Indians Looking To Add Starter, Outfielder

The Indians are in the market for a starting pitcher and a right-handed hitting outfielder, reports Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. While the team is looking for a way to add a number one type rotation piece, Hoynes says that looks unlikely at present.

Adding a piece of the magnitude of David Price would cost Cleveland its best prospect, Francisco Lindor, says Hoynes, and the team is not willing to part with it shortstop of the future. Lower-end arms do not have much appeal, given that the club already has its fair share of middle-of-the-road starters. While the Indians hope that Justin Masterson can return to health and form, Hoynes says that the club would consider dealing the 29-year-old righty in August if he (and/or, presumably, the team) does not perform up to expectations.

Second on the team’s priority list is a righty bat to play in the outfield. With Michael Bourn still dealing with hamstring issues, Ryan Raburn scuffling, and David Murphy inconsistent, outfield help could be useful. Hoynes says that the team is particularly interested in a player who swings from the right side, which would allow for balance to the lineup and better flexibility in late-game situations. GM Chris Antonetti has indicated that the team would be most interested in adding someone who comes with control at least through next year.


Cardinals To Sign A.J. Pierzynski

The Cardinals have agreed to a deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported that the sides were moving towards an agreement, with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reporting that Pierzynski would be joining the team tomorrow in Chicago.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Pierzynski, 37, signed with the Red Sox before the season for one year and $8.25MM. But he never seemed to mesh in the clubhouse and, perhaps more importantly, failed to replicate his usual success at the plate. He hit just four home runs in 274 plate appearances and slashed a substandard .254/.286/.348. That was a far cry from his production over the prior two seasons, when he hit a combined 44 home runs and slashed .275/.311/.462.

Of course, for St. Louis, the signing represents an attempt to fill the void left by the injured Yadier Molina, who is expected to be out until at least the tail end of the regular season. Pickings were fairly slim on the trade market, with Kurt Suzuki of the Twins representing perhaps the most likely option. It remains unclear how playing time will be allocated between Pierzynski and usual backup Tony Cruz, but it seems likely that Pierzynski will see plenty of action down the stretch.

The deal will presumably no relief for the Red Sox, who will avoid only the pro-rated league minimum salary while paying Pierzynski the rest of his promised $8.25MM. The veteran will have a chance to boost his numbers — and do so during what seems likely to be a tight division race — before once again hitting the open market next year.

Meanwhile, the Twins will presumably need to look elsewhere if they desire to deal Suzuki, with the Orioles representing perhaps the only obvious landing spot. The Dodgers appear to be another team that could conceivably look to upgrade behind the plate, though it is far from clear that Suzuki would offer much of an upgrade and other potentially available backstops would take persuading to pry free. All said, it looks as if the catching market will not see much movement in advance of July 31.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Images.


East Notes: Price, Lester, Howard, Papelbon, Mets, Braves

All eyes were on Tampa, where David Price of the Rays and Jon Lester of the Red Sox are squared off in a match-up of top starting pitchers — and top potential trade pieces. And that includes many top scouts around the game, as several reports suggest. At least 17 clubs had eyes in the stands, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. That includes two each for the Royals, Giants, and Pirates. A scout from the Phillies was also on hand — according to a tweet from Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, he is the club’s top evaluator — though presumably not for the two starters. Other teams with “top evaluators” watching, presumably with a variety of possible motives, included the Braves, Orioles, Mariners, Cubs, and Nationals, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Of course, it remains to be seen whether either of the two lefties is shopped, but the ramifications of the decisions of their respective clubs will obviously be widespread.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • In comments after the game, Lester said that he is “aware of what’s coming next week,” referring to the possibility of deals, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (via Twitter). If he does end up being shipped out, Lester said that he would still be open to re-signing with the team as a free agent.
  • The Red Sox-Lester situation remains a complicated one, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com explains. Boston’s decision-makers have clearly put out the word through the press that the club wanted to re-start extension negotiations, but were told that was not Lester’s preference. Meanwhile, sources tell Bradford that Lester’s camp would be willing to talk if the Sox came in with a realistic starting point. The underlying tension appears to be the basis for the notion that the fading club could consider dealing its best arm. If that does not happen, Bradford suggests that the team may intend to pursue a strategy it has employed in the past: make a larger offer after evaluating things in the offseason that falls shy of other open-market bids, banking on the player desiring to continue playing in Boston.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expanded on his comments regarding first baseman Ryan Howard, as Todd Zolecki of MLBcom reports on Twitter“I fully expect him to be our first baseman next year,” said Amaro.
  • Meanwhile, the Phillies have told teams that they are willing to hold on to some of the $18MM still owed to closer Jonathan Papelbon, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While there is still some market for Papelbon, Heyman says it does not look strong. His $13MM vesting clause for 2016, in particular, is a looming threat that would seem to complicate any deal.
  • The Mets are not engaged in any “substantive talks” at present, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, as Rubin notes, that does not mean that chatter won’t pick up in the coming days.
  • There were two injury updates today for the Braves, both via Joe Morgan of MLB.com. Southpaw Jonny Venters is making progress and is expected to begin throwing bullpen sessions soon. It still seems that he is a ways off, however, and manager Fredi Gonzalez made clear that the club is not yet counting on a return this season. Meanwhile, starter Gavin Floyd is also moving forward in his recovery from a fracture in his elbow, but Gonzalez says he will not even be evaluated again for a month. Needless to say, Atlanta does not seem destined to receive a surprise, late-season comeback from Floyd, who will be a free agent after the season.


Cardinals Close To Signing A.J. Pierzynski

8:46pm: Pierzynski is already in Chicago and will join the Cardinals tomorrow, tweets Rosenthal. An announcement is expected before tomorrow’s game, which starts at 1:05pm CST, according to a tweet from Goold.

8:33pm: A deal appears to be close, Goold reports, with Pierzynski leaving a visit to Cooperstown for induction weekend, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Goold indicates that Pierzynski seems to be headed to meet the club in Chicago. Meanwhile, Kottaras has cleared his locker and left the club, though the precise transaction involving him remains unclear.

8:09pm: The Cardinals are working on a deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The recently-added George Kottaras would be the odd man out if a deal gets done, which Goold seemingly implies is likely.

Pierzynski was recently released by the Red Sox after struggling for much of the year. His line stands at .254/.286/.348 on the year, including only four long balls in his 274 plate appearances. That fell well short of the production that Boston expected when it landed Pierzynski on a one-year, $8.25MM deal.

St. Louis, of course, would presumably add Pierzynski at a league-minimum rate, leaving the Red Sox to pick up the rest of the tab on the backstop. The club seems in need of an additional option behind the plate after losing Yadier Molina for a significant stretch. Tony Cruz has seen the bulk of the action since Molina went down.

Of course, a move on Pierzynski would also have fallout on the rest of the trade deadline catching market. In particular, the team with the most obvious trade piece behind the dish — the Twins, who field veteran Kurt Suzuki — would lose a strong potential suitor. A report earlier today suggested that the Cardinals (along with the Orioles) were interested in the first-time All-Star.


Jimmy Rollins’ 2015 Option Vests

6:53pm: And it is now official: having taken his second plate appearance tonight, Rollins’ 2015 option has vested.

8:59am: Jimmy Rollins currently has 1,098 plate appearances between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, meaning that his next two plate appearances will trigger his $11MM vesting option for the 2015 season (as noted by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com on Twitter). The only thing that would prevent the option from kicking in would be if Rollins were to finish the season on the disabled list. Even in that case, the option could still be guaranteed if a mutually agreed upon doctor deems him ready for Opening Day 2015.

Rollins has enjoyed somewhat of a rebound season in 2014, slashing .243/.326/.398. He’s already more than doubled his 2013 home run total (from six to 13) and has swiped 19 bases in 24 attempts after stealing just 22 bags in 2014.

The former MVP, now 35 years of age, has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service time, five straight with his current team), meaning that he can block trades to any club. However, if he decides to waive those rights, teams might look be interested given his respectable production at the plate and still strong defense (UZR/150 pegs him at +5.5 runs this season). However, that seems unlikely, as Rollins has said that his preference is to remain in Philadelphia — the only organization he’s ever known.


Latest On Rusney Castillo

5:33pm: The Reds, too, will join the party, according to a tweet from C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Likewise, the Padres will be on hand, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. The brings the current tally of teams reportedly planning to have a look at Castillo to 17.

4:30pm: John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the A’s will also be in attendance at tomorrow’s showcase.

12:46pm: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for Major League teams is tomorrow, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds an interesting twist to the audition: the speedster will work out at both center field and at shortstop (Twitter link).

Previous reports have indicated that the Twins, Cubs, White Sox, Braves, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles would attend the showcase. Additionally, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays will be in attendance, while Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel notes that the Marlins will be in attendance, and George A. King III of the New York Post adds the Yankees to the mix. Beyond that, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds lists a few other clubs that will attend: the Mets, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros.

Castillo is said by many to have plus-plus speed, and several scouting reports have comped him to Brett Gardner with a bit more power. The right-handed hitting 27-year-old has drawn praise for his line-drive stroke, and he’s thought of as a potential starting-caliber outfielder for a Major League club. Sanchez has tweeted a new scouting video of Castillo (including footage of him pushing a car — seriously), while a scouting report can also be seen over at Baseball America, courtesy of international guru Ben Badler. Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports.


Twins, Suzuki Far Apart In Extension Talks

JULY 25: The Minnesota field staff is making the case that the club should hold onto Suzuki, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It is not likely that an extension will come together quickly, however, says Rosenthal.

We looked earlier today at the latest on trade interest in Suzuki.

JULY 24: Extension talks are ongoing, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Suzuki’s representatives at MVP Sports are seeking a contract commensurate with the annual values given to free agents Carlos Ruiz (three years, $26MM), Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($21MM over three years), and A.J. Pierzynski (one year, $8.25MM) over the last offseason.

JULY 22: There’s mutual interest in an extension, manager Ron Gardenhire told hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio today (Twitter link). Gardenhire’s comments, of course, don’t mean the two sides are any closer to a deal.

JULY 21: The Twins and catcher Kurt Suzuki recently engaged in extension talks, but the two sides aren’t seeing eye to eye in terms of contract parameters, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino characterizes the talks as “exploratory” but notes that establishing fair parameters looks like it will be a challenge.

The news is significant, as Suzuki figures to be a prime trade chip if the Twins aren’t able to secure a new contract with the first-time All-Star. Signed to a one-year, $2.75MM contract (with $500K of incentives), Suzuki seems a highly unlikely candidate to receive a qualifying offer after the season. As such, a trade may be the only way for the Twins to receive long-term value, should Suzuki sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter.

Suzuki, 30, has served as Minnesota’s primary backstop all season and slashed a strong .305/.364/.389. While he’s cracked just a pair of homers, he’s shown the best full-season walk rate of his career (7.5 percent) and is striking out at a career-low rate (8.8 percent). That strikeout rate is currently the sixth-lowest in all of Major League Baseball (among qualified hitters).

Defensively speaking, Suzuki has been a mixed bag. He’s thrown out a solid 24 percent of opposing base-stealers and rates as one of the best in the league at blocking potential passed balls and wild pitches, per Baseball Prospectus. However, he ranks at the bottom of the league in terms of pitch framing, per BP and Matthew Carruth at StatCorner.com.

Both the Cardinals and Orioles have seen their starting catchers go down with serious injuries, while other contenders such as the Dodgers and Blue Jays have also received below-average offense behind the plate.


Bruce Billings, Jeff Manship Outrighted

Here are today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league…

  • After being designated for assignment recently, Bruce Billings has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankees, according to the International League transactions page. As he has previously been outrighted, Billings will have the right to elect free agency.
  • The Phillies announced that Jeff Manship has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Manship was designated for assignment earlier in the week when righty Phillippe Aumont was recalled from the minors. The 29-year-old veteran posted a 6.65 ERA in 23 innings for the Phillies this season.

Giants Designate Nick Noonan, Jose De Paula

The Giants have designated infielder Nick Noonan and lefty Jose De Paula for assignment, the club announced. In corresponding moves, the club purchased the contracts of Dan Uggla and Tony Abreu. (To create active roster space, Marco Scutaro and Ehire Adrianza were DL’ed.)

Noonan, 25, was the 32nd overall selection in the 2007 draft. He has only 111 largely unsuccessful MLB plate appearances to his name, all last season, and was struggling mightily at the plate this year with a .239/.281/.302 slash line over 340 plate appearances at Triple-A and High-A.

De Paula has yet to see major league action at age 26. The Dominican native owns a 4.21 ERA through 51 1/3 innings pitched (10 starts and six relief appearances) at Triple-A. Over that span, he has struck out 7.2 and walked 2.8 batters per nine, both of which are in line with his career averages.


Stark’s Latest: Howard, Peavy, Reds, Red Sox, Rollins, Murphy

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spent an hour chatting with readers about the trade deadline. Here are some highlights from his session…

  • The Phillies have offered Ryan Howard to any American League club they think could theoretically use him and received no takers. GM Ruben Amaro has even offered to pay the vast majority of Howard’s deal while asking for little in return, but to no avail.
  • The possibility of Jake Peavy heading to the Cardinals is still very much alive, Stark hears. The Red Sox just sent their top scouts to watch St. Louis’  short-season Class A club, which would fit with previous reports that Boston likes outfield prospect Rowan Wick (though he has since moved up to the Midwest League).
  • Despite a six-game losing streak, the Reds are still buying, and their preference is to add a bat that they can control beyond this season. As such, Marlon Byrd and Ben Zobrist both are targets, though it’s far from a guarantee that the Rays will sell.
  • Stark says he’s “barely heard [Stephen] Drew‘s name” on the trade market due to how poorly the shortstop has played since signing. If the Red Sox sell, he notes, the team will trade some combination of Peavy, Andrew Miller, Jonny Gomes and Junichi Tazawa. The addition of Tazawa’s name is a new wrinkle in the trade market. The 28-year-old has been dominant for the Sox and is controlled through 2016 via arbitration. One would think he could fetch a very nice return, given his 2.52 ERA (2.66 FIP), 9.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.
  • The Giants “really want a starter,” but Stark can’t see them seriously pursuing David Price. He does note that GM Brian Sabean usually ends up getting what he’s looking for at this time of the year. San Francisco has also shown some interest in Jimmy Rollins, but the chances are very low due to the former MVP’s 10-and-5 rights, his contract and the fact that Brandon Crawford would have to slide over to second base. (Alternatively, Rollins could simply play second, given Crawford’s defensive prowess.)
  • While most reports out of New York indicate that the Mets don’t want to trade Daniel Murphy, Stark hears that they’d “definitely” move him if they received enough quality in return. I’d imagine the asking price on Murphy to be very high, given Alderson’s reluctance to sell off assets that are under control beyond the current season.

Rangers Release Justin Marks

The Rangers have released left-hander Justin Marks in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for right-hander Jerome Williams, the team announced. Williams’ contract was selected from Triple-A Round Rock, and he will start from the Rangers tonight.

The Rangers claimed Marks off waivers from the A’s last month, but he appeared in just 5 1/3 innings for the club’s Triple-A affiliate, yielding three runs in that time. Overall, the 26-year-old has posted a 5.03 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings this season at the Triple-A level.

Williams signed a minor league deal with the Rangers after being released by the Astros earlier this month. His contract reportedly contained an Aug. 1 opt-out clause, which was thought to be a formality, as Texas was expected to call him up prior to that date. He posted a 4.46 ERA in 351 innings for the division-rival Angels from 2011-13, but he struggled to a 6.04 ERA in 47 frames for Houston earlier this year.


Central Links: Cubs, Twins, Prospects, Sox

While the Cubs are among the most clear-cut sellers at this year’s deadline, the team may hang onto Justin Ruggiano and Luis Valbuena, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Both are enjoying solid seasons and both are controlled through 2016. While the team wants to get as much young talent in the door as possible, each provides a veteran presence to help with the club’s impending influx of young talent.

Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…

  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that it was difficult to designate Matt Guerrier for assignment, given the right-hander’s history with the club. “That’s not the way you like to see things go,” said Ryan. “He’s a class guy. He’s been a great member of this organization for about a decade.” The GM added that it’s too soon to tell if Guerrier will accept an outright assignment, but Berardino gets the impression that Guerrier’s time with the Twins organization is done.
  • Berardino also asked Ryan if he expected more moves for the Twins in the coming week after trading Kendrys Morales to Seattle for righty Stephen Pryor yesterday (Tout link). Ryan replied: “It’s always active, Mike, at this time of year. You’re going to have activity, especially if you’re in a situation that the Twins are in right now. We’re going to have active calls, whether you place them or field them, it’s going to be a little busy. … We’ve got some people here that there will be interest in.”
  • One more from Berardino, who spoke with Twins backstop Kurt Suzuki about the possibility of being traded. Suzuki says he’s not focusing on rumors circulating his name because it’s out of his control but admitted that it’s not always easy to do and can be tough for families. Berardino wonders if the Minnesota would reignite its interest in former Twin A.J. Pierzynski, should Suzuki be dealt. Minnesota made a two-year offer to Pierzynski in the offseason.
  • The Pirates sit atop Jim Callis of MLB.com’s list of five contenders that are best-positioned to make trades due to young talent. He lists Josh Bell, Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson and Reese McGuire as appealing chips, noting that, “No contender can match the Bucs’ combination of prospect quality and quantity.” The Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners and Royals round out Callis’ list.
  • Jim Margalus of SB Nation’s South Side Sox wonders why the White Sox (and teams around the league in general) have been so hesitant to trade within their own division and opines that this stigma shouldn’t prevent a deal sending Dayan Viciedo to the Royals, who reportedly have interest. Margalus runs down the list of previous intra-division trades and sees no catastrophes to speak of.

Trade Market For Right-Handed Relievers

Needless to say, right-handed relief pitching is perhaps the most-moved asset during July. Last year, things got started with a swap of righties Carlos Marmol and Matt Guerrier, with Mitchell Boggs, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Moscoso, Jesse Crain, and Jose Veras also moving in July. The August revocable waiver trade period saw John Axford and Vic Black change hands.

Significant movement has already occurred this year, of course, with Ernesto Frieri and Jason Grilli swapping jerseys. Since that time, quality arms like Joakim Soria, Huston Street, and Jason Frasor have gone to contending clubs. That does not mean that the action is over on this front, however. Let’s see who else might be available:

Current/Former Closers

Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Joaquin Benoit (Padres), Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies), Steve Cishek (Marlins), Brad Ziegler (D’backs), Chad Qualls (Astros), LaTroy Hawkins (Rockies), John Axford (Indians), Grant Balfour (Rays), Jim Johnson (Athletics)

  • If the Red Sox decide to market Uehara, rather than holding onto him and either making a qualifying offer or extending him, he would likely be the best arm available. Uehara is the kind of dominating closer that can add huge value down the stretch and in the postseason, and would figure to draw substantial interest from any team with an eye on October. He is owed very little this year, and would be a pure rental.
  • Benoit has somewhat quietly been nothing short of dominant over the last two years. He is owed $8MM next year and comes with a $8MM club option ($1.5MM buyout) for 2016. Of course, San Diego has indicated that it will only move its newly-minted closer for a big return, having already dealt away Street.
  • Papelbon has actually been quite a bit more effective than one might expect, given all the negativity surrounding his contract and stay in Philadelphia. The 33-year-old’s velocity is down, but so is his ERA (1.91). And while the contract still looks bloated, it no longer seems entirely untradeable. Papelbon’s annual rate is $13MM both this year and next, and he comes with an achievable vesting option for the same price in 2016 (vests with 55 games finished next year or 100 total between 2014-15).
  • Cishek is an arb-eligible 28-year-old playing on a $3.8MM Super Two salary. His ERA is at a career-worst 3.32 — he’s allowed less than three earned per nine in every full season of his career — but his FIP is at a career-best 2.06. Though it seems that the Marlins are unwilling to move him, his swiftly rising salary means that you can’t rule out the possibility if the right offer came in.
  • Though he has not spent much time in a closing capacity, Ziegler does have some experience there after logging 13 saves last year. More importantly, the 34-year-old has not seen his ERA land above its current 2.84 level since the 2010 season. He is striking out more batters than usual (7.8 K/9), while his walk totals remain in line with his career numbers (3.0 BB/9)  and he continues to induce a ridiculous number of ground-balls (66.4%). Owed a reasonable $5MM next year, and coming with a $5.5MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2016, his contract also looks pretty good — although that is also why Arizona is reportedly inclined to keep him.
  • Qualls and Hawkins, both veterans of the league, are currently working as closers but would almost certainly be dropped in the pen hierarchy on a contender. The pair has been effective over the past two seasons, and both play for obvious sellers. But the Astros have indicated that they are hesitant to move the more desirable Qualls (who they control for two more years), while the Rockies could also opt for stability rather than a meager return on Hawkins (who will be a free agent and has struck out just 4.4 batters per nine).
  • Then we arrive at the highly-paid, deposed closers: Axford, Balfour, and Johnson. The 31-year-old Axford comes with control, but could be a non-tender candidate again this year. Though he is the only one of this trio that has been reasonably productive this year (3.23 ERA, 11.1 K/9 vs. 6.0 BB/9), little in the way of rumors suggest that he is being asked about or shopped. Meanwhile, Balfour and Johnson are both grossly overpaid and underperforming, and could surely be had for a meager return, with their current teams eating most or all of their salaries. (The latter, of course, is in DFA limbo at the moment and could become freely available at league minimum in short order.)

Set-Up Men

Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica (Red Sox), Juan Carlos Oviedo (Rays), Scott Atchison (Indians), Ronald Belisario and Javy Guerra (White Sox), Casey Fien and Jared Burton (Twins), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Jose Veras (Astros), Carlos Torres and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Mets), Carlos Villanueva (Cubs), Tim Stauffer and Blaine Boyer (Padres), Matt Belisle (Rockies)

Among these players, only Belisario, Guerra, Torres, and Fien come with control extending beyond 2015. Neither of the ChiSox hurlers has been that good, however, and the Mets and Twins will probably be in no rush to move Torres and Fien since they come with multiple years of control and should remain fairly inexpensive.

The other arms are purely short-term options who could help with depth down the stretch and (in some cases) next year. Feliz has had his struggles and will not be cheap as a project arm, and probably will get a chance to regain his form in Texas. Otherwise, Badenhop is probably the prize of this group after Fien; he has been steady for the third straight year and shouldn’t be expensive (in dollars or prospects) as he prepares to hit the open market. Belisle could be an intriguing buy-low rental, as his numbers continue to be inflated by pitching at Coors Field, though he has also seen his FIP rise to 4.12 on the back of a troubling dip in his strikeout numbers against recent seasons (6.4 K/9 this year after averaging 7.9 K/9 over prior four campaigns).


AL East Notes: Robertson, Lester, Barnes, Pompey, Byrd

The Yankees and standout closer David Robertson haven’t had any discussions about a contract extension, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his daily blog (Insider subscription required/recommended). The free-agent-to-be could end up being hit with a qualifying offer this winter, Olney writes, and given the declining willingness teams have shown to pay big money for relievers, he could be inclined to take the deal. Doing so would give the Yankees an elite arm at a decent price without assuming any long-term risk.

More from Olney’s blog and the rest of the AL East…

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington hasn’t made a formal offer to Jon Lester since the four-year, $70MM pact the team offered in Spring Training. Cherington wouldn’t be doing his due diligence if he didn’t at least listen to offers for his ace, in order to gauge whether or not a club like the Dodgers would offer up a top prospect like Joc Pederson or Corey Seager, Olney continues.
  • Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes things a step further, writing that it is time for the Red Sox to trade Lester. MacPherson notes that the lack of a competitive offer shows a clear unwillingness to take that type of risk on the organization’s part. If the team wasn’t willing to go to $100MM or so in Spring Training, MacPherson asks, why then, would it vault into Zack Greinke territory by offering a market value extension or free agent contract? Collecting a draft pick and letting Lester walk is a “timid half-measure,” MacPherson concludes.
  • The Blue Jays have shown interest in Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. However, while the Jays have scouted Barnes extensively, they’ve yet to put together an offer.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports (via Twitter) that Blue Jays top prospect Dalton Pompey has changed representation and is now a client of CAA Sports. The toolsy center fielder hit his way onto Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospect list, ranking 47th overall.
  • While the Yankees are focused on adding pitcher, John Harper of the New York Daily News opines that the team should turn its focus to Marlon Byrd. Injuries to Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira have left Brett Gardner looking like the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, Harper writes, and Byrd has more homers than the entire outfield of Ichiro Suzuki, Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury combined. While there’s been no indication that the Yanks are interested, one executive tells Harper that GM Brian Cashman has gotten very good at keeping acquisitions under wraps.

Athletics Acquire Deck McGuire

The A’s announced that they have acquired right-hander Deck McGuire from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations. The former first-round pick was designated for assignment last week.

McGuire struggled in his first exposure to Triple-A at age 25, posting a 5.56 ERA in 55 innings with 6.2 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. The promotion to the highest level of the minors came after McGuire posted a 2.98 ERA over 60 1/3 innings in his fourth go at Double-A.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.