Rays Designate Everett Teaford For Assignment

The Rays told reporters, including Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, that they have designated left-handed reliever Everett Teaford for assignment following the second game of today’s double-header (Twitter link). Right-hander Andrew Bellatti has been reinstated from the disabled list in his place.

Teaford, 31, joined the Rays over the weekend when his contract was selected from Triple-A Durham. He pitched in both games of today’s twin bill, firing 1 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit. Overall this season — his first with Tampa Bay — he’s allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings.

The rest of Teaford’s U.S. career has come with the Royals organization, where he posted a 4.25 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 106 big league innings from 2011-13. The former 12th-round pick also has experience overseas, as he spent the 2014 campaign pitching for the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization. Teaford logged a 5.24 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in the hitter-friendly KBO.

Rangers To Sign Cuban Free Agent Andy Ibanez

10:05pm: Ibanez’s deal with Texas is worth $1.6MM, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). That figure means that the Rangers have spent $4.2MM of the roughly $4.5MM they have to spend after acquiring the aforementioned bonus slots.

2:44pm: The Rangers have agreed to a deal with Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Last we checked in, the 22-year-old had changed his representation to Relativity Baseball.

Ibanez has been available for some time, but was somewhat surprisingly slow to sign. Generally credited as a solid all-around player who lacks any outstanding tools, Ibanez has long been expected to command a significant bonus, as Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote some time back. Ibanez put up back-to-back .800+ OPS years in his two most recent campaigns in Serie Nacional.

Texas recently added to its international pool via trade, and it could well be that the club was lining itself up to add Ibanez, who is subject to the international signing restrictions. Texas currently has just under four-and-a-half million dollars in spending capacity after adding two new slots, and has reportedly committed about $2.6MM  to other players.

With the bonus unreported, it is not clear whether the Rangers added those slots as a money-saving maneuver or, instead, to clear enough space to add Ibanez without incurring future spending restrictions. But if Texas was able to secure him for less than $2MM, that would look to be quite an attractive price. Badler is on record with the view that Ibanez is a better prospect than $8MM man Roberto Baldoquin, who cost the Angels double that to sign (with penalties included) along with the sacrifice of future signing opportunities.

Amaro Discusses Utley’s Role Upon Return

Chase Utley has been on the disabled list for the Phillies for about two weeks and may not be activated until late July or even August. Upon his return, there might not be regular at-bats for him the former franchise cornerstone, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters (including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com). Asked if Utley is still the team’s starting second baseman, Amaro candidly replied: “Not for me he’s not. Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman. I would assume that Cesar would be our second baseman. I think that’s fair.”

That news carries more significance than it would for most veteran players being surpassed by a younger option, because Utley has a vesting option on his contract that is based on plate appearances. As things stand right now, Utley is just shy of halfway to the required 500 plate appearances he’d need for a $15MM vesting option to trigger. His 249 plate appearances have been accumulated in 65 games, and there was a chance that Utley could have reached 500 PAs with a late July return. Amaro did mention that Utley could see some time at first base, but it seems that Hernandez’s strong play at second base will prevent Utley’s option from vesting.

Details surrounding Utley’s option are somewhat nebulous, but if it does not vest, the option will be a club option valued at somewhere between $5MM and $11MM based on the number of days that Utley spent on the disabled list in 2015. That will leave the Phillies with an interesting choice; they’ll be tasked with deciding whether or not to bring back a player that has been one of the faces of the franchise for the better part of a decade at somewhat of a discounted rate or buy him out for $2MM.

Of course, Utley’s play to this point hasn’t been up to his standards, nor has it been worth even $5MM. The six-time All-Star has batted just .179/.257/.275 with four homers in his 249 plate appearances this season. His defense, as one would expect of a 36-year-old with a history of knee issues, has declined as well.

Hernandez, on the other hand, entered play today hitting .302/.385/.385 with a homer and a perfect 12-for-12 in stolen base chances. Defensive metrics are down on his work at second base, and he’s also benefited from a lofty .363 BABIP. Still, Hernandez’s baserunning prowess, keen eye at the plate and excellent contact skills give the Phillies reason to be intrigued by the 25-year-old beyond the financial implications of the decision.

Astros, 11th-Round Pick Sandoval Agree To $900K Bonus

The Astros have agreed to a $900K bonus with 11th-round pick Patrick Sandoval, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter). Sandoval, a high school left-hander out of California, is receiving an enormous bonus for a player selected this late in the draft. Under the current rules, bonuses for players drafted after the 10th round do not count toward a team’s draft pool so long as they are $100K or less. In other words, the Astros are taking an $800K hit to their bonus pool with this bonus.

Houston has, to this point, spent $17,040,000 of its $17,289,200 bonus pool (per MLB.com), so the Sandoval signing will put them over their limit. However, teams are allowed to exceed their draft pool by less than five percent without forfeiting future picks. The $249K remaining in the team’s pool plus the maximum $863K overage means that Houston is still about $313K shy of incurring the loss of a first-round pick in the 2016 draft.

Sandoval’s bonus, then, results in a $550,800 overage on the Astros’ behalf. That overage will be taxed at 75 percent, meaning Houston is paying $413,100 in luxury taxes to acquire Sandoval. In essence, his $900K bonus will actually cost the club $1.313MM.

In Sandoval, the Astros are acquiring a player who ranked as the 135th prospect in this year’s draft, per Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel. Callis and MLB.com colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Sandoval 139th, while the Baseball America staff ranked Sandoval 392nd among draft prospects.

Callis and Mayo call him an athletic, projectable left-hander who sits in the 88-90 range with his fastball but touches 91 and 92 mph at times. Per their scouting report, Sandoval flashes an “absolute hammer of a curve,” but the pitch is inconsistent. BA notes that his arm action can get a bit long, leading to issues repeating his delivery and, therefore, with his control. However, those issues diminished in his senior year of high school, they add.

The Astros have a pair of tough-to-sign player remaining unsigned in their post-10th-round crop in the form of prep righty Luken Baker (Texas) and prep righty Cole Sands (Florida), but Callis feels that the $313K they have remaining before incurring draft pick forfeiture won’t be enough to entice either player to forgo his commitment to college (Twitter link). The max that either player could be offered is $413,660.

D-Backs To Sign Second-Rounder Alex Young

The Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with second-round pick Alex Young, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). Young, a left-handed pitcher out of TCU, will receive the full slot value of $1,431,400 that comes with his No. 43 overall selection, according to Callis.

Entering the draft, Baseball America ranked Young as the No. 32 prospect in the draft, while Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked him 37th over at MLB.com. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated Young as the draft’s No. 38 prospect.

As BA notes in their scouting report, Young jumped from the bullpen to the rotation in his junior year at TCU — a move that paid huge dividends for both team and player. He added an above-average changeup to an 89-92 mph fastball and knuckle curve, giving him a chance at three above-average pitches. Callis and Mayo note that while Young’s former teammate, Brandon Finnegan, has better pure stuff, Young has a better feel for pitching than Finnegan did at the same stage of his career. McDaniel feels that Young has the potential to move quickly through the minors and emerge as a fourth starter in the Majors.

The Diamondbacks have now agreed to terms with all of the players they selected in the top 10 rounds of the draft with the exception of No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson. Arizona has until July 17 to work out a deal with the Vanderbilt shortstop.

Tigers Designate Josh Wilson For Assignment

The Tigers announced (via Twitter) that they have designated infielder Josh Wilson for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for Marc Krauss, who was claimed off waivers from the Rays yesterday.

The veteran Wilson appeared in just 11 games for the Tigers but hit well while with the team, slashing .381/.435/.429 in 23 plate appearances. Those numbers, naturally, are well above his career line of .229/.281/.318 and were due to come back down to earth anyhow.

Wilson has appeared in parts of eight Major League seasons, also seeing time with the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Mariners, Rays, Nationals, Marlins, Brewers and Padres. Though he’s never hit much in the Majors, Wilson is valued by teams for his defensive versatility, as he’s capable of playing second base, shortstop and third base. He’s also made brief appearances at first base and in left field. Defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved are particularly bullish on his work at second base.

Cuban Pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez Declared Free Agent

4:25pm: MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that Gutierrez will begin working out for teams next month, adding that his market likely won’t begin to take shape until that happens.

4:09pm: Major league baseball has declared Cuban righty Vladimir Gutierrez a free agent, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. He has been seeking to become eligible to sign since defecting in February.

Badler notes on Twitter that a number of scouts prefer Gutierrez’s total package to that of Yadier Alvarez, who just agreed to a $16MM bonus with the Dodgers. (That signing will require the Dodgers to also pay a 100% tax on that amount.) Like his countryman, Gutierrez will be subject to the international signing limits.

Whereas Alvarez offers big-time present-day stuff that needs polishing, Gutierrez possesses much better present command of his offerings with upside through projection. Per Badler, the 19-year-old is “long” and “lanky,” and there’s reason to believe that he can build on a low-90s fastball. Gutierrez’s primary off-speed pitch is a plus curve, though he’s also shown a change that could be a useful offering, as Badler wrote last year.

Because he falls within the bonus rules, Gutierrez cannot be signed (at least, to a $300K or greater bonus) by clubs currently serving overage bans: namely, the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees. The Braves can likely be ruled out as a destination as well. Atlanta has acquired an extra ~$1.3MM of bonus money, but that has been in an effort to avoid incurring future signing restrictions upon finalizing three already-reported high-profile international signings. Were the team prepared to go well beyond its spending pool, the trades to acquire international slots wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.

With several teams carefully moving international bonus slots around to avoid future penalties, it seems at least plausible to think that Gutierrez will end up signing with a team that has already blown past its spending limits this year — particularly, of course, if he can command a bonus anything like that given to Alvarez. The Dodgers, Cubs, Giants and Royals are among the teams that currently stand to take on two-year bans on $300K+ signings.

Rockies Claim Gonzalez Germen From Cubs

The Rockies have claimed righty Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Cubs, Colorado announced. Germen, 27, has bounced around quite a bit in recent months.

It seemed that Germen had found a home with the Cubs, but he’ll instead head once more to a new organization. Germen will pitch at Triple-A Albuquerque, per the report.

Germen coughed up five earned runs in his six innings of work this year for Chicago, picking up eight strikeouts against five walks. Over 33 1/3 Triple-A frames, he’s put up a better-looking 3.78 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9.


MLBTR Chat Transcript

Click here to read a transcript of this week’s live chat, hosted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams.

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Orioles Seek Pitching, Still Working To Trade Young

Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette said today that the club is once again looking to add arms at the deadline, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). Our pitching we’re looking to upgrade for sure,” said Duquette. He indicated that the club could be looking to improve both its rotation and its pen.

Baltimore paid a big price last year to acquire ace reliever Andrew Miller. The southpaw helped charge the team’s late-season success, but left promising young starter Eduardo Rodriguez playing elsewhere in the division. Baltimore has also dealt for pitchers like Scott Feldman and Bud Norris in recent years, evidencing the front office’s willingness to add arms over the summer.

The Orioles have received good results from starters such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez, though the latter two especially have outperformed their peripherals by a wide margin. And while young hurler Kevin Gausman is now slotting in at the back end, the aforementioned Norris and Chris Tillman have both struggled to provide good innings. All said, there’s definitely room for improvement in the rotation.

It’s less apparent that the relief staff is an area of need, though the club obviously saw the value of installing another dominant arm last year. Baltimore’s pen has combined to rate sixth in both reliever ERA and fWAR to date. Late-inning arms Zach Britton and Darren O’Day continue to excel, while the O’s have received quality contributions (at least, in terms of results) from pitchers such as Brad Brach, Chaz Roe, and Brian Matusz.

Duquette added that he still hopes to work out a deal for recently-designated outfielder and bench bat Delmon Young“We’re still working with a couple of teams and hopefully it will come together,” he explained. Young, who’s playing on a $2.25MM deal this year, was designated on July 1, meaning that Baltimore still has a few days to get something done.

Phillies Designate Kevin Correia For Assignment

The Phillies have designated righty Kevin Correia for assignment, the club announced. Fellow right-hander Severino Gonzalez has been recalled and will take a start on Thursday, per the release.

Correia, 34, spent time this spring with the Mariners and started the year in the Giants organization, ultimately opting out and signing with Philadelphia. He had solid results in his first several Triple-A starts, but has scuffled to a 6.56 ERA over 23 1/3 innings with the Phillies. Correia has struck out 5.4 and walked 3.1 batters per nine in that span. Never a hard thrower, Correia’s average fastball velocity is the lowest it has ever been, sitting between 88 and 89 mph.

Dating back to the start of his big league career in 2003, Correia has allowed 4.62 earned runs for every regulation game, putting up 5.7 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 with a lifetime 44.1% groundball rate. His best season came in 2009 with the Padres, when he was worth 3.0 fWAR over 198 solid frames.

Cubs Front Office Has “Financial Resources” For Trades

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney indicates that the organization has the financial wherewithal to add to the big league roster at the trade deadline, David Kaplan of CSN Chicago reports on Twitter.

“There are financial resources if [president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein] needs money to make a deal,” said Kenney. “No one I trust more to figure out what to do [than] Theo and [GM] Jed [Hoyer].”

While it is not exactly surprising to learn that the rising Cubs have the ability and willingness to spend, it is nevertheless notable for the organization’s top business executive to state that fact so clearly as the trade season heats up. It seems clear from his comments that the team’s purse is at least somewhat open for the front office to utilize in an effort to reach the postseason this year. And the comments also seem to indicate that ownership is handing plenty of leeway to its high-profile baseball decision-makers.

Chicago has, of course, already made at least one significant move in signing Rafael Soriano, who is working his way up to major league readiness and figures to factor in at the back of the pen. While the club reportedly prefers not to give up its very best talent in a deal, a prospective swap involving Javier Baez is said to have reached a reasonably advanced stage (before being scuttled in the wake of his injury).

The Cubs are focused primarily on starting pitching and left-handed outfield bats, per another recent report. Willingness to take on salary will obviously play a significant role in providing Epstein, Hoyer, and company with flexibility to structure an acquisition. With the club reportedly interested in adding an arm with come future control, the ability to absorb current and future salary commitments ought to reduce the amount of young talent required.

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Rays Designate Preston Guilmet For Assignment

The Rays have designated righty Preston Guilmet for assignment, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports on Twitter. In corresponding moves, the team has activated John Jaso and added Steven Souza to the DL.

Guilmet, 27, threw 5 1/3 frames for Tampa Bay this year, allowing three earned runs and striking out five batters while issuing two walks. This marks the third straight season in which he’s thrown at least a handful of innings. All said, Guilmet owns a 6.43 ERA in 21 innings with 7.7 K/9 vs. 3.0 BB/9. But he’s been much better (2.47 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9) in his time at the Triple-A level.

Injury Notes: Garza, Pence, Profar, Luebke

The Brewers have placed righty Matt Garza on the 15-day DL with what the team is calling right shoulder tendinitis, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. It appears as though the plan is to maximize Garza’s rest with the All-Star break, but one wonders whether the move also removes him from serious consideration as a trade piece this summer. Garza indicated that the issue was not terribly significant, but he has a long and growing list of medical ailments that have cropped up in his career. And then there’s the fact that Garza will not have much opportunity to improve his value after a rough first half. He is sporting a 5.55 ERA in 99 frames on the year, with ERA estimators not painting a much rosier picture, and his strikeout rate continues to fall. Garza is owed $12.5MM annually from 2014-17 under the deal he signed to join the Brewers, and also has a fairly achievable $13MM vesting clause tacked on at the end of his contract.

  • Giants outfielder Hunter Pence appears to be nearing a return from the DL in the fairly near future, possibly before the All-Star break, MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin writes. San Francisco has dropped back to .500 and could certainly use a jolt from the dynamic Pence, not least of which because the club is also missing fellow corner outfielder Norichika Aoki. Assuming Pence can avoid another setback with his wrist and re-entrench himself in right field, the club would have a much less pressing need for an additional outfielder.
  • Padres lefty Cory Luebke has suffered a setback in his bid to return from a second successive Tommy John procedure, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports. For now, it’s just elbow discomfort, but the team was concerned enough to bring the 30-year-old back to San Diego from his rehab assignment in Triple-A. Luebke has not pitched in the big leagues in over three years, though he has finally seen competitive action in the minors for the first time since originally blowing out his UCL.
  • Another once-promising player who is on a long road back is Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar, who was once one of the game’s very best prospects. As Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes, Profar remains staggeringly young given how long he’s been on the scene and out with shoulder issues. He’ll still only be 23 come next spring. Profar remains a long way from returning to the big leagues, says Fraley, who notes that he is progressing through daily rehab sessions and monthly MRI tests.

Phillies Outright Sean O’Sullivan

The Phillies outrighted right-hander Sean O’Sullivan after last night’s game, the club announced. His roster spot will go to fellow righty Hector Neris.

O’Sullivan, 27, has given up exactly six earned runs in each of his last three starts, including last night’s, thus precipitating the move. He owns a 6.08 earned run mark on the year, with 4.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 71 innings.

Of course, O’Sullivan was largely being utilized with the hope that he’d absorb some innings while providing acceptable results. Over parts of six big league seasons, he’s now pitched 302 1/3 innings with a 5.95 ERA. The Philadelphia staff has been collectively terrible, allowing a full third of a run more per regulation ballgame than the next-poorest staff.