Braves, Dodgers To Swap Callaspo, Uribe In Six-Player Deal

12:23am: Stults is indeed in the trade along with Thomas, tweets Rosenthal. Right-hander Juan Jaime is expected to be the fourth player in the deal from the Braves’ side, reports Bowman (Twitter link).

12:15am: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the deal won’t be officially announced until the league reviews it in the morning, tweets Bowman. The players appear to be in the process of being notified, however. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles tweets that an emotional Uribe confirmed to reporters that he’s been traded.

WEDNESDAY, 12:02am: Bowman now tweets that it sounds like lefty Ian Thomas will held to the Dodgers in the trade. The 28-year-old has worked to a 3.94 ERA with 18 strikeouts against 11 walks in 16 innings of relief for the Braves over the past two seasons. Thomas primarily throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, and he posted generally strong marks over the course of his minor league tenure after being signed out of indy ball.

Interestingly, Bowman adds that while Stults pitched tonight, he could still be included in the deal.

TUESDAY, 11:47pm: Rosenthal reports that right-hander Chris Withrow, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery at this time, is expected to be the second player heading from the Dodgers to the Braves. He’s slated to return from his operation in the second half of the season after undergoing surgery 51 weeks ago, on June 3, 2014.

Withrow, a hard-throwing reliever and former first-round pick of the Dodgers (2007) spent parts of the 2013-14 seasons pitching in relief for L.A., and doing so quite effectively. The 56 innings he accumulated in those two seasons are the only Major League work on his resume, but he made quite the impression, registering a 2.73 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, a 39.7 percent ground-ball rate and a fastball that averaged 95.7 mph. It should be noted that while Withrow’s BB/9 rate looks a bit troubling, eight of his 31 Major League walks came over his final 8 2/3 innings prior to Tommy John; his control looked markedly better in 2013, and Baseball America noted prior to the 2014 season that he’d significantly improved upon his ability to locate his fastball.

10:44pm: Bowman now tweets that neither Lee nor Anderson would be in the trade, if and when it is approved.

10:36pm: Stults is warming in the Braves’ bullpen as the two teams play each other, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Clearly, that indicates that he’s not in the trade, as the Braves certainly wouldn’t risk him incurring an injury and jeopardizing the deal.

9:58pm: The Braves will get a pitching prospect — possibly either Zach Lee or Chris Anderson — if the trade is approved, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). That’s a surprising pair of names to be linked to this trade, as both are highly regarded. Though Lee’s stock is down after some rough performances, he was formerly one of the Dodgers’ top prospects and ranks in their 10-15 range per MLB.com and Baseball America, while Fangraphs pegged him ninth. Anderson, on the other hand, ranks fifth on MLB.com’s list, sixth per Fangraphs and seventh per BA.

8:52pm: Trade talks between the Dodgers and Braves regarding Alberto Callaspo and Juan Uribe fell apart earlier today after Callaspo vetoed the transaction, but the two sides have reportedly come to terms on a six-player trade that will send Callaspo to the Dodgers and Uribe to Atlanta. The deal is not yet official, but Callaspo has already been pulled from the lineup by the Braves, and Uribe (pictured) is not in the Dodgers’ lineup either.

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The two sides were believed to be putting together a similar trade last night, but Callaspo vetoed the trade earlier this morning. As a player that signed as a free agent just this offseason, Callaspo cannot be traded prior to June 15 without his consent. That discussions are back on would suggest that Callaspo has had a change of heart.

Reports earlier today suggested that the Dodgers would be acquiring Callaspo and three players from the Braves in exchange for Uribe and a minor leaguer of their own. The Braves, reportedly were willing to take on some of the remaining $4.69MM remaining on Uribe’s deal, though Callaspo himself is owed a not-insignificant $2.16MM through season’s end. To this point, the exact division of the salaries in question is an uncertainty.

FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported earlier today that Major League pitching was said to be headed from Atlanta to L.A. as well, though he cautioned that no big names were involved in the deal. That could indicate that either Eric Stults or Trevor Cahill is involved. From my own speculative standpoint, relieving the Braves of the salary commitments to Cahill and Callaspo in order to convince the Braves to part with some semi-meaningful talent would be right up the alley of the new Dodgers’ front office. (We’ve previously seen them essentially buy a draft pick by taking on Ryan Webb‘s remaining salary, for instance.)

It’s worth wondering how long, if at all, Callaspo will be retained by the Dodgers. As L.A. showed with Webb, the team was perfectly willing to trade for his salary and release him in order to acquire the draft pick. The team has also aggressively claimed and acquired players that have been recently designated for assignment, only to quickly DFA them a second time, likely with the hope of sneaking them through outright waivers. The Dodgers have Alex Guerrero, Justin Turner, Hector Olivera and, eventually Corey Seager as potential in-house options at the hot corner, making both Uribe and Callaspo seem somewhat expendable. Callaspo has batted just .206/.293/.252 for the Braves this season, so his on-field production isn’t necessarily something the Dodgers would view as an upgrade. He’s capable of handling multiple infield positions, but while that versatility is appealing, the same could be said of Turner, who has experience at more positions and superior numbers at the plate.

From the Braves’ standpoint, the team likely views Uribe as a superior option to Callaspo and, quite possibly, the injured Chris Johnson (who will be activated from the DL later this week). Uribe has posted consistently excellent defensive marks at third base over the past three seasons, and he batted .295/.334/.439 while playing half his games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium from 2013-14. He’s off to a slow start in 2015 — .247/.287/.309 in 87 PAs — but he’s also been slowed by a hamstring injury.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the re-kindled talks and the completion of the trade (Twitter links). Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez first told reporters, including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, that Callaspo was being discussed in trades last night (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL East Notes: Wright, Amaro, Phillies, Harper

While the Mets hope it won’t come to this, they’re protected against an extended absence from David Wright, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The Mets have insurance on Wright’s contract that will cover 75 percent of the money he is owed for time he misses once he is on the shelf for 60 or more days. Given Wright’s $20MM salary this season, that could mean a significant amount of money being put back into the Mets’ pockets in the unfortunate event that their star third baseman is out for two or more months due to the spinal stenosis with which he was recently diagnosed. For a budget-conscious team, that could have a significant impact on the club’s ability to add help on the trade market this summer.

More from the NL East…

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. apologized today for prior comments that some fans “don’t understand” the game and the process of bringing minor league talent along, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury“I’d like to apologize to the fans,” said Amaro. “I’m a fan myself. I understand the passion and knowledge that our fans have for our game and the other major sports, all the other sports in Philly. The comments weren’t meant to disparage our fans by any stretch of the imagination. I probably used my words incorrectly or poorly. I want to apologize for that.” Amaro reiterated that prospects such as Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin likely aren’t too far from the Major Leagues, but he also stressed the dangers of rushing prospects too quickly. While he acknowledged that he understands why fans want to see the organization’s best minor leaguers, given the lackluster product on the Major League field right now, Amaro said that the team is trying to develop its top talent “at the right pace so that they can be the best players they can be when they get here.”
  • In a radio appearance (transcription via CSN Philly’s Jordan Hall), Amaro conceded that the Phillies likely waited too long to begin the rebuilding process. “Perhaps we waited a year or two too long to try and go into this transition,” said Amaro. “…we decided this offseason … to work from kind of the bottom up to make sure that we can get ourselves to the point where we’re building enough talent in our system to bring them at the appropriate time and to continue that process so that we can be perennial contenders.” The Phillies traded Antonio Bastardo, Marlon Byrd and Jimmy Rollins this offseason in addition, of course, to entertaining offers for Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon. Any of those names could be in play over the course of the summer, and Ben Revere‘s name has been mentioned frequently in recent trade rumors as well.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick takes a look at Bryce Harper‘s historic start to his age-22 season and the polarizing personality behind the eye-popping numbers. Harper himself admitted to Crasnick that he can have trouble maintaining a level head when on the playing field, referring specifically back to a controversial ejection at the hands of home plate umpire Marvin Hudson. However, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams spoke glowingly about Harper’s demeanor off the field, while Jayson Werth offered strong praise for the strides Harper has made as a teammate (though he is quick to specify that Harper has never been a bad teammate by any means). Harper himself took a humble tone when asked by Crasnick about Mike Trout and the frequent comparisons between the two. “I still believe Trout is the best player in the game, hands down,” said Harper. “It’s not about taking a backseat to anybody. I love seeing Stanton hit homers or Kris Bryant do the things he does. I love watching Matt Harvey or Gerrit Cole or Noah Syndergaard come up and throw 100 mph. I cheer for guys. I’ve always been that way.” Fans and detractors of Harper alike will presumably find the piece to be an interesting read.

Cubs To Release Phil Coke

The Cubs have placed Phil Coke on release waivers, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Coke will become a free agent on Thursday afternoon once he clears waivers, and six clubs have reached out to Coke’s camp, according to Cotillo. Coke had been designated for assignment back on May 19.

The 32-year-old Coke signed a minor league contract with the Cubs this offseason and earned a guaranteed $2.25MM salary when he made the club’s roster. However, Coke’s tenure with the Cubs didn’t produce fruitful results, as he yielded seven runs on 14 hits and three walks (two intentional) in 10 innings with nine strikeouts. The resulting 6.30 ERA was hardly appealing, though FIP (3.54), xFIP (2.94) and SIERA (2.63) all showed more optimism regarding his small sample of work.

Coke’s velocity still checked in at a healthy 93 mph, and his 63.6 percent ground-ball rate was certainly a positive factor as well. Prior to his deal with the Cubs, Coke was most prominently connected to the Rangers, though there were also rumors linking him to the Royals and Marlins, among other clubs. Given the amount of teams consistently looking to add bullpen depth throughout the course of the season, Coke’s live arm will likely draw interest on the free agent market.



NL Central Notes: Cueto, Gonzales, Schwarber, Baez

After missing his start on Sunday, Reds ace Johnny Cueto underwent an MRI on the injured joint today (as FOX’s Jon Morosi tweeted he would earlier this morning), but agent Bryce Dixon said after the fact that the test revealed no tears or structural damage (Twitter link via C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer). The news is a sigh of relief for all parties involved, as a serious arm injury for Cueto would hurt his standing as one of the top free agents on the upcoming open market, whereas an injury would hurt the Reds’ chance of righting the ship and potentially eliminate their best trade chip should they sell off veteran pieces this summer.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Another NL Central hurler got somewhat worse news than Cueto, as Cardinals left-hander Marco Gonzales has been diagnosed with a shoulder impingement that will sideline him for three weeks, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Gonzales will receive an anti-inflammatory injection in the coming days and has otherwise been prescribed rest to allow the injury to heal. Gonzales will need to alter his workouts and preparation tactics, Goold notes, as they may have had a part in the injury. Gonzales and the training staff will look for areas of weakness in the shoulder that can be improved — a similar endeavor to the one undertaken by Michael Wacha last summer (though the two have different shoulder injuries).
  • Kyle Schwarber‘s name doesn’t get bandied about as much as other promising young Cubs bats such as Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez, but VP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod feels that Schwarber has a chance to impact the team in 2015, if necessary (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat). Selected fourth overall in last year’s draft, Schwarber entered the year as a consensus Top 100 prospect (Baseball America ranked him as highly as 19th), and he’s demolished Double-A pitching this year, batting .305/.440/.595 with 10 homers in 166 plate appearances. Said McLeod of the catcher/outfielder: “If there was a need for [Schwarber] to come up here and help this team win later this year, I think he could do it.” Of course, I should note that while I listed Schwarber as a catcher (in at least a part-time capacity), the belief of many scouts is that the lefty slugger will have to move off the position for defensive purposes. The Cubs have continued to give him reps behind the plate in an attempt to maximize the value of his bat.
  • Also within Muskat’s piece, McLeod notes that the team feels that Baez is athletic enough to play in the outfield, though there are no plans to move him there in the works. He also likens righty Yoervis Medina, acquired in the Welington Castillo trade, to Pedro Strop before Strop gained the consistency he’s shown with the Cubs over the past two seasons.

Minor Moves: Brett Hayes, Cole Garner

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…

  • The Indians announced today that catcher Brett Hayes has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Columbus. However, Hayes has been previously outrighted and therefore has the ability to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. The 31-year-old picked up 36 plate appearances while Yan Gomes was on the disabled list and batted .156/.229/.438 with three homers. Hayes has decent pop for a catcher — career .154 ISO — and has caught 25 percent of baserunners that have attempted to steal against him in parts of seven big league seasons. A lifetime .205/.250/.359 hitter in 464 plate appearances, Hayes was designated for assignment Sunday when Gomes was activated from the DL.
  • Former Rockies outfielder Cole Garner has agreed to a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and will report to Double-A New Hampshire, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link).  The 30-year-old Garner hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2011 — his lone taste of the big leagues — but he was hitting .342/.392/.584 in 166 plate appearances in the Mexican League this season. Garner, who once ranked as Colorado’s No. 22 prospect, per Baseball America, has batted .284/.343/.480 in more than 1300 career PAs between Triple-A and the Mexican League.
  • With Hayes’ outright, there are now eight players in DFA limbo (as shown in MLBTR’s DFA Tracker): Ryan Lavarnway, Travis Ishikawa, Radhames Liz, Carlos Peguero, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Todd Redmond, Phil Coke and Erik Cordier.

Casey McGehee Accepts Minor League Assignment, Remains On 40-Man Roster

TUESDAY: The Giants announced that McGehee has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Sacramento, but the team announced that he has been optioned — not outrighted — to the minors.

MLBTR has confirmed that McGehee remains on the club’s 40-man roster and was never technically designated for assignment, despite a prior announcement. As a player with five-plus years of Major League service time and a minor league option remaining, McGehee did have to consent to being optioned to Triple-A, but he did not have to pass through optional or outright waivers.

Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that GM Bobby Evans told Matt Chisholm of the Giants’ media relations team that McGehee was designated off the 25-man roster, but not the 40-man.

SUNDAY: The Giants have announced they have designated third baseman Casey McGehee for assignment. McGehee was acquired from the Marlins last December for a pair of minor leaguers to replace Pablo Sandoval. The Giants have named Matt Duffy (.299/.330/.402 in 105 plate appearances) their new starting third baseman.

The 2014 Comeback Player of the Year has struggled during his stay by the bay slashing .200/.254/.282 while grounding into more double plays (a league leading 12) than RBIs (nine) in 118 trips to the plate.

I feel I’ve got a lot left in the tank,” McGehee told reporters including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). “I’m pretty sure yesterday was not the last baseball game I’ve played.

The Giants now have ten days to either trade, release, or outright McGehee to the minors. Giants GM Bobby Evans told reporters, including Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, he hopes McGehee will accept an assignment to Triple-A because “he was comeback player for a reason.” McGehee says he will consult with his family on his next step and will not rush into a decision, reports Schulman, because “that’s not a decision I’m capable of making in 10 minutes.” There is also a financial component to McGehee’s decision. He and the Giants avoided arbitration in February by agreeing to a $4.8MM contract, approximately $3.5MM of which remains due. McGehee would forfeit that salary if he passes through waivers and declines an outright assignment.

McGehee’s DFA could also have implications for Travis Ishikawa, who is eligible to be reinstated tomorrow from his rehab assignment. Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com notes the Giants, in the middle of a stretch of 17 games in 16 days, have opted to go with a 13-man pitching staff with the recall of right-hander Hunter Strickland and there may not be room to add Ishikawa. Baggarly writes the Giants may be forced to designate the first baseman/outfielder, who was the hero of last year’s NLCS.


AL Notes: Navarro, Doolittle, DeShields

Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro is starting a rehab assignment at Triple-A Buffalo, John Lott of the National Post reports on Twitter. The club will have some roster decisions to make when he’s ready to return, particularly with Jose Bautista still limited to DH duties. Navarro has long seemed like a trade candidate, of course, and he could be the most appealing available receiver now that Welington Castillo has changed hands.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • Today, the Athletics finally welcome back closer Sean Doolittle after a prolonged DL stint to open the year, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Doolittle says he is not concerned that he was only just able to crack 90 mph with his fastball, saying that he still believes that hitters are having trouble picking up the pitch. Of course, his velocity has been trending upward and he will have a long leash as he looks to regain his outstanding form from a year ago. Doolittle, whose return will be most welcome for a struggling A’s pen, is playing in the second year of the $10.5MM extension he inked early in the 2014 season.
  • Josh Hamilton‘s return to the Rangers will not move Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields Jr. out of the regular playing time rotation, manager Jeff Banister tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram“This is the first real challenge in the middle of a positive performance,” said Banister. “I’ve thought about that. We’re going to continue to have Delino engaged, as long as he’s playing well, in as many games was we can.” The 22-year-old has hit an impressive .278/.394/.392 over his first 94 big league plate appearances, adding 11 steals in the process. Banister rejected the idea of moving DeShields to second, at least at this point, indicating that the’ll likely share time in center with Leonys Martin while also spelling Hamilton and Shin-soo Choo in the corners. Regardless of when and how he plays, it seems that Texas has every intention of keeping DeShields on the active roster to secure his rights from the Astros for the future.

Alberto Callaspo Rejects Trade To Dodgers

2:21pm: Callaspo’s primary motivation was that he liked playing in Atlanta and did not want to play on the west coast, Heyman tweets.

12:13pm: The deal is indeed dead at present, and there is “no indication it’ll be revived,” O’Brien tweets.

11:44am: Callaspo has rejected the deal, as is his right, per Rosenthal (Twitter link).

For those unsure of why Callaspo may have declined the move, it’s not clear that he would ever have had a chance to suit up for the Dodgers: Los Angeles may well have intended simply to take on Callaspo’s salary and then release him as part of the broader arrangement. Were that the team’s intention, which seems at least plausibly implied in Callaspo’s veto, he likely would have ended up a free agent (while remaining entitled to his full salary).

Should Atlanta choose to designate him, that would still be the probable result, meaning that Callaspo may ultimately have been unwilling to be run through procedural hoops (all while sitting at home without a chance to play) simply to facilitate a deal between two clubs that aren’t terribly interested in his services at this point.

Alternatively, Callaspo might have preferred to avoid relegation to a 25th-man role in L.A. It’s impossible to know precisely what conversations and considerations were had, but as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes on Twitter, Callaspo may well have had valid reasons to act as he did.

11:28am: The Dodgers would actually receive MLB-level pitching in the deal, Rosenthal tweets, though he cautions not to expect any “major names” to be involved.

11:15am: The deal appears to have “lost traction,” tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A move is not presently imminent, per the report.

10:15am: The Dodgers would stand to add three minor league players from the Braves, with a farmhand also heading eastbound to Atlanta, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Some of the players going to Los Angeles would serve to bolster the club’s upper-level pitching reserves, per the report, suggesting an addition motivation.

The Dodgers would also stand to avoid some piece of their obligation to Uribe, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

9:48am: The Dodgers are in discussions with the Braves about a deal that would send third baseman Juan Uribe to Atlanta and deliver Alberto Callaspo to Los Angeles, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Other, “lesser names” would also be included in a deal, per the report.

Agreement was close last night, says Rosenthal, who adds that it is not yet known whether progress continues this morning. The holdup could be related to the fact that Callaspo has the right to veto any deal, Rosenthal tweets. As a free agent who signed last offseason, he can decline to be dealt prior to June 15. With more than five years of service time, Callaspo would at least be entitled to refuse a minor league assignment and keep all of his guaranteed money if he ended up being outrighted after the deal.

Both teams have been creative in structuring deals of late: the Braves recently swapped bad contracts as a major part of the Craig Kimbrel trade, and the Dodgers effectively purchased a draft pick by acquiring and designating Ryan Webb. This prospective transaction, too, seems likely to be motivated by a variety of considerations.

Callaspo is playing on a $3MM contract this year, and could conceivably be going to offset some of the balance of the $6.5MM salary owed to Uribe. It seems somewhat unlikely, after all, that the Dodgers would have serious interest in the scuffling Callaspo. The club is loaded with options at second and third quite apart from Uribe, who has all but been displaced at the hot corner already.

Then again, the switch-hitting Callaspo does have a clear track record of sterling plate discipline, and has been better when facing right-handed pitching. (For all their options at second and third, L.A. doesn’t have any left-handed bats in the 4-5-6 mix.) As for Uribe, he’s off to a slow start but has consistently rated as an outstanding defender and produced at the plate when receiving regular playing time over 2013-14.

Needless to say, there are a number of interesting elements to this prospective transaction. Atlanta would certainly like to pick up a solid option at third, where Callaspo and Chris Johnson have struggled, while the Dodgers are probably glad to free up Uribe’s roster spot.


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Orioles Designate Ryan Lavarnway

The Orioles have designated backstop Ryan Lavarnway for assignment, the club announced. Baltimore has called up Steve Clevenger to take his place on the active roster.

Lavarnway, 27, bounced around the waiver wire this winter before settling with the O’s. He has received just 32 plate appearances, hitting safely just three times. Once a top-100 prospect, Lavarnway has failed to regain his former promise. Now, he’ll likely need to show real improvement in the minors — whether in the Orioles organization or elsewhere — before receiving another chance at MLB action.

Meanwhile, the Orioles will take another look at Clevenger, 29, who has put up excellent numbers at Triple-A this year (.352/.413/.451, 11 walks vs. 10 strikeouts). He offers a left-handed bat to pair with current starter Caleb Joseph as the club awaits Matt Wieters‘ return from injury.

With two years and 58 days of MLB service entering the year, Clevenger would reach a third year of service (and arbitration eligibility) if he stays in the bigs the rest of the way, but another demotion could well leave him shy of the mark. So long as he sticks on the big league roster for 86 days, the minimum required for Super Two status, he’ll likely be arb-eligible next year.


NL East Notes: Butler, Amaro, Mets, Nieuwenhuis

There is some intrigue surrounding the Marlins‘ field staff once again, according to multiple reports. Third base coach Brett Butler has been re-assigned to an outfield and base running coaching role, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Assistant hitting coach Lenny Harris will replace Butler at third, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported on Twitter that there was some action involving Butler. Miami recently installed former GM Dan Jennings in the managerial role vacated when the team fired Mike Redmond.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that “nothing is imminent” on the trade front, but that he is glad to see his club’s veterans performing, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports“These guys having success is good for us on all fronts, whether they stick with us and continue to be part of what we’re trying to do moving forward or whether we utilize those assets to improve our club,” Amaro explained. “Them doing well can only help our club.” As the “dialogue” continues with other clubs, the trade value of players like Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard has been on the upswing in recent weeks, as Salisbury explains.
  • Amaro went on to explain that the Phillies will be “conservative” in advancing young pitchers like Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin. As for whether fans would be upset with a slow advance from prospects while the big league team struggles, Amaro spoke directly (read the article for the comments in their full color). “[Fans] don’t understand the game,” Amaro said. “They don’t understand the process. … There’s a plan in place and we’re sticking with the plan. We can’t do what’s best for the fan. We have to do what’s best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on. That’s the truth.”
  • The Mets have fallen back after a hot start, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com takes a look at the team’s various issues. He identifies the health status of David Wright as perhaps the largest single cause for concern, rating just ahead of the club’s other injury issues and a generally less-than-inspiring offense.
  • Having been designated for assignment by the Mets this time last week, outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be set to hit the waiver wire today if a last-minute trade can’t be reached, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com notes on Twitter. It will be interesting to see whether another team is willing to stake a 40-man roster spot on Nieuwenhuis after his miserable start to the year. If not, the Mets could benefit from a chance to help bring him back to form at Triple-A.
  • Nieuwenhuis is one of ten players currently in DFA limbo, as MLBTR’s DFA Tracker shows.

AL East Notes: Loney, Bautista, Sandoval, Kelly, Bundy

Rays first baseman James Loney is headed to the DL for the next four to six weeks with a broken finger, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While the 31-year-old has not exactly been tearing things up at the plate, he is a particularly difficult player for Tampa Bay to replace. As Topkin explains, the club’s 40-man roster does not admit of any ready options at Triple-A. That could lead the Rays to look outside the organization, he suggests, with players in DFA limbo (Casey McGehee, Travis Ishikawa), on the open market (Kila Ka’aihue), or possibly available via trade (Garrett Jones) seeming like potential options. Both McGehee and Ishikawa will, presumably, ultimately be exposed to waivers, though both come with significant salary commitments ($4.8MM and $1.1MM, respectively). The Giants could be motivated to strike a deal involving one of those players if Tampa is willing to take on some cash.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Blue Jays star Jose Bautista is still struggling to deal with painful shoulder inflammation, as Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Bautista says he appreciates the difficulties in lineup construction that the injury has caused, but made clear that he is doing all he can by taking on DH duties. The team’s upcoming interleague stretch and Bautista’s own pain levels were factors in the decision to treat him with a cortisone shot, per the report. It’s an interesting piece that delves into many of the day-to-day matters that have a significant impact on a player over the course of a season, but which often go underappreciated.
  • Struggling badly hitting from the right side, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is seriously considering facing opposing southpaws from the left side of the box, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports“There’s conversation at various points about that. He’s even initiated it at times,” said manager John Farrell. “But until that change is made, that’s something that certainly will include him in that process.” Certainly, it’s interesting to see player and club contemplating such a move just a few months into a five-year, $95MM contract.
  • Joe Kelly and the rest of the Red Sox rotation have all been consistently inconsistent, as Britton writes. The up-and-down performances across the staff have put the club in a tough position, making it difficult to pull the trigger on a move to try another option. “There’s no decision here in this moment,” Farrell said of Kelly’s rotation status. “He’s shown us the ability to go out and work deep in a ballgame. There’s no denying the stuff. It’s a matter of consistent location with his fastball.”
  • Top Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been scratched from his start today after experiencing stiffness in his right shoulder, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports. While it’s far from clear that there is cause for alarm — the team says it hopes Bundy is simply suffering from tendinitis — Bundy has already been forced to rehab back from Tommy John surgery. Another highly-rated young arm, Hunter Harvey, has dealt with more obviously concerning injury issues. The club’s future hinges in no small part on the health and development of those two players, along with the equally-hyped Kevin Gausman.

Braves Working On Alberto Callaspo Trade

TODAYCallaspo said last that the club gave him no indication that a deal had actually been struck, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Per Callaspo, the club told him that he was scratched from the lineup because “there might be a possible trade.” But he was not advised that a transaction would necessarily occur today: “No, they didn’t tell me that,” he said. “They just said, ‘Let’s wait until tomorrow and see what happens.’”

Callaspo’s time in Atlanta may be finished even if a deal cannot be arranged, Bowman writes. Callaspo could end up designated for assignment when Chris Johnson is activated from the DL.

YESTERDAY: The Braves are attempting to deal infielder Alberto Callaspo, manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter link). That explains why the veteran was held out of tonight’s just-concluded ballgame.

It’s obviously unusual to hear a manager divulge such information when a transaction has (apparently) yet to be formalized, which would seem to suggest that a roster move is all but inevitable at this point. Presumably, Atlanta is looking to find a taker for some portion of Callaspo’s remaining salary.

Callaspo, 32, signed a one-year, $3MM deal to join the Braves this offseason. He has seen plenty of action, most of it at third base. But the results have not been there: over 123 plate appearances, Callaspo has slashed just .206/.293/.252 with one home run. That continues a rough stretch dating back to the start of 2014, though Callaspo has maintained his outstanding plate discipline and ability to make contact.

Of course, the switch-hitter does have a deeper history of producing approximately league-average results while providing some versatility around the infield. It has been a while now, but back in 2011-12, Callaspo combined solid offensive production with sterling defensive ratings to grade out at better than three wins above replacement annually.


Doosan Bears To Acquire Deibinson Romero

Korea’s Doosan Bears have agreed to terms with Pirates minor league third baseman Deibinson Romero, Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News reports (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). A buyout still must be finalized with the Bucs, per the report, but Doosan has already announced that it will add Romero (Korean language link, also courtesy of Kurtz).

The 28-year-old Romero is enjoying a career year thus far at Triple-A Indianapolis, slashing .302/.403/.548 with six home runs in 155 plate appearances. A native of the Dominican Republic, Romero spent all of his professional career in the Twins organization before joining Pittsburgh as a minor league free agent before the season.

Romero has always shown a quality approach at the plate, walking twice for every three strikeouts in over 1,000 turns at bat in Triple-A. And he has shown legitimate power at times, swatting 19 long balls in his 2012 run at Double-A. After putting it all together thus far in 2015, it seems he’ll have a chance to bolster his earnings (and enjoy rather a different ballplaying experience) with a run through the KBO.


NL Notes: Liz, Urena, Anderson

The Pirates hope they’ll be able to keep the just-designated Radhames Liz in the organization, manager Clint Hurdle tells Adam Berry of MLB.com (Twitter link). Nevertheless, Hurdle says that he expects another club to claim the live-armed righty. As MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth explained earlier today, Liz has continued to be unable to limit the free passes in his latest run in the majors. His $1MM salary, too, may cause other teams to hesitate to place a waiver claim.

  • The Marlins will bring up Jose Urena tomorrow to make his first big league start, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. Urena entered the year rated as Miami’s fourth-best overall prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, which praised his mid-90s fastball and quality change. The issue, per BA, is whether Urena’s breaking ball can play well enough to keep him in the rotation. The 23-year-old righty made two relief appearances in the big leagues last year, but only reached the Triple-A level to start the 2015 season. Thus far, he owns a 1.21 ERA over 37 1/3 innings (5.3 K/9 vs. 2.9 BB/9) at the highest level of the minors. Miami was in need of new blood, both as a general matter and because both Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos were recently placed on the disabled list (joining Jarred Cosart and Jose Fernandez on the DL).
  • While it’s of historical interest only at this point, manager Fredi Gonzalez says that the Braves attempted to sign lefty Brett Anderson over the winter, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (Twitter link). Anderson ultimately signed with the Dodgers, of course, and had another successful outing tonight against Atlanta. Of course, the major question with Anderson has been health, and he experienced some back stiffness tonight. It doesn’t appear to be cause for much concern at this point, but Los Angeles can ill afford any missed time from its top three starters.