July 2013

Phillies Rebuffed Yankee Inquiries On Young, Ruiz

The Phillies had at least one late opportunity to move veterans Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz, both of whom are set to become free agents, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Philadelphia ultimately stood pat at the deadline, in spite of the fact that the team is seven games under .500. Of course, both Young and Ruiz are potential August trade candidates.

According to Heyman, Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about an hour before the deadline. After confirming that Young was willing to waive his no-trade clause if he were dealt to New York, Cashman offered to send a prospect to Philadelphia and take on the remainder of the third baseman's salary. (Heyman does not provide any information about the prospect that the Yankees reportedly offered.) When Amaro declined that proposal, Heyman says, Cashman asked about the availability of the catcher Ruiz but was told that he was not on the table.


July Trade Recap: NL West

As we continue to recap the July 2013 trade period, the focus shifts to the National League. We'll start things off with the NL West:

Diamondbacks

Dodgers

Giants

Padres

  • Acquired right-handed starter Ian Kennedy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, righty Matt Stites, and a 2014 Competitive Balance pick (Round B).

Rockies

Synopsis

With crickets chirping all around baseball, the NL West certainly played its part in keeping down the trade volume. Most of the above-listed deals involved minor leaguers.

Of course, the Diamondbacks and Padres did pull off one of this year's most interesting swaps. On its face, the Ian Kennedy trade seems backwards, with second-place Arizona sending fading San Diego an established (albeit struggling) starter to acquire a LOOGY, an underwhelming relief prospect, and a competitive balance pick. The deal starts to make more sense when you consider the D-backs' starting depth and Kennedy's underperformance and rising arbitration salary. Nevertheless, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained earlier today, Kennedy is a 28-year-old, cost-controlled, former Cy Young-contending starter who still possesses substantial upside. While Thatcher promises to deliver some value out of the Arizona pen, the most fascinating aspect of this deal will be watching to see whether Kennedy makes the Diamondbacks look foolish for giving up on him over the coming seasons.

On the seller side of the ledger, the division was notable for the absence of deals. The Giants, along with the above-noted Padres, both had various pieces that seemed ticketed for more promising clubs. With the Pads opting to hold onto reliever Luke Gregerson, and the Giants failing to deal any of their potential chips (such as pending free agents Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum, and Hunter Pence), there was no influx of young talent to the bottom of the standings. Likewise, the Rockies opted to pick up a few minor pieces earlier in the month, but refrained from any major moves in either direction. 

In large part, the inaction of these clubs makes sense. The Giants are fresh off of a World Series victory and have the pieces to put together an above-average team next year. The club apparently intends to bring back Javier Lopez and make qualifying offers to Lincecum and Pence. It is understandable that San Francisco would choose to keep a competitive roster together in the meantime while making those plans for the future. 

In a different way, the Padres and Rockies had valid reasons to stand pat. Neither is so far out of the picture that a late run is out of the question. More importantly, both clubs have their share of young, big league talent that could continue to emerge in the near future. The pieces most recently discussed as trade possibilities from these teams — players like the Padres' Gregerson and Carlos Quentin, and the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer and Josh Outman — are all valuable big leaguers that are under team control beyond this season. If these clubs hope to contend over the next two seasons, it made sense to retain these assets. Moreover, none seemed likely to bring back anything close to a sure prospect.

Wait, did we forget a team? After a seemingly endless run of major moves, even the Dodgers were relatively quiet this year. Of course, Los Angeles did manage to make the most significant addition among the division contenders when it picked up Nolasco from the Marlins earlier this month. With the addition of Nolasco and the upswing in the team's overall health and performance, there were no glaring needs to address on deadline day. As it turned out, the biggest move the Dodgers made in the final run-up to the deadline was signing former closer Brian Wilson.


July Trade Recap: AL East

Next up on our July trade recap series is the always-interesting AL East …

Blue Jays

  • Did not make a trade.

Orioles

Rays

  • Acquired right-handed reliever Jesse Crain from the White Sox in exchange for compensation to be negotiated.

Red Sox

Yankees

Synopsis

After a quiet deadline period last year as the team emerged as one of baseball's biggest surprises, and a relatively non-impactful offseason, the Orioles upped the ante this time around. The O's were the division's most active team overall during the course of July, adding two highly-sought-after starters and a major bullpen piece. After slotting Feldman into its rotation earlier in the month, Baltimore added a rotation piece with present and future value in Norris on deadline day, with many observers surprised at the relatively light price he commanded. 

Right on the heels of the Orioles in terms of action were the Red Sox. With reported interest across a wide swath of the market, the Sox ultimately made their biggest splash with a creative, three-time deal that landed them a veteran starter. Opting to forego a blockbuster deal for ace Cliff Lee, Boston decided to pay a more modest price for the excellent, if injury-prone Peavy. As has been noted, the deal also allows the club to shore up its injury-plagued bullpen (which it also did by acquiring Thornton) while bolstering its overall rotation depth.  

For the division-leading Rays and fourth-place Yankees, meanwhile, the moves took place in the days prior to the deadline. Tampa picked up the injured Crain in a deal that has not yet been completed. Should he return to form, the Rays may have added one of 2013's most successful relievers at a discount. (Of course, it remains to be seen what price the club paid.) New York, meanwhile, brought former star Soriano back into the fold to add some much-needed power. The Yankees will only pay $6.8MM of the hefty remainder of Soriano's salary over this year and next, and gave up a relatively marginal return. Nevertheless, some observers felt that the move (which took place over the advice of GM Brian Cashman) was insufficient to boost the team this year and constituted an unnecessary outlay of assets. Despite reportedly dangling righty Phil Hughes and pursuing Phillies infielder Michael Young, nothing materialized on those fronts, though Young could still be an August trade target for the Yankes (or the Red Sox and Orioles, for that matter). 

Finally, the disappointing Blue Jays ultimately decided to hold entirely. There were some rumblings that the team might look to pick up some pieces with future value (such as Howie Kendrick), and may have considered dealing veterans like Darren Oliver, Emilio Bonifacio, and Melky Cabrera. Ultimately, the club's most important decision was to hold onto its biggest potential trade chips, underpaid sluggers Jose Batista and Edwin Encarnacion. While neither seemed particularly likely to be dealt, they would easily have been the best available bats and could have brought back a huge return. By standing pat, the Jays seem prepared to keep their core intact to make another run in 2014.



Pirates Made Significant Offer For Giancarlo Stanton

8:44pm: While multiple teams made offers to Miami for Stanton, the Pirates were not one of them, the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer reports on Twitter. Spencer adds (also on Twitter) that the Marlins declined to discuss Stanton with any teams, and therefore never exchanged names on any potential deals.

8:15pm: While the Pirates ultimately stood pat on trade deadline day (apart from a post-deadline deal for minor-leaguer Robert Andino), the club made a real push to acquire slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Pittsburgh worked hard to acquire Stanton, according to Biertempfel, who says that the club's best offer forced Miami to consider dealing their star right-fielder. Last we heard, the Marlins were set to hold onto Stanton in spite of intense interest around the game. As one of the game's premier power hitters at just 23 years of age, and set to enter arbitration for the first time next year, there is no question that Stanton would bring back a massive haul in any trade. While the Marlins continue to resist the urge to deal their best asset, he will certainly be one of the most interesting players to watch over the coming offseason.


Pirates Acquire Robert Andino

The Pirates have acquired infielder Robert Andino from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later, tweets Shannon Drayer of ESPN Radio Seattle. Andino was not on Seattle's 40-man roster at the time of the deal.

The 29-year-old Andino saw big league action earlier this year for the M's, struggling to a .184/.253/.237 line over 85 plate appearances. His Triple-A numbers are not much better, as he possesses a .229/.281/.333 triple-slash in 167 plate appearances to go with three home runs and two stolen bases. The club had outrighted Andino back in late May.

 


MLB Prepared To Suspend Alex Rodriguez For Life

THURSDAY, 7:46pm: There's a wide gap between the suspension Rodriguez is willing to accept and the one MLB would like to issue, two sources familiar with the talks told T.J. Quinn and Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com.  Negotiations between A-Rod and MLB appear to be stuck on the 38-year-old's desire to make sure he can cash in on at least some of the remaining $100MM owed to him.

Meanwhile, Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter) hears that A-Rod's camp doesn't plan to settle, but instead will fight any suspension through an appeals process.

The Yanks announced that Rodriguez will join Double-A Trenton on Friday to play in a rehab assignment game.  If he is not suspended and prevented from playing pending an appeal, A-Rod could rejoin the varsity squad as early as Sunday or Monday. 

WEDNESDAY, 7:38pm: Rodriguez is negotiating with MLB on the terms of a suspension, reports ESPN's T.J. Quinn. (Links to Twitter.) Quinn says that MLB is holding out the possibility of a lifetime ban while also preferring to avoid an appeal process, with Rodriguez coming to the negotiating table after learning of the extent of the evidence against him. Most of the players facing suspensions appear prepared to accept 50-game bans, Quinn further tweets.

6:15pm: MLB is prepared to ban Alex Rodriguez for the remainder of his playing career, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. An announcement will likely come tomorrow or Friday, according to Nightengale's sources. Rodriguez's attorney, David Cornwell, says that the Yankee third baseman will appeal any suspension he receives. According to the report, MLB will base its action not only on Rodriguez's use of PEDs, but on the fact that he purportedly "lied to MLB officials while attempting to sabotage their investigation."

12:06pm: There is some potential Nelson Cruz might appeal a suspension, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

8:04am: MLB informed the players' union yesterday which players will be suspended this week, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  Settlements talks could push an announcement to Friday, reports the Associated Press.

6:16am: MLB's Biogenesis suspensions could be issued as early as Thursday, according to Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Davidoff and Sherman confirm what Yahoo's Jeff Passan wrote yesterday:  most players involved are leaning toward a plea in the case, aside from Alex Rodriguez, who intends to fight any suspension.  

It's been rumored commissioner Bud Selig could sidestep the joint drug agreement by suspending A-Rod under his "integrity of the game" clause while also serving as the sole arbitrator of an appeal.  However, Davidoff and Sherman note that "the union could jump through some legal hoops to get the case to an arbitrator."  They also point out that upon striking the latest collective bargaining agreement, Selig assured MLBPA head Michael Weiner he wouldn't use the clause to negate players' rights.  In my opinion, denying Rodriguez a chance to present his case to an independent arbitrator would be doing just that.   


Reactions To The Jake Peavy Trade

The Red Sox got creative last night, orchestrating a three-year deal with the White Sox and Tigers that sent Jake Peavy and Brayan Villarreal to Boston, Jose Iglesias to Detroit, Avisail Garcia to Chicago and three low-level minor leaguers (J.B. Wendelken, Francellis Montas and Cleuluis Rondon) from Boston to Chicago as well. Now that the baseball world has had some time to digest the move, here are some reactions…

  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs offers up his take on the trade, noting that the White Sox exchanged a questionable outfielder for a questionable infielder, while the Red Sox did well to acquire Peavy at a low cost.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America has a scouting report on all players involved, noting Garcia is the centerpiece for the White Sox and calling him "a five-tool talent who runs, throws and defends enough to handle center field in his youth and right field down the line."
  • Two years ago, the Red Sox wouldn't have made this trade, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. However, a strong desire to avoid the new Wildcard play-in game has changed the dynamic of the trade deadline. Passan goes on to write that no GM has had a better year than Ben Cherington, who has taken the Red Sox from one baseball's worst teams in 2012 to an AL East title race in 2013.
  • So long as he remains healthy, Peavy should be viewed as a top-of-the-rotation arm, according to ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Law says that the Red Sox paid a "modest" price in the deal, and also opines that the Tigers did well to add a Jhonny Peralta replacement that has solid future value as a defense-first middle infielder. He is less rosy on the White Sox end of the trade, however, given his view that Garcia will not develop into an above-average MLB regular.
  • Boston was able to "parlay[] two lucky months from Iglesias into Jake Peavy," according to a rival executive that Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with. Another source told Rosenthal that the White Sox side of the deal was largely a salary dump, with a less-than-stellar prospect return (albeit one with some upside).
  • The Red Sox accomplished exactly what they needed to and did so at an extremely reasonable price, opines WEEI.com's Alex Speier. He notes that the trade not only upgrades the rotation this year and next with Peavy, but allows the Sox to improve their bullpen by shifting Brandon Workman to relief duty. 
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington discussed the trade in a conference call, with WEEI.com's Rob Bradford passing on the highlights. Noting that the deal came together late, Cherington said the team was comfortable moving Iglesias given the organization's depth at shortstop. He noted that the team also sees Villarreal as a promising power bullpen piece moving forward.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski acknowledged the role that the Biogenesis scandal had in nabbing Iglesias, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. "There's a lot of uncertainty facing the situation which concerned me," said Dombrowski, "especially with our scenario trying to win a championship. … My problem ends up being that after 4 o'clock tomorrow, I cannot aggressively try to do anything that's assured. Because after 4 o'clock, if anything happens, and people know we're looking for a shortstop, there are shortstops that aren't going to make it through waivers." Dombrowski did make clear that the team would not have pulled the trigger if it hadn't been confident in Iglesias as a long-term solution at short.
  • In his own conference call, posted on CSNChicago.com, White Sox GM Rick Hahn explained that the deal evolved out of talks with many teams from prior to the All-Star break. According to Hahn, the three-team deal did not really come together until this afternoon. 

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Astros Release Carlos Pena

July 31: The Astros have released Pena, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The club released Cedeno on Sunday.

July 21: The Astros have designated Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno for assignment, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Cedeno's departure clears the way for Jonathan Villar, who has been promoted and will be the Astros' new starting shortstop.

Pena was hitting .209/.324/.350, continuing his longstanding trend of struggling to hit for average — he still takes plenty of walks, but he hasn't posted a batting average above .227 since 2008. He signed a one-year, $2.9MM contract with the Astros in December. Brett Wallace and Chris Carter appear likely to take over much of Pena's playing time at first base.

Cedeno was hitting .220/.260/.298 in 141 at bats. He signed with the Astros in March after being released by the Cardinals. Villar, 22, was hitting .278/.342/.444 for Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Astros acquired him, along with J.A. Happ and Anthony Gose, when they sent Roy Oswalt to the Phillies in 2010.


Cardinals Made Offer To Kelly Shoppach

5:55pm: Unable to work out a trade for a catcher, the Cardinals have made an offer to free agent Kelly Shoppach, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Shoppach opted out of his minor league deal with the Nationals earlier today.

2:52pm: The two sides have been unable to agree on a price, and the Cardinals' pursuit has slowed, tweets Rosenthal.

1:59pm: The Cardinals are in discussions with the Cubs to acquire Navarro, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

1:33pm: Sources say that a deal sending Dioner Navarro from the Cubs to the Cardinals is "possible" but not close, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

12:08pm: The Cardinals are looking for catching with starter Yadier Molina likely to hit the DL with a knee injury, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, contrary to previous info he received.  The Cardinals are concerned that Molina could miss a significant stretch of time to heal up, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals are gauging their options and how they can proceed once they know how long Molina will be sidelined for, Goold writes.  The Cardinals have spent the past few weeks exploring deals for starting pitchers, relievers, and shortstops, but they have yet to explore deals for catchers.  The catching market could include the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz and the Cubs' Dioner Navarro and Goold points that Miguel Olivo is a free agent after walking away from the Marlins. 

Zach Links contributed to this post.


July Trade Recap: AL Central

Here's a look at the trades that went down involving AL Central teams in what proved to be a relatively quiet month of July…

Indians

Royals

Twins

  • Traded catcher Drew Butera to the Dodgers in exchange for a player to be named later.

Tigers

White Sox

Synopsis

The Tigers and White Sox were the big players, making one of three-intra-division trades seen this July (though the Red Sox were involved as well). Detroit bolstered its bullpen at a relatively low cost, acquiring a solid arm in Veras rather than paying for a big name pitcher with a higher price tag. They safeguarded themselves against the Jhonny Peralta suspension that is likely on the horizon, landing Iglesias, who could turn into the game's best defender at short. The Tigers paid a steep price in moving Garcia, whom the White Sox surely are excited to bring to the organization. The White Sox received a trio of underwhelming prospects from Boston in the deal as well — a smaller return than most anticipated for Peavy — and their return on Crain's excellent season remains to be seen due to his injury.

The Royals found a nice platoon partner for David Lough in Maxwell, who has a career batting line of .253/.370/.455 against left-handed pitching. Smith is enjoying a nice season and has No. 3 starter upside, per Baseball America, so they had to part with someone of some significance to get him. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks Smith 15th among Astros prospects on his newly updated Top 20 list. Hernandez was acquired for depth, though he could be a fourth outfielder based on his glove.

The Indians refused to cave in and meet San Francisco's demands for Javier Lopez (not surprising, considering reports that the Giants demanded Danny Salazar in return). Instead, they acquired Rzepczynski, who had been displaced in the Cards' system. Rzepczynski has always been tough on lefties, which was GM Chris Antonetti's main target at the deadline.

The Twins stood pat, save for an insignificant transaction at the last minute that doesn't impact their future much. Justin Morneau's slump and large contract dried up interest in the former MVP, and Josh Willingham's knee injury kept him off the block as well. The Twins neglected to cash in on bullpen chips Jared Burton, Casey Fien and Brian Duensing, and they never budged from their insistence that Glen Perkins was not available. All of those players are controlled for at least two more seasons, and the Twins clearly didn't run into an offer they felt a need to accept. Morneau and Willingham, in particular, remain August trade candidates.