylan throwing again is not imminent,” said Showalter. Details of Bundy’s path back to action remain sketchy, as Showalter explained that he’ll be “just kind of shut down for the near future, for a while, [to] kind of let everything calm down [and] see where we are. … He won’t be throwing for a little while, we’ll see how long that is.”

The latest medical evaluations may actually not be entirely negative, the skipper suggested, as he noted that he has not “heard surgery mentioned” as a possibility. Bundy himself added that there is no current thought that a surgical procedure will be necessary, as Connolly tweets. While Bundy says he hopes to be able to pitch again this year, he adds that a return that swift seems unlikely.

Notably, because Bundy signed a major league deal out of the draft (as is no longer permitted), he has already burned through all of his option years despite just one big league call-up, Connolly notes on Twitter. That obviously could complicate the team’s ability to retain him if he is not ready to contribute at the big league level come next spring.

Meanwhile, Showalter also noted that former first-round pick Matt Hobgood will need shoulder surgery. Hobgood, 24, went fifth overall back in 2009, but has never been able to harness his potential. He owns a 4.98 ERA over 325 career innings in the minors and has been working as a reliever over recent seasons.

Baltimore did get somewhat more promising news on another young arm, Hunter Harvey. Showalter said that the 20-year-old right-hander will soon begin a throwing program after being diagnosed with a flexor mass strain in his forearm earlier in the year. Harvey entered the season as a consensus top-100 prospect.


Blue Jays Expect To Be Active On Pitching Market

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that he’s working hard to add pitching this summer in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The FAN (article via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). And he left little doubt that he sees the club as a buyer.

“We still need to make upgrades in the rotation and the bullpen, that goes without saying,” said the Jays GM. “I’d love to land both. What we come away with or don’t come away with, I have no idea. Clearly we’re looking to be active. We’re looking to add and make the club a lot better.”

As Nicholson-Smith explains, there is at least some hope of an internal boost as well. Just-promoted rookie Matt Boyd is interesting enough to get a showcase, and the club expects to welcome Aaron Sanchez back from the DL in the near future. While Toronto anticipates that Sanchez will start, Anthopoulos says his role will depend upon the state of the rotation. And there’s even some possibility — albeit, perhaps, fairly remote — that Marcus Stroman could attempt a late-season return, though the team will surely err well on the side of caution with the prized righty.

Interestingly, Anthopoulos also discussed his broader strategy on the market, citing legendary investor Warren Buffett in saying: “It’s better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” As Nicholson-Smith notes, value-based dealing was something of a hallmark of the GM’s earlier years, but it seems that his outlook has evolved somewhat.

One undoubtedly high-quality and high-value asset that the Blue Jays possess is the contractual control over third baseman Josh Donaldson, who can be retained via arbitration through the 2018 season. That makes an extension more a future consideration, per Anthopoulos. “There’s no sense of  urgency since we still have him for a very long time,” he explained.


Phillies Hire Andy MacPhail As Pat Gillick’s Successor

5:15pm: Gillick tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (links to Twitter) that Amaro will retain full authority at least through the end of the season. “Ruben is going to be the GM through the end of the season,” said Gillick. “He’s going to make any of the deals that we make. He still has that authority. That’s his job — to change personnel. That’s not going to change.”

1:38pm: The Phillies announced that they have hired MacPhail, who will serve as a special assistant to Gillick for the remainder of the season before assuming the role of president at the end of the year. The team’s official statement is as follows:

“The Phillies announced today the hiring of Andy MacPhail to succeed Pat Gillick as president of the club following Gillick’s retirement shortly after the season ends. As president, MacPhail will oversee the entire organization, both its business and baseball operations. For the remainder of the season, MacPhail will serve as a special assistant to Gillick, during which time he will work closely with Gillick and chief operating officer Michael Stiles to become acclimated with the club’s operations and its personnel.”

Phillies principal owner John Middleton praised MacPhail’s blend of traditional baseball acumen and his prowess with analytics in a statement issued with today’s press release:

“Andy brings an uncommon blend of old school experience and new age thinking. … In 1986, Andy was the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when he served in that role for the Twins. The following year, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series title. When the Orioles hired him eight years ago, Andy became the first president of baseball operations in Major League Baseball. During his tenure in Baltimore, he greatly expanded the use of statistical analysis in player evaluations. That’s the new age thinking.”

10:16am: The Phillies have called a press conference at 2:30pm ET to “announce new Phillies leadership.” As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki indicates, the presser will announce the widely expected hiring of Andy MacPhail to head the team’s baseball operations department (Twitter links). However, he adds that no new manager will be named this afternoon, and Ruben Amaro will remain in the GM’s chair, for now.

Last week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that MacPhail would be hired within the week to fill a role similar to that of interim president Pat Gillick. Reports of the club’s interest in MacPhail date back to mid-June, when CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury first broke the news.

By bringing MacPhail on board, the Phillies will hire an executive with experience in leading three franchises. MacPhail was the Twins’ GM during the team’s 1987 and 1991 World Series victories. He served as the Cubs’ president for more than a decade from the mid-90s into the mid-2000s, including the team’s 1998 and 2003 postseason berths. MacPhail moved from Chicago to Baltimore, where he served as president of baseball operations and helped lay the foundation for the perennial contender that is now in place in Baltimore. MacPhail acquired Adam Jones and Chris Tillman in a lopsided trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle, and he also acquired Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter from the Rangers in exchange for Koji Uehara. J.J. Hardy‘s presence in Baltimore is also MacPhail’s doing; he acquired the shortstop from the Twins (alongside the remaining money on Brendan Harris‘ contract) in exchange for relievers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

By coming on board with more than a month until the trade deadline, MacPhail will be in position to do some evaluation and weigh in on what is expected to be a franchise-altering month for the Phillies. Names like Aaron Harang, Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere could all find themselves traded within the month, but the most impactful expected move, is of course, a potential trade of Cole Hamels. The longtime Phillies ace is the type of elite arm that can command a package significant enough to single-handedly reshape the team’s future, and the veteran executive will now be in place to have some input on that critical trade.

Additionally, MacPhail will be able to evaluate internal matters, including Amaro’s position with the team and, potentially, the hiring of a new manager to oversee the club in the wake of Ryne Sandberg’s resignation.


Dodgers Interested In Mets’ Jon Niese

TODAY: Niese is just “one of many” arms that Los Angeles has some interest in, Rosenthal writes on Twitter, and there are “no active discussions” ongoing between the Dodgers and Mets.

YESTERDAY: The Dodgers are interested in Mets starter Jon Niese, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Just yesterday, Rosenthal reported that the Cubs have also considered dealing for the left-hander.

Niese isn’t quite a world-beater, but he does hold some value as a back of the rotation option.  So far this year, he has a 4.12 ERA and 6.3 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 14 starts.  Those numbers are a beat behind his career numbers (3.89 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9), but his xFIP of 3.85 this season indicates that he has encountered a bit of bad luck in 2015.

Performance aside, Niese’s contract could have a negative impact on his trade value.  The 28-year-old is scheduled to make $9MM in 2016 plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2017.  As for this year, he’ll earn the prorated portion of $7MM, which is not wholly unreasonable.

After the draft concluded, it was reported that the Mets would turn their attention to dealing a starting pitcher.  With lefty Steven Matz now in the fold, the Mets’ starting pitching situation has gotten even more crowded, and moving Niese could help alleviate that logjam while improving the team’s struggling offense.

Last week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters that despite their recent offensive woes, he sees the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation.


Tigers To Acquire Alexi Casilla From Rays

The Tigers have acquired infielder Alexi Casilla from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Per the report, Detroit made the move to bolster its organizational depth up the middle.

Casilla, 30, has not seen big league time this year and played in just one game last year for the Orioles. Before that, however, he was rather an active utility player, mostly from the Twins. All told, Casilla has taken 1,893 plate appearances and produced a .247/.302/.331 slash with 80 stolen bases. He has spent most of his time at second, but also has plenty of experience playing shortstop.

Though he’s yet to receive a call-up, Casilla has actually been quite productive this year at Triple-A. Over 142 plate appearances, he has slashed .315/.379/.449. Though a .363 BABIP has helped drive that productivity, Casilla is showing better patience and power numbers than he did last year in the upper minors.


Indians Agree To Over-Slot Bonus With Triston McKenzie

The Indians and No. 42 overall pick Triston McKenzie have agreed to a bonus of $2.3MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). As Heyman notes, that bonus comes in significantly higher than the slot value of $1.468MM.

Heading into the draft, some felt that McKenzie’s commitment to Vanderbilt would make him a tough sign, but his tantalizing arm led Cleveland to select him at No. 42 anyhow. McKenzie rated 44th, 46th, 51st and 53rd on the respective prospect lists of Fangraphs, ESPN, Baseball America and MLB.com.

As Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs notes, McKenzie is, at present, an incredibly thin 6’5″ and 165 pounds without great velocity. However, he projects to add a good deal of size and strength and also possesses advanced command with the potential for three above-average pitches. McKenzie won’t turn 18 until August, giving him additional time to fill out what ESPN calls “one of the most projectable arms most scouts have ever seen.” There’s some concern that McKenzie will always be on the thin side, but BA notes that if he does fill out well, “there’s plenty to dream on.”

The Indians have gone over slot to sign both top pick Brady Aiken and McKenzie, but they’ve made up for it further down the board, perhaps most notably with a pair of $5,000 senior signs in the ninth and tenth rounds of the draft.