The Red Sox and Scott Boras haven't discussed an extension for Jacoby Ellsbury so far this season, sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The outfielder will be eligible to hit the open market after the 2013 campaign.
Ellsbury is earning $9MM in his walk year after going through his final arbitration-eligible offseason. The outfielder is off to a slow start through 45 games this season, and some have openly wondered if the distraction of his impending free agency is partly responsible for his .242/.307/.335 slash line.
The 29-year-old, who ranks third on Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings, will have to pick things up if he hopes to cash in this winter. Ellsbury is hoping for a repeat of his amazing 2011 season where he hit .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers and 39 steals with a career high 732 plate appearances. ESPN's Buster Olney recently wrote that it would "be a crusher" to Ellsbury if he continues at his current trajectory, noting that he could have pushed for a $100MM contract with a return to those 2011 numbers.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Yankees have turned reclamation projects such as Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells into a 1.5 game lead over the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. They'll face the rival Orioles today as Hiroki Kuroda heads to the mound. Here's more on Kuroda and the Bronx Bombers for your Wednesday morning reading...
- Kuroda has quietly become one of the best free agent signings in Yankees history, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. Kuroda wasn't even the top Yankees headline on the day he signed, Costa notes, as that contract came on the same day as the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade. However, Kuroda's dominance on one-year deals with no long-term risk makes him an incredible value.
- The success of the non-Mariano Rivera members of the Yankees' bullpen will help Hal Steinbrenner come close to achieving his goal of getting under the $189MM luxury tax threshhold in 2014, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. David Robertson should have the first crack as Rivera's successor, but beyond his salary, the Yankees will have little in the way of payroll commitment in the bullpen. Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan all figure to be off the books, and the Yankees have solid in-house alternatives.
- David Adams is a rarity among the current crop of Yankees, writes Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, as he was drafted and developed by the organization rather than acquired via free agency or trade. Cacciola spoke with Adams and manager Joe Girardi about the 26-year-old's recent promotion.
The Orioles made headlines last night by announcing the promotion of Kevin Gausman to the Majors. Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, reached Double-A as a 22-year-old and posted a 3.11 ERA with a 49-to-5 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings there. With that promotion, Gausman becomes the first member of last year's first round to make it to the Majors. Among 2012 first-rounders, only four other players have even reached the Double-A level to this point.
Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners at No. 3 overall, has reached Triple-A, but the catcher is hitting just .220/.290/.496 through 33 games in Tacoma. Given the Mariners' need for offense, however, he could be a hot streak away. Promoting him would allow the Mariners to use Jesus Montero at DH, but that only adds to a roster crunch of corner OF/1B/DH types in Seattle.
Right-hander Michael Wacha, the No. 19 overall selection by the Cardinals, has also reached Triple-A. He's posted a 2.05 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 52 2/3 innings for the Memphis Redbirds to open the season, and the Cardinals have some injury problems in their rotation with Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook on the shelf. For now, they've gone with John Gast and Tyler Lyons over Wacha.
Marcus Stroman's 50-game suspension for a positive stimulant has finished, and the Blue Jays right-hander made a strong debut at Double-A with five scoreless innings in a start. Many pegged the Duke product to be the quickest first rounder to reach the Majors last year, and Baseball America's Ben Badler wrote Sunday that it "shouldn't take him long" before he's big league ready.
James Ramsey, the Cardinals' other selection (No. 23), is the only other player from the first round to reach Double-A or higher thus far. As an outfielder, he has an uphill battle to reach the Major Leagues given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran and top prospect Oscar Taveras within the Cardinals organization. He's a huge long shot, but he's advanced further than most college players from the first round already.
Let's open this up to a poll...
The Orioles are calling up right-hander Kevin Gausman, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gausman will make his big league debut on Thursday night, taking the mound against the Blue Jays.
Gausman ranked No. 26 on both Baseball America's and Keith Law's prospect rankings for ESPN, while MLB.com listed him ten spots lower at No. 36. Prior to the season, BA wrote that Gausman's "aptitude and intelligence help set him apart." The youngster, who is second only to Dylan Bundy in Baltimore's system, is praised by BA for his premium fastball and changeup.
If he sticks on the O's roster, Gausman could potentially gain Super Two status and trigger arbitration a year early. Had the the Orioles waited until mid-June or later to promote the pitcher, they could have avoided the possibility of him becoming a Super Two player after the 2015 season. For now, the 22-year-old is slated to be under team control through 2019.
Jose Canseco will be joining the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League, the team announced. Canseco will serve as a player-coach during the team's opening home stand against the Edinburg Roadrunners, managed by Jose's twin brother Ozzie. This isn't Canseco's first go-around in an independent league, as the 48-year-old has appeared for clubs in several circuits since completing a 17-year big league career. Here is tonight's look around the rest of the baseball world..
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune and other reporters discussed the state of the White Sox with GM Rick Hahn. "We're not going to change that path and will focus on this season until it's readily apparent that we have to change our focus," said Hahn, regarding the decision to buy or sell as the season progresses. The White Sox are currently 20-23, good for fourth in the AL Central.
- While the Reds have looked to add some balance to their lefty-heavy lineup, the market is not to their liking, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "There is really nobody out there that would make much of a difference. We’re just biding our time to see what happens," said General Manager Walt Jocketty.
- In his latest mailbag, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was asked about potential trade targets for the Red Sox, including a possible closer upgrade. While the ninth inning is a concern, the club will fully want to test out Andrew Bailey before making a major trade for established reliever. Cafardo has heard baseball people speculate that the club could be interested in reacquiring Jonathan Papelbon, but they'll focus on what they already have first.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still optimistic about the club's offense, but acknowledges some concerns in an interview with Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked about possible moves to remedy under-performance and injury, Amaro said the team has looked to improve but cited a lack of activity around the league, "I don’t think a lot of teams feel like they know what they have yet, so you’re not seeing anything more than waiver-wire claims."
Here's a look at the latest out of the National League East..
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Cliff Lee's professional, unemotional view on trades has served him well. The 34-year-old left-hander could be a popular trade target if the Philles end up as sellers at the deadline, but that apparently doesn't bother Lee. "Normally, if you're traded you go from a team that's not in a good situation to a team that's winning,'' the veteran said.
- The Nationals will have some interesting roster decisions to make regarding their infield, suggests Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal argues that because of last winter's two-year deal for Adam LaRoche, the club will have difficulty in finding a spot for top prospect Anthony Rendon, with his natural position taken by Ryan Zimmerman. Rendon, who has played at second base of late, has a bat that "should make him an impact big leaguer" according to Baseball America.
- The Mets have discussed demoting Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Jordany Valdespin, according to Andy Martino of NYDailyNews.com. Though there is nothing to suggest that the club would demote the struggling trio all in one fell swoop, Martino argues that the Mets need to make just such a move in order to best move forward.
Max Fogle contributed to this post.
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The Yankees will now be partners in a new Major League Soccer franchise, as announced on MLB.com. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York -- and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy," stated Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. This isn't the Bombers' first foray into the world of soccer as they had a marketing partnership with Manchester United during their "YankeeNets" phase. Here's a look at tonight's other news from the American League East..
- Ben Francisco's days with the Yankees may be coming to an end, opines Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog. The 31-year-old outfielder has struggled to provide an impact in New York, hitting for just a .114/220/.182 line in 50 plate appearances so far this season.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has not played as the Red Sox would have hoped in his contract year, notes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber compares Ellsbury to Red Sox teammates Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, as both performed below expectations during their final seasons before hitting free agency. Ellsbury is off to a .241/.303/.335 start in a league-leading 208 PA.
- Lauber also discusses how the two-year, $10MM deal Jonny Gomes signed with the Red Sox has affected the outfielder. While Gomes has gotten off to a slow start in 2013, Lauber argues that the security of a multiyear deal has helped the 32-year-old focus on providing leadership to younger Red Sox players.
The Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate announced the release of Miguel Batista, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (on Twitter). The 42-year-old right-hander had signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays back in April. Batista struggled to establish himself in Triple-A Buffalo however, pitching to an 8.36 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 over 28 innings.
In 2012, Batista posted a 4.61 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9 in 52 and 2/3 innings with both the Braves and the Mets. The 18-year veteran was hoping to return to Toronto after last pitching for the club in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Batista owns a career 4.48 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 1956 and 1/3 innings.
The latest minor moves...
- The Rangers plan to purchase the contract of lefty reliever Neal Cotts if tonight's game is played, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The 33-year-old hasn't seen big league action since 2009, but he's been dominant in 23 Triple-A innings this year. The Rangers already have an open spot on their 40-man roster for him.
- The Hanshin Tigers have a basic agreement with righty reliever Blaine Boyer, according to Sanspo (via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker). Boyer, 31, pitched 15 relief innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate before exercising his out clause to pursue the opportunity in Japan.
- The Mariners signed 17-year-old Brazilian righty Daniel Missaki, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler notes that he was the youngest player in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
- The Athletics announced that first baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, after he was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot for Chris Young. He's earning $1.1MM this year, which may have limited interest. Barton led the American League in walks as a 24-year-old in 2010, but has battled injuries since. He's still a walk machine at Triple-A, though, with a .422 OBP through 128 plate appearances.
- The Angels outrighted outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple-A yesterday, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Cousins had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Chris Nelson.
- The Yankees outrighted infielder Alberto Gonzalez to Triple-A yesterday, according to the International League transactions page. Gonzalez had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Reid Brignac.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jon Rauch of the Marlins, Derek Lowe of the Rangers, and Michael Bowden of the Cubs. Rauch and Lowe figure to be released by their clubs in the coming days, while Bowden will have to decide whether to accept an outright assignment if he clears waivers.
The latest on the draft, which is just over two weeks away...
- Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea was pulled from today's game due to injury before throwing a pitch, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The problem relates to the same hip issue that has plagued him this spring in conjunction with shoulder stiffness and Manaea could possibly pitch on Saturday instead, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com tweets. The left-hander is one of the top prospects in this year's draft.
- The outfielders in this year's draft have tremendous potential, Mayo writes. Georgia high schoolers Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows are the top outfielders in this year's class and they both offer different skill sets. One scouting director noted that while he is impressed with Frazier's strength, he is high on both players and is confident that they will be off the board inside of the first 12 picks.
- Click here to see who will be representing each team at the draft.
- ESPN's Keith Law redrafted the 2003 draft, taking Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler, and Aaron Hill with the first three picks rather than the reality of Delmon Young, Rickie Weeks, and Kyle Sleeth for the Rays, Brewers, and Tigers. Be sure to check out the entire redraft article.
Click below to read the transcript of today's chat with Tim Dierkes.
The Cubs claimed reliever Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the Cardinals, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards moved Sanchez off the 40-man roster to create a spot for Tyler Lyons, who will start tomorrow in place of Jaime Garcia. The addition will put the Cubs' 40-man roster count at 39, as Michael Bowden was designated for assignment today to open an active roster spot for Matt Garza. Sanchez will report to Triple-A Iowa for the Cubs.
Sanchez, 24, has a 3.40 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 0.60 HR/9 in 45 big league innings spanning 2011-12. Signed out of Venezuela in '05, the hard-throwing righty spent some time closing for the Cardinals as a rookie in '11, but later landed on the DL for a shoulder strain. He bounced up and down last year and has missed time this year with a forearm strain, making nine appearances at Triple-A. Even before his big league debut, Baseball America noted, "durability remains his biggest concern, as his small frame leaves some scouts wondering how his stuff will hold up at the major league level."
TUESDAY: As expected, Bowden has been designated for assignment, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.
SUNDAY: The Cubs will designate Michael Bowden for assignment, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald reports (on Twitter). The move clears space on the Cubs' active roster for Matt Garza, who had been out with a strained lat. Garza's return will bump Carlos Villanueva to the Cubs' bullpen, which is why the Cubs need to jettison a reliever.
Bowden, 26, has pitched in 14 games out of the Cubs' bullpen in 2013, with a 3.78 ERA, 3.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. In parts of six seasons with the Cubs and Red Sox, he has a 4.47 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
Jose Altuve's fling with the Boras Corporation has ended. The Astros' second baseman recently left Boras and signed with Scott Pucino and Wil Polidor of Octagon, where he had been before, reported MLB.com's Brian McTaggart last night. Though Altuve was with Boras for about a year, the switch went under the radar.
"It's not our business," commented Astros GM Jeff Luhnow regarding his players' choice of agency. Asked last week about extending Altuve, Luhnow said, "We'll consider any opportunity to keep him here over the long haul." Boras clients rarely sign team-friendly extensions early in their careers. As far as I can tell, a Boras client has never signed a deal that bought out free agent years with less than two years of big league service, and the only such deal with a Boras client with less than three years was Carlos Gonzalez's precedent-setting contract in January 2011. Bottom line: the switch back to Octagon increases the chances of the Astros getting a deal done, if they're so inclined.
Altuve, 23, is hitting .327/.361/.430 in 180 plate appearances this season and is bidding to represent the Astros at the All-Star game for the second consecutive year. He'll have two years of Major League service time after the season. Alcides Escobar (four years, $10.5MM) and Cameron Maybin (five years, $25MM) may provide a few imperfect points of reference, having signed as low-power players with two-plus years of service. Altuve's resume should look better than those comps, given his strong batting averages and the potential pair of All-Star nods. Perhaps he can get around $30MM on a five-year deal. The Astros have some leverage, however, as home run and RBI power pays in arbitration, and that's not Altuve's game (though he could knock in 70 this year). Plus, he won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2014 season and is under team control through 2017, so there's no reason for Luhnow to make a player-friendly offer.