July 2013

Indians Acquire Marc Rzepczynski

The Indians have announced the acquisition of left-hander Marc Rzepczynski from the Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Herrera. RzepczynskiRzepczynski will report to Cleveland tonight, and a 40-man roster move will be made to accommodate the team's new addition.

Rzepcynzski, 27, was optioned to Triple-A Memphis at the end of April after a rough start to the season. In Memphis, he posted a 3.33 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 44 innings of work — a significant improvement from the 7.84 ERA he's posted at the Major League level this season. Rzepcynski was recalled recently and has made a pair of July appearances for the Cardinals.

Rzepcynski, whose nickname is "Scrabble" (for obvious reasons), has been effective against left-handed hitters throughout his career, holding them to a .224/.298/.310 batting line over parts of five big league seasons with the Blue Jays and Cardinals. St. Louis acquired him in the 2011 Colby Rasmus trade. He is earning just $1.1MM in 2013 and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2015 season.

Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti said recently that his club has been on the lookout for bullpen arms that can retire left-handed hitters, and Rzepczynski fits that bill at a much lower cost than Javier Lopez and Josh Outman, both of whom also drew interest from Cleveland, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).

Herrera, 20, is batting .275/.366/.369 in 39 games for short-season Class-A Mahoning Valley. The Dominican native did not rank among Cleveland's Top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was the first to report the agreement (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Latest On Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau has spent more than 14 years with the Twins organization since being selected in the third round of the 1999 draft, but the now 32-year-old former AL MVP finds his name swirling about the rumor mill. Here's the latest on Morneau, who is in the final season of a six-year, $80MM contract and owed roughly $4.7MM over the remainder of 2013…

  • The Orioles have engaged the Twins in trade talks regarding Morneau, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Miller adds that a source puts it at 50-50 whether Morneau remains with the Twins or is traded prior to tomorrow's 4pm ET trade deadline. Morneau's July swoon at the plate isn't helping his trade value either, Miller notes.
  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke to an AL scout who called Morneau "a shell of his former self," noting that his glove work at first base has taken a significant downturn as well. "The mobility and the agility are not there," the scout said. Berardino writes that a contract for Morneau may have to follow the mold of those signed by Travis Hafner and James Loney this offseason. Each signed for a $2MM base salary with additional incentives ($4MM for Hafner, $1MM for Loney). Another club monitoring Morneau considered the three-year, $21MM pact signed by his teammate, Josh Willingham, to be a fair comparable.
  • Within that same piece, Berardino also notes that the Rays monitored Morneau for weeks but appear to be an unlikely landing spot. He also agrees with Miller's report that there's about a 50-50 chance Morneau is dealt (on Twitter).

Royals Discussed Kendrick, Beckham, Weeks

3:50pm: The Royals are one of 12 teams to which Kendrick can block a trade, notes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

3:07pm: The Royals have had discussions about second basemen Howie Kendrick of the Angels, Gordon Beckham of the White Sox, and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  They also looked at the Phillies' Kevin Frandsen.  However, Knobler says there is no indication the Royals are close to any deal.

The Royals have used Chris Getz, Elliot Johnson, Miguel Tejada, and Johnny Giavotella at second base this year, resulting in a .230/.279/.311 offensive line.  They seek a second baseman they would control beyond 2013, says Knobler, and all of the players mentioned above are controlled through '15.

The Angels would need a front-line, Major League or MLB-ready starting pitcher for Kendrick or Erick Aybar, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.  As Knobler notes, Beckham presents the problem of playing within the Royals' division, while Weeks' salary is prohibitive compared to his production.



Brewers To Retain Aoki; Trade Talks Quiet

3:12pm: Gallardo left today's start early due to an injury, limping off the mound.  The Brewers described the injury as left hamstring tightness.

11:09am: "We're not going to move him," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in regard to affordable right fielder Norichika Aoki.  Melvin noted that most of the players being traded are in their contract years; Aoki has a $1.5MM club option for 2014.

Melvin also told Haudricout he's not motivated to move Kyle Lohse, nor is he engaged in trade talks about today's starter, Yovani Gallardo.  Melvin isn't in active talks for any of his relievers, either, including Mike Gonzalez.  "Teams have to make offers," said Melvin who did acknowledge having one offer on the table for a pitcher, which he does not expect to lead to a deal.


Blue Jays Could Trade Bonifacio, Melky

Utility man Emilio Bonifacio is the most likely player to be traded by the Blue Jays, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Jays are also shopping outfielder Melky Cabrera, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Bonifacio, 28, came over from the Marlins in the November blockbuster.  He's limped to a .214/.254/.314 line on the season.  Cabrera, 28, inked a two-year, $16MM deal that was seen as a potential bargain after he served a PED suspension.  He could face another suspension by way of the forthcoming Biogenesis announcement, but the general feeling is that he already served his time.  His lack of offensive production may be the bigger concern in moving him.


Dodgers Sign Brian Wilson

The Dodgers signed free agent reliever Brian Wilson,tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.  It's a guaranteed big league deal, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, and Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio says it's worth $1MM plus performance bonuses.  The Beard had a long road to recovery from April 2012 Tommy John surgery.  He spent his entire career in the Giants organization, racking up 171 saves in the process.  The Giants non-tendered him after last season, and the fully-recovered Wilson auditioned for many teams Thursday.  Wilson had three offers, notes Brown.  The 31-year-old reliever is represented by MVP Sports Group.

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The Dodgers' bullpen struggled at the outset of the season, partially due to the decision to anoint Brandon League the closer.  Kenley Jansen officially usurped that role in mid-June.  The Dodgers have also gotten good work from lefties J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez.

The tentative plan for Wilson is to begin at the Dodgers' complex in Arizona, then go to Rancho Cucamonga as part of a rehab assignment, and then report to the Dodgers in two weeks, tweets Brown.  In theory, the move could take the Dodgers out of the running for other, similar relievers available for trade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Phillies To Designate Steve Susdorf For Assignment

The Phillies are designating outfielder Steve Susdorf to create a roster spot for third baseman Cody Asche, MLBTR has learned.  We learned earlier today that Asche is getting the call, presumably pushing out Michael Young.

Susdorf, 27, appeared in only three games for the Phillies.  He was hitting .335/.419/.428 in 229 Triple-A plate appearances upon getting the call when Domonic Brown hit the seven-day DL for concussion symptoms.


Stark On Howie Kendrick, Cubs, D’Backs

ESPN's Jayson Stark begins his latest column with a look at the Biogenesis situation.  As Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported, suspension announcements are not expected today.  Sherman expects the announcements to come Thursday or Friday.  In Stark's opinion, the Rangers are acting like a team that knows what Nelson Cruz will do if suspended, in that their aggressive search for a bat suggests he might serve a suspension now to preserve his free agent value.  Meanwhile, the Tigers' lack of pursuit of a backup plan to shortstop Jhonny Peralta suggests he'll appeal.  Elsewhere in Stark's column:

  • The Dodgers and Angels, who haven't made a trade in 20 years, had a "mostly casual conversation" regarding Halos second baseman Howie Kendrick.  There are no indications a deal is in the works.
  • The Angels are at least listening on infielders Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo, and seeking high quality big league ready pitching in return.
  • The Cubs could move Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, but are extremely unlikely to trade lefty reliever James Russell and there's just about zero chance of a Jeff Samardzija trade.
  • Pitchers Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays "have suddenly been made available."  Trading Kennedy would allow Arizona to clear around $1.4MM toward another move.  Are they that hard up for cash?

Mark Lowe Approaching Opt-Out Date

Reliever Mark Lowe has the ability to opt out of his minor league deal with the Nationals tomorrow, MLBTR has learned.  Lowe, 30, has a 4.26 ERA, 12.8 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 with two home runs allowed in 12 2/3 Triple-A innings this year.  Earlier, he made 11 big league appearances with the Angels.


Yankees, Reds Inquired On Hunter Pence

TUESDAY, 10:26am: The Yankees also checked in on Pence, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but as with the Reds, there doesn't appear to be a match.  Heyman says the Pirates and Rangers are also among the interested teams.

MONDAY, 3:32pm: The Reds inquired on Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but it doesn't look like a match so far.  It seems an odd fit for the Reds, who have Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo entrenched in their outfield and Ryan Ludwick on a rehab assignment following April shoulder surgery.

Pence, 30, is hitting .277/.320/.457 in 440 plate appearances this year and is hitting .259/.300/.401 since June 1st.  He has around $4.6MM remaining on his contract.  The Giants reportedly plan to make a qualifying offer after the season, setting the bar for a potential trade this month.