There are pluses and minuses to today’s fast-paced media culture, Levine says. On one hand, he says, tweets often inspire real-life trade talks. On the other, it can be hard to keep news of a trade from breaking before informing the players involved. News of the Rangers’ trade of Ian Kinsler, for example, broke before the team could inform him.
Levine says he thinks the next CBA will focus on a worldwide draft, as well as raising the lowest team payrolls and limiting the highest ones.
One unusual clause one player requested in his contract was $250K for his wife’s “equestrian expenses.” Players from Asia will often include clauses in their contracts to pay for interpreters and massage therapists.
The Angels have had a run of terrible luck in the second half, losing both Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) for the remainder of the 2014 season (Skaggs will miss most or all of 2015 as well). Following the news of Richards’ diagnosis yesterday, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters he would be on the lookout for further pitching help. As quoted by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitterlinks): “Between now and Sept. 1, we’ll try to be as open as we can be. And after Sept. 1, hopefully what we’re missing in Garrett Richards we’re able to somewhat make up for in volume and depth.”
Here’s the latest on Anaheim’s search for pitching and other Angels-related matters…
The Angels have been connected to Bartolo Colon in the wake of these injuries, but Peter Gammons reports (Twitterlinks) that he’s heard Astros right-hander Scott Feldman‘s name in connection with the Halos as well. However, neither right-hander had been put on waivers as of earlier this morning, and Gammons notes that it might be difficult for the Angels to land a pitcher on waivers because, as one baseball source explained to him, the Orioles and Yankees “are claiming everyone.”
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times looks at the diverse background of educations in the Athletics‘ front office and how those varying personalities fuel the team’s analytical approaches. Baxter spoke with assistant GMs David Forst and Farhan Zaidi for the piece, with Zaidi noting: “It cultivates a lot of debate in our office, just having diverse educational backgrounds and having people that aren’t necessarily guys who have spent their whole careers in the industry … As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed.”
Robinson Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and has been worth five-plus wins above replacement this season, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes that his on-field work isn’t the only way he contributes to the Mariners. Divish spoke with skipper Lloyd McClendon and outfielder Dustin Ackley about Cano’s positive and relaxed personality and the impact that his demeanor has on the team.
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Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
The Reds have re-signed outfielder Ryan LaMarre to a new minor league contract, according to the team’s transactions page. Cincinnati designated LaMarre, 25, for assignment and subsequently released him to clear a roster spot for Cuban right-hander Raisel Iglesias earlier this week. The team was reportedly interested in bringing him back on a new minor league contract and has succeeded in doing so. The former second-round pick has missed much of the season with injury but batted .246/.326/.373 at Double-A last year. While he doesn’t offer much pop, the center fielder did swipe 55 bags in 2011 and is 128-for-174 in stolen base attempts in his minor league career.
The Mets have long been on the lookout for a shortstop, but while many have speculated on the possibility of a trade with the Cubs or D’Backs, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the team will take a look at an under-the-radar Cuban shortstop in the coming days. Roberto Carlos, a 28-year-old Cuban defector, is in the Dominican Republic and garnering attention from the Mets. Carlos left the Cuban National team in 2012 and defected to America, but he is believed to have “slipped through the cracks” because he did not initially seek representation after defecting. The switch-hitting Perez last batted .339 with four homers for the Cuban National team in 2012, Puma writes, and he did have a brief stint in independent ball last season. Carlos, who until recently played under his full name of Roberto Carlos Ramirez, batted .357/.394/.425 in 293 plate appearances between two indy league clubs. He didn’t homer, but he did go 19-for-24 in stolen base attempts.
Here are some more Mets-centric links as we head into the weekend…
Also from Puma’s piece, while the Mets weren’t involved in the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes, the money required to sign him wasn’t the reason, according to GM Sandy Alderson. “I think it’s a matter of there might be some scouting differences of opinion, and kind of where we are and what we’re going to do in the immediate future, so there are lots of issues involved,” said the Mets GM. “We scout [the Cuban market], so it’s not as if we’re not aware of what is going on. It’s not like we’re not aware of who is out there.”
Puma also tweets that the Mets will work out Pavel Quesada as well, a Cuban third baseman who is said to possess some power. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweeted last month that Quesada worked out for several teams at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic.
Zack Wheelerspoke with Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News and said that while he’s aware that the Mets have a perceived starting pitching surplus, he’s hoping to remain with the club rather than end up elsewhere via trade. “I’d like to be here,” said Wheeler. “I know they could use one of (the young pitchers) to get a bat or two, but I’ve been here for the rebuilding. I know it’s part of the game, but I want to be here after the rebuilding. I want to see the results.”
In an appearance with Chris Russo on the MLB Network (video link), Peter Gammons revealed that the Mets at one point last offseason offered Jon Niese to the Mariners in a trade that would have sent shortstop Brad Miller back to New York (it’s unclear what other pieces were in the deal). The Mets may be happy to have held onto Niese, who has posted a 3.50 ERA in 141 1/3 innings while Miller has struggled to a .199/.273/.326 batting line.
Gammons also opines that the Mets and Cubs don’t line up well for a trade because the Mets would likely have to part with at least two young pitchers to make a deal, and that would thin out their depth considerably.
11:50am: Castillo will take his physical tomorrow, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He will earn $72MM from 2015-20, Nightengale adds. Presumably, Castillo is receiving $500K (or perhaps the pro-rated version of that sum) for the 2014 campaign.
11:12am: Castillo’s contract contains a limited no-trade clause, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (on Twitter).
11:00am: Rosenthal reports that the contract will be heavily backloaded, with very little money guaranteed to Castillo in 2014. By structuring the contract as a seven-year deal, however, the Red Sox will gain a break on luxury tax implications (Twitterlinks).
10:25am: The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber reports (Twitterlinks) that Castillo’s deal will be worth $72.5MM over what is technically seven years, as it begins this season. That contract would lock Castillo up in Boston through the 2020 campaign, which will be his age-32 season (he’ll turn 33 late in that season).
10:03am: Castillo will sign with the Red Sox, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
9:58am: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is “on track” for a record six-year deal with the Red Sox that is worth more than $72MM, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. William Perez Villalba of Glorias del Beisbol Cubano first noted on Facebook that the two sides were in agreement on a six-year, $72MM deal.
The 27-year-old Castillo’s name has generated increasing interest over the past several weeks, however Boston’s agreement with the Roc Nation Sports client is significantly larger than most had figured. Previous reports indicated that Castillo could land a five-year deal valued somewhere between $50MM and $60MM, but this contract will eclipse Jose Abreu‘s six-year, $68MM pact with the White Sox for the largest contract ever issued to a Cuban free agent.
Castillo, who also drew interest from the Tigers, Giants, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Mariners (the Tigers were reportedly the other front-runner), held a showcase for scouts earlier this month. Scouts from 28 of the 30 Major League teams were apparently on hand, and the general consensus was that Castillo was a highly impressive talent that was capable of helping a Major League club in 2014.
Ben Badler of Baseball America’s most recent scoutingreports cite Castillo’s 70-grade speed as his best tool, but scouts at his showcase noted that he had surprising power and an average throwing arm in the outfield, leading many to believe him capable of becoming a five-tool center fielder. Some have compared him to a more powerful version of Brett Gardner, though that is a best-case scenario outcome.
Many expected Castillo to sign with a contending team because of his proximity to the Major Leagues, but Castillo instead appears to be the second significant 2015 piece that Boston GM Ben Cherington has added during the 2014 season. Though the Red Sox are in last place, they’ve added Castillo and countryman Yoenis Cespedes to the fold — each of whom was acquired with the intention of helping Boston’s chances next year.
The signing of Castillo adds to a crowded outfield picture in Boston. Shane Victorino and Cespedes are both under contract through 2015, with Cespedes set to earn $10.5MM and Victorino earning $13MM. The team also acquired Allen Craig from the Cardinals in the John Lackey trade, and Craig is guaranteed $26.5MM through the 2017 season. While he can play first base or DH, of course, the Red Sox have Mike Napoli and David Ortiz entrenched at those respective positions next season.
Beyond the guaranteed contracts, Castillo’s presence further muddies the long-term roles of both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts with the organization. Bradley has proven himself an elite defensive center fielder this season, but he’s failed to adapt to Major League pitching and has authored a meager .210/.286/.300 batting line in 494 career plate appearances. Betts, a second baseman by trade, is blocked at his natural position by Dustin Pedroia and therefore converted to center field in 2014. However, with Castillo in the fold, the Red Sox now have a full outfield of guaranteed contracts, which could make it difficult for him to find everyday at-bats next year. However, Betts’ .335/.417/.503 batting line at Triple-A this season is a strong indicator that he is a Major-League-ready talent.
It’s certainly possible that the addition of Castillo will lead to some further roster shuffling by the Red Sox this offseason. Cherington and his staff will have a number of different resources — both veterans on guaranteed contracts and controllable, high upside prospects — at their disposal should they wish to leverage the trade market to address some or all of their starting pitching needs.
As of late last night, the Red Sox and Tigers were said to be the favorites to sign Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, whose price tag reportedly could land between $50MM and $60MM over five years. The 27-year-old Castillo is expected to make a decision this weekend, with many reports having indicated that today would be the day he chooses a team. We’ll keep track of Friday’s Castillo rumors here…
Castillo is still talking with “multiple clubs,” including the Red Sox, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, and a decision could be reached today. Lauber also tweets that Castillo won’t be influenced by whether or not a team is contending in 2014, as he views his choice as a long-term decision.
WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports that rival clubs view the Red Sox as the favorites to sign Castillo. One source indicated to Speier that Castillo is still actively weighing multiple offers, but sources from multiple clubs believe the Sox to be nearing a deal with Castillo and his agents at Roc Nation Sports, according to Speier.
Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com spoke with a league source late last night who indicated that the Red Sox are “optimistic” that they will sign Castillo (Twitter link).
THURSDAY: In an appearance on ESPN Radio 97.5 with Mike Missanelli, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said that he’s not so sure there won’t be changes to the Phillies’ front office following the season (via Philly.com’s Peter Mucha). “They are certainly going to make changes in the organization,” Stark said. “There’s a lot of rumors swirling about all sorts of stuff below Ruben.”
Stark also notes that ownership outside of Montgomery may not be as confident in Amaro. Additionally, Stark points to Montgomery’s firing of former GM Ed Wade back in 2005 — a move that was heavily influenced by the public opinion.
WEDNESDAY: While many outside the Phillies organization have been quick to criticize general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., team president David Montgomery is still voicing public support for his GM. Via Todd Zolecki, Erin Bacharach and Greg Johns of MLB.com, Montgomery addressed a large group of fans in a Q&A session on Tuesday and plainly stated, “Ruben is not on the hot seat.”
The Phillies currently sit in last place with a 55-71 record and are on the verge of missing the playoffs for a third straight season. Since winning the NL East and posting a 102-win season in 2011, they’ve been on a sharp decline. Philadelphia finished 81-81 in 2012 (third place), 73-89 in 2013 (fourth place) and are now on pace for a last-place finish and just 70 wins this year.
Philadelphia’s decline, aging roster and thin farm system (at the upper levels) have all fueled criticism for Amaro. Moves such as Ryan Howard‘s extension (five years, $125MM); the re-signing of aging veterans Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz; the free-agent signing of Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year deal with a vesting option; and the decision not to trade veterans in order to start a rebuild have not sat well with many Phillies fans.
The Phillies do appear to have done well in recent drafts — Aaron Nola and J.P. Crawford are both highly regarded prospects — and some recent offseason additions, such as Marlon Byrd and Roberto Hernandez have paid dividends. Of course, while Byrd has been very productive, his contract and limited no-trade clause (along with a reportedly lofty asking price) prevented the Phils from being able to trade him.
That’s nothing new for the Phillies and Amaro, however, as vesting options and partial no-trade clauses have sapped their leverage in trading many players. A glance at their current roster shows that Byrd, Howard, Hamels, Papelbon, A.J. Burnett, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley are all associated with those trading road blocks (be the no-trade protection contractual or via 10-and-5 rights).
As the MLB.com trio points out, this is not the first time that Montgomery has backed Amaro, though it’s certainly his most straightforward defense of his general manager. Montgomery defended his front office to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb in June and to Zolecki back in February as well.
Additionally, the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page reveals that the Padres have released right-hander Hector Ambriz. After spending 55 2/3 innings in the Astros’ bullpen from 2012-13, the 30-year-old Ambriz saw just two innings with the Friars this year. Much of his season was spent at Triple-A El Paso, where he posted a solid 3.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 55 frames. He had signed a minor league deal with the Padres back in Spring Training.
TUESDAY: The Padres announced that they have designated Brooks Conrad for assignment. In related moves, left-hander Frank Garces will be called up from Double-A San Antonio and right-hander Jesse Hahn is on his way back to San Antonio.
Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January after spending some time in Japan. The infielder has spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, he hasn’t been able to produce the same results. For his career, Conrad owns a .200/.271/.660 line across parts of six big league campaigns.
The Rockies placed first baseman/outfielder Michael Cuddyer on revocable waivers on Sunday, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but Colorado revoked the waivers after he experienced hamstring discomfort this week (Twitter link).
The injury for Cuddyer, however minor, clearly came at a poor time. It’s unclear whether or not the Rockies would have traded the 2013 NL batting champion even if he had not been injured, but they now won’t have the opportunity to do so prior to the expiration of his three-year, $31.5MM contract at the end of the season.
A team in need of offense certainly could have benefited from the addition of Cuddyer, who is hitting .331/.386/.533 dating back to the beginning of the 2013 campaign. The 35-year-old, however, is no stranger to the injury bug. He’s had four separate DL stints over the course of his current three-year pact and has tallied just 141 plate appearances this season after missing much of the year with a fractured shoulder. (Cuddyer suffered the injury playing third base for the first time since 2010 while filling in for then-injured Nolan Arenado.)
It’s not clear at this time which club claimed Cuddyer, but it’s unlikely that he’d have escaped the National League on waivers. The Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and Giants are all contending clubs that could use an additional bat and find room for Cuddyer in their lineup. An acquiring club would’ve had to pay Cuddyer roughly $2.35MM through season’s end, had a trade been worked out.
The Rockies could technically place Cuddyer on waivers a second time, but the waivers would no longer be revocable at that point, and Colorado doesn’t seem likely to run him through waivers solely to shed his remaining salary.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty about where Cuban outfielder/second baseman Rusney Castillo will sign, even amongst Major League teams. An executive who has been scouting Castillo for the last month tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that “no one knows who’s getting him or which teams will jump in unexpectedly.” Following yesterday’s updates, here’s the latest on the Castillo sweepstakes…
Castillo privately worked out for the Reds and Mariners within the past week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. The late date of these workouts was due to scheduling, Rosenthal notes, and shouldn’t be thought of as a hint that Castillo is favoring either of these two clubs. Six other teams (the Cubs, Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees) have now had Castillo in for a private workout, Rosenthal lists.
The Red Sox are one of the three teams “most actively involved” for Castillo’s services, Rosenthal reports. Presumably the other two teams are the Tigers and Giants, as Rosenthal cited two days ago.
“There’s definitely a growing sense” the Cubs will be outbid for Castillo’s services, a source tells CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney. Another source predicts Castillo will receive a contract “much closer” to $68MM (what Jose Abreu received from the White Sox) than $42MM (what Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers).
MLive.com’s Chris Iott warns that a number of hurdles will have to be jumped for Castillo to be able to contribute to a team in September. Fans also might want to temper their expectations for Castillo, as while he is expected to be ready for the majors immediately, Iott notes that it would be hard for a contender like the Tigers to just hand Castillo a starting job down the stretch in a pennant race.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…
Pirates right-hander Wirfin Obispo has been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports (on Twitter). The 29-year-old was designated for assignment last week when the Bucs claimed catcher Ramon Cabrera off waivers from the Tigers. In 25 2/3 innings with Indianapolis, Obispo has posted a 3.16 ERA with 8.4 K/9, though he’s posted a fairly high 4.6 BB/9 rate as well.
Red Sox outfielder Corey Brown has been outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to the team’s transactions page. Brown, 28, was designated for assignment on Aug. 17 to create roster space for right-hander Steven Wright. He has a strong track record at Triple-A as a whole, but he scuffled a bit in 2014, posting a .226/.294/.452 batting line.
The Yankees have signed right-hander Wilking Rodriguez, per the club’s transactions page. Rodriguez was released by the Royals after the team’s acquisition of Josh Willingham, but the 24-year-old posted solid stats between Double-A and Triple-A this season: a combined 2.36 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 26 2/3 innings. Rodriguez also made his big league debut for the Royals this year, firing two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout.
6:01pm: The Angels initially claimed Beckham off waivers, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
5:07pm: Kay clarifies that the Angels will send a PTBNL or cash considerations to the White Sox in exchange for Beckham, not both, as he initially announced (Twitter link).
4:35pm: Angels director of communications Eric Kay announced today that the team has acquired second baseman Gordon Beckham from the White Sox in exchange for a player to be named later and cash considerations (Twitter link). The Angels can clear a 40-man roster spot for Beckham by placing the injured Garrett Richards on the 60-day disabled list. The team announced earlier today that Richards is out six to nine months due a torn patellar tendon in his left knee that will require surgery.
Beckham, 27, has struggled this season with the White Sox, hitting just .221/.263/.336 in 390 plate appearances. The former No. 8 overall draft pick hasn’t panned out the way the White Sox hoped back in 2008 as he is a lifetime .244/.306/.374 batter despite playing the majority of his games in the very hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.
Park-adjusted metrics such as OPS+ (83) and wRC+ (82) suggest that Beckham has been about 17 to 18 percent worse than a league-average hitter over the course of his career, although the offensive bar for a middle infielder is considerably lower than that of a corner infielder/outfielder. While he’s hit lefties at a .309/.349/.454 clip in a small sample this season, his career split — .245/.313/.375 — is pretty even with his career mark against right-handed pitching.
Beckham will bring some degree defensive versatility to the Angels, and Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register tweets that he will come off the bench. Beckham has played primarily second base for the Pale Hose in his career, but he broke into the Majors primarily as a third baseman back in 2009 and was initially drafted as a shortstop out of the University of Georgia. Defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved have pegged Beckham’s glove as roughly average over the past four seasons.
The Angels will have control of Beckham through the 2015 season if they wish, as he is arbitration eligible for the final time this offseason. Beckham’s agents at Relativity Sports avoided arbitration with the White Sox by securing a one-year, $4.18MM contract this winter. He is owed roughly $913K of that figure from now through season’s end. Despite the down performance in 2014, Beckham will be in line for a slight raise, making him a non-tender candidate following the season.
That Gordon reached the Angels means he either cleared waivers earlier this month or went unclaimed by every other team in the American League, as Anaheim currently possesses the best record in the Majors.
The 25-year-old Hagens made his Major League debut for the Snakes just last week, appearing in two games and allowing a run on four hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings. He’s split the majority of the season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, posting a combined 3.95 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 120 2/3 innings.
Twenty of Hagen’s 26 minor league appearances this year were starts, but he’s no stranger to bullpen work. The 2009 sixth-round pick spent the first two seasons of his pro career as a reliever before converting to the rotation in 2011. He split the 2012 season between the ‘pen and the rotation before returning to the rotation full time in 2013, and he’s been starting in the minors since early May this year.
Angels right-hander Garrett Richards has been diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and will undergo surgery that will come with a recovery time of six to nine months, the Angels announced (Twitterlinks). Given the length of the recovery period, it’s possible that the Halos’ breakout star could miss the beginning of the 2015 season as well.
Richards is the second young pitcher that the Angels have lost this month, as they also received the news that lefty Tyler Skaggs required Tommy John surgery. If there’s a slight silver lining for Angels fans, it’s that Richards will almost certainly be able to contribute next season, whereas Skaggs is unlikely to do so.
Nonetheless, it’s a crucial blow to an Angels team that is in a close race with the Athletics for the AL West division title. The 26-year-old Richards has been an anchor for manager Mike Scioscia’s rotation this season, pitching to a 2.61 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate in 168 2/3 innings of work.
The Angels will now lean even more heavily on Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson atop their rotation, with likely contributions from Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and perhaps Wade LeBlanc at the back of the starting five. LeBlanc was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake today after posting a 4.00 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 123 2/3 innings this season, but the 30-year-old veteran hasn’t seen consistent time in a big league rotation since 2011 with the Padres. He has a career 4.56 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 424 1/3 Major League innings.
The Richards injury will only further speculation that the Halos could look outside the organization to add an arm for the stretch drive. Reports yesterday indicated that Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon has yet to hit the waiver wire, and he would be a logical target for the Angels if he reaches them (a team like the Mariners, however, could block their division rivals by placing a claim). MLBTR’s list of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers does include a few pitchers, but it seems highly unlikely that any of Yu Darvish, Jon Niese or Gio Gonzalez would truly be available. Hypothetically speaking, Niese is the most realistic option, as the Mets aren’t contending. However, the Angels’ depleted farm system likely doesn’t have the necessary chips to make such an acquisition.
Richards’ injury could also have an impact on GM Jerry Dipoto’s offseason strategy, as it likely increases the importance of adding veteran pitching depth — even on minor league deals. Of course, for the time being, Dipoto and his lieutenants will be focused on the next two months as they hope to make a postseason appearance, which would be their first since 2009.