Diamondbacks Discussing Aroldis Chapman With Reds

The Diamondbacks have engaged in discussions with the Reds regarding ace closer Aroldis Chapman, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Cincinnati has a “huge” asking price and the chats could just be “due diligence,” per the report.

Regardless of how serious the interest is between the two sides, it’s notable that Arizona is looking into a deal. We heard yesterday that the team inquired on Cole Hamels of the Phillies, another notably available trade piece who comes with future control.

Arizona has control over current closer Brad Ziegler through a 2016 club option, but it would not be the only team that would love to add Chapman regardless of the team’s present 9th-inning situation. He’s arguably established himself as the best closer in baseball, and with another year of arbitration to go he’s a valuable commodity.

Considering Arizona’s interest in both Hamels and Chapman, it seems that the club is at least entertaining the idea of putting some impact pieces in place that would give it an outside shot at contention this year while also providing future value. We’ve heard of similar approaches being weighed by other clubs, and the D’Backs certainly do appear to have some future salary capacity to make that kind of move work.

That being said, investing in a relief piece is always a risky proposition, and Chapman will certainly not come cheap. Spending big on a closer (in both prospects and dollars) has already arguably cost the D’backs once in recent memory. Addison Reed, who was a major trade acquisition of the prior front office, has been playing at Triple-A as he tries to work out his struggles.


Red Sox Claim Jean Machi From Giants

The Red Sox announced that they have claimed right-handed reliever Jean Machi off waivers from the Giants. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Clay Buchholz has been transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL, meaning he can’t be activated until at least Sept. 9 (h/t: Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, on Twitter).

The 33-year-old Machi had a somewhat surprising breakout season in San Francisco’s bullpen in 2013, and over the ’13-’14 seasons he totaled a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 119 1/3 innings of relief. However, he’s struggled a good deal in 2015, with an ERA of 5.14 in addition to K/9 and BB/9 rates that have taken significant steps backwards. He’s also missed about three weeks due to a groin strain.

On the plus side for Machi, his velocity (92.6 mph) is still about the same as it was in previous seasons. His ground-ball rate, while down a bit, is still an above-average 49.6 percent. The Red Sox will hope that the strong 119 1/3 innings he displayed from 2013-14 are more indicative of his talent level than the 35 poor innings he’s delivered in 2015. Machi figures to be a Super Two player this winter, as he’ll finish the year with two years, 154 days of big league service if he remains on Boston’s big league roster all year. The Sox will have the ability to control him through the 2019 season if he can rediscover the successful form he showed in recent seasons.


Phillies Expect To Trade Papelbon; Nationals “Making Progress” On Deal

2:15pm: Talks between the Nationals and Phillies are “very complicated” and the sides still have plenty to work out, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.

11:53am: A source tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that Papelbon “will be traded” at the deadline.

10:31am: The Nationals are making progress on a deal that would bring closer Jonathan Papelbon to D.C. from the rival Phillies, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. It’s unclear how far off the teams are from reaching agreement, let alone what kind of return is under contemplation.

There had been indications that Papelbon’s market was cooling, but it seems that action has kicked back into gear in recent days. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that he’s been left with the impression that the team is confident in getting some kind of deal done involving the controversial closer.

With Philadelphia reportedly amenable to covering some of Papelbon’s costs — which include a $13MM salary this year and a $13MM option for 2016 that will soon vest — he’s a good fit for a Nationals team that is said to be disinclined to absorb salary in the middle of the year. But Philly’s willingness to pay down some obligations also makes Papelbon palatable to other clubs. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted yesterday that the Blue Jays and Cubs have also expressed keen interest in the veteran righty.



Royals Acquire Ben Zobrist

The Royals have officially acquired Athletics utilityman Ben Zobrist, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Young hurlers Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea are the two pieces heading back to the A’s, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter link) were first to report. Kansas City will also pick up over $2MM, which covers a large piece of Zobrist’s remaining salary, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Jul 26, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Ben Zobrist (18) crosses home plate after an rbi single by third baseman Brett Lawrie (not pictured) during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY SportsThe deal delivers the second major rental piece heading to Kansas City this summer, as the club already picked up Johnny Cueto from the Reds. After dealing a trio of young arms to get Cueto, and now agreeing to send out two more to add Zobrist, Kansas City is firmly committed to winning this year. The club surprised the baseball world with its World Series run last year, narrowly missing out on a championship, and obviously decided that the time to win was the present after a strong first half in 2015.

In Zobrist, the Royals have added a uniquely valuable asset who can help the team in several ways. Star outfielder Alex Gordon is still working back from a significant groin strain, creating a need in left field. And the club has received less-than-sterling results from Omar Infante at second. Presumably, Zobrist will move between those positions — as he has for much of his career — depending upon needs and matchups.

Zobrist was perhaps the most hotly pursued player in the league this year, as he looked to be a strong fit for multiple contenders and is only owed the balance of a $7.5MM salary this season. At 34 years of age and set to hit the market after the season, he’s a pure win-now rental.

Despite playing half of his game’s in Oakland’s cavernous ballpark, Zobrist has increased his power output after a down 2014 in that department. He’s also rebounded nicely after getting out of the gate slowly and dealing with injuries. All told, Zobrist owns a .268/.354/.447 slash over 271 turns at bat on the year, with six home runs. Those figures land right at his career mark of .264/.354/.430, so Kansas City will feel comfortable that they are still likely to receive typically strong work at the plate.

There are some additional concerns on the defensive side of the ledger, however. Zobrist has shuttled between the corner outfield and infield this year, as usual, but has been rated as a negative contributor in both positions by advanced metrics. But the Royals will surely feel comfortable utilizing him in either role the rest of the way, based upon his past record as a highly-regarded fielder.

Kansas City has certainly paid a considerable price to add Zobrist, after doing the same to bring in Cueto. Manaea came into the year rated the club’s third overall prospect by Baseball America, just behind the since-dealt Brandon Finnegan, and landed on many top-100 lists. He’s generally shown well since his draft position fell owing to a hip injury, leading to surgery, which allowed K.C. to grab him with an above-slot deal. Manaea earned a promotion to Double-A this season, but has struggled in two outings at that level. All said, he’s missed some time and thrown 31 2/3 total minor league frames on the year, posting a 3.69 ERA with 11.1 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9. There’s plenty of upside to dream on, but he’ll have a lot to show in Oakland.

Brooks, meanwhile, is a 25-year-old righty who has seen brief MLB action in each of the last two seasons. He’s spent most of his time in those campaigns at Triple-A, however, posting a cumulative 3.81 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 over 245 2/3 innings. Brooks seems like more of a depth add than the more variable, headlining Manaea.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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Rockies Prepared To Deal Carlos Gonzalez

12:58pm: Gonzalez hasn’t been a “point of emphasis” for the Angels, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets, though he notes that the market continues to shift. Los Angeles is looking more for “incremental” improvements in left field.

The club’s addition of Shane Victorino yesterday seemingly put one half of a platoon in place. While the left-handed-hitting Matt Joyce theoretically could make up the other side of that equation, he’s struggled badly this year and it seems that the Halos are still interested in another option.

8:36am: After agreeing to deal franchise icon Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies plan to shop fellow star Carlos Gonzalez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports“They expect to move him,” a rival GM tells Heyman.

[RELATED: Trade Market For Corner Outfielders]

That isn’t exactly surprising to hear after last night’s Tulo agreement, but it’s nevertheless notable to see CarGo set to hit the block. While he had not looked himself since the start of last season, Gonzalez has steadily improved all year and has been on fire of late.

It remains somewhat unclear what kind of market he’ll have, particularly given his recent injury and performance concerns. Gonzalez is earning a $16MM salary this year and $37MM in total over the next two. That’s a bargain if he’s a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat, and hardly an unworkable sum for most teams, but there’s still plenty of risk. Heyman notes that clubs such as the Mets, Angels, and Orioles all line up as theoretical fits for Gonzalez.


Athletics “Deep” In Talks On Ben Zobrist, Could Strike Deal Soon

The Athletics appear to be engaged in “deep” discussions on utilityman Ben Zobrist, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports on Twitter. A deal could come together soon for the veteran rental piece, per the report.

Recent sales of Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard have placed Zobrist squarely on the block for Oakland, and we heard yesterday that he was likely the next piece to be moved. That’s not a major surprise, but one interesting development on the A’s side is the team’s decision to pursue lower-level minor leaguers in its two prior deals. GM Billy Beane cited the Astros model of stockpiling young talent in discussing his recent trades.

Zobrist has drawn interest from a wide array of teams, which is not surprising given his long track record of production, exceptional versatility, and affordable salary ($7.5MM this year). The 34-year-old will become a free agent after the year and looks like an amply reasonable qualifying offer candidate, so the return will presumably need to beat whatever value the A’s place on the draft pick they’d stand to recoup (assuming an offer would be extended and rejected).

Since an injury-filled and less-than-impressive start to the year, Zobrist has turned things on of late. All told, he’s slashing .268/.354/.447, good for a 122 OPS+ with half of his games being played in the O.co Coliseum. Though he has drawn unusually negative defensive ratings from UZR and Defensive Runs Saved, teams will probably place more stock in his history and current scouting reports.

Among the teams named as possible suitors, per recent reports, are the Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Yankees, and Cubs. The Mets had been seen as a possible trade partner, but seemingly passed on that opportunity in dealing for other infield and outfield options before nabbing Clippard yesterday.


Tigers Still Not Selling, Looking At Pitching; Mike Leake “On Radar”

12:53pm: Reds starter Mike Leake is on Detroit’s radar if they choose to buy, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.

12:34pm: At least one club that is selling pitching believes the Tigers to be “actively shopping,” ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.

12:08pm: The Tigers have informed clubs over the last day that they are still not selling and could look to add arms, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That matches up with statements yesterday from GM Dave Dombrowski, who told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that his club is “doing everything we can to try and qualify for the playoffs.”

There has been some back and forth on Detroit’s trade status over the last week or so. While an earlier report indicated that the team would be shifting into seller status, and Dombrowski has acknowledged the possibility, more recent indications (including the most recent reports, cited above) are that the decision has yet to be made.

The Tigers have not exactly done much on the field to improve their position. Since exiting the All-Star break, the club has put up four wins against seven losses. As things stand, Detroit is 12.5 games back of the Royals in the AL Central and 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Obviously, the two major trade pieces that could be had from the Tigers are ace David Price and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The addition (or exclusion) of either or both to the market will have significant ramifications for other starting pitching and corner outfield trade targets. Closer Joakim Soria could also be an important chip who could have implications for the bullpen market.


Market Notes: Guerrero, Iwakuma, Latos, Prado, Cardinals, Ross

The Dodgers are having active discussions on utilityman Alex Guerrero, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Though Guerrero’s contract allows him to opt into free agency after the year if he’s dealt, Rosenthal notes that he’s expressed a willingness to work out a deal with a new team if he’s traded. Guerrero’s production has fallen back after a blistering early showing, and he’s lost playing time along the way, but he does offer relative youth and has shown good power. The 28-year-old has also dealt with a seemingly minor back issue of late. Los Angeles has several other similar utility options, as well as an overflowing stock of outfield pieces, so it’s certainly plausible to imagine that he’d have more value to another team.

Let’s take a look in at some other notable market developments as we continue to see significant activity in advance of Friday’s trade deadline:

  • It’s not yet clear whether the Mariners will move pending free agent righty Hisashi Iwakuma, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Seattle has, however, received interest from several clubs. Since a mediocre and injury-plagued start to the year, Iwakuma has turned in three consecutive solid outings and could be a nice mid-rotation piece for a contender.
  • The Marlins are increasingly “confident” they’ll find a taker for starter Mat Latos, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Latos has pitched well of late and has appeal as a reasonably high-upside rental piece. According to the report, the market for his services is “coming into focus.”
  • Marlins infielder/outfielder Martin Prado increasingly seems available, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). An executive from another club says that the Fish appear to be “open to at least contemplate” a deal, which seemingly indicates slightly more availability than we heard yesterday (when Miami was said to be interested only for a sizable offer). Sherman notes that the Yankees and Mets could join the Royals with interest in Prado as a secondary option to Ben Zobrist (who is expected to be dealt in short order).
  • The Cardinals are looking at possible bullpen additions to slot alongside the just-acquired Steve Cishek, Heyman tweets. St. Louis will hope to bring back righty Jordan Walden in the relatively near future, as he’s progressing through a rehab assignment, but the club has been active in recent years in adding pitching depth.
  • Padres righty Tyson Ross remains a hotly-pursued name on the market, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. He’s drawn interest from teams like the Blue JaysAstros, Dodgers, and Rangers, per the report. Expectations are that Ross would require a significant return, and Heyman notes that the team would likely prefer to move other pitching assets.

Phillies Asking Clubs For Best Offers On Hamels By Tomorrow

The Phillies are notifying teams with interest in lefty Cole Hamels that they would like to receive their best offers tomorrow, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. It’s unclear what the team’s decisionmaking process or timeline would be from that point, but there is at least some possibility of a deal occurring before Hamels makes his scheduled start on Thursday.

It makes sense, of course, that Philadelphia would look to strike a deal just ahead of Friday’s deadline. He is fresh off of a no-hitter, after two rough starts before it, so there’s only downside in putting him back on the hill in a Phillies uniform. And handing off another outing won’t hurt his trade value, either.

As for the suitors, we’ve heard of late movement from the Giants as well as from the Astros and Diamondbacks. Stark lists those clubs, along with the Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox, as organizations known to have had ongoing discussions with Philadelphia.

As he notes, however, “about half of that group” is participating because the Phillies have sought “to reopen discussion” of names that were previously deemed off limits. And one source says that there’s “nothing happening” with San Francisco, per the report.


Marlins Fielding Interest In Marcell Ozuna; Indians Have Inquired

The Marlins have been getting calls on outfielder Marcell Ozuna, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (Twitter links). According to his colleague, Barry Jackson (via Twitter), the Marlins front office is gathering today to decide how to proceed with Ozuna.

One club that’s placed a call is the Indians, says Spencer, who adds that Miami has sent scouts to watch Cleveland’s starters. While it may be too soon to tell whether there’s serious interest between the two clubs, it’s certainly an intriguing possibility.

Both the Marlins and the Indians have been expected to hold onto controllable talent, but obviously there’s a possibility that similar assets could be swapped to better meet each club’s needs. Miami pulled off just such a deal last summer when it acquired Jarred Cosart.

Ozuna, 24, rebuffed Miami’s efforts over the winter to make him the third young outfielder to reach a long-term extension. He’s since been demoted to Triple-A after a .249/.301/.337 start to the season. Of course, Ozuna showed much more last year, putting up a .772 OPS with 23 home runs and contributing strong defense in center. And he’s done nothing but rake since going back to the minors.

We’ve addressed the Indians’ rotation chips several times in recent days, as reports have emerged suggesting that the team will at least listen on its various interesting pieces. A young player with Ozuna’s upside and control would obviously hold significant appeal, and he’s probably the kind of piece that would need to be involved to get something done. It remains unclear which particular pitchers would prove most enticing to the Fish, but names like Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer could all conceivably hold significant appeal.


Trade Market For Starting Pitchers

“You can never have enough starting pitching.” It’s a refrain we hear often this time of year, and it leads to a lot of deadline deals — even for clubs that don’t strictly “need” to add a starter. We’ve already seen the Royals (acquiring Johnny Cueto) and Astros (acquiring Scott Kazmir) strike deals for highly-rated arms, and they’ll likely be joined by teams such as the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays among others. Making things even more interesting, we’ve heard a variety of rumors involving more controllable pitching — which could re-frame clubs that have fallen back in the standings (such as the Red Sox, Rangers, and Diamondbacks) as future-oriented buyers.

Cueto and Kazmir are taken, but there’s plenty left to choose from:

Aces

David Price (Tigers), Cole Hamels (Phillies)

  • If Price is made available — and reports on whether or not that will happen have been conflicting — he’s the prize of the rental market. With all due respect to the excellent Cueto, Price hasn’t had any health scares this year, and he’s simply outperformed all of the other rentals, as one would expect. Price is on nearly any fan or evaluator’s short list of the five to 10 best pitchers in baseball. His latest eight-inning gem dropped his ERA to 2.31 to go along with 8.6 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. He’s earning an enormous (relative to other arbitration prices, that is) $19.8MM in 2015, of which about $8MM or so remains. That’s a big amount to add midway through a season, so if traded, Price will likely go to a team with both the financial wherewithal to take on a sizable sum and a deep farm system or cache of MLB-ready talent to entice Detroit to part ways with its ace.
  • Hamels answered skeptics who questioned his abilities following a pair of ugly starts by turning the best start of his career on Saturday — a 13-strikeout no-hitter against the Cubs. It’d be a storybook ending for one of the greatest pitchers in Phillies history… if he’s moved. Some have questioned whether the Phillies will move him now or move him at the Winter Meetings, once president-to-be Andy MacPhail is running the show and is more acclimated to his new organization. That’d be a risky play, as the winter market could be saturated with arms, though the $73.5MM he’s guaranteed from 2016-18 would be below market value for an arm of Hamels’ caliber at that point.

The Second Tier

Jeff Samardzija (White Sox), James Shields (Padres), Andrew Cashner (Padres), Tyson Ross (Padres), Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners), Mat Latos (Marlins)

  • Samardzija hasn’t been as good with the White Sox as he was in 2014 with the Cubs and A’s, but some of that can be pinned on a brutal defense playing behind him. He’s been very good as of late, posting a 2.55 ERA and a 45-to-11 K/BB ratio in 60 innings over his past eight starts. A free agent at season’s end, Samardzija has turned in somewhat of a mixed skill set. His 6.9 K/9 rate is the lowest of his career as a starter, and his ground-ball rate is down nearly 10 percent from its 2014 levels. However, he’s also walking fewer batters than he ever has (1.7 BB/9) and is still averaging better than 94 mph on his fastball.
  • The Padres are apparently pushing hard to move Shields and his backloaded contract just five months after signing him to a four-year, $75MM contract. That’s probably a tall order, considering Shields is owed $64MM from 2016-18 and has the power to opt out of his deal following the 2016 season. In other words, if a team pays any kind of premium in terms of talent, they may be sacrificing that talent for just a year and a half of production. But, if Shields declines, they’ve assumed the risk of that weighty contract and could be stuck with an overpriced asset. Recently, though, Shields looks excellent.
  • Cashner and Ross are perhaps more desirable than Shields due to their youth, although each is having somewhat of a down season. Cashner’s been more homer-prone than usual and is stranding fewer runners, though in terms of strikeout rate, control and ground-ball rate, he’s largely the same pitcher he was in 2014. He’s a free agent following the 2016 season. Ross is controlled through 2017, and his strikeout and ground-ball rates are both way up in 2015. However, his old control woes look to have resurfaced to some extent (4.2 BB/9).
  • Iwakuma’s spent a good chunk of the year on the DL and is a pure rental, but he’s been great over his past three starts and is distancing himself from the bizarre and uncharacteristic homer problems that plagued him upon his return. Iwakuma has a 4.50 ERA, but both xFIP and SIERA feel his skills are more indicative of a 3.50ish ERA. He’s earning $7MM this season, making him very affordable.
  • As I noted in profiling Latos earlier this month, he’s been a different pitcher since coming off the DL with a nagging knee injury that likely ties back to the surgery he had in 2014. Latos’ fastball velocity is up more than two miles per hour since coming off the DL, and he’s striking people out in bunches. Since I last examined his stock, he’s allowed four runs in 20 innings with a 19-to-3 K/BB ratio. Overall, he has a 2.96 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 45.2 percent ground-ball rate in 45 2/3 innings since getting healthy. The Mat Latos of old is back, and he might be the most underrated rental on the market.

Mid-Rotation Arms/Innings Eaters/Back-End Starters

Mike Leake (Reds), Dan Haren (Marlins), Yovani Gallardo (Rangers), Ian Kennedy (Padres), Jesse Chavez (Athletics), C.J. Wilson (Angels), Jeremy Hellickson (D-Backs), Colby Lewis (Rangers), Wandy Rodriguez (Rangers), J.A. Happ (Mariners), Kyle Lohse (Brewers), Aaron Harang (Phillies), Jerome Williams (Phillies), Justin Masterson (Red Sox), Mike Pelfrey (Twins), Bud Norris (Orioles), Kyle Kendrick (Rockies), Matt Garza (Brewers), John Danks (White Sox), Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies)

  • Leake, Gallardo, Haren, Kennedy and Happ are the top rentals of this group. No one from that group is overpowering. In fact, Kennedy, who strikes out the most batter os the bunch, is having a down season (like the rest of San Diego’s starters, for the most part). Still, any from this group could conceivably be plugged into the middle of most rotations in the Majors. Leake’s probably the best bet to be moved in the next few days.
  • Chavez and Wilson can both be controlled through 2016, though Wilson’s $20MM salary for 2016 will probably be roughly four times greater than what Chavez will earn in his final trip through arbitration. Both can help a rotation, but Wilson would probably need to be moved along with some cash or in exchange for another player with an expensive salary. Hellickson, too, is controlled through 2016, though the former top prospect and AL Rookie of the Year has regressed quite a bit in recent seasons. He got off to a poor start with the Snake but has been great over his past four starts.
  • Harang probably won’t be moved until August due to an injury, but he joins the likes of Masterson, Pelfrey, Norris, Williams, Kendrick, Lohse, Garza and Danks in the “struggling veteran” category. Pelfrey has decent numbers but he’s been dreadful of late and was never as good as his peripherals indicated this season. All of these arms, with the exception of Danks and Garza, would be rentals. Danks and Garza are both owed sizable commitments beyond 2015.

Controllable Arms With MLB Experience

Carlos Carrasco (Indians), Jon Niese (Mets), Julio Teheran (Braves), Mike Fiers (Brewers), Vance Worley (Pirates), Jeff Locke (Pirates) Tom Koehler (Marlins), David Phelps (Marlins), Dan Straily (Astros)

  • Carrasco is probably the most desirable of this bunch, as the strikeout machine is in the first season of an affordable four-year, $22MM extension that contains a pair of club options valued at $9MM and $9.5MM. As such, Carrasco would require an enormous haul. The Blue Jays have expressed interest, and others figure to do so as well. Jeff Todd and I discussed how the Indians could potentially free themselves of the Michael Bourn and/or Nick Swisher contracts by way of a Carrasco trade.
  • Niese’s name keeps popping up in trade rumors, but the latest say the Mets don’t want to move him. He’s pitched well and can be controlled for another two years beyond 2015.
  • Teheran has surfaced as a surprise trade candidate after struggling with his control in 2015. He’s owed $29.6MM from 2016-19, including a $1MM buyout of a $12MM 2020 option. Struggles aside, it’s difficult to envision the Braves selling too low. They’d likely value him highly due to that control, though plenty of teams would love to get the opportunity to try to turn Teheran around.
  • The Blue Jays like Fiers, but the pre-arbitration 30-year-old isn’t someone the Brewers feel inclined to move. He’d require a relatively notable return, though probably not one on par with Carrasco and Teheran.
  • Worley and Locke have had their ups and downs as members of the Pittsburgh rotation over the past two seasons. They’re fourth starters at best — probably closer to fifth starters — but either could be on the move if the Bucs make a more substantial roation upgrade.
  • Koehler seems unlikely to be moved by Miami, as he’s a usable fourth/fifth starter option that won’t be arb eligible until this offseason. He’s controlled through 2018 and has a career 3.89 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 458 2/3 innings. Phelps is a swingman that has been useful in both the bullpen and rotation for the Yankees and Marlins. His contract status and his overall numbers are similar to Koehler.
  • Straily’s been excellent at Triple-A this year but has bounced from the A’s to the Cubs to the Astros without getting an extended look in a rotation. He might make sense for a rebuilding team with little upper-level pitching depth that could afford to give him a chance (e.g. Phillies, Rockies).

For a look around the rest of the trade market, check out MLBTR’s rundowns of the market for catchers, first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen, corner outfielders, center fielders and relief pitchers.


Giants “Making Strong Push” For Cole Hamels

10:50am: The Giants “don’t have a strong enough package of prospects” to land Hamels, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

8:20am: The Giants are “making a strong push” for Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. San Francisco has previously been mentioned as a suitor, but it appears that the team is looking to make a serious attempt at landing the lefty.

Of course, we heard yesterday that the Astros, too, were also driving after Hamels. And there were indications that the Diamondbacks had entered the conversation as well. It’s not yet clear, though, that clubs with more long-standing interest — particularly, the Rangers and Dodgers — have been displaced as the likeliest landing spots.

From the Giants’ perspective, yesterday’s news suggested that the club was interested in adding a starter, but only if it was a significant upgrade. And San Francisco did not seem terribly likely to actually pull something off.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the run at Hamels will amount to anything. The Giants do have forward-looking financial flexibility, as Rosenthal notes on Twitter, but the same could probably be said of several other teams reportedly in the hunt. It’s not clear what kind of package the team would be interested in dangling, though young catcher Andrew Susac would seem likely (in my opinion) to hold significant interest to Philadelphia.

Hamels could block a deal to the Giants, who are not on his list of nine teams to whom he can be dealt without consent. (Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweeted the updated list recently.) It’s not clear at present whether that would pose any issues.


Blue Jays Acquire Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins From Rockies For Jose Reyes And Pitching Prospects

The Blue Jays have officially struck a stunning deal to acquire Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins in exchange for Jose Reyes and a trio of minor league pitchers. Promising young righties Jeff HoffmanMiguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco make up the key components of Colorado’s return. Needless to say, the move constitutes one of the most stunning deadline deals in recent memory.

Tulowitzki will pick up a $2MM assignment bonus and a full no-trade clause by virtue of being dealt. No money is changing hands other than the differences in the contracts, but the financial component of the deal was certainly significant.

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Both of the primary pieces in this deal are playing under significant contracts. Tulowitzki is owed $20MM annually this season and from 2016-19, before a $14MM payday in 2020 and a $15MM club option ($4MM buyout) in the following campaign. Reyes, meanwhile, is on the books for $22MM annually from 2015-17, and comes with a $22MM club option that also includes a $4MM buyout. All said, then, Reyes is guaranteed $50MM less in total following the present season (before tacking on the additional $2MM assignment bonus and the remainder of Hawkins’ $2.25MM salary).

Tulowitzki, 30, has long been one of the game’s best overall players. And he is as closely associated with his franchise as is any other player. There has been near-constant speculation as to whether Colorado owner Dick Monfort would consider parting with his club’s superstar, but it appears that a series of disappointing seasons has finally brought matters to a resolution.

While the long-time Rockies franchise face has been quite good this year, he hasn’t played quite to his own lofty standards. Over 346 plate appearances, he’s registered a .305/.353/.478 slash. With the effects of Coors Field factored in, that’s good for a 111 wRC+. His defense has rated out more as good than excellent. The net is that he’s racked up 1.4 fWAR and 1.9 rWAR on the year. Through this approximate point last season (375 plate appearances), Tulo had already compiled 5.3 fWAR and 5.5 rWAR.

Of course, the biggest question with his long-term value lies in the arbitrary stopping point just noted. Tulowitzki never again took the field in Colorado after mid-July, as he ultimately underwent hip surgery. Since becoming a full-time regular in 2007, Tulo has averaged just 114 games a season.

With the first major move of his tenure, GM Jeff Bridich opened an array of questions about the team’s intentions over the coming days (and beyond). It remains to be seen whether Colorado has intentions of plugging Reyes into its lineup or, instead, moving him to a third club to add other young pieces.

Colorado does not have a deal in place currently to move Reyes elsewhere, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. But a move seems quite plausible. The Rockies have highly-regarded shortstop prospect Trevor Story playing well at Triple-A, and just used the third overall pick in last month’s draft to select top-rated high schooler Brendan Rodgers, though he’s obviously a ways from the big leagues.

Then, there’s the matter of Carlos Gonzalez, long considered the twin-bill feature alongside Tulo at Coors Field. He’s rebounded from a long rough stretch to enhance his value, and a move to shed his remaining obligations while adding young talent now seems more plausible than ever. Having parted with Tulowitzki and Hawkins, Gonzalez and other veteran assets (such as reliever John Axford) could conceivably change hands.

Regardless whether Reyes is ticketed for another destination, he offers his own blend of upside and downside. At age 32, he’s fallen back to a .285/.322/.385 slash line and is no longer the outstanding defender he was early in his career. Still, he’s a solidly above-average regular in a position of some scarcity (at least, in terms of established veterans) around the league. This becomes the second time that his contract — originally signed with the Marlins — has changed hands, and it may not be long until it moves again.

As for the young pieces, the 22-year-old Hoffman fell to the Jays in last year’s draft after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That he was still taken ninth overall speaks to his talent, of course, and he’s already moved to the Double-A level with Toronto. Having cracked many top-100 leaguewide prospect rankings before the season, the high-upside right-hander shot up to 33rd on Baseball America’s mid-season list after showing his old stuff with a new UCL. He’s said to have a big fastball, excellent curve, and promising change. Over 67 2/3 innings, mostly at High-A, Hoffman has worked to a 2.93 ERA with 6.1 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9.

Castro, 20, has a more projection-dependent future outlook. He opened the year in the big league pen after finishing off 2014 at High-A. The righty struggled somewhat in that cameo, but still pitched beyond his years and has shown a live arm. He entered the year rated the #9 prospect in the Jays organization by Baseball America, which noted his lofty upside and need to develop reliable secondary offerings to factor as a long-term MLB starter. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had him in the sixth slot this spring. With his quick ascent, Castro has moved to the fourth position on BA’s list and number five on MLB.com’s latest ranking.

Finally, Tinoco has enhanced his stock by working to a 3.54 ERA over 81 1/3 innings at the Class A level this year, striking out 7.5 and walking 2.4 batters per nine. Even before that promising showing, he landed 16th on the pre-season Blue Jays prospect list of Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. Tinoco can run his fastball up into the upper nineties and has two promising secondary offerings with good feel on the mound, per McDaniel, who indicates that the youngster has a good deal of upside.

As eye-opening as the transaction was for the Rockies, it’s arguably just as shocking — for different reasons — from the Jays’ perspective. Toronto has struggled with pitching all year, but has a highly productive lineup. Reyes was earning big money to play shortstop, and the rest of the infield was filled with productivity, including recent major trade acquisition Josh Donaldson — who rates as the game’s best third baseman — and first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion. (Notably, those sluggers, outfielder Jose Bautista, and numerous other key contributors are all right-handed hitters, as is Tulowitzki.)

Toronto will add a reliever to its mix in Hawkins, but he’s more of a sturdy presence than a shut-down arm. The 42-year-old owns a 3.63 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9 over 22 1/3 innings on the year. It’s hard to believe at his age, but he’s compiled a 3.11 earned run average over 237 2/3 frames dating back to 2011.

Despite the fact that the Jays dealt away two promising young arms, it seems likely that the seemingly all-in club will use additional pieces to add a starter. But with one out-of-nowhere move now completed, it remains to be seen whether something even more creative could go down.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has pulled off his share of stunners over the years, with the deal that brought Reyes to Toronto ranking high among them. But after dealing for Donaldson, signing Russell Martin, and now adding one of the game’s best-known stars in Tulowitzki, Anthopoulos and his club are fully committed to win now in a manner not previously seen.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal (links to Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was first to report that no money would be exchanged (Twitter links) and that three minor leaguers were in the deal. Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun first noted Hoffman’s likely inclusion, via Twitter, with Thomas Harding of MLB.com tweeting that he would in fact be in the deal. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports was first to suggest that Castro was likely going to Colorado, on Twitter, with Heyman tweeting that he was a part of the package. Heyman tweeted Tinoco’s involvement. Rosenthal noted on Twitter that Tulowitzki would receive an assignment bonus and no-trade protection by virtue of being dealt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Market Impact Of Tulo Deal: Reyes, CarGo, Mets, Blue Jays

With Troy Tulowitzki reportedly heading from the Rockies to the Blue Jays, it’s a different trade market today than it was yesterday. Toronto declared itself committed to the present in spending several important trade chips on the star shortstop. Meanwhile, the Rockies now have another expensive veteran shortstop that features as a trade candidate in Jose Reyes. Though we’ve yet to hear anything regarding Colorado’s intentions with regard to Reyes, early indications are that the club is motivated to deal outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Here are some potential areas of impact of the blockbuster:

  • The Rockies did not add Reyes with a deal already in place to move him elsewhere, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported overnight on Twitter (as we noted in the Tulo deal post). While another move makes sense at first glance — Colorado is not in contention, and could turn to prospect Trevor Story and/or utilityman Daniel Descalso — it’s far from a sure thing. As I explained in assessing the trade market for shortstops, despite the relative lack of quality veterans available via trade, it’s also not clear that there’s much demand at the position.
  • The Mets are uninterested in bringing back Reyes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. New York still has a potential need up the middle, but the veteran has not shown enough for the club to be amenable to taking on his big contract. In fact, the Mets declined a chance to land Reyes already, as the Blue Jays were widely shopping his deal, per Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
  • Neither do the Mets intend to pursue Gonzalez, Marc Carig of Newsday hears (Twitter link). Though New York appears still to be in the market for outfield bats, the team may not be willing to consider that level of salary commitment.
  • While the Blue Jays have sufficient lineup depth to move a major league bat for pitching, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the club does not have any plans to do so this summer. That had seemed at least one plausible path to improving the club’s rotation over the next few days. It remains to be seen how the loss of three talented pitching prospects in the Tulo deal will impact Toronto’s efforts to build out its staff. Certainly, the Jays have now evidenced a willingness to give up future assets to improve their team in the near term, but it’s unclear as yet whether they’ll be more or less inclined to do more of the same in chasing arms.
  • In a tweet this morning, Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman indicated that he’s still focused on trying to work back by September. That may be somewhat optimistic, but it is worth remembering that he’s working back from a knee injury rather than arm problems (though Toronto will want to prevent the latter from developing out of the former). A hypothetical return from Stroman is still probably too much of a wild card to have an impact on Toronto’s current plans, but adding him back to the rotation would obviously represent a major boost at no cost.