June 2013

Brewers Notes: Axford, K-Rod, Gallardo, Lohse

The Brewers have lost four in a row, used 57 different lineups in 80 games this season, and own the third-worst record in all of baseball. The Brewers are expected to be sellers at the Trade Deadline, a fate further cemented with the news of Corey Hart missing the rest of the year with his third knee surgery in 16 months and Ryan Braun out, at least, until after the All-Star break (per MLB.com's Adam McCalvy) with an irritated nerve in his right hand. Milwaukee's best trade chips are a quartet of relievers (John Axford, Michael Gonzalez, Jim Henderson, and Francisco Rodriguez), who have closer experience. Here's the latest Trade Deadline news involving the Brewers:

  • GM Doug Melvin admits to receiving calls about his bullpen, but he isn't quite sure what to expect in return, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Teams have to determine what is important to them and how they value relief pitchers," Melvin said. "Sometimes they don't want to give up a lot to acquire them. They think teams will give up guys just to get rid of their contracts. We're not really looking to do that."
  • Axford, the Brewers' highest-paid reliever at $5MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two, is aware his name is being floated in trade rumors. "I'm sure there will be talk about it as we get closer to the trade deadline," Axford told Haudricourt. "Teams probably will test the waters and see what the Brewers' response is. I'll be fine with it. You have to block that out and focus on your job here."
  • Manager Ron Roenicke has re-inserted Rodriguez into the closer's role, reports Haudricourt's colleague Michael Hunt. Did the idea of showcasing Rodriguez for a Trade Deadline deal have any role in this decision? "None, not to me," said Roenicke. "Not until I meet with (GM) Doug (Melvin) and Doug tells me something different."
  • Teams also are reported to have shown interest in Brewers' starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse, but Melvin told Haudricourt trading either one "is not something we have to do. We're not necessarily looking to sell. But if somebody steps up (with a big offer), I'd have to listen."

Jair Jurrjens Designated For Assignment

The Orioles have tweeted they have designated Jair Jurrjens for assignment off the 25-man roster to clear a spot for Brian Roberts. Roberts, who had been on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a right hamstring strain, is in the lineup tonight against the Yankees as the DH batting ninth.

Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports Jurrjens will go on option waivers, but is expected to clear and be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk (Twitter links). Dan Connolly, Encina's colleague at the Sun, tweets Jurrjens, once officially optioned, will have 72 hours to decide whether he will report to Norfolk and writes the right-hander will take that time, but will go. MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko adds Jurrjens could not be optioned because he was on the active roster for only one day and that the Orioles used the same procedural move with reliever Alex Burnett earlier this year (Twitter links). The Orioles, however, lost Burnett to a waiver claim by the Cubs.

Jurrjens has made two appearances for the Orioles this year including 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the Orioles' 11-3 win over the Yankees last night. Jurrjens' other appearance was a start against the Rays on May 18 where he allowed four earned runs and struck out five in five innings. The 27-year-old right-hander, signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal in February, has posted a 4.06 ERA, 5.3 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 14 starts (84 1/3 innings) at Triple-A Norfolk.

Minor Moves: Boof Bonser

Here are Sunday's minor moves from around MLB:

Dodgers Designate Matt Guerrier For Assignment

The Dodgers announced that they have designated right-handed pitcher Matt Guerrier for assignment.  The move will allow the club to recall right-handed pitcher Chris Withrow from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Guerrier posted a 4.80 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 34 games for the Dodgers this season.  In all three seasons for the Dodgers, Guerrier owns a a 4.24 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 across 120 appearances.  The right-hander came to the Dodgers as a free agent in December of 2010.

Rosenthal On Rios, Pirates, Lucroy, Reds

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports posted a brand new edition of Full Count.  Here's a look at the highlights..

  • The Pirates should be in the market for a reliever, but their biggest need might be in right field where they rank last in the National League in OPS.  The White Sox's Alex Rios would be perfect and he would form an extremely athletic outfield with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.  However, Rios makes $12.5MM in each of the next two years and two other possibilities, Michael Morse and David DeJesus, are on the DL.  The Bucs are in a tricky spot because they want to improve but they don't want to disrupt their chemistry or budding farm system.
  • The Brewers will move just about anybody, but not catcher Jonathan Lucroy because they consider him too valuable to their future.  They kept suitors away last winter and this season he has full no-trade protection.
  • The Reds will stay open minded about acquiring a pitcher because of the uncertainty surrounding Johnny Cueto.  They've got Tony Cingrani to turn to, but they'll need to monitor his innings.  
  • A scout told Rosenthal that the Rays had a ton of eyes on the Rangers' farm system, fueling speculation that a David Price deal might be brewing, but that's not the case.  Price is about to return from a triceps injury and Tampa Bay is trying to win.  Barring an outright collapse, they are not even going to entertain the thought of moving the hurler until the offseason.  With that said, Texas has long had interest in Price and if/when he becomes available, they'll be at the front of the line.

Orioles Acquire Eric Thames

The Orioles announced that they have acquired outfielder Eric Thames from the Mariners in exchange for minor league infielder Ty Kelly.  Thames was designated for assignment earlier this month to clear a 40-man roster spot for fellow outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

Thames hopes that a change of scenery will lead to his first big league game in 2013.  In his time with Triple-A Tacoma, Thames posted a slash line of .295/.382/.479 across 249 plate appearances.  In 684 career major league PAs, Thames has hit .250/.296/.431.

Kelly, who turns 25 in July, has hit 283/.389/.382 in 72 games for the O's Double-A affiliate.  The switch-hitter has spent the bulk of his time at second base and third base with some experience in the outfield.

Blue Jays Sign Ramon Hernandez

The Blue Jays have signed catcher Ramon Hernandez to a minor league deal, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter).  The Eric Goldschmidt client was released by the Dodgers on June 22nd after being designated for assignment.

The Dodgers acquired the 37-year-old from the Rockies back in April in exchange for Aaron Harang. The backstop saw only 55 plate appearances for Los Angeles, batting .208/.291/.438.  In 5,701 Major League plate appearances with the A's, Padres, Orioles, Reds, Rockies and Dodgers, Hernandez is a .263/.327/.417 hitter. 

Rockies Sign Xavier Nady

The Rockies have signed Xavier Nady to a minor league deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The Boras Corporation client was released by the Royals yesterday.

Nady was hitting .310/.382/.486 with eleven homers in 289 plate appearances for Triple-A Omaha and a scout who saw Nady recently said that he is swinging the bat as well as he has seen in a while.  That's far more promising than his 166 big league plate appearances last season for the Nationals and Giants in which he hit just .184/.253/.316.

Cafardo On Utley, Gonzalez, Crain, Yankees

As impressive as young players like Manny MachadoMiguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Yasiel Puig have been, no one was more spectacular than young Alex Rodriguez, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  However, A-Rod has since tarnished his legacy by being linked to performance enhancing drugs.  It all comes back to Rodriguez's love of baseball, because for him, being the best was never good enough.  Now he finds himself rehabbing from injury in Tampa, Florida and no one knows how it will play out.  Rodriguez could retire because of a physical disability and collect the remaining $114MM on his contract or he return to the Yankees after the All-Star break and provide the righthanded bat they sorely need.  Here's more from today's column..

  • One team that has at least discussed acquiring the PhilliesChase Utley is the Royals.  Kansas City would love to stabilize their lineup and/or second base situation with someone of Utley’s caliber.  Meanwhile, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he wants the second baseman to retire in a Phillies uniform, if possible.
  • The Red Sox are one of the teams extremely interested in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but they won’t break the bank for him, according to a team source.  The Sox were certainly burned by the Daisuke Matsuzaka signing and don’t want to get burned again on a deal for the 26-year-old righthander. Even though Gonzalez seems to be the real deal, past injuries seem to be giving some teams pause. 
  • White Sox reliever Jesse Crain will draw interest and Cafardo warns not to rule out the Red Sox. Pitching coach Juan NIeves coached him in Chicago and he’s a stable force at the end of games.  Meanwhile, there will be others vying for Crain, including the Orioles and Yankees.  Our own Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Crain as a trade candidate.
  • FIrst baseman Chris Carter is an interesting righthanded bat the Astros would move for the right package of young players. The Yankees are a possibility since they need a righthanded hitter who can play first base and the outfield.  Even though he strikes out a lot, the 26-year-old Carter could be an intriguing option for clubs. 
  • The Cubs have a lot of desirable trade pieces, starting of course with Matt Garza, who could be dealt sooner rather than later – maybe even sooner than the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco.  Besides Garza, there’s been a lot of interest in outfielder Nate Schierholtz and veteran righthander Scott Feldman, who Cafardo sees as a match for the Orioles.  Outfielders Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus along with relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell could be moved as well.
  • While the Twins say that Glen Perkins is not available, they should expect some club – possibly the Tigers - to offer a substantial package.

Royals Release Xavier Nady

The Royals have released outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady, according to the Pacific Coast League's transactions page. Nady had been playing on a minor league deal that he agreed to after being cut in advance of the Article XX(B) free agent retention bonus deadline, back in late March. It is not presently known whether Nady exercised an opt out clause to trigger his release, or indeed whether he had any such clause in his contract.

Nady was hitting a robust .310/.382/.486 in 289 plate appearances for the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. After a well-documented power outage over his last several seasons, moreover, Nady had swatted a promising 11 home runs thus far for Omaha. In a combined 166 big league plate appearances last season for the Nationals and Giants, Nady hit just .184/.253/.316.