Red Sox To Promote Henry Owens

Red Sox pitching prospect Henry Owens will be called up to make his Major League debut on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, Sox manager John Farrell told reporters (including the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson).  Owens gets the call to replace Rick Porcello, who was placed on the 15-day DL today with a right triceps strain.  By coincidence, Owens will pitch a day before Yankees prospect Luis Severino makes his own much-anticipated debut.

Owens, 23, was chosen with the 36th overall pick of the 2011 draft and the lefty has since become not only Boston’s top pitching prospect, but one of the more well-regarded young arms in baseball.  Owens rated highly on preseason top-100 prospect lists from MLB.com (19th), ESPN’s Keith Law (20th) and Baseball America (44th).  The 2015 Baseball America Prospect Handbook described Owens as showing “an advanced feel for pitching that exceeds his age” in terms of reading and adapting to hitters’ swings.  Owens can touch 94mph on his fastball through he usually works in the 89-92mph range, with an “excellent” changeup and a promising curve that needs some more development.

Despite this praise, however, Baseball America actually downgraded Owens on their midseason prospect list, slotting him at #47.  The list, published on July 7, may have reflected Owens’ somewhat rocky start to his Triple-A season, though he has an overall 3.16 ERA in 122 1/3 innings.  Owens only has a 7.6 K/9 rate, a notable drop from his K/9 over his first three pro seasons, and he has continued to have some control issues.  He has a 4.1 BB/9 this season, in line with the 4.0 BB/9 he has posted over 518 career innings.


Minor Moves: Capuano, McBryde

Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • Chris Capuano has accepted his outright assignment from the Yankees and reported to Triple-A, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  The veteran southpaw had the option of becoming a free agent, though doing so would’ve forfeited the roughly $1.7MM still owed to him on his Yankees contract for the rest of the season.
  • Angels right-hander Jeremy McBryde has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the club’s communications department tweets.  McBryde was designated for assignment earlier in the week.  McBryde has a 4.07 ERA over 659 1/3 career minor league innings, though he’s struggled to a 5.63 ERA in 46 1/3 relief frames for the Halos’ Triple-A affiliate this season.
  • While McBryde’s case has been settled, over 20 players are still in DFA limbo.  Check out the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker for a full accounting of the players still awaiting their next assignment.

Dan Haren “Probably” Retiring After 2015 Season

Newly-acquired Cubs righty Dan Haren is leaning towards ending his career once this season is over, Haren told reporters including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat.  Upon being dealt to Chicago, Haren tweeted that he would wearing jersey #50 as a Cub, which was his number when he first broke into the big leagues “and it’ll probably be my last.”

Expanding on that tweet, Haren left himself a bit of wiggle room but “I would say right now the chances are this will probably be it.  I don’t want to say this is it and pull a Brett Favre. That’s why I said ‘probably’ [on Twitter]. At least I leave myself a little way out.  Chances are this is it.  After the season, I’ll relax and see where I’m at. I definitely want to make a push to get to where this team wants to go.”

The decision isn’t a surprise, given that Haren considered retiring last offseason after being traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins.  Haren has spoke openly about the difficulty of being away from his wife and children and his home in southern California, so it may be that an offer from a team in that region may be the only thing that changes Haren’s mind about retirement.

If this is indeed it for Haren, he’ll go out with an impressive 13-year stint in the majors that saw him make three All-Star teams and earn just under $81.5MM.  Haren, who turns 35 in September, posted a 3.77 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 4.07 K/BB rate from 2003-2014 with the Cardinals, A’s, Diamondbacks, Angels, Nationals and Dodgers.  He’s still pitching effectively this year (a 3.42 ERA in 129 innings for Miami), which is why the Cubs pursued him at the deadline to bolster the back end of their rotation.



Cafardo’s Latest: Gray, Iwakuma, Red Sox, Padres

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo recaps the trade deadline moves, evaluates which teams fared well or poorly with their transactions (or lack thereof) and also looks ahead to the August trade market in his latest column.  Some highlights…

  • “Plenty of teams” approached the A’s about a trade for Sonny Gray, though unsurprisingly, Oakland held onto the young ace.
  • The Mariners believe they can re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma (a pending free agent) for one or two more seasons.  For this season, the M’s decided to keep the righty at the deadline, though Iwakuma drew interest from multiple teams.
  • Mike Napoli could be an August trade candidate, as one GM called him “a guy teams want to see a little bit more of” to see if Napoli can heat up at the plate.  The Red Sox first baseman is only hitting .206/.307/.387 with 13 homers over 362 plate appearances.  Boston shopped Napoli prior to the July deadline though the Pirates were the only team known to have any interest.
  • There was some deadline day speculation that the Padres could make a run at Pablo Sandoval, though no deal materialized.
  • The Red Sox pursued Cole Hamels for 18 months but are still looking for a rotation-topping ace as Hamels ended up dealt to Texas.  Cafardo wonders if all this wasted time will hurt Boston, as he feels the Sox could’ve matched or topped the prospect package the Phillies got from the Rangers.  Now, the Red Sox will have to spent far more than Hamels’ remaining salary to obtain an ace this winter.
  • One team evaluator though the Phillies ultimately fared well in their deadline deals for Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere, though “from where they started in their demands to where they wound up, it’s quite a fall. But if you look around at other deals, nobody was giving up No. 1 or 2 prospects. They settled for quantity in some cases, but they got a fair share of quality, as well.”
  • Cafardo was surprised to see the Tigers deal Joakim Soria, “as relievers of this ilk are hard to come by and the Tigers have a history of being unable to identify them. They finally did with Soria and yet they traded him.”
  • The fact that the Tigers entrusted GM Dave Dombrowski with trading Soria, Yoenis Cespedes and David Price could be a sign that Dombrowski may remain in Detroit, Cafardo opines.  The two sides hadn’t made progress on an extension as of early July, though Dombrowski’s last extension to remain with the Tigers (in 2011) wasn’t settled until August of that year.
  • You can add the Nationals to the list of teams that showed some interest in Justin Upton, as Cafardo writes that Washington “considered” a move for the Padres outfielder.
  • Speaking of Upton, Cafardo thinks the Padres could move both he and James Shields in August if the team finally decides they’re out of the race.  I would think an Upton deal would be extremely difficult, since any number of teams would put in waiver claims to block him from going to a rival and wouldn’t hesitate taking on the roughly $5MM remaining on Upton’s contract.  As for Shields, his much longer and pricier contract makes him unlikely to be claimed on waivers, so Cafardo thinks a team like the Yankees could make a move for Shields to upgrade their rotation.

A.J. Burnett May Miss Rest Of Season

After being placed on the 15-day DL with elbow inflammation on Friday, A.J. Burnett admitted that the injury may sideline him for the rest of the 2015 season.  In an interview with MLB.com’s Tom Singer, Burnett predicted that his Monday appointment with Pirates doctors will reveal that he’s suffered damage to either his UCL or flexor tendon, yet the veteran righty has no plans to undergo surgery for either issue.

It is difficult.  I’m prepared for both…if I just need some rest or something more. In my mind, surgery is not an option. I’d built up some pain tolerance. It comes and goes, part of doing this 16 years. You figure out what you can and can’t do,” Burnett said.  “It was just really bad on everything the other night. I never got loose, never got comfortable. We’ll find out tomorrow, when they look at it. I don’t expect it to go away, don’t expect it to get better.

Burnett said he’d been dealing with some degree of elbow discomfort for years, though “it hasn’t been anything to worry about” until his start last Thursday.  Given Burnett’s rough performance since the All-Star break (10.13 ERA over 16 innings), it could be that his injury has been bothering him for longer than just his most recent outing, or it could be that Burnett was simply regressing a bit after an outstanding first half.

While Burnett has ruled out surgery, he isn’t willing to return to mound unless he’s able to pitch effectively through the pain.  He won’t try to tough it out just for the sake of coming back “if I can’t throw, or if I’m throwing what I was throwing the other night. I can’t do it to these guys.”

If the elbow injury indeed ends Burnett’s season, it will also mark the end of his 17-year career, as the veteran has already announced that he’ll be retiring once the 2015 campaign is over.  Burnett went out on a high note, making his first All-Star team after posting a 2.11 ERA and 100 strikeouts (against 33 walks) over his first 119 1/3 innings.  Even if the right-hander is done for the season, he’s already more than delivered on the one-year, $8.5MM deal he signed last winter to return to Pittsburgh.

The Pirates’ postseason chances will suffer a blow with Burnett out, though they still have Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano headlining a rotation that includes Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and the newly-acquired J.A. Happ.


NL East Notes: Marlins, Ozuna, Phillies, Mets

Agent Scott Boras says the Marlins are leaving outfielder Marcell Ozuna at Triple-A New Orleans to potentially delay his arbitration eligibility, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes.  The agent claims that Marlins players are upset about the situation and this “is not what Marlins fans deserve.” The Marlins, meanwhile, deny that Ozuna is being kept in the minors for financial reasons. Here’s more out of the NL East..

  • Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin is doubtful that new acquisition Matt Harrison will be on the mound in 2015, Matt Breen the Philadelphia inquirer writes.  “I said, ‘I know you feel bad, but we’re looking at you for what we’re about to become rather than this year,’ ” Mackanin said. “Because, we’re really not playing for a whole lot this year.”   Harrison came to the Phillies from Texas as part of the Cole Hamels deal last week.
  • The development of Jorge Alfaro could dictate the final verdict on the Phillies‘ return in the Cole Hamels trade, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Alfaro, who could miss the rest of this season because of a left-ankle injury suffered June, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law.
  • Several Marlins players were not happy about the club’s trades last week, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. “Can we go home now? Can we go home now? They got rid of everybody,” one prominent player said loudly in Miami’s clubhouse on Friday, according to Jackson. Other players expressed disappointment privately about the roster moves, he writes.
  • In order to open up a roster spot for Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets demoted top prospect Michael Conforto, as Anthony Rieber of Newsday writes.  Conforto previously impressed at Double-A, now he’ll experience Triple-A for the first time.

Red Sox Notes: Lucchino, Chapman, Swihart

Minutes ago, Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino issued a statement confirming that he will be stepping down at the end of the season.  He explained that he has been planning to cut back ever since 2004, the year of Boston’s first championship.  Lucchino thanked Boston ownership and he offered up a strong endorsement for Sam Kennedy, his likely successor.

I believe the end of this year is a good time for this change. We would have preferred to announce all of our transition plans at once, including my new role, but I can tell you we all feel strongly that Sam Kennedy, who has been with me for 20 years, should be the next President of the Boston Red Sox. Sam will do a terrific job. He is able, well-prepared, and fiercely dedicated to the Red Sox and to Boston,” Lucchino said.

Here’s more on the Red Sox..

  • Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears that Lucchino will take some time away and then maybe look for one more run with one more club.
  • The Red Sox didn’t make a splash at the trade deadline, but they did at least explore making some big moves, John Tomase of WEEI.com writes.  A source familiar with Boston’s thinking wouldn’t name names of potential targets, but he told Tomase said they, “threw a couple of things out there.”   The Red Sox were in the market for a young frontline starter but, as GM Ben Cherington acknowledged, those don’t come cheap.
  • One splashy move to explore would have been trading for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman and converting him to a starter.  However, a source told Tomase that the Red Sox did not go down that path.
  • When the Red Sox fielded calls, they got more calls on center fielder Mookie Betts, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and catcher Blake Swihart than anyone else, a source told Tomase.

Cubs Designate Yoervis Medina For Assignment

The Cubs have designated pitcher Yoervis Medina for assignment, according to the MLB.com transactions page.  Medina, who turned 27 last week, came to the Cubs in the May deal sending Welington Castillo to the Mariners.

The right-hander has tossed a combined 21 innings for the Cubs and Mariners this season, adding up to a 4.71 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in a small sample size.  In 20 Triple-A appearances, the hurler has posted a skyhigh 7.03 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9.  Medina struggled in Triple-A Iowa and, at this time, doesn’t seem like a candidate to receive tremendous outside interest.

Earlier today, the Cubs also designated Taylor Teagarden for assignment.  To keep up with all of the players in DFA limbo, check out the MLBTR DFA Tracker.


Cubs Designate Taylor Teagarden For Assignment

The Cubs announced that they have designated Taylor Teagarden for assignment.  In a related move, left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard has been recalled from Triple-A Iowa.

The 31-year-old Teagarden hit .303/.403/.579 in 211 plate appearances with the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season.  This season, he has slashed .294/.375/.437 with four homers in 144 plate appearances for Triple-A Iowa.  Teagarden also made 15 plate appearances for the Cubs’ varsity squad this season.

Teagarden now joins a whole host of players in DFA limbo.  To keep track of everyone’s status following a DFA, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Tulowitzki, Leake, Yankees

Here’s our post-deadline look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


Cubs May Pursue Chase Utley

The Cubs may pursue Phillies second baseman Chase Utley prior to the August trade deadline, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Utley will begin a rehab assignment tomorrow. He would need 251 plate appearances to activate a 2016 option, an exceedingly unlikely event. The former star has struggled this season with a .179/.257/.275 slash. However, a .186 BABIP suggests a rebound is possible. He’s owed about $5MM over the rest of the season. The Cubs would look to have the Phillies cover part of his salary.

An Utley acquisition would provide depth to existing middle infielders like Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, and Javier Baez. If the club lost patience with Castro, they could opt to use Russell at shortstop with Utley filling in at second base. The interest could also be purely for his veteran leadership. The Angels and at least one other team are also considering Utley per Wittenmyer.


Dodgers Notes: Money, Olivera, Samardzija

This week’s complicated three-way trade looks like a great move for the Dodgers, a mixed bag for the Braves, and another deal for the Marlins which appears to be financially motivated, Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req’d) writes.  The Dodgers badly needed another starter given the injuries in their rotation and lack of organizational depth and Law believes that Mat Latos is probably worth two extra wins to L.A. the rest of the way. Here’s more out of L.A.

  • The Dodgers are paying $85.75MM for eight players no longer with the organization, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Hector Olivera‘s $28MM signing bonus is the biggest expenditure on the list. Matt Kemp ($18MM) and Dan Haren ($10MM) round out of the eight figure commitments.
  • In a second piece, Shaikin wonders whether the Dodgers even have a financial limit. GM Farhan Zaidi says yes, then goes on to elaborate that “nobody has ever mentioned a number to us.” The Dodgers are projected to pay a record $43MM in luxury taxes this season. It’s possible that number could increase in August. Zaidi did allude to a time when the Dodgers will field a more typical payroll with the help of cost controlled talent.
  • Also from Shaikin, the Dodgers are currently paying for 25 percent of the Marlins payroll. The players’ union has taken fresh notice of Miami’s penchant to deal talent for financial relief.
  • The Dodgers looked into White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija “some time ago,” tweets Shaikin. Talks did not progress. After a brutal start to the season, the Pale Hose are just two games below .500 and 3.5 games behind the second Wild Card. Undoubtedly, the surging roster affected their willingness to sell Samardzija.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Mets, Hamels, Jays, Astros

An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.

Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied –€“ and should not be satisfied –€“ until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.
  • Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
  • The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
  • The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/1/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Mets have signed pitcher Tim Stauffer to a minor league contract, according to the MLB transactions page. Stauffer was released by the Twins earlier this summer and signed with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in mid-July. He posted a 6.60 ERA in 15 innings with the Twins. Over a 590 inning major league career, he has a 3.94 ERA with 6.73 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9. In his heyday, he worked between 90 and 92 mph. He averaged just 88 mph with his fastball during his stint with Minnesota.
  • The Giants have released pitcher Erik Cordier, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. MLBTR has learned that Cordier’s deal included opt out clauses on July 1, August 1, and September 7. The 29-year-old righty performed well in the minors. In 34 Triple-A innings, he posted a 1.04 ERA and 11.16 K/9. However, his command and control left something to be desired with 6.49 BB/9.
  • The White Sox have signed outfielder Dayan Viciedo and assigned him to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, the Knights have announced. Viciedo was, of course, a longtime staple of the White Sox outfield, but they released him in February, avoiding paying most of what would have been a $4.4MM arbitration salary. He played briefly this year for Triple-A Nashville in the Athletics system, hitting .221/.282/.336.
  • The Red Sox have outrighted infielder Jemile Weeks and assigned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets. The Red Sox designated Weeks for assignment on Wednesday when they added Josh Rutledge to their roster. Weeks has hit .207/.307/.310 in 199 plate appearances for Pawtucket this year.
  • Former Yankees reliever Esmil Rogers is headed to Korea, where he’ll get $1MM to play for the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. In the midst of yesterday’s trade deadline madness, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted that the Yankees had released Rogers. The 29-year-old Rogers posted a 6.27 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 33 innings with New York this season.

Red Sox President Larry Lucchino To Be Replaced

The Red Sox will replace president and CEO Larry Lucchino by the end of the season, reports Michael Silverman and Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald. Lucchino’s contract expires at the end of the season. The Red Sox have reportedly been working on a succession plan for some time with rumors of a shake up first reported during spring training.

While executive turnover in baseball can be fraught with drama, it appears that Lucchino and the Red Sox are still on good terms. Chairman Tom Werner spoke about reaching a new agreement with Lucchino, saying “we are hopeful…we will conclude an agreement with Larry going forward where he will continue to be an integral part of upper management.” Werner went on to describe an advisory role.

Lucchino, 70, helped to guide the franchise to three World Series victories since owner John Henry first purchased the club in 2002. He is also known for overseeing the renovation of historic Fenway Park and the acquisition of the Pawtucket Red Sox. He has had a less prominent influence on the team this season in part due to a serious motorcycle accident sustained over the winter.

Executive vice president and COO Sam Kennedy will be promoted to club president. However, unlike Lucchino, Kennedy is not expected to have a role in baseball operations. Kennedy, 42, has worked with Lucchino for 20 years. Per Luchhino, “he’s certainly my choice, as well as that of John and Tom, to be promoted to the position of president.” Kennedy has been slowly taking over Lucchino’s responsibilities throughout the season.