Blue Jays To Promote Aaron Sanchez

The Blue Jays will promote top prospect Aaron Sanchez to join their bullpen today, sources tell Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The right-handed starter had been moved to the bullpen at Triple-A recently to prepare him for the role in the Majors, though he made just two relief appearances before this promotion.

Aaron  Sanchez

Sanchez, 22, ranked as the game’s No. 32 prospect on Baseball America’s pre-season Top 100. He ranked 31st on Baseball Prospectus’ version of the same list and 23rd on MLB.com’s Top 100. Sanchez has had a bit of a down season, causing him to fall off of the midseason edition of BA’s Top 50 prospects. However, BP wasn’t as swayed by his elevated ERA and upped his ranking to No. 29 on their midseason list (though as they note, given the number of prospects that have been promoted ahead of him, the ranking is actually a bit of a step back).

In 100 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Sanchez has a 4.19 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9. As BP’s Chris Mellen notes in his write-up of Sanchez on BP’s midseason list (subscription required and recommended), he consistently teases the Blue Jays by showing front-of-the-rotation stuff but with heavily inconsistent fastball command. As a result, the “clear-headed line of sight” points to a mid-rotation role for Sanchez, Mellen writes. Prior to the season BA praised his ability to induce grounders with his fastball as well as the tilt and depth of his potentially plus curveball. They did note, however, that when pitching from the stretch in 2013, he walked more hitters than he struck out. Sanchez’s changeup has potential to be a third average-or-better offering as well, per MLB.com’s scouting report.

If Sanchez is at the Major League level to stay, he would accumulate 70 days of service time through season’s end, which would leave him well shy of attaining Super Two status. Recent reports have indicated that the Blue Jays are looking for bullpen help, but if Sanchez can solidify a relief role, he could be an alternative to making a trade.

Sanchez has also seen his name mentioned in trade rumors pertaining to starting pitching additions, but GM Alex Anthopoulos has shown a strong resistance to moving Sanchez’s lofty ceiling. Sanchez’s name was frequently brought up in possible Jeff Samardzija trades — alongside lefty Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey — before “Shark” was ultimately dealt to Oakland.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Padres GM Finalists Are Preller, Hazen, Eppler, Ng

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

JULY 20th, 9:28am: Jim Bowden of ESPN (on Twitter) hears from a league source that Eppler and Preller have moved into the lead.

JULY 17th, 3:39pm: The Padres have narrowed their list of candidates for the club’s open GM position with intentions of conducting second interviews next week, reports Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). Among the candidates for the GM office, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen could be the favorite, according to a report from Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

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

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


Central Notes: Indians, Royals, Rios, Twins, Willingham, Cards, Peavy

There was some action on the shortstop front for the Indians today, as starter Asdrubal Cabrera left the game with lower back spasms, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). That would appear to be a minor injury, but the news coincided with the club’s decision to promote top prospect (and fellow shortstop) Francisco Lindor to Triple-A, as Hoynes tweets. Cleveland has indicated, however, that the move was unrelated. Of course, Cabrera has often been mentioned as a trade candidate — at season’s end if not at this year’s deadline — due in large part to the continued rise of Lindor, his presumed successor.

Here’s more out of the AL and NL Central:

  • With the Royals focusing on adding a corner bat, one possibility that the club has considered is Alex Rios of the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Rios does have a six-team no-trade clause which, according to Cot’s on Contracts, includes Kansas City. His $13.5MM club option for next season is not cheap, but could potentially take the place of Billy Butler‘s own $12.5MM option if the latter is dealt or has his option declined.
  • The Twins appear to be prepared to sell, according to a report from MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger“We’re in a tough spot right now and we’ve been in a tough spot for four years,” said GM Terry Ryan. “So you have to listen. And that’s what we do.” 
  • One prime trade candidate for the Twins is outfielder Josh Willingham, who is slashing .209/.357/.399 with eight home runs in 207 plate appearances as he prepares to hit the open market after the season. Two clubs to watch as possible suitors are the Reds and Pirates, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
  • The Cardinals received some promising news on righty Michael Wacha, who could begin throwing again in two weeks after seeing improved MRI and CT scan results, reports Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An early September return still appears the best case scenario, according to GM John Mozeliak. But Wacha’s health will not dictate the club’s trade deadline plans. “They’re independent of each other,” said Mozeliak. “That’s still something we can explore in the next eight to ten days.”
  • One oft-discussed option for the Cardinals is veteran Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who once seemed close to being moved but could now be held as Boston looks to make a late surge. St. Louis is still keeping Peavy on their “back burner,” a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), who notes that Peavy has put together three consecutive solid outings.


East Notes: Lee, Hamels, Braves, Price, Orioles

There were plenty of scouts on hand for the Phillies‘ matchup tonight, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (links to Twitter). Among the players presumably being eyed were starter Cliff Lee, fresh off a lengthy DL stint, and southpaw reliever Antonio Bastardo. Clubs with representatives on-hand included the Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, Angels, Royals, Giants, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners, though Crasnick adds that all were not necessarily looking at Lee in particular. The return start for Lee did not go well for the veteran lefty, as he surrendered 12 base hits (11 singles and one long ball) and six earned runs to go with three strikeouts and a walk over 5 2/3 innings.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • The Phillies are telling clubs that starter Cole Hamels is not available, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Hamels looks to be the best trade piece on the club’s current MLB roster, but Philadelphia may well prefer to keep the 30-year-old as it attempts to avoid a total rebuild.
  • The Yankees appear on Lee’s twenty-team no-trade list, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lee also listed New York on last year’s version of his slate of clubs to which he can decline to be dealt.
  • For the Braves, the trade deadline is likely to bring aid to the bullpen and bench, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A left-handed reliever has long been on the club’s list, and Bowman says that the club might also look to add a bench bat that would improve the team’s anemic pinch-hitting results. As Bowman notes, Jordan Schafer and Ryan Doumit have both largely been ineffective in that role.
  • The Rays now seem more likely than ever to take the decision whether to deal David Price right up until the trade deadline, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post“I think they take it down to the wire,” an executive told Sherman. “That allows them to make sure they know who they are while making a couple teams sweat to the end that one of their competitors are going to get him. … It wouldn’t surprise me if Price actually ends up a July 31 decision.”
  • Meanwhile, the Orioles are looking at a broad array of options to bolster their club, reports MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli. In particular, the club is looking at both starting and relief arms, and has indicated to at least three clubs that righty Miguel Gonzalez could be moved. One of those teams is the Padres, who of course hold one of the better available starters in Ian Kennedy. A.J. Burnett of the Phillies is also on Baltimore’s radar, as is Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, though Ghiroli says that Colorado was asking for top prospect Kevin Gausman to be included. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that executive vice president Dan Duquette remains hesitant to part with the club’s best prospects, and could ultimately take things down to the wire to get the right deal. (That, of course, was the strategy that Baltimore employed in this year’s free agent market, though last year the club started buying somewhat early at the deadline.)

Relief Market Notes: Buyers, Red Sox, Tigers, Phils, Cubs, Cishek

As usual, the relief market promises to be active in the coming days. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports via Twitter, one executive with a reliever to shop cited the Tigers, Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, and Pirates as clubs that are in the market.

Here’s more on possible pen moves:

  • While many teams have interest in shoring up their bullpens, many top relief targets might not ultimately be moved, Rosenthal also tweets. He names Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Joakim Soria (Rangers), and Joaquin Benoit (Padres) as quality late-inning hurlers who could stay put.
  • The Red Sox have received plenty of interest in both Uehara and southpaw setup man Andrew Miller, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but the pair is not going to be dealt at this point given the club’s recent winning streak, which reached five games tonight.
  • Among the most active buyers are the Tigers, who have scouted virtually all the available arms, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Detroit is showing interest in Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, though the team is indeed keeping its eye on a wide variety of possibilities. That includes fellow Philly Jonathan Papelbon, adds Morosi.
  • After shipping out their top two targets, the Cubs are receiving the most hits on lefty James Russell, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Two other pen pieces — southpaw Wesley Wright and swingman Carlos Villanueva — are also “in play,” says Wittenmyer.
  • Marlins closer Steve Cishek is a recent addition to the rumor mill, though MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro says that Miami has told opposing clubs that they do not intend to deal the righty. The 28-year-old comes with three more years of control through arbitration, though he’ll be well-paid after taking home $3.8MM as a Super Two. Meanwhile, with the Fish hoping to make a run at extending star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton after the season, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald cites a source who tells him that shipping out Cishek could have a negative impact on that effort.

Minor Moves: Alderson, DeVoss, Stewart, Henderson

Here are some recent minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • Two minor league signings were posted today by the Athletics, as the club landed righty Tim Alderson and outfielder Zeke DeVoss, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Alderson, a 25-year-old former first-rounder and top-100 prospect, has seen his career stall. He has struggled to a 6.12 ERA in 50 relief innings this year for the Orioles’ top affiliate. DeVoss, just 24 years old, was a third-round pick in 2011 but failed to progress this year for the Cubs.
  • The Angels have outrighted infielder Ian Stewart to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. He was designated for assignment two days ago. It is not yet clear whether Stewart has accepted the assignment. (He has the right to choose free agency because he has previously been outrighted.)
  • The Brewers shifted right-hander Jim Henderson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day, the club announced via Twitter.  Henderson’s 40-man roster spot will be filled by righty Jeremy Jeffress, who contract was selected by the Brewers in a corresponding move.
  • The Giants signed righty Mitchell Boggs, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  Boggs had a 9.50 ERA, 18 strikeouts and 17 walks over 36 relief innings for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate this season before being released earlier this month.  A reliable contributor for the Cardinals’ bullpen from 2010-12, Boggs developed major control issues last season, and the Giants are now his fourth organization in a little over a year’s time.
  • The Royals released right-hander Ramon Troncoso, the club announced last week.  Troncoso signed a minor league contract with K.C. in March and produced a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and an even 3.0 K/BB rate over 44 IP with Triple-A Omaha.  Troncoso pitched 30 relief innings for the White Sox in 2013, his first taste of big league action since 2011.
  • The Phillies released utilityman Rusty Ryal, according to Matt Provence, media relations director for Triple-A LeHigh Valley (Twitter link).  Ryal, 31, appeared in 134 games with the Diamondbacks from 2009-10 and hasn’t been back to the majors since, playing in the minors for five different organizations since.  He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies in June.

Gammons On Zobrist, Uehara, Miller, Lester

Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons appeared on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show (audio link) to discuss a host of Red Sox topics earlier today, and in doing so he touched on quite a few Red Sox issues, as well as some issues pertaining to other teams around the AL. Here are some highlights from the interview, and readers can check out full quotes from Gammons in the transcription provided by WEEI’s Ryan Conor

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is torn as to whether or not he should buy or sell at this year’s trade deadline. He’s had scouts looking at top prospects around the league, but the upcoming road trip will do a lot to determine their course of action. Gammons notes that he may even have to consider dealing Jon Lester if the team truly isn’t going to work out a new deal with him.
  • The Rays’ recent surge in the standings has them holding off on selling pieces, Mariners sources told Gammons. Seattle thought they were closing in on a deal for Ben Zobrist, but they’ve since been told that the Rays plan to wait until the final 48 hours prior to the deadline before determining a course of action.
  • One GM who contacted the Red Sox about Koji Uehara told Gammons that Cherington seems disinclined to even discuss the possibility of trading his closer. The Sox want to bring Uehara back in 2015 and have him close.
  • Uehara hasn’t even been generating the most interest, Gammons hears. That distinction goes to Andrew Miller, who has “by far” been the subject of the most inquiries in Boston’s bullpen.
  • Gammons hears that Lester told teammates that he’d have signed in Spring Training if the team had offered even one dollar more than Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105MM contract. The Red Sox maintain that their four-year, $70MM offer was merely a starting point, not a final offer, as they didn’t want to start at $110MM and end up in “Max Scherzer” territory (referring to the six-year, $144MM which Scherzer rejected).
  • That Scherzer offer, however, may be what Lester ultimately secures as a free agent, Gammons said. Two general managers have told Gammons that they expect Lester to sign for at least that much on the open market. “There’s a lot of money out there,” said one GM.
  • Gammons can see the Sox pursuing James Shields on the free agent market, but he notes that it’s more important for the team to cast a wide net rather than have just one contingency plan for Lester. He lists Cole Hamels as another alternative, though he points out how difficult it would be to acquire Hamels, as Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would need to hit a home run on the deal after failing to acquire useful pieces from the Cliff Lee-to-Seattle deal and some other missteps.
  • Gammons feels that Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Rubby De La Rosa and Henry Owens are probably all untouchable in trades at this point.

Tony Abreu Opts Out Of Contract With Giants

Veteran infielder Tony Abreu has opted out of his contract with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the team announced on Twitter.

Abreu, primarily a second baseman, has had a solid campaign with the Fresno Grizzlies this year, hitting .281/.329/.434 with six homers and 15 doubles in 250 plate appearances, though it’s worth noting that those stats came in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The Giants earlier today signed Dan Uggla to a minor league deal, and with Uggla reporting to Fresno, it’s possible that Abreu’s playing time stood to diminish.

The 29-year-old Abreu spent a fair amount of time the Giants’ Major League club last season, hitting .268/.301/.442 with a pair of homers, 12 doubles and three triples in 147 plate appearances over 53 games. The Scott Boras client is a career .256/.285/.376 hitter in the Majors and also has experience at third base and shortstop.


Angels Sign John Buck

The Angels have signed the recently released John Buck to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link).

Buck, a client of ACES, was designated for assignment and eventually released by the Mariners earlier this month when after hitting .226/.293/.286 in 27 games (92 plate appearances). The 34-year-old will provide some veteran catching depth for the Halos, who have been using a productive combination of Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger behind the dish this season.

In parts of 11 big league seasons between the Royals, Marlins, Mets, Pirates and Mariners, Buck is a .234/.301/.398 hitter with 134 home runs. He’s gunned down 25 percent of opposing base-stealers in his career and was at 21 percent in 2014 with Seattle.


Tommy Milone Asks For Trade

Oakland’s acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel displaced left-hander Tommy Milone from the club’s rotation, and now the 27-year-old has asked the club for a trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Oakland has received multiple inquiries on Milone, but the team doesn’t feel inclined to move him, as he could be needed for future depth in the event of injuries or ineffectiveness. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that she now also hears that Milone has asked for a trade, but that won’t necessarily prompt the A’s to deal him.

It’s understandable that Milone would be frustrated with his demotion. As Rosenthal notes, July 5 marked the third time that Milone was sent to Triple-A Sacramento in the past calendar year, and it come on the heels of a stretch in which he went 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts.

Milone is not yet arbitration eligible — he will be this offseason — and is under control through the 2017 season. A soft-tossing southpaw (he’s averaged 87.3 mph on his fastball in his career), Milone has a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 Major League innings. The A’s originally acquired him from the Nationals as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade. He’s a client of Praver/Shapiro, as shown in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

Milone would appeal to a wide range of teams, as contending clubs in need of help at the back of their rotation could be interested, but rebuilding teams in need of controllable arms could look to acquire him as well.


Offseason Extensions For Towers, Gibson Were One-Year Deals

Back in February, the D’Backs announced extensions for general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson that ran beyond the 2014 campaign, but the team declined to include the length of either deal, and subsequent reports neglected to shine any light on the contract terms. Now, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that each extension was a “unique” one-year deal that could potentially become longer deals.

There’s been quite a bit of speculation about the job security of both Towers and Gibson, given the club’s poor start to the 2014 season. Tony La Russa has been hired by the D’Backs to serve as the “Chief Baseball Officer” who will evaluate the club’s decision makers.

It remains to be seen how the length of the deals will impact either Towers or Gibson, but surely a one-year commitment could make it easier for the D’Backs to make a change if La Russa determines one is needed. As Heyman writes, Towers doesn’t feel that his role has been altered or reduced to that of a “psuedo-GM” since the hiring of La Russa, though he knows the ultimate decision is out of his hands. “Tony will make the decision,” Towers said to Heyman. “I’m a big boy.”


Rockies Designate Jair Jurrjens For Assignment

The Rockies have designated right-hander Jair Jurrjens for assignment, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). The move was necessitated by the promotion of first baseman Ben Paulsen, whose contract was selected today. Paulsen will replace Justin Morneau, who has been placed on the 15-day DL with a neck strain.

Jurrjens made a pair of spot starts for Colorado after being acquired from the Reds, but the former All-Star’s results were less than favorable. Jurrjens allowed 11 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings, though he did so with nine strikeouts against just three walks. In 40 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season, the 28-year-old has a 4.02 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.


Twins, Suzuki Far Apart In Extension Talks

The Twins and catcher Kurt Suzuki recently engaged in extension talks, but the two sides aren’t seeing eye to eye in terms of contract parameters, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino characterizes the talks as “exploratory” but notes that establishing fair parameters looks like it will be a challenge.

The news is significant, as Suzuki figures to be a prime trade chip if the Twins aren’t able to secure a new contract with the first-time All-Star. Signed to a one-year, $2.75MM contract (with $500K of incentives), Suzuki seems a highly unlikely candidate to receive a qualifying offer after the season. As such, a trade may be the only way for the Twins to receive long-term value, should Suzuki sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter.

Suzuki, 30, has served as Minnesota’s primary backstop all season and slashed a strong .305/.364/.389. While he’s cracked just a pair of homers, he’s shown the best full-season walk rate of his career (7.5 percent) and is striking out at a career-low rate (8.8 percent). That strikeout rate is currently the sixth-lowest in all of Major League Baseball (among qualified hitters).

Defensively speaking, Suzuki has been a mixed bag. He’s thrown out a solid 24 percent of opposing base-stealers and rates as one of the best in the league at blocking potential passed balls and wild pitches, per Baseball Prospectus. However, he ranks at the bottom of the league in terms of pitch framing, per BP and Matthew Carruth at StatCorner.com.

Both the Cardinals and Orioles have seen their starting catchers go down with serious injuries, while other contenders such as the Dodgers and Blue Jays have also received below-average offense behind the plate.


Blue Jays Designate Sergio Santos For Assignment

3:02pm: Anthopoulos tells reporters, including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, that he made no effort to trade Santos and has already placed him on waivers (Twitter link). Santos did not ask to be traded, either. Toronto’s hope is that Santos will clear waivers and head to Triple-A to rediscover his form.

2:18pm: The Blue Jays announced that they have designated right-hander Sergio Santos for assignment and recalled southpaw Rob Rasmussen from Triple-A Buffalo.

Santos, 31, has rarely been healthy since the Blue Jays surprisingly acquired him from the White Sox prior to the 2012 season. He missed the majority of his first season north of the border following surgery to repair a frayed labrum in his shoulder, and last season he was sidelined by triceps injuries. This year, a forearm strain has shelved Santos and likely contributed to some significant struggles on the mound.

Santos looked excellent in 25 2/3 innings last season — he posted a 1.75 ERA with a 28-to-4 K/BB ratio — but he’s been lost in 2014. The former ChiSox stopper has a 7.78 ERA wit 26 strikeouts and 17 walks in 19 2/3 innings. His command issues haven’t just been limited to free passes, as he’s also uncorked four wild pitches in that relatively short amount of time.

Suffice it to say, if this is the end of his time with the Jays, Santos’ tenure in Toronto didn’t pan out as well as GM Alex Anthpoulos had hoped when he plucked him from the South Siders in exchange for prospect Nestor Molina. However, it appears that Anthopoulos still did a commendable job of selling high on Molina, who had a 2.21 ERA in 130 1/3 innings in 2011 but has posted a combined 4.56 ERA across three levels in Chicago’s minor league system since. Now 25 years old, he has thrown just four innings at the Triple-A level — all of which came in 2012.

The Jays still owe Santos roughly $1.43MM of this season’s $3.75MM salary, as well as a $750K buyout on the first of three club options in the three-year, $8.25MM extension he originally signed with the Sox.


Top 11 Picks Will Be Protected In 2015 Draft

The Astros’ failure to sign Brady Aiken resulted in the team receiving a compensation pick (No. 2 overall) in the 2015 draft, and while we’ve seen problems caused by comp picks in the Top 10 under the new CBA (specifically heading into the 2013 season), MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports that a change has been made to the protected pick structuring (Twitter links). Previously, the CBA had called for the “Top 10″ picks to be protected, but changes have been made that will protect the picks of the teams with the 10 worst records, regardless of whether or not comp picks are inserted into the first 10 selections.

This very situation may have cost the Mets a chance to sign Michael Bourn in the 2012-13 offseason (an outcome that, in hindsight, may have been beneficial to New York). The Mets finished the 2012 campaign with the 10th-worst record in baseball, but their No. 10 pick was pushed back to No. 11 due to the Pirates’ inability to reach agreement with 2012′s No. 8 overall pick — Mark Appel (who was drafted 1-1 by Houston the following season).

The Mets were weighing an appeal to the commissioner’s office that would have allowed them to sign Bourn and surrender a second-round pick, as Bourn had turned down a qualifying offer from the Braves and was subsequently linked to draft pick compensation. Before any resolution of the matter could ever be hammered out, the Indians made a four-year, $48MM offer that Bourn accepted. It’s not clear if that scenario prompted the change, but it’s logical to speculate that the Bourn situation could have sparked the change.

Coincidentally, the Mets currently have the 10th-worst record in baseball once again, though obviously that’s subject to change over the final two-plus months of the season. However, regardless of which team ends up having their pick pushed back from No. 10 to No. 11 to accommodate the Astros’ new selection, that pick will remain protected. That team, therefore, would only have to surrender a second-round pick in  order to sign a free agent that turns down a qualifying offer.

This will mark the second consecutive year that the Top 11 picks are protected in the draft, although the reasoning behind the protection of this year’s No. 11 pick was different. The Blue Jays received the No. 11 pick as compensation for failing to sign 2013 No. 10 overall pick Phil Bickford, and compensation picks, by definition, are protected under the CBA.