August 2011

Montero Among Expected September Call-Ups

Last September, 22 players were designated for assignment as teams cleared spots on their 40-man rosters.  One reason to open a 40-man spot is to add a September call-up when the active roster expands.  

For example, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Yankees intend to promote Jesus Montero, but not Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances.  Montero will have to be added to the Yankees' 40-man roster, which is currently full.  A spot can be created by designating someone for assignment, or transferring a player from the 15-day DL to the 60-day.

MLBTR's 40-man roster count post indicates that 11 teams currently have at least one open spot on the 40-man.  Montero, Martin Perez, and Devin Mesoraco are a few top prospects who would have to be added to 40-man rosters, notes's Jonathan Mayo, and the Yankees, Rangers, and Reds are all currently full.

Braves Acquire Matt Diaz


Matt Diaz is returning to the Braves, as the Pirates announced they've traded him to Atlanta for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Diaz fits the Braves' desire to add a right-handed hitting bench bat, and of course they had him in the organization from 2006-10 before non-tendering him last winter. 

Diaz, 33, is hitting .259/.303/.324 in 231 plate appearances for the Pirates this year while playing mostly right field.  He was signed to a two-year, $4.25MM deal in December, but hasn't shown the expected power production against left-handed pitchers.  David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes on Twitter that the Pirates are sending some cash to the Braves to offset Diaz's $2MM salary for 2012.  The Braves might not be done dealing, hears ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).  

GMs Neal Huntington and Frank Wren have matched up on three prior trades according to our Transaction Tracker, most notably the June '09 deal that sent Nate McLouth to Atlanta.

ESPN's Buster Olney first reported the trade.  Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

The Closer Carousel

Teams pay a premium for saves; it's how Rafael Soriano was able to get a three-year, $35MM contract last offseason.  Impending free agents who have picked up at least five saves this year: Jose Valverde (club option), Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero (club option), Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez, Kyle Farnsworth (club option), Matt Capps, Joe Nathan (club option), Jon Rauch (club option), Frank Francisco, Jason Isringhausen, and Jonathan Broxton.  Brad Lidge is another consideration, though he has a ways to go.  Options for Valverde and Farnsworth could be exercised and several more will likely be content to set up, but we're left with a minimum of five relievers who will expect to close next year.  They won't get to choose their role, but trade candidates such as Brandon League, Leo Nunez, or Huston Street could enter the picture as well.

As many as 16 teams may be in the market for a closer in the offseason to varying degrees:

  • Orioles: I'm not sure the team's new GM will want to throw good money after bad, but Kevin Gregg is the worst reliever holding a closer job currently.
  • Red Sox: They could re-sign Papelbon, though Daniel Bard certainly appears ready.
  • Blue Jays: Jason Frasor and Octavio Dotel are gone, while Shawn Camp, Rauch, and Francisco are eligible for free agency.  Perhaps the Jays will bring several relievers in on one-year deals again, and/or pick up Rauch's option.
  • Tigers: They could save $9MM by declining Valverde's option, allowing them to use Joaquin Benoit in the ninth or sign someone cheaper.
  • Twins: With Capps and Nathan up for free agency, Glen Perkins could get the job.  Or, Nathan could be re-signed at a much lower rate or they could see who else is out there.
  • Mariners: David Aardsma figures to miss most of 2012, so League may be needed again.  Otherwise, the Mariners could flip League at his peak value and bring in someone else.
  • Marlins: The Marlins reportedly intend to retain Nunez as next year's closer, but they could change their mind and put him on the market.
  • Mets: Bobby Parnell has the early line on the job, but they could bring in someone more seasoned to take on an Isringhausen-type role.
  • Phillies: I expect a legitimate attempt to re-sign Madson.  Antonio Bastardo might be capable of stepping in if that fails, but the Phillies figure to be in the market for a veteran closer.
  • Reds: Cordero's option is certain to be declined, so the question becomes whether to use Aroldis Chapman as a closer or starter.
  • Astros: I wouldn't expect them to sign Papelbon, but an experienced reliever would make sense even if Mark Melancon retains the job.
  • Cardinals: They can make it work with Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, and others, and may need to skimp given the big names they have up for free agency.
  • Rockies: They could save money by moving Street and using Rafael Betancourt or others.
  • Dodgers: There's no reason not to stick with Javy Guerra, and Kenley Jansen has closer potential as well.  Matt Guerrier is around to fill the veteran reliever role, so they might not be in the closer market.
  • Padres: If they don't figure something out with Bell, I'd expect a cheap veteran signing or two.  It'd be a dream opportunity for most relievers.
  • Giants: Depending on how Brian Wilson's elbow soreness turns out, they could be in the market.

Certainly there are enough closer jobs to go around, though I don't see too many teams likely to join a high-end bidding war for Papelbon or Madson.

If you enjoy following all things closer-related for your fantasy team, check out CloserNews on Twitter as well as the website.

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Phillies Acquire John Bowker

WEDNESDAY: The Phillies announced the trade.  They are sending a player to be named later or cash considerations to the Pirates for Bowker, and Jose Contreras goes to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.

TUESDAY: The Phillies acquired outfielder John Bowker from the Pirates, reports Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.  Bowker is expected to join the Phillies for Wednesday's game in Cincinnati.  Salisbury says reliever Michael Schwimer was sent to Triple-A to create a spot on the active roster, though the Phillies will still need to open a 40-man spot.

Bowker, a 28-year-old left-handed hitter, has spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he's hit .308/.351/.487 in 445 plate appearances while playing the outfield corners and first base.  The Pirates acquired Bowker from the Giants at last year's trade deadline in the Javier Lopez deal, designated him for assignment in April of this year, and outrighted him to Triple-A a few days later.

Bowker, a third-round pick in 2004, is one of eight players in Giants history to homer in his big league debut.  He played college ball at Long Beach State, where he was a teammate of Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Vargas.

Rangers To Acquire Matt Treanor

1:57pm: The Royals are about to send catcher Matt Treanor back to the Rangers in a cash transaction, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

12:50pm: A club source tells's T.R. Sullivan the Rangers will "likely do something today."  In Sullivan's opinion, the team's biggest need is a right-handed bat.

This post was originally published at 12:50 pm CDT on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011.

Arbitration Eligibles: Toronto Blue Jays

We've covered the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays in our arbitration eligibles series.  Let's finish off the AL East by discussing the Blue Jays players who will be eligible for arbitration after the season.

Carlson and McGowan are non-tender candidates, though on the other hand neither would cost much more than the league minimum.  Carlson's season ended with a torn rotator cuff, while McGowan is expected to pitch for Toronto next month for the first time since 2008.

Overall it's an affordable arbitration group.  We've got Morrow at $4.1MM, Rasmus at $2.8MM, Villanueva at $2MM, Janssen at $1.5MM, and Litsch at $1.3MM.  Rasmus switched agencies partially because of this upcoming arbitration case.

NL West Notes: Ethier, Giants, D’Backs

As MLBTR's Reverse Standings page shows, the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies project to have protected first round picks in next year's draft. Here are the latest links as the Giants continue chasing the D'Backs for the division lead…

  • Agent Nez Balelo told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that Andre Ethier wants to return to the Dodgers next year and stay there for the rest of his career. Ethier, who hit a grand slam tonight, returned to the lineup yesterday after the Dodgers' medical staff determined that his injured knee wouldn't deteriorate if he keeps playing. He is under team control through 2012.
  • Giants GM Brian Sabean told Chris Haft and Adam Berry of that he doesn't expect to make any moves this month.
  • The Giants announced that they discovered evidence of possible embezzlement by former payroll manager Robin O'Connor. They dismissed O'Connor and are working with federal authorities on the matter.
  • The 2009 trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees has helped all three teams involved, including the D'Backs, Matthew Leach writes at The D'Backs acquired Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson in the deal before flipping Jackson for Daniel Hudson.

NL Central Notes: Berkman, McLane, Crane

Lance Berkman doesn't expect to be traded, but he doesn't have the final say in the matter. Here's the latest on the switch-hitting slugger, plus an update on his former team…

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak acknowledged to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that trading Berkman doesn’t make a lot of sense considering the team’s 2012 plans (Twitter links). The Cardinals are more inclined to keep him and attempt to work out a deal after the season, because signing Berkman from another team would likely cost St. Louis a top draft pick.
  • There's a definite possibility that MLB won't approve the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.
  • However, Astros officials told Brian McTaggart of that they haven't been informed that Crane's bid is in trouble.

Nationals Notes: Strasburg, Harper, Zimmermann

The Nationals expect Stephen Strasburg to return to the Major Leagues one week from today. Here are some links from D.C. in the meantime… 

  • Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he intends to handle Strasburg with "kid gloves" as the right-hander completes his return from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last September.
  • Livan Hernandez said today that he wants to return to Washington in 2012, even if it means working in middle relief next year, Kilgore reports (on Twitter).
  • Top 2010 draft pick Bryce Harper will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League this year,'s Jonathan Mayo writes. Harper, who made it to Double-A in his first professional season, is now recovering from a hamstring injury. 
  • Kilgore suggests Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann could be an extension candidate this offseason. Zimmermann, a likely super two player, came back from Tommy John surgery to put together a fantastic season in 2011, but he has now reached his innings limit for the year.
  • For a look at a key member of the Nationals' front office, check out MLBTR's piece on GM candidate Bryan Minniti.

Red Sox Sign Trever Miller

The Red Sox signed Trever Miller and assigned him to Triple-A, according to Dan Hoard, the radio voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox (on Twitter). The Blue Jays designated the 38-year-old lefty for assignment on August 16th and released him five days later.

Miller appeared in six games for the Blue Jays after they acquired him in the July trade that sent Colby Rasmus to Toronto. In 19 1/3 innings for the Cardinals and Blue Jays this year, the 13-year veteran has a 4.19 ERA with 5.1 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 and a 38.8 % ground ball rate.