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.


Latest On Rusney Castillo

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.


Phillies Outright Jeff Manship

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

  • 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.


Cards, O’s Among Clubs With Interest In Kurt Suzuki

The Cardinals and Orioles are among the teams that have interest in acquiring Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Both clubs have seen their starting catchers go down with significant injuries, as Matt Wieters is out for the season following Tommy John surgery, while Yadier Molina is out through mid-to-late September with a torn ligament in his thumb.

Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press recently reported that the Twins have had extension talks with Suzuki, but the two sides are far apart. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported yesterday that the first-time All-Star was looking for salaries commensurate with those achieved by Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia this past offseason — a significant step up from the one-year, $2.75MM deal that Suzuki inked with Minnesota over the winter.

It’s not a shock to see Suzuki ask for a sizable raise, nor is it surprising to see clubs with a need behind the plate showing interest. The 30-year-old is enjoying one of the finest seasons of his career, batting .308/.367/.393 with a pair of homers in 331 plate appearances. Suzuki’s contract contains $500K of performance incentives, per Berardino, but even if it’s assumed that he maxes out his earning potential, he’d be owed roughly $1.17MM from now through season’s end — an affordable sum for nearly any contender (Minnesota could, of course, simply pay the remaining salary to make him that much more enticing to clubs).

Currently, the Cardinals are using the light-hitting Tony Cruz behind the plate, while the Orioles have gone with a combination of rookie Caleb Joseph and trade acquisition Nick Hundley.


Yankees Designate Chris Leroux For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they’ve selected the contract of the recently acquired Chris Capuano and designated right-hander Chris Leroux for assignment.

Leroux’s most recent callup with the Yankees lasted just a day, and he didn’t appear with the club during last night’s contest. The Canadian righty allowed five runs in two innings with the Bombers earlier this season and has pitched to a 5.08 ERA with a 23-to-10 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.

The 30-year-old Leroux has a fair amount of Major League experience (71 2/3 innings), highlighted by 25 innings of 2.88 ERA ball with a 24-to-7 K/BB ratio for the Pirates back in 2011.


Mets Would Pay Some Of Colon’s Salary In Trade

The Mets are willing to absorb roughly $2MM of Bartolo Colon‘s remaining salary in order to facilitate a trade, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Colon, who earns $9MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015, has about $14.25MM remaining on his contract at this time.

However, Martino also reports that the growing sense is that if Colon is to be moved this month, it won’t happen until just before the deadline. Many teams consider him a fallback option if they are unable to acquire the likes of David Price, Ian Kennedy and Cliff Lee. The overall price tag on Colon will have dropped to about $13.95MM at that point, meaning that an interested club would have to take on about $11.95MM of salary for eight months of Colon’s pitching (not including any postseason innings, of course).

General manager Sandy Alderson isn’t desperate to move Colon, Martino notes, so if he doesn’t find an offer to his liking in the next week, he can simply hang onto Colon, as he did with Marlon Byrd last summer. (Byrd was eventually dealt to the Pirates in August.) The Mets are willing to wait until August, or even the offseason, to move the veteran right-hander, Martino writes. If the Mets really don’t feel any pressure to trade Colon at this time, it’s fair to wonder just how much Alderson would be willing to budge from that $2MM figure (one would assume, of course, that the Mets would be comfortable eating more salary if the other team paid a greater price in terms of prospects).

Colon’s ERA has spiked from 2.65 in 2013 to 4.03 in 2014, though some metrics — xFIP (3.72 in ’14, 3.95 in ’13) and SIERA (3.76 in ’14, 4.10 in ’13) — feel he’s actually been better than he was last season. That’s likely due to an uptick in his strikeout rate and a slight improvement in his already outstanding walk rate. Colon struggled through his first six weeks with the Mets but has turned in a 2.98 ERA with a 62-to-14 K/BB ratio over his past 84 2/3 innings (12 starts).


Amaro: Phillies Have Not Considered Releasing Howard

FRIDAY: Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “emphatically” denied reports suggesting that the team was considering a release of Howard, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury“That is not something we are contemplating,” Amaro told Salisbury. “I don’t know where that’s coming from.” Later in the interview, Amaro repeated that releasing Howard “has not been a thought” and added that Howard “should have no concerns” about being released.

Amaro did note that a platoon situation was a possibility if it improved the club’s production, but he said his real hope was to get Howard’s bat back on track. “I don’t expect him to be the Ryan Howard of 2006, 2007, 2008,” said Amaro. “What we expect is him to perform better than he is. I know he’s a better player than this.”

THURSDAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has some additional details on Philadelphia’s efforts to deal Howard. The club has shopped him, indicating that it would eat “much or most” of his remaining salary. Rival executives say that Philly is working hard to line up a match.

As Heyman notes, an American League team would seem most likely to add the former MVP, and two GMs told him yesterday that Howard was probably worth between $3MM and $5MM annually at this point. (Though presumably that does not mean that a multi-year commitment at that price would be desirable.)

WEDNESDAY: As his struggles worsen, the Phillies have had internal discussions about releasing one-time star first baseman Ryan Howard after the season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Howard is owed the rest of his $25MM salary this season and comes with $60MM in future guarantees.

It does not appear that the club has reached any finality in regards to Howard’s future. The possibility of a trade has been explored, but Philadelphia has not found another club interested in taking on any substantial part of Howard’s contract. That is not surprising, of course, given that the 34-year-old is slashing a career-low .224/.305/.377 through 417 plate appearances on the year.

Now, with Howard’s decline becoming more pronounced, Philadelphia appears set to give more playing time to younger first base option Darin Ruf, who was recalled today. Manager Ryne Sandberg did not call it a platoon situation, but suggested as much. “As far as the lineup, that will be a day-to-day thing,” he said. “I think it’s important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward,” the skipper added.

Howard signed his extension at the start of the 2010 season, coming off of a four-year run in which he put up a composite .278/.379/.589 line and hit 198 home runs. Though he continued to produce at an above-average clip at the plate for two more seasons, things began to head south when he tore his Achilles tendon while making the last out of the team’s Game 5 loss in the 2011 NLDS. (That, of course, was also the Phils’ most recent postseason game.) Since that time, Howard — long considered a substandard fielder and baserunner – has mustered only 917 trips to the plate and owns an OPS that falls below league average.


Mariners Have Made Offer For Drew Stubbs

FRIDAY: The Mariners made a formal offer to the Rockies for Stubbs earlier this week, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Groke, like Morosi and Harding, hears that the Rockies aren’t actively looking to deal Stubbs.

THURSDAY, 9:41pm: There are no talks ongoing regarding Stubbs, Harding reports, but sources tell him that increased activity on the outfielder could occur over the coming week.

7:02pm: The Mariners have inquired with the Rockies about the possibility of acquiring outfielder Drew Stubbs, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Colorado is willing to listen on Stubbs, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com, and would be interested in bringing back a controllable young arm in return.

Stubbs, 29, has played exclusively in center field with the Rockies, though he also has experience in right. He has posted a career-best .297/.335/.498 slash with ten home runs an 11 stolen bases in 258 plate appearances. That comes on the heels of three straight seasons of below-average production with the Reds and Indians, however, which led to his being dealt to the Rockies from the latter club in exchange for southpaw reliever Josh Outman.

The right-handed hitting Stubbs is earning $4.1MM through arbitration this year and should be in line for a nice raise in 2015, his final season of arb eligibility. That contract situation limits his trade value, of course. Colorado is not yet sure if they would like to part with Stubbs, Morosi adds. Of course, he is part of a fairly crowded outfield situation at present, particularly given reports that the club would like to bring back veteran Michael Cuddyer.


Jimmy Rollins’ Option To Vest Tonight

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.


NL Notes: Tulowitzki, Murphy, De La Rosa, Burnett, Nationals, Marlins, Dodgers

The Rockies are not prepared to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at present (not least of which because he is on the DL), but the Mets have reached out to indicate that they would be interested if he is marketed, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. A National League executive tells Sherman that he thinks the Mets could match up well given their young pitching depth and Colorado’s need for the same. On the other hand, sources tell Sherman that the Cardinals think very highly of the star shortstop and would give up a substantial haul to add him. And of course, Sherman also notes, Tulowitzki would have a wider market given his top-tier abilities.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has drawn recent trade interest, sources tell Marc Carig of Newsday. It still seems likely that Murphy will remain in New York, however, according to Carig.
  • The Rockies could be willing to listen on current closer LaTroy Hawkins and starter Jorge De La Rosa, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. One team that has been connected to De La Rosa is the Orioles, though Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that talks have not progressed given Colorado’s high asking price of top prospect Kevin Gausman. Harding says that the Rockies do have interest in other Baltimore minor leaguers, including lefty Tim Berry, rising prospect Hunter Harvey, and righties Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson.
  • The Pirates‘ interest in Phillies righty A.J. Burnett is “mild at best,” according to Heyman. And that is even before addressing the issue of Burnett’s 2015 player option, which seems likely to rise through escalators to $12.75MM. Neither the Orioles nor the Yankees appear to be interested in Burnett, Heyman adds.
  • There are varying reports coming out of Washington, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Some clubs have indicated that the Nationals are looking for a second baseman and left-handed reliever. But the Nats themselves have said that they are merely fielding inquiries from teams offering second baggers and would only look to pick up a southpaw pen piece if they can upgrade the team’s current options. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, likewise, tweets that an executive of one selling team sees the Nationals as pursuing multiple possibilities, with a particular focus on adding relief pitching.
  • The Marlins are looking to add players that will contribute this year and in the future, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. The Fish are not currently shopping their veterans, Bowden adds. In an opinion piece, Rosenthal writes that the club should trade star Giancarlo Stanton sooner rather than later to maximize its return, opining that the team is unlikely to sign him to a long-term deal.
  • The Dodgers have continued to look for additional set-up arms for the bullpen, tweets Bowden, but finding a match is complicated by the fact that three of the most obvious sellers also reside in the NL West. Meanwhile, the club has long been said to be interested in adding a starter. Given the recent struggles of Dan Haren, his spot in the rotation (rather than that of Josh Beckett) could be the one that is turned over, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports.

AL Notes: Hamels, Peavy, Yanks, Masterson, Tigers, Angels

Here’s the latest out of the American League:

  • The Red Sox could be involved as both buyers and sellers, according to reports from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark (Twitter links). After inquiring with the Phillies on lefty Cole Hamels, Philadelphia has sent scouts to watch Boston’s Double-A affiliate. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have sent their own “top scouts” to take a look at the Cardinals‘ New York-Penn League club over the last few days, suggesting that a deal sending Jake Peavy to St. Louis could still be in the offing.
  • Though recent reports may (to some extent) suggest otherwise, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said earlier today that the team’s priority at this point is to add an “offensive piece,” as Bryan Hoch and Jake Kring-Schreifels of MLB.com report“It still feels like the pitching needs more help, but honestly, the offense has been consistently poor throughout the entire year.” Cashman added that, while second base prospect Rob Refsnyder could be the team’s “second baseman of the future, maybe as early as next year,” he would potentially only see time in the outfield at the MLB level this year and would not represent an immediate upgrade over incumbent Brian Roberts at the keystone.
  • Justin Masterson of the Indians may still be working through a rehab assignment, but that has not stopped teams from inquiring as to his availability, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. Hoynes writes that the interest in Masterson suggests both that the trade market for starters is wanting for quality and that teams value players differently, with some potentially willing to bet on a return to the righty’s results from 2013. Of course, as manager Terry Francona notes, a healthy and productive Masterson could also provide a significant boost to Cleveland’s own chances.
  • As they peruse the market from the buy side, the Indians are looking for players with future control rather than rentals, tweets ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden. That is unsurprising, given the team’s careful resource management and somewhat long postseason odds.
  • We learned earlier today that the Tigers are expected to pursue a left-handed reliever. The club does not appear to be in the market for a left-handed hitting outfielder or an infielder to play on the left side, as Chris Iott of MLive.com reports“I don’t know that either one of them would be real high on our priority list at this point,” said GM Dave Dombrowski.
  • The Angels are unlikely to deal for a starter in advance of the trade deadline, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Though the club has some payroll available to make an addition, it is hesitant to ship out more prospects after a series of recent moves.

Blue Jays Outright Brad Mills To Triple-A

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Blue Jays have outrighted lefty Brad Mills to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. Mills was designated for assignment after making just one rough outing for Toronto, which claimed him off waivers from the Athletics. Mills will have the opportunity to elect free agency.

Yankees Exploring Trades For Ian Kennedy, Jorge De La Rosa

10:21pm: The Yankees are also having discussions with the Rockies regarding starter Jorge De La Rosa, Bowden tweets.

10:09pm: The Yankees do have interest in Kennedy, but do not intend to give up both Jagielo and Clarkin for him, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Heyman adds that there is “nothing hot at all” between the clubs at present.

Bowden adds (via Twitter) that a team executive informs him that Cashman has had discussions with many teams with potentially available starters.

10:02pm: The Yankees and Padres are discussing a deal that would send starter Ian Kennedy to New York in exchange for prospects Eric Jagielo and Ian Clarkin, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that San Diego was disinclined to deal Kennedy unless it received an overwhelming offer.

Kennedy has been solid for the Padres this year after coming over from the Diamondbacks mid-year last season. Over 135 1/3 innings, he owns a 3.66 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB.9 and a career-best 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. The 29-year-old is making $6.1MM this year and will pass through arbitration one more time before hitting the open market.

Jagielo and Clarkin were both first-round selections last year for New York. Jagielo, a third baseman, has slashed .243/.321/.470 through 209 plate appearances this year at age 22. Clarkin, meanwhile, is a 19-year-old southpaw who has pitched to a 3.36 ERA through 61 2/3 innings at low-A, notching 9.9 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.


Twins, Suzuki Far Apart In Extension Talks

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.


Padres GM Finalists Are Preller, Hazen, Eppler, Ng

JULY 24: The Padres have interviewed Ng again, the club announced. That would appear to complete the team’s second round of chats.

JULY 23, 8:50pm: Taking his second interview today was Eppler, according to a tweet from the San Diego Union Tribune.

11:04am: The Padres have completed a second interview with Hazen as well, the team announced (h/t: MLB.com’s Corey Brock on Twitter).

JULY 22: The Padres announced late last night that they have officially completed a second interview with Preller.

JULY 20th: Jim Bowden of ESPN (on Twitter) hears from a league source that Eppler and Preller have moved into the lead.

JULY 17th: The Padres have narrowed their list of candidates for the club’s open GM position with intentions of conducting second interviews next week, reports Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). Among the candidates for the GM office, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen could be the favorite, according to a report from Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

According to Miller, the finalists are Hazen, Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, and MLB executive Kim Ng. It appears from that list that the club has every intention of handing the reins over to a somewhat younger option who has never occupied the head baseball operations role.

Reports have indicated, however, that the club could look to bring back former GM Kevin Towers in a senior adviser role if he is dumped by the D’backs. Click here to read a recent round-up of the San Diego front office search.