Royals Designate Johnny Giavotella For Assignment

The Royals announced that they have designated second baseman Johnny Giavotella for assignment in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for the recently signed Kris Medlen.

Giavotella, 27, received a fairly lengthy look at second base for the Royals in both 2011 and 2012 but combined to bat just .242/.271/.340 in 376 plate appearances. He’s received shorter call-ups in each of the subsequent seasons but hasn’t fared much better at the plate; overall, Giavotella is a lifetime .238/.277/.344 hitter in the Majors.

A second-round pick out of the University of New Orleans in 2008, Giavotella does carry with him quite an impressive track record at the Triple-A level. In 1840 plate appearances there, he’s slashed .315/.384/.451. It should be noted, however, that those numbers have come in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.


Padres To Acquire Matt Kemp

3:35pm: Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets that the window to complete the deal can be extended if the two sides are negotiating, meaning that the Kemp/Padres saga may continue beyond today.

11:05am: The holdup in the trade is that Kemp’s physical revealed arthritis in both hips, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Padres are consulting with medical experts before determining how to proceed.

DEC. 18, 10:36am: Kemp’s agent, Junior Spivey, tells Rosenthal that, “Everything is OK. We’re just waiting on the final details. Should be good to go.” However, Spivey does add that he hasn’t heard from the Padres since Kemp took his physical on Tuesday (Twitter links).

DEC. 17, 8:47pm: Both sides remain “very invested” in completing the deal even though it’s hit a snag, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets.

6:48pm: A Padres official, when asked whether the trade was in danger of falling through, replied, “Not yet,” according to Rosenthal (on Twitter). Rosenthal notes, however, that the Padres still have not made the Dodgers aware of any issues.

1:22pm: The Dodgers have heard nothing to indicate that the deal is in jeopardy, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

12:12pm: We are still awaiting word on whether the deal has been completed, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today hears (Twitter link) that the Padres believe his physical is fine and are awaiting final details.

DEC. 14: Kemp is set for a physical on Tuesday, Rosenthal tweets. The clubs must complete the deal by Thursday, he adds.

DEC. 11: The Dodgers’ wild day has continued into the morning, as they’ve agreed to trade star outfielder Matt Kemp to the Padres. The deal has not yet been finalized — players still need to take physicals, and the deal (which includes money going from the Dodgers to the Padres) requires the approval of the commissioner’s office, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.

USATSI_8067745_154513410_lowresThe deal will send Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz to San Diego, with the Dodgers receiving catcher Yasmani Grandal, righty Joe Wieland, and pitching prospect Zach Eflin. The Dodgers will also include $32MM to help cover the $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract, which runs through 2019.

The deal gives the Padres a big bat and star power for their offense, which produced just 535 runs last year, a poor total even in the tough hitting environment in San Diego. The team lost out on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas earlier this offseason, but Kemp, who hit .287/.346/.506 with the Dodgers in 2014, gives the Padres the dynamic offensive player they were hoping for. He’ll need to stay healthy, however — he missed significant time in 2012 and 2013 with a series of injuries, and he turned 30 in September. Kemp, who has struggled defensively in center field in recent years, could take one corner outfield spot for the Padres, with Seth Smith in the other. For the Dodgers, the deal clears salary and space in the outfield, where they also have Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke.

Federowicz, 27, should help the Padres compensate for the loss of Grandal. He has five seasons of team control remaining and is coming off a strong year in a good hitting environment at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he batted .328/.383/.555 in 329 plate appearances. He struggled, however, in a small sample of 78 plate appearances at the big-league level. He’ll likely share the Padres’ catching duties with Rene Rivera, whose unexpectedly strong season in 2014 gave the Padres a bit of flexibility at catcher.

Grandal, 26, will join A.J. Ellis in manning the catching position with the Dodgers. He hit .225/.327/.401 for San Diego last season and got good marks for his pitch framing. The latter characteristic is surely attractive to Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman, who employed framing specialist Jose Molina in Tampa Bay and tried to sign another excellent framer, Russell Martin, for the Dodgers earlier this offseason. Grandal also hit 15 home runs in 2014, a solid total for a young catcher, especially in PETCO Park. He can become eligible for arbitration next offseason and eligible for free agency after 2018.

Wieland, 24, had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and took a long time to recover, but he finally made it back to the Majors in September 2014. He posted good numbers coming through the minors (mostly in the Rangers system), but doesn’t have outstanding stuff and probably profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

The Padres drafted the 20-year-old Eflin (whose inclusion in the deal is not yet entirely certain) in the first round in 2012 out of high school. He posted a 3.80 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 128 innings with Class A+ Lake Elsinore in 2014.

The trade continues a frenzied Winter Meetings for the Dodgers. On Wednesday, the team sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami in a seven-player deal and acquired second baseman Howie Kendrick from the Angels. They also reportedly made not-yet-official moves to acquire shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies and to agree to terms on a four-year deal with starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the deal was close. Dennis Lin and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the deal was finalized. Heyman reported (Twitter links) the final terms of the deal. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers Close To Acquiring Jimmy Rollins

DEC. 18: The trade between the Dodgers and Phillies will go through even if the Dodgers’ Kemp trade with the Padres falls through, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Eflin, who the Dodgers are set to acquire from San Diego in that deal, is indeed part of the Rollins trade, Salisbury writes. The Kemp trade has reportedly hit a snag due to Kemp’s physical, but the Dodgers and Phillies have discussed other players that can be exchanged should Eflin not end up heading to L.A. in the Kemp deal.

DEC. 11, 12:33pm: Zach Eflin, acquired by Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp deal, could be one of the pieces going to the Phillies, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested on Twitter. That is indeed the case, with the Phillies also likely to acquire lefty Tom Windle in the deal, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on Twitter.

DEC. 10, 7:03pm: Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Twitter link) that some of the prospects the Dodgers acquired from the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade could be involved in the Rollins deal.  A third team is also involved in the Rollins trade, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweets.

6:38pm: The deal requires approval from the Commissioner’s Office since the Phillies are sending some money to the Dodgers in the trade, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  The two clubs have otherwise agreed to the trade.

4:51pm: The trade is basically done and the teams are just working out some minor details, a source tells Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times (via Twitter).

4:37pm: The Phillies are believed to getting two young pitchers back as part of the Rollins trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

4:20pm: The trade is “close” but isn’t yet completely finalized, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.  The teams haven’t worked out which players will be in the deal and a third team could possibly be involved.

4:07pm: The Dodgers have acquired shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports, hearing from an industry source that the transaction is a “done deal.”  As reported earlier today, Rollins was willing to waive his 10-and-5 rights to accept a trade to the Dodgers.

After losing Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox in free agency, Los Angeles filled its vacancy at shortstop with another high-profile veteran.  Rollins actually generated more fWAR (3.6 to 3.4) than Ramirez in 2014, as while Ramirez delivered more at the plate, Rollins far outpaced Ramirez defensively.  Rollins is no longer the offensive force that he was in his prime, but he still posted an above-average 102 wRC+ in 2014, hitting .243/.323/.394 with 17 homers and 28 steals over 609 plate appearances.

Rollins reached a vesting option in his previous contract that earned him an extra year and an $11MM salary for the 2015 season.  Since the Dodgers’ commitments to both Rollins and third baseman Juan Uribe will be up after 2015, that allows the club some flexibility in deciding the future of Corey Seager.  The top prospect is a shortstop now but many project him to eventually require a move to third base.

Rollins, 36, spent his entire 15-year career in Philadelphia, with the highlights including the NL MVP Award in 2007 and a World Series title in 2008.  Rollins is the Phillies’ all-time franchise leader in hits and doubles, and only Mike Schmidt played more games in a Phillie uniform.



White Sox To Sign George Kottaras

The White Sox have reached an agreement with veteran catcher George Kottaras on a minor league contract, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first tweeted that the Sox were nearing a deal with the All Bases Covered Sports Mangement client.

From an offensive standpoint, Kottaras is known to have solid power and draw quite a few walks, but he’s also seen his strikeout rate climb in recent years. He’s a career .215/.326/.411 hitter in 858 plate appearances and should give the Sox some solid depth behind incumbent backstop Tyler Flowers and waiver claim Rob Brantly. Chicago also has an in-house option with Adrian Nieto, who served as their backup in 2014 after being selected out of the Rule 5 Draft. Nieto hit .236/.296/.340 and lasted the entire season with Chicago despite never having played above Class-A Advanced when he was selected.


Royals Sign Kris Medlen

The Royals announced that they have signed right-hander Kris Medlen to a two-year deal that contains a mutual option for the 2017 season. Medlen, who is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, reportedly receives an $8.5MM guarantee. He’ll earn $2MM in 2015 and $5.5MM in 2016. His mutual option is worth $10MM and contains a $1MM buyout that is guaranteed regardless of which side declines.

Kris Medlen

Medlen, 29, was one of the Braves’ best starters for much of 2012-13, but he fell victim to his second Tommy John surgery this past spring and wound up being non-tendered as a result. Medlen earned $5.8MM in 2014 and stood to earn something similar in 2015, although the Braves could technically have reduced his salary to about $4.65MM.

Tommy John surgery has been a significant detriment to the unquestionably talented Medlen’s career. He was enjoying a solid season in 2010 when his right UCL first gave way in August, causing him to miss nearly the entire 2011 season as well. When he returned in 2012, Medlen posted a brilliant 1.57 ERA down the stretch, and he followed that up with a 3.11 mark in 197 frames the following year.

Overall, Medlen owns a 2.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 46.2 percent ground-ball rate in 512 2/3 career innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (3.23), xFIP (3.39) and SIERA (3.68) all feel that he’s a perfectly viable rotation option when healthy.

While it may at first be puzzling to see the Braves let Medlen go, it’s also important to note that he had just one season of arbitration control remaining. Medlen may not pitch again until midseason and would have cost the club between $4.6MM and $5.8MM, and the success rate for second Tommy John surgeries is lower than that of the success rate for first-time patients. Atlanta was said to have discussed a two-year deal with Medlen at one point, but the team may not have been comfortable matching Kansas City’s guarantee.

The Royals figure to start the 2015 season with a rotation of Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy, Edinson Volquez and Jeremy Guthrie, but Medlen could eventually slot in should one of those five get injured. He could also return to the bullpen, where he’s worked extensively in the past, as he builds up arm strength and looks toward a rotation spot in 2016. Guthrie is a free agent following the 2015 season, so there should be at least one opening for him to pursue.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the terms of the contract (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Red Sox In Active Trade Talks Regarding Allen Craig

The Red Sox are in active trade talks with at least one club regarding first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Craig is said to be fully recovered from a painful Lisfranc fracture suffered in his left foot in August, Morosi adds.

Craig was acquired from the Cardinals along with right-hander Joe Kelly in the trade that sent John Lackey to St. Louis. The 30-year-old was having a down season at the time of the acquisition and was considered by many to be a buy-low option, but his fortunes worsened in Boston. With the Red Sox, Craig batted a woeful .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances. While the foot likely played a role in those struggles, his overall season line of .215/.279/.315 was a far cry from the excellent production he showed from 2011-13. Over the course of those two seasons, Craig batted a hefty .312/.364/.500 — good for a 136 OPS+.

The Cardinals clearly looked at Craig as yet another late bloomer (he didn’t break out until he was nearly 27) and rewarded him with a five-year, $31MM contract that covered the 2013-18 seasons. The first year of the contract looked good, but Craig’s outlook has tanked after a rough 2014 that can’t be explained solely by injury. His strikeout rate jumped from about 17 percent to 22.4 percent this season, and his ground-ball rate soared to 54 percent. That mark ranked ninth-highest among qualified hitters this season and is a troubling trend for a player with little speed of which to speak.

Craig’s contract was heavily backloaded, meaning that an acquiring team will still be on the hook for the majority of the price tag. He’s owed $26.5MM over the next three seasons, including the $1MM buyout on his $13MM club option for the 2018 season. That sum doesn’t look appealing at this time, however if Craig returns to form and 2014 proves to be little more than a fluke, a team that bought low on his services could have a very nice value on its hands.

To this point in the offseason, both the Marlins and Brewers have been connected to Craig, although I’d imagine that Miami’s signing of Michael Morse takes them out of the picture. The Mariners are known to be seeking right-handed bats, and while they did just acquire Justin Ruggiano, he could be used in a reserve role with Craig seeing more regular playing time. Likewise, the Orioles have yet to replace any of the production they lost when Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz signed elsewhere. The Padres have been aggressively courting offensive upgrades and could feel that Craig represents a better long-term option than Yonder Alonso. Additionally, the Reds and Giants are known to be in the market for a left fielder.

All of those suggestions are, of course, speculative on my behalf. It should also be noted that Craig comes with some defensive question marks as a corner outfielder, so some teams without an opening at first base may be hesitant to acquire him (especially after his foot injury).


Angels, Dodgers Complete Drew Butera Trade

The Dodgers announced today that they have acquired infielder/outfielder Matt Long from the Angels to complete last week’s Drew Butera trade. However, the team also announced that it has has immediately flipped Long and left-hander Jarret Martin to the Brewers in exchange for catcher Shawn Zarraga, essentially making the entire sequence into a minor three-team trade.

A 2009 30th-round draft pick, Long has never appeared on an Angels Top 30 prospect list (per Baseball America), but he does have a solid minor league track record. The 27-year-old has yet to reach the Majors but owns a nice career slash line of .279/.358/.442 in 1102 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.

The 25-year-old Martin was previously designated for assignment and outrighted this past offseason. He spent the 2014 campaign with Double-A Chattanooga where he posted a strong 3.29 ERA in 54 2/3 innings of relief. While Martin’s 64 strikeouts in that time were impressive, he also walked a very troublesome 48 hitters. Control problems have long been an issue for Martin, who has averaged 6.1 walks per nine innings since being selected in the 18th round of the 2009 draft.

Zarraga is a 25-year-old catcher that was born in Aruba but attended high school in Florida and was selected in the 44th round by the Brewers in 2007. Zarraga was excellent at Double-A this past season, hitting .330/.440/.419 in 267 plate appearances, but he batted just .213/.304/.255 in 57 PA at Triple-A — his first crack at that level.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 11

This week on the MLB Trade Rumors Podcast, Ryan Sadowski of Global Sporting Integration joins host Jeff Todd to offer his insight on the Korea Baseball Organization, powerful infielder Jung-ho Kang, reliever Seung-hwan Oh, first baseman Byung-ho Park, and much more.  Sadowski is a former MLB and KBO pitcher who now works for a company helping baseball players transition to and from Asia.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


A’s Acquire Eury De La Rosa, Designate Fernando Rodriguez

The Athletics announced that they have acquired lefty Eury De La Rosa from the Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations and designated right-hander Fernando Rodriguez for assignment.

The 24-year-old De La Rosa was designated for assignment last week to clear room for Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, who were acquired in the Wade Miley trade with Boston. The A’s have acquired a lefty relief option that pitched to a strong 2.95 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 36 2/3 innings. However, the now-former Diamondback also turned in a reverse platoon split last year in Arizona, yielding a .309/.377/.418 batting line in a small sample of 61 plate appearances versus left-handed hitters.

Rodriguez, 30, appeared in seven games for Oakland in 2014 and allowed just one run in nine innings with four strikeouts and two walks. However, he’s yet to establish a track record of success in the Majors, having seen inconsistent playing time in the bigs dating back to 2009 and compiling a 4.62 ERA. He does throw relatively hard (career 93.3 mph average fastball) and did excellent work at Triple-A in 2014 (1.97 ERA, 10.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 in 45 2/3 innings), so another club could view him as a depth piece.


NL Notes: Markakis, Kendrick, Mets, Kemp, Padres

Nick Markakis underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck yesterday, but the Braves expect their new right fielder to be 100 percent by Opening Day, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. President of baseball operations John Hart spoke with surgeon Steve Wray, who performed the procedure, and came away with the impression that aside from some possible disruption of his pre-Spring Training routine, Markakis would be fine. He’s expected to be cleared for physical activity within a month’s time and to be fully agile in six weeks.

Some more notes from the Senior Circuit to kick off your Thursday morning…

  • The Rockies are interested in right-hander Kyle Kendrick as a potential back-of-the-rotation option, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 30-year-old Kendrick pitched a career-high 199 innings last season, and Crasnick notes that his career 46.1 percent ground-ball rate is of interest to Colorado. That mark isn’t too far above the league average, but it’s an improvement over Franklin Morales and Christian Bergman, each of whom logged significant innings in Colorado’s rotation last year. Kendrick’s upside is limited, but he’d be a relatively low-cost option to soak up some innings in a shaky rotation.
  • Wilmer Flores is still likely to open next season as the Mets‘ shortstop, writes Marc Carig of Newsday, but a source tells Carig that the team does have interest in Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera on low-risk, one-year deals. Previous reports have indicated that the Mets weren’t interested in Cabrera. The team hasn’t ruled out bidding on Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, but they’re likely to pass due to concerns over his defense. Those same concerns have halted their interest in Asdrubal Cabrera from progressing beyond internal discussions.
  • In a video blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines that the Padres are in perfect position to try to squeeze some extra money out of the Dodgers in their deal for Matt Kemp. While the deal is expected to be completed, Olney notes that Kemp’s medicals are “ugly,” and the Dodgers need the trade more than the Padres do. The Dodgers are reportedly set to send $32MM to the Padres as it is.
  • The Padres aren’t done making moves even after striking deals to acquire Kemp and Wil Myers, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. One possible minor addition, he reports, is veteran catcher David Ross, who is still “considering” the Padres.

Cardinals Sign Mark Reynolds

DEC. 18: Reynolds can earn up to $800K of incentives, tweets Heyman. He will earn an additional $200K for reaching 250, 350, 450 and 550 plate appearances.

DEC. 11: The Cardinals have announced the signing of corner infielder Mark Reynolds.  The veteran slugger will get a $2MM guarantee on the one-year contract and he can earn more through playing time incentives, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter.  News of the agreement between Reynolds and the Cards was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).

Reynolds, 31, hit .196/.287/.394 with 22 homers last season.  While the overall batting line was not his finest (in fact, his .681 OPS was a career low), he still gave the Brewers a good deal of power at the plate.  On top of that, the advanced metrics show that he turned in a stronger season defensively than he has in years past, as Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs recently noted.  According to Baseball Reference, Reynolds has earned roughly $22.5MM over the course of his career to date.


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Quick Hits: Braves, Ross, Cabrera, Kang, Aoki

The White Sox, Yankees and Astros have spent heavily on relief help this offseason, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wonders if they’ll end up regretting their expensive contracts for veteran relievers. “In the last couple of years we’ve lost a lot of games late in the eighth and ninth inning,” says White Sox manager Ventura. “After a while you sit there and think, ‘We have to have somebody who can come in and do this.’ Everything has its risks — and this is one of them — but we’re pretty confident we got a guy [David Robertson] who we can put in the bullpen and be a leader.” The reason for all the spending on players like Robertson, Zach Duke, Andrew Miller, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek isn’t so much that teams are trying to emulate the Royals‘ ferocious 2014 bullpen, Crasnick suggests. Rather, it’s more that teams are loaded with cash and pitchers like Robertson and Miller are very good. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • The Braves continue to explore potential trades involving Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (Twitter links). The Braves have spoken about Upton and Gattis with five teams Wednesday, and continued to consider ways to include B.J. Upton or Chris Johnson in trades involving Justin Upton or Gattis. The Padres had previously looked like a potential destination for Justin Upton, but it would appear that their agreement to acquire Wil Myers today rules them out as a potential trade partner, at least for now.
  • Free agent catcher David Ross is deciding between the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. Meanwhile, lefty reliever Craig Breslow has spoken to the Red Sox and Cubs. Ross has played for the Red Sox, of course, and has a history with Jon Lester and Theo Epstein of the Cubs (although his signing with the Cubs would likely result in, or come as the result of, a trade of Welington Castillo). The Padres are in the process of trading both Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, but are also in the process of acquiring Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz, so it’s unclear where Ross would fit in.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera has drawn interest from the Giants, Athletics, Mets, Cardinals and Twins, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Heyman writes that Cabrera could play second base or third base as well as shortstop, although there have been rumblings that Cabrera prefers to play shortstop or second base only, and not third. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle would be surprised if the A’s are interested, as they’ve never shown interest in Cabrera in past years despite up-the-middle needs (Twitter links).
  • Those same five teams have asked about Korean middle infielder Jung-ho Kang, although the Athletics and Mets are downplaying their interest, Heyman tweets. A’s GM Billy Beane has stated on the record that reports of his club’s interest in Kang are inaccurate. Kang was posted earlier this week.
  • Heyman lists the Orioles, Reds and Mariners as possibilities for Nori Aoki, with the veteran outfielder potentially receiving two to three years at $7MM-$8MM per year. Aoki had previously been connected to the Orioles and Reds, with the Orioles mostly interested in him as a backup option. Heyman reported last week that Aoki was looking for a three-year deal. Earlier this offseason, we at MLBTR guessed he would receive two years and $16MM.

Reactions To US Move To Reestablish Relations With Cuba

The United States’ move to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba could eventually have significant impact on the market for Cuban-born players within Major League Baseball, a market that has in recent years produced important talents like Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas. “Major League Baseball is closely monitoring the White House’s announcement regarding Cuban-American relations,” says MLB in a statement. “While there are not sufficient details to make a realistic evaluation, we will continue to track this significant issue, and we will keep our Clubs informed if this different direction may impact the manner in which they conduct business on issues related to Cuba.” Here are a few links describing potential changes.

  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez notes that there could be changes to the laborious and often dangerous process through which Cuban-born players typically make themselves available to MLB teams. Players generally must defect from Cuba (often by traveling by boat to Mexico or Haiti), then establish residency in a country that is neither the US nor Cuba. The process is time-consuming and can be perilous. It’s not yet clear whether, or how, that process will change after today’s announcement (particularly since the United States’ economic embargo toward Cuba is still in effect and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future), but there’s hope that it might create a path toward something new.
  • The move to reestablish diplomatic relations paves the way for MLB teams to play exhibitions in Cuba, and for the Cuban government to let Cuban MLB players represent their home country at international events, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. It’s less likely that teams would establish academies in Cuba in the way they have in the Dominican Republic. “I don’t think that will happen,” Cuban baseball expert Peter Bjarkman tells Morosi. “Normalizing relations means things like travel restrictions. I don’t see Cuba giving up its economic system or opening the door to exploitation by foreign corporations.” (Via the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore on Twitter, however, one team’s Latin American scouting director says his team has already considered the details of building a new Cuban academy.)
  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler suggests one future scenario (via Twitter): The Cuban government could sell their players to Major League teams, taking a share of those players’ salaries. The Cuban baseball league system’s relationship to MLB could therefore be like that of the Mexican League.

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Reactions To The Wil Myers Trade

Here’s a collection of early reactions to this afternoon’s massive Wil Myers trade between the Padres, Rays, and Nationals. The consensus so far seems to be that the Nationals have come out furthest ahead, thanks to the inclusion of shortstop Trea Turner as a player to be named from San Diego.

  • The trade is a risky one for A.J. Preller and the Padres, but the Padres need to take risks, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. The Padres don’t have a high payroll and have been stuck in a rut for the last four seasons, but Preller has decisively added talent to the team by engineering the Padres’ end of the Myers and Matt Kemp trades.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider-only) calls Myers a “tremendous buy-low opportunity” for San Diego but writes that the Nats “seemed to make out like bandits,” getting two strong prospects in Turner and Joe Ross in exchange for Steven Souza and Travis Ott. The deal is a puzzling one for the Rays, Law writes, wondering why they didn’t simply trade Myers for Turner and Ross.
  • Executives within the game also feel the Nationals came out ahead, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. “I think the Nats must have pics on TB and SD!!” says one executive. “They are the clear winner. Not even close.”
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock quotes an NL scout on Turner, who says Turner clearly profiles as a big-league shortstop. “Turner for me was one of the easiest everyday SS grades I’ve ever written,” the scout says.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel profiles the prospects involved in the deal, though, and notes that the highest-profile ones — Souza, Turner and Ross — all generate varying reactions throughout the industry. McDaniel feels that Souza (a key to the deal for Tampa Bay) could turn out to be a bit like recently-traded outfielder Matt Joyce offensively.