Cubs Moving Closer To Bonifacio Trade

4:42pm: Bonifacio is indeed not in the lineup, with manager Rick Renteria saying it was “prudent” to hold him out, according to Rogers (Twitter link).

2:50pm: The Cubs are getting close to trading Bonifacio, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Levine tweets that Bonifacio is not in tonight’s lineup, which could obviously signal that a deal is nigh. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the Giants have been scouting Bonifacio all week, but the asking price for the impending free agent is said to be high.

2:32pm: The Orioles are Giants are considering Cubs utility man Emilio Bonifacio as a trade option, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.  Bruce Levine of 670 The Score adds the Royals, Mariners, and Reds as three more potential suitors (All Twitter links).

Bonifacio, 29, is hitting .279/.318/.373 in 298 plate appearances for the Cubs.  The switch-hitter is raking against lefties in this year’s limited sample.  He’s mainly played center field and second base for the Cubs.  Bonifacio is eligible for free agency after the season.


Cubs Acquire Felix Doubront

4:41pm: The Red Sox have announced the deal.

2:17pm: The Cubs have acquired Felix Doubront from the Red Sox, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports first reported (on Twitter) that a deal was close.

The Red Sox will receive a player to be named later in return for the 26-year-old lefty, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That player will be determined after the Rule 5 draft, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox-Game Two

Doubront’s tenure in Boston seemed destined to come to an end after he publicly announced his desire to return to the rotation — with another team, if necessary. After beginning the year as one of the team’s five starters, Doubront was dropped to the pen after posting a 5.19 ERA over ten starts. Things have only gone downhill since, as he has surrendered a .375/.409/.625 line and 11 earned runs to the 45 opposing hitters he has faced in seven relief appearances.

Chicago will hope that a change of scenery prompts a turnaround for a player who is said to have high-quality stuff. (Over 2012-13, Doubront compiled 323 1/3 innings of 4.59 ERA ball as a starter.) He will be arb-eligible for the first time next year, and his price tag should be manageable given his rough numbers this year. In many respects, Doubront is not unlike several of the Cubs’ other recent buy-low pitching additions (both through free agency and trade) — Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Scott Feldman come to mind — though he comes with the added benefit of a lower cost and extended, uncommitted control.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Dodgers Acquire Darwin Barney

WEDNESDAY: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter) that the Dodgers will send right-handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez to the Cubs as the PTBNL. The 20-year-old was enjoying a strong season at Class A in the Midwest League, having pitched to a 3.47 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 106 innings. He did not rank among the Dodgers’ top 30 prospects, per Baseball America.

MONDAY, 5:43pm: MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that the Dodgers will pay $500K of what is owed to Barney this season (Twitter link).

2:32pm: The Dodgers have bolstered their infield depth and their defense with the acquisition of Darwin Barney from the Cubs, both teams announced. Chicago will send Barney and cash considerations to Los Angeles in return for a player to be named later, according to releases from each team. It was reported earlier today that Barney, who was designated for assignment last week, was garnering trade interest.

Darwin Barney

The 28-year-old Barney hit just .230/.265/.328 in 217 plate appearances with the Cubs this season, but his bat has never been his calling card. Barney consistently rates as one of the best defensive second baseman in the Major Leagues, and this year was no different. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games was +15.5, while Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at +7 runs in limited time. Per DRS, Barney has  saved 46 runs over the past three seasons.

Dee Gordon has established himself as Los Angeles’ everyday second baseman this season, so it doesn’t seem likely that Barney will be seeing everyday at-bats with the Dodgers. However, his glove makes him a nice bench piece that the team can use to improve its defense late in games. Barney was drafted as a shortstop and spent more time at short than at the keystone in his minor league career. Despite a lack of experience at the position in recent years, Barney could be used as a replacement if the team wants to either replace the defensively challenged Hanley Ramirez or shift him over to third base late in games.

Barney is earning just $2.3MM this season and is controllable through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. His bat makes him a non-tender candidate in the offseason, but he will only cost the Dodgers about $804K from here through season’s end.

Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune first reported that the two sides were nearing a trade (on Twitter), and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweeted that it was a deal. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs would receive a PTBNL in return (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Red Sox, Orioles Discussing Jon Lester

3:58pm: Told of rumors that a deal could be close, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said that would be “news to him,” as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.

3:50pm: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun hears differently than Abraham and Ghiroli, reporting that his sources indicate there’s nothing hot between the two sides at this time (Twitter link).

2:36pm: Abraham tweets that the two sides are in advanced discussions, but the Red Sox have alternatives, should Baltimore not meet their asking price. Ghiroli adds that Baltimore isn’t likely to part with Gausman in a Lester deal, but the two sides are still in serious discussions.

2:25pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that a deal isn’t close at this time, although Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that talks are indeed heating up. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also tweets that nothing is close to finalization at this point, though that doesn’t preclude a deal from being reached. Andy Martino of the New York Daily news also hears that a deal is possible, but not close at this time (Twitter link).

Kubatko adds that Boston has been asking for Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in talks.

2:20pm: Miguel Gonzalez could be heading to Boston in the deal, Ghiroli tweets. Clearly, he wouldn’t be the centerpiece of the trade.

2:16pm: The Orioles are in advanced talks that would send a pitcher to Boston in exchange for Jon Lester, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli tweets that the two sides are “close” to a deal.


Stark’s Latest: Price, Lee, Lackey, O’s, Yanks, Payroll Limits

Here’s the latest from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark:

  • The Rays are still holding onto David Price unless and until an offer forces a move. “I’d say they’re kind of where they were all winter,” said a competing executive. “Yeah, they’d trade him. But you’ve got to make it so they can’t say no.”
  • Though both sides explored the possibility, the Cardinals and Phillies did not match up on a potential Cliff Lee deal. With Philly seeking a “major prospect” in return, the Cards ultimately turned elsewhere and added Justin Masterson. While St. Louis seemed the best fit for a pre-deadline deal with Lee, Philadelphia still is looking to see if the lefty can be moved before August.
  • The Red Sox are encountering some skepticism from trade partners that John Lackey will play for the league minimum rate next year, as provided by his contract. Of course, that provision makes up a huge portion of Lackey’s trade value, as he would not only contribute down the stretch in 2014 but looks like a very solid rotation piece at a replacement-level price for 2015.
  • The Orioles seem to be focusing more on adding a reliever at this point than a starter, says Stark. Baltimore has been liked to Neal Cotts of the Rangers and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks, neither of whom is a pure LOOGY.
  • In search of bullpen help, the Yankees have inquired into Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, James Russell of the Cubs, and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies. The club has also checked on outfielders Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox.
  • The Blue JaysBraves, and Royals are telling teams they cannot add significant payroll in a trade, though Kansas City could take on a starter who would slot in place of James Shields next year.

Rockies Unlikely To Trade Anderson, De La Rosa

3:53pm: The Rockies aren’t likely to trade Anderson or De La Rosa, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (on Twitter).

9:23am: The Yankees are looking at the second tier of starting pitchers rather than focusing on front-line arms, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney, and one player they’ve discussed is Rockies left-hander Brett Anderson (Twitter link).

The 26-year-old has been injury plagued over the last several seasons and has totaled just 33 1/3 frames this year, though the results have been favorable: a 3.24 ERA with a ground-ball percentage just north of 60 percent. Anderson’s 18-to-13 K/BB ratio in that same time isn’t as encouraging, of course.

Acquired from the A’s in an offseason deal that sent fellow hurlers Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen to the Rockies, Anderson is earning $8MM in 2014, $2MM of which is being paid by the A’s. His contract also contains a $12MM club option ($1.5MM buyout) for the 2015 season.

Anderson was once looked at as one of the game’s most promising young pitchers, but injuries have derailed some of that shine. He still sports a career ERA of 3.77 (with identical FIP and xFIP marks of 3.57) to go along with 7.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 55.3 percent ground-ball rate, but he’s totaled just 196 1/3 innings since Opening Day of 2011.

It remains to be seen, however, if the Rockies will be willing to move Anderson at all. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported this morning (Twitter link) that the Rockies don’t consider Anderson a trade candidate. The team is planning to pick up his $12MM option or sign him to a longer-term deal. It would seem that Anderson’s ground-ball arsenal is appealing to the Rockies, who play in the hitter-friendly Coors Field. Colorado has shown an unwillingness to move any of its starting pitchers, as reports have indicated that they’re unlikely to move Jorge De La Rosa as well, despite his status as an impending free agent.


Jon Lester Rumors: Wednesday

Jon Lester has been scratched from his scheduled start tonight — a clear indicator that the Red Sox are looking to deal their ace. It briefly looked like the Orioles were close to a deal, but while those talks are serious, the deal isn’t close yet. Here’s the latest…

  • In a full article, Heyman writes that the A’s are the mystery team that has stepped into the Lester bidding. Nothing is close between the two sides at the moment, however.
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that a mystery team is becoming more involved.
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reports that the Athletics are in on Lester.

Earlier Updates

  • Via WEEI’s Alex Speier (on Twitter), manager John Farrell expects Lester to be in uniform with the Red Sox today.
  • The Cardinals‘ acquisition of Justin Masterson doesn’t necessarily take them out of the running for Lester, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Cards could still acquire Lester, though it may cost them Shelby Miller, Morosi adds in a second tweet.
  • The Marlins aren’t entirely out of the Lester sweepstakes, an AL executive familiar with the negotiations tells Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. However, the Marlins won’t part with top prospect Andrew Heaney in a Lester deal (or a deal for any rental player).
  • The Cardinals and Dodgers are the two teams that are most aggressively competing for Lester’s services, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They’re also the most aggressive clubs on David Price, though it’s far from a given that the Rays will move their own left-handed ace. Heyman hears similar things to yesterday’s reports regarding the Brewers and Orioles and says neither is in the mix at this point.
  • An NL GM told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he thinks the Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers and Mariners are the primary suitors for Lester heading into Wednesday (Twitter link).

Nate Jones Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

White Sox setup man Nate Jones underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, tweets MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago tweets that Jones, who was on the disabled list recovering from a back injury, tore his ulnar collateral ligament while ramping up his rehab from his previous injury.

The 28-year-old was thought to be the favorite to take over the closer’s role in Chicago following Addison Reed‘s trade to Arizona, but manager Robin Ventura instead went with Matt Lindstrom to open the season in that role. Jones made just two appearances this season and didn’t record an out, allowing four runs on a pair of hits and three walks.

The operation will likely sideline him through next summer, which is a tough break, considering that he is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. Jones had a 3.31 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 through his first two seasons with the South Siders, so a strong 2014 would have positioned him for a nice payday.


Mariners Out On Byrd; Yankees Have Interest

The Mariners are no longer pursuing Marlon Byrd, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN (Twitter link), but the Yankees do have some interest in the Phillies outfielder. However, the Yankees, like other teams, are wary of Byrd’s $8MM vesting option for the 2016 season.

Byrd has been connected to many clubs, but the easily attainable vesting option for what would be his age-37 season has been problematic, as has a four-team no-trade clause. The Mariners and Royals — two teams who have had interest in Byrd — are both on the list, and Byrd has reportedly requested that either team guarantee his option in order to facilitate a trade.

The Yankees have been aggressive in acquiring veteran players such as Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, so their interest in Byrd isn’t surprising. Yankees right fielders have batted just .238/.281/.368 this season, while Byrd has slashed .270/.318/.477. He’s earning $8MM this year and next, in addition to the aforementioned vesting option.


Astros Looking To Move Chris Carter

3:11pm: Though Seattle is in need of offense, the Mariners don’t have interest in Carter, a source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

3:08pm: The Astros are looking to trade first baseman/DH Chris Carter, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

The 27-year-old Carter has plenty of power, as evidenced by the 50 homers he’s mashed since Opening Day 2013 (21 this season). However, the righty slugger is hitting just .212 with a .291 OBP despite a .474 slugging percentage that is huge, considering his paltry batting average.

Carter also comes with limited defensive value. He has some experience in left field, but the results haven’t been pretty (-29.6 UZR/150, -7 DRS in 509 innings). He’s also highly strikeout prone, having whiffed in 31.7 percent of his PAs this season and 33.9 percent in his career. Carter will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and is under team control through 2018.


Chances Of Lackey Trade Are “Very Good”

3:00pm: The Indians are indeed interested in Lackey, tweets Rosenthal. Two teams that aren’t in play, he adds, are the Angels and Brewers.

12:01pm: There’s now a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade John Lackey as well as Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). Lackey has been known to be available for days, but there had also been speculation that Boston could work out some form of extension with the right-hander.

Lackey’s five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Red Sox contained a clause that gave Boston a 2015 club option at the league minimum in the event that he missed significant time with an elbow injury. A torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery triggered that clause, making Lackey a highly appealing trade chip even to teams with the most modest of payrolls.

Lackey will likely want an extension regardless of where he ends up, Rosenthal adds (Twitter links), but that’s not necessarily an unappealing concept for teams in search of a starter that can be controlled beyond 2014. Rosenthal lists the Indians and Marlins as two such clubs.

The Dodgers and Royals have shown interest in Lackey already, and reports yesterday indicated that the Marlins may prefer Lackey to Lester, as the asking price could be lesser. However, the asking price on Lackey isn’t exactly tame, as ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported yesterday that Boston wants an established big league starter in return (presumably, one with team control beyond 2015). Indeed, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets, the BoSox aren’t likely to move both Lackey and Lester without getting starting pitching in return.

In 326 2/3 innings dating back to last season, Lackey has reestablished himself as a solid big league starter. He’s posted a 3.55 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, averaging nearly 6 2/3 innings per outing.


Eric Chavez Retires

Third baseman Eric Chavez has retired, effective immediately, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The 36-year-old has seen time in 17 MLB seasons.

Chavez hit .246/.346/.449 in 81 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks this season, but hasn’t played since early June due to injury. He’s battled knee trouble this season and also has a long history of back issues.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks

Of course, his best seasons came earlier in his career with the Athletics, when Chavez was among the game’s more productive players. Over the 2000-2006 time frame, Chavez compiled a .273/.352/.495 slash with 199 home runs. With outstanding defense, he was worth 31 rWAR and 31.1 fWAR during that stretch.

From that point forward, Chavez was limited by injuries, and never saw more than 400 trips to the plate in a season. But he remained a productive reserve, ultimately moving to the Yankees and then Diamondbacks.

It was no coincidence that the “Moneyball” Athletics made five postseason appearances in the time that Chavez was at his peak. Though he never quite delivered full value on a six-year, $66MM extension signed before the 2004 campaign, Chavez nevertheless was, in the aggregate, a cheap source of top-level production for Oakland after being taken 10th overall in the 1996 draft.


Cubs Nearing Deal For Felix Doubront

The Cubs are nearing a trade for Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.


Latest On Marlins’ Starting Pitching Search

2:22pm: John Danks is another possibility for the Marlins, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford (on Twitter). He also hears that Lackey could be in play still.

2:10pm: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald hears that there’s “zero chance” of a trade that would send Lackey to the Marlins (Twitter link).

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears that the Marlins aren’t in on Lackey or Jon Lester at this time, as they prefer a younger starter with more control. They may prefer someone such as Tommy Milone or Wade Miley.

1:55pm: The Marlins and Red Sox are discussing a potential John Lackey trade, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

Reports earlier today indicated that there’s a “very good chance” that Lackey gets traded in advance of tomorrow’s deadline, and the Marlins have long been known to be in the market for a starting pitcher. Lackey would likely be of particular appeal to the cost-conscious Marlins, given the league-minimum club option for next season his contract.

Of course, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported earlier today that Lackey would probably want to discuss an extension with a new team rather than play at the league minimum in 2015. Lackey has pitched well this season, posting a 3.60 ERA with a 116-to-32 K/BB ratio and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 137 1/3 innings of work.

The Marlins have remained competitive in the NL East despite losing ace Jose Fernandez for the season due to Tommy John surgery. In his stead, the team has leaned on Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi and Tom Koehler. Top prospect Andrew Heaney made a brief cameo but struggled before being optioned back to Triple-A.


Dodgers Backing Off Talks For Front-End Starters

The Dodgers are backing off their pursuit of front-end starting pitchers, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

The Dodgers have been heavily linked to Jon Lester and David Price, but it appears now that the latter may not be traded at all, and the asking price for the former has been said to be sky-high. Multiple reports have indicated a hesitancy on the Dodgers’ behalf to part with top prospects Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, and it seems unlikely that they’d be able to land an ace without including at least one of those prized young hitters.

The Dodgers are said to be interested in other starters, however, including John Lackey. They were also linked to Padres closer Joaquin Benoit earlier this morning.