The Tigers made a huge move to fortify their bullpen last night by acquiring Joakim Soria from the Rangers, but they’re not done looking for bullpen help, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Detroit is on the hunt for a left-handed relief upgrade, though they’re not ruling out another right-handed option either, he adds.
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that Phillies southpaw Antonio Bastardo is a target for GM Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers, which lines up with yesterday’s reports that Detroit was among the teams to scout Bastardo.
Ian Krol and Phil Coke have served as Detroit’s primary left-handed relievers this season, but each has an ERA north of 4.50, and sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP and xFIP don’t paint a much more optimistic projection. Both have been serviceable, albeit unspectacular against lefties, as Coke has yielded a .254/.306/.388 batting line to same-handed hitters, while Krol has been a bit worse at .241/.313/.397. Both have been dreadful against right-handed hitters, however, with Coke surrendering a .927 OPS and Krol surrendering an even more unsightly 1.114 OPS.
Morales’ stay with the Twins didn’t prove to be a lengthy one, as his tenure in Minnesota lasted just 39 games. The switch-hitting slugger’s overall numbers with the Twins don’t look like much, as he’s batted just .234/.259/.325. He did, however, just wrap up a 12-game hitting streak that saw him bat .292/.314/.417, so he’s showing some signs of life at the dish. Seattle designated hitters have batted just .217/.294/.343, so the bar for improvement isn’t set that high with the Mariners.
The Twins signed Morales shortly after the draft, paying him the prorated version of a $12MM base salary on a one-year deal. In other words, the Twins paid about $3.08MM for less than two months of Morales and turned that into the hard-throwing but control-challenged Pryor. The Mariners, on the other hand, appear to be on the hook for the remaining $4.3MM on Morales’ contract.
Pryor, who turned 25 yesterday, has spent much of the season with Triple-A Tacoma as he recovers from surgery to repair his latissimus dorsi muscle that he underwent in 2013 (as noted by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN on Twitter). In 31 innings with Tacoma this season, Pryor has posted a 4.65 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. However, Pryor does have some big league experience under his belt, as he has compiled a 2.81 ERA with a 35-to-16 K/BB ratio in 32 Major League innings. He’s averaged 96 mph on his fastball in his brief time in the Majors and can be controlled at least through the 2018 season. Pryor will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins.
Morales was said by agent Scott Boras to be interested in working out a long-term deal with the Twins. Morales also said (via interpreter) on a road trip to Seattle that the reason he didn’t sign with the M’s this past offseason was that didn’t want to be in the same situation (presumably referring to the possibility of taking a one-year deal and again being hit with a qualifying offer in the 2014-15 offseason). It’s possible that the Twins could again show interest in Morales as a free agent this winter, and if he can hit well over the final two-plus months with the Mariners, he figures to do better on the open market than he did last time around. Because he did not spent the entire regular season with one team, he is now ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said on WEEI radio’s Dennis and Callahan show today that extension talks with ace Jon Lester have been tabled until the offseason. Lucchino reminded that Lester’s preference is to avoid negotiating during the season. Lester told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, that he wasn’t surprised to hear Lucchino’s comments (Twitter link). However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com does hear from a source that Lester would be open to signing a midseason deal if the Sox were to offer market value for his services right now. The other possibility for Lester could be a trade, if the Sox fall further back in the East — a concept which Lester admits he has considered (via the Globe’s Nick Cafardo). Lester said if it came to that, he wouldn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the organization.
Here’s more on the BoSox and the AL East…
Lucchino also said on WEEI that he expects the Red Sox to be active at the trade deadline, though he noted that nearing the deadline with a sub-.500 record is new territory for the Sox. Asked about buying or selling, Lucchino referred to the trade deadline as a “binary process” and implied that the Sox could do some of both.
Also of note from Lucchino is that the Red Sox plan to engage John Lackey in extension talks after the season. Lackey’s Tommy John surgery in 2012 triggered a $500K option for the 2015 season due to an injury clause in his contract. Lucchino is quoted: “I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts.”
The Blue Jays were in the mix for Joakim Soria before the Rangers traded him to the Tigers, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitterlinks). Talks never became too serious or progressed to the stage where offers were exchanged, however.
Morosi also notes that the Yankees are still looking to add a starter to their ranks (Twitter link). Earlier today, he noted that the Yanks scouted Ian Kennedy‘s last start, though reports from earlier today indicated that the Padres would need to be “overwhelmed” to move him.
Rays president Matt Silverman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that there are some “obvious flaws” with the Competitive Balance Lottery, in which the Rays were not awarded a pick yesterday. As Topkin notes, seemingly less-needing teams such as the Cardinals, Orioles and Rockies all received picks. Silverman went on to say, however, that even if the lottery were better constructed, it would “only scratch the surface of the competitive balance issues plaguing baseball.”
The Orioles have acquired infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations, the team announced. Paredes, who had been designated for assignment by the O’s last week, has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
This isn’t the first time that Baltimore has shown interest in Paredes, as they briefly claimed him off waivers from the Marlins this offseason before losing him on waivers to the Royals just a couple of days later.
Paredes went from the Astros to the Marlins to the Orioles to the Royals on waivers this offseason and ultimately received just 10 plate appearances (which yielded a pair of singles) for Kansas City’s big league club. Most of his season was spent at Omaha, where he produced a strong .305/.332/.457 batting line in 280 plate appearances.
As a career .306/.343/.468 hitter that bats from both sides of the plate and can play multiple positions, it’s not surprising that Paredes continues to find clubs willing to give him a 40-man roster spot. However, he’s yet to produce in 406 big league plate appearances, having totaled just a .233/.272/.308 batting line.
12:04pm: The A’s announced that they have actually designated Johnson for assignment, not released him (though that could obviously be the ultimate outcome of the move). Evan Scribner has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to fill his roster spot.
The 31-year-old Johnson was acquired by the A’s this offseason in a salary dump that sent Jemile Weeks and David Freitas to the Orioles. While many Baltimore fans were shaken by the deal after seeing Johnson lead the league in saves in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the move proved to be a wise decision by the O’s, as Johnson has struggled to a 6.92 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 56.8 percent ground-ball rate in 40 1/3 innings this season with Oakland. He lost his ninth-inning role to Sean Doolittle early in the season.
Johnson is earning $10MM in 2014 after avoiding arbitration for the final time this past winter. The A’s will eat the remaining $3.66MM on his contract if he is ultimately released. It seems unlikely that any team would claim him on waivers or trade for him as a result of that salary, though a team could show some interest if Oakland pays a large portion of the deal.
Last night, the Tigers landed one of the top available relievers on the trade market in Rangers right-hander Joakim Soria. While Soria should go a long way towards shoring up Detroit’s bullpen, many have wondered if Detroit might continue to work the phones for an additional relief option, particularly given the struggles of left-handers Phil Coke and Ian Krol. I asked Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski earlier today if he might go after a southpaw in the next week.
“I don’t know I would get into what we’re specifically addressing, but we’re open-minded to different thought processes. Our bullpen has struggled at times and we want to have people that put up zeroes out there,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve tried a lot of guys at that and we remain open-minded if something makes sense to make us better before the trade deadline.”
The Tigers have been in need of bullpen reinforcements for some time and Dombrowski has been focused on Soria “for a while.” The GM said that he started chatting with Rangers GM Jon Daniels in June and things picked up more and more with time. And while Soria didn’t come cheap — he cost the Tigers promising pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel — he believed that it was a price they could afford to pay thanks to their pitching depth. Soria’s affordable $7MM club option also helped Dombrowski to pull the trigger since he will likely be more than just a rental.
“I don’t think it made the deal, but it was a real plus for us,” the GM said.
Of course, if things went differently for the Tigers this season, they might not have had to make a trade like this at all. Dombrowski acknowledged that he’d be in a “different situation” if Bruce Rondon was with the club. They’re also “not counting” on a 2014 return for Joel Hanrahan and the odds were termed as being “highly unlikely.”
While Soria has a long history as a successful closer, Dombrowski is insistent that Joe Nathan will continue to pitch in the ninth-inning despite his struggles this season. When asked what it might take for Soria to possible leapfrog Nathan and close out games, the Tigers GM declined to speculate or set expectations for the 39-year-old. For now, Soria is there to help build a better bridge to Nathan and the veteran appears to be all for it. Before pulling the trigger on the deal, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones asked Nathan and Ian Kinsler about how they feel Soria might fit in with the team. One of the replies they got back was, “Why don’t we have him yet?’“
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was the latest guest on The GM’s Office, Jim Bowden’s video blog over at ESPN.com. Here are the highlights from their conversation, though the entire seven-minute interview is well worth your time…
Mozeliak feels that it’s “clearly a seller’s market” based on the returns that the few sellers are getting in trades. For now, the Cards are still trying to identify areas in which they can improve and how (or if) they can obtain those solutions in a tough market.
Asked about David Price, Mozeliak declined to mention specific names that they’ve considered, but he added, “We’re certainly not in this for the short term. I think one of the good things about the St. Louis Cardinals is the ability to have sustained success, and we want to continue that.”
“I think that is true,” said Mozeliak when asked if starting pitching would be his top need. Both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez have had some inconsistencies, he notes. “…looking at the next two months, if we could find a way to sort of bridge that gap between now and the time we may get [Michael] Wacha back, I think we want to try to do that.”
Mozeliak said the stress fracture in Wacha’s scapula is unique, and there isn’t a lot of history or data to help gauge his progress. The injury is currently healing, but the Cardinals are dedicating their time and energy to determining what led to the injury — be it his mechanics, something in the weight room or another cause.
Whether or not the team is comfortable with Tony Cruz and George Kottaras is a “fair question,” and the Cardinals plan to take as much of the remaining week as possible to make that determination. “One thing we’ve always said is we’d like to see what Tony Cruz is capable of doing on a day in and day out basis,” said Mozeliak. “But having said that, we also want to give ourselves the best chance to win.” The Cardinals will at least monitor the market for catching help, he adds.
Manager Mike Matheny has had a tough time trying to balance playing time for Allen Craig, a proven veteran in a down year, and Oscar Taveras, a top prospect who has started slow in the Majors, says Mozeliak. The need to win now complicates the scenario, and sending Taveras down to Triple-A in a week or so is an option.
The Yankees had a scout in Chicago to watch last night’s start by Ian Kennedy, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but acquiring him might not be an easy task. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Padres would need to be overwhelmed to move the 29-year-old right-hander.
The Padres bought low on Kennedy at least season’s trade deadline — acquiring him for lefty Joe Thatcher, minor league right-hander Matt Stites and a Competitive Balance draft pick (Round B) — and it proved to be a shrewd move. In 135 1/3 innings for the Friars this season, he’s posted a 3.66 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB.9 and a career-best 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. He’s affordable from a financial standpoint, as he’s earning $6.1MM this year after his second trip through arbitration this past offseason.
Kennedy is controlled through the 2015 season, and as such he could also be marketed in trades this offseason (once San Diego has a new GM in place), or the team could look to extend him as well. He serves as part of a nice trio atop the Padres’ rotation, alongside ace Andrew Cashner and breakout righty Tyson Ross. As such, it’s not surprising to hear that San Diego doesn’t feel any real urgency to move him.
The same hesitancy applies to right-hander Joaquin Benoit, Heyman adds, as the Padres “aren’t resigned” to dealing their new closer (since Huston Street was traded). Benoit is owed $8MM both this season and next, and he’s performing exceptionally well. Detroit was linked to Benoit, but they may be out of that market after landing Joakim Soria. The Pirates and Indians have also shown interest in Benoit, Heyman adds (Cleveland showed interest in Benoit this past offseason as well).
The last remaining Padre who appears likely to be traded is outfielder Chris Denorfia, Heyman writes. The 34-year-old is hitting just .238/.292/.319, but he’s displayed solid defense in right field (UZR and DRS have long liked his work on the outfield corners), and he’s a .299/.366/.443 hitter against lefties.
Last night, the Tigers landed right-hander Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for two of their top prospects — right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Detroit has long been said to be in pursuit of relief help, and they’ve now added one of the top bullpen arms on the market. Here are some reactions to the deal as well as a few additional bits of info about the Tigers’ trade talks…
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Soria was the Tigers’ primary bullpen target, and they didn’t pursue former Tiger Joaquin Benoit all that aggressively before landing Soria last night.
Likewise, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the Tigers were never in on Philadelphia’s Jonathan Papelbon all that seriously.
Soria himself is very excited to join the Tigers, agent Oscar Suarez old FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link), specifically mentioning excitement over a chance to win. That excitement isnt surprising for Soria, who didn’t have much of an opportunity at the postseason early in his career with the Royals (he wasn’t with the club for their recent improvements).
The Tigers have the prospect depth to add another relief arm if they wish, but it will depend on the asking price, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Beck notes that Detroit probably wishes to avoid too much long-term depth to the farm system, but he mentions Chad Qualls as a possibly more affordable option to pursue. Beck also reports that the initial asking price on Soria was higher than the one the Tigers ultimately wound up paying.
ESPN’s Keith Law understands the deal for both Detroit and Texas (Insider subscription required and recommended). While the Tigers paid a steep price, he notes that Soria will be worth about an extra win over the remainder of the season and will be featured in some very high-leverage postseason innings. From Texas’ standpoint, they get a raw but projectable 20-year-old in Thompson who needs to learn to get more plane on his fastball and develop a changeup to succeed as a starter, plus a controllable potential seventh- or eighth-inning reliever in Knebel.
Jim Callis of MLB.com “loves” the Rangers’ end of the deal, calling Thompson a potential No. 2 or 3 starter and noting that Knebel has closer upside (Twitter link).
Soria’s value in the postseason could be significant, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. Cameron examines the usage of teams’ best relievers in last year’s playoffs, noting that while a typical elite reliever throws about five percent of his team’s innings during the regular season, that number increases in the playoffs due to more off days and the increased importance of late innings. The Red Sox used Koji Uehara for 9.6 percent of their postseason innings, which translates to about 140 innings during the regular season (a value of 246 innings when accounting for the increased leverage index).
R.J. Anderson and Jordan Gorosh break down the trade over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required/recommended). Anderson notes the steep price Detroit paid as well and wonders if the Tigers are done adding relievers. If Dave Dombrowski is serious about truly upgrading the bullpen (which he clearly seems to be), the Tigers should look to add another arm, Anderson opines. Meanwhile, Gorosh feels that Thompson could make an appearance on the back end of B-Pro’s offseason Top 101 prospects list, writing that he has the potential to be a “very strong No. 4 starter” and could have been the best pitching prospect in Detroit’s system (thereby implying that he likes him better than Robbie Ray).
Here’s the latest out of the National League East:
For the Mets, trading and replacing starter Bartolo Colon would be a more natural step in the club’s progression than moving second baseman Daniel Murphy, making a trade of the former much more likely, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. As for Colon, the scouts watching the Mets’ game today against the Mariners were probably not there to see him, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, word will surely get around of his strong outing; Colon carried a perfect game into the 7th before Robinson Cano broke it up. He ultimately allowed three hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out five.
The Phillies are still listening to trade interest in outfielder Marlon Byrd, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. As yet, however, Philadelphia’s asking price has been too high for a buyer to pull the trigger.
Phillies hurler Cliff Lee would clear waivers in August, rival evaluators tell ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Lee’s first outing back from the DL was not promising. As Olney explains (Insider link), however, short samples are important for evaluations of players’ current health and productivity, and that works both ways here. Lee will have one more chance before the deadline (and, presumably, more in August) to boost his value.
The already somewhat marginal trade outlook of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has been clouded even further by two straight poor appearances and this evening’s trade of Joakim Soria to the Tigers. Among the contenders in need of help at the back of the bullpen, the Angels and Tigers seemed among the more likely to take on significant salary rather than dealing prospects for cheaper arms. But both clubs did the latter, taking away two possible landing spots for the veteran righty.
Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals appears to have suffered a “pretty substantial” strain of his right hamstring, manager Matt Williams told reporters including Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link). The third baseman/left fielder seems likely to be out a few weeks at least, though his prognosis remains undetermined. As Kilgore wrote earlier today, the injury could lead the Nats to look into acquiring a second or third baseman before the deadline (with Anthony Rendon playing the alternative position). GM Mike Rizzo said that the team was content with playing Danny Espinosa at second for the time being, but Kilgore notes that players such as Aaron Hill or especially Martin Prado of the Diamondbacks could make sense as trade targets.
10:25pm: The Tigers have announced the deal, making it official.
9:23pm: The Tigers have agreed to acquire reliever Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for right-handed pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, Kyle Bogenschutz of Scout.com was first to report on Twitter. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports confirmed that an agreement is in place (via Twitter).
With the acquisition of Soria, the Tigers now possess both of the Rangers’ most recent closers (having signed Joe Nathan as a free agent over the offseason). It appears that Nathan will retain the closer’s mantle for the time being, but regardless the team will now have an additional premium arm to throw into high-leverage situations. At the moment, the team owns the fifth-worst relief ERA in baseball.
Soria, a 30-year-old righty, owns a 2.70 ERA with a spectacular strikeout to walk ratio of 11.3 K/9 against only 1.1 BB/9. Indeed, his FIP stands at a miserly 1.07, which handily leads all pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings. Other ERA estimators (2.25 xFIP; 1.84 SIERA) concur in Soria’s excellence to date in 2014.
He is playing out the back end of the two-year, $8MM deal he signed to join the Rangers after Tommy John surgery led to the end of his tenure with the Royals. But Soria also comes with a seemingly reasonable $7MM club option. (That option would increase to $8MM if he finishes 55 games; he is sitting on 32 at present. The contract also includes performance bonuses.)
The return would appear to be substantial. Both Thompson and Knebel rated among Detroit’s ten best prospects coming into the year, per Baseball America, with the former landing at fourth and the latter at sixth on BA’s list. If anything, their stock has risen since that time.
Thompson, a 20-year-old starter, just earned a promotion to Double-A after posting a 3.14 ERA over 83 innings with 8.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 at the High-A level. Baseball America says he has mid-rotation upside. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball and promising slider, but profiles as a mid-rotation arm if he can develop a consistent third pitch from amongst his other offerings (curve and circle change).
The 22-year-old Knebel, meanwhile, has already made his big league debut after being selected 39th overall in last year’s draft. Though he surrendered six earned runs in 8 2/3 MLB frames, he also notched 11 strikeouts against just three walks and has dominated minor league hitters. He profiles as a potential future closer, says BA, though Detroit had weighed the possibility of trying him as a starter.
With Soria and Huston Street now taken, the relief market now lacks somewhat for obviously available closers. Jonathan Papelbon is surely available, but of course comes with a still-sizable contract. The Padres will presumably listen on Joaquin Benoit, but may want a large return to part with him after dealing Street. And it remains to be seen whether names like Koji Uehara and Steve Cishek could be had.
JULY 23, 8:50pm: Taking his second interview today was Eppler, according to a tweet from the San Diego Union Tribune.
11:04am: The Padres have completed a second interview with Hazen as well, the team announced (h/t: MLB.com’s Corey Brock on Twitter).
JULY 22: The Padres announced late last night that they have officially completed a second interview with Preller.
JULY 20th: Jim Bowden of ESPN (on Twitter) hears from a league source that Eppler and Preller have moved into the lead.
JULY 17th: 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 (Twitterlinks). 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.
Here’s the latest out of an AL East division that will be quite intriguing to watch over the coming days:
While noting that it is difficult to “transition” the club’s catchers more than one time in a season, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that the addition of another backstop is “something [the club is] taking a look at.” While he is happy with the way that Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have handled the staff, Duquette acknowledged that their offensive production was lacking. Nevertheless, upgrading at the catching position is still third on the team’s priority list after a late-inning pen arm and starter, according to Kubatko.
The Red Sox have not engaged closer Koji Uehara in extension talks, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “So far, there have been no talks,” Uehara said through his translator. “I’ll leave it all up to my agent, but right now I haven’t heard anything.” Recent reports have indicated that Boston is disinclined to deal Uehara even if it does go into sell mode, in large part because the team hopes to bring back the 39-year-old pending free agent. But it remains unclear how it will pursue that outcome; as Bradford notes, Uehara could be extended a qualifying offer (with the expectation that he would probably accept). Or, in a more likely scenario, the club could offer him a deal at some point that includes a guaranteed second year or vesting option.
Rays GM Andrew Friedman has not yet ruled out the possibility of adding players at the deadline, he told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link via Bowden). Then again, Bowden notes, neither would Friedman say that ace David Price would not be dealt. It seems that the Tampa strategy will be to wait until the last point possible to make some key decisions. If the club decides to keep the band together and even add to it, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com says the word is that the Rays could be interested in adding a reliever. The club just lost Joel Peralta to the DL and has obviously received disappointing results from closer Grant Balfour.
Two key Yankees arms remain in limbo, and the latest news was mixed. Michael Pineda has progressed to the point that he is set to toss 30 pitches over two simulated innings tomorrow, tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka is still feeling pain in his elbow, which is “not good … at this stage,” GM Brian Cashman told Michael Kay of ESPN New York 98.7 (quotes via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com). Though the New York GM said that the plan remains to watch Tanaka closely and “adjust accordingly,” his statements seem to shed some doubt on the hurler’s efforts to return this year (if not also to avoid Tommy John surgery).
Here are today’s outright assignments from around the league…
Mets righty Buddy Carlyle has also been outrighted to Triple-A, per the MLB transactions page. He was recently designated by the club in spite of the fact that he has allowed just one earned run in five appearances on the year (with seven strikeouts and three walks). The 36-year-old has the option of choosing to test the open market.
The Rockies have outrighted right-hander Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. Like Santos, the 28-year-old Jurrjens will have the opportunity to refuse the assignment and elect free agency.
Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. He has accepted the assignment rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. GM Alex Anthopoulos said earlier in the week, when Santos was designated for assignment, that he had placed the righty directly on waivers and was hopeful that he would clear. Santos did just that, and he’ll have a chance to sort out his command issues in the minors, with the Jays hoping that he can resurface and make an impact later in the season.
As his struggles worsen, the Phillies have had internal discussions about releasing one-time star first baseman Ryan Howard after the season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Howard is owed the rest of his $25MM salary this season and comes with $60MM in future guarantees.
It does not appear that the club has reached any finality in regards to Howard’s future. The possibility of a trade has been explored, but Philadelphia has not found another club interested in taking on any substantial part of Howard’s contract. That is not surprising, of course, given that the 34-year-old is slashing a career-low .224/.305/.377 through 417 plate appearances on the year.
Now, with Howard’s decline becoming more pronounced, Philadelphia appears set to give more playing time to younger first base option Darin Ruf, who was recalled today. Manager Ryne Sandberg did not call it a platoon situation, but suggested as much. “As far as the lineup, that will be a day-to-day thing,” he said. “I think it’s important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward,” the skipper added.
Howard signed his extension at the start of the 2010 season, coming off of a four-year run in which he put up a composite .278/.379/.589 line and hit 198 home runs. Though he continued to produce at an above-average clip at the plate for two more seasons, things began to head south when he tore his Achilles tendon while making the last out of the team’s Game 5 loss in the 2011 NLDS. (That, of course, was also the Phils’ most recent postseason game.) Since that time, Howard — long considered a substandard fielder and baserunner – has mustered only 917 trips to the plate and owns an OPS that falls below league average.