Aaron Miles Rumors

Cardinals Sign Aaron Miles

The Cardinals have signed Aaron Miles to a minor league deal, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Miles will report to extended spring training.

Miles, 33, was released by the Reds two weeks ago, and had garnered interest from the Rangers before signing with St. Louis. The switch-hitter was owed $2.7MM this season by Cincinnati, who will likely now pay $2.3MM of that figure, with the Cardinals picking up the remaining $400K.

Miles struggled through an injury-plagued 2009 season with the Cubs, hitting .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances, but has enjoyed some success in St. Louis in the past. From 2006 to 2008, Miles posted a .289/.335/.363 slash line in 1328 plate appearances as a utility player for the Cardinals.

Rangers May Pursue Miles

According to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers "may explore interest" in Aaron Miles, recently released by the Cincinnati Reds.

Miles could fill in for the injured Ian Kinsler, though he'd be unlikely to approach anything like Kinsler's production.

For instance, Miles has 16 career home runs in 2,423 plate appearances. Kinsler hit 31 home runs in the 2009 season alone.

Sullivan says that Miles would likely begin at Triple-A.

Miles Released; Balentien Outrighted

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets the results of Aaron Miles and Wladimir Balentien being designated for assignment by the Reds.  Both players cleared waivers.  Miles was released, while Balentien was outrighted to Triple A.

Miles joins the free agent ranks; he'll likely be signed for $400K with the Reds paying the remaining $2.3MM on his contract.  The 33-year-old infielder hit .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances for the Cubs last year, battling shoulder and elbow injuries.  He was acquired twice during the offseason - by the A's to help facilitate their acquisition of Jake Fox, and by the Reds as a way of dumping the inferior contract of Willy Taveras.

Balentien, a 25-year-old outfielder, hit .234/.305/.385 in 295 plate appearances for the Mariners and Reds last year.  He's flashed big power at various minor league stops and was a well-regarded prospect as recently as 2008.

Reds DFA Miles, Balentien

The Reds have designated Aaron Miles and Wladimir Balentien for assignment, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of CNati.com (Twitter link). We heard on the weekend that the Reds were likely to designate the pair for assignment to create roster space if GM Walt Jocketty didn't find a trade partner.

The Mariners designated Balentien for assignment last summer, before the Reds acquired the outfielder leading up to the trade deadline. The Reds would acquire Miles six months later for Adam Rosales and Willy Taveras in a bad contract swap.

Miles hit .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances for the Cubs last year and followed that up with a .152/.222/.212 performance this spring. It's hard to imagine any team claiming him. Balentien hit a more robust .327/.353/.571 this spring; in 295 plate appearances last year, he hit .234/.305/.385.

Reds Notes: Wells, Chapman, Leake, Balentien, Miles

A few Reds-related items to round up:

Odds & Ends: Rangers, Wang, Indians

A few links to pass along….

Reds, A’s Swap Taveras & Rosales For Miles & More

The Reds traded outfielder Willy Taveras and infielder Adam Rosales to the Athletics today for infielder Aaron Miles and a player to be named later or cash, reports ESPN's Buster Olney.  Let's break down this bad contract swap.

Taveras will earn $4MM in 2010.  The speedy 28-year-old was a bust for the Reds in '09, hitting .240/.275/.285 in 437 plate appearances.  Rosales did not hit well in the bigs either, but he did crush Triple A pitching in 125 plate appearances.  Before the season Baseball America said he profiles as a "good utiltyman."  He's played all around the infield in the minors.  Rosales' inclusion might even out the salary gap between Taveras and Miles.

Miles will earn $2.7MM in 2010, though the Cubs sent $1MM to the A's as part of a December '09 trade.  Like Taveras, he was signed to a two-year deal despite being non-tendered by his former club and proceeded to have a terrible season.  AOL FanHouse's Ed Price tweets that there's "zero chance" this trade opens a spot for Johnny Damon on the Reds.

Olney posits that the Reds' $1.3MM savings may go toward Orlando Cabrera.  The A's were looking to add a cheap utlityman in Rosales.  The A's have taken a $3MM hit on Taveras and given up Jeff Gray, Ronny Morla, Matt Spencer, and a PTBNL or cash to get Jake Fox and Rosales.  They're not done, though, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Oakland is "not expected to hang on to Taveras for long."

Still, we don't have all the details on this trade yet.  What else will be sent to Cincinnati?  What will the A's do with so many outfielders?

Oakland Acquires Jake Fox And Aaron Miles

10:36pm:  Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com provides us with a look at the newest Cubs, Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer. 

Mayo characterizes Morla as a "solid mid-range" prospect and notes that he has been able to maintain a 93-94 MPH fastball as a starter.  He also speculates that he could increase his velocity into the mid-90s if he is moved to the bullpen. 

Spencer, meanwhile, is a solid athlete, especially when considering he is 6'4, 225 lbs.  He has the versatility to play first base but his strong arm makes him more intriguing as an outfielder.  In fact, there was once talk of him being drafted as a pitcher during his time at Arizona State.

5:51pm:  Oakland will receive $1MM from the Cubs to help offset Aaron Miles' $2.7MM contract, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times (via Twitter).

5:35pm:  The other two players in the deal are Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer, tweets Brent S. Gambill of Sirius XM.  The Cubs will also give the Athletics cash considerations as part of the deal.

5:18pm: The Cubs have traded Jake Fox and Aaron Miles to the A's for Jeff Gray and two minor-leaguers, according to ESPNChicago.com

Fox is the more attractive of the two for Oakland, as he has performed quite well in the Cubs' minor league system over the last three years.  The 27-year-old took it to another level in '09 when he posted a remarkable slash line of .409/.495/.841 in 45 games for Chicago's Triple-A affiliate.  This led to a promotion in late May in which he recorded a .779 OPS with 11 HRs in 241 plate appearances.

Miles disappointed the Cubs with his 2009 performance after receiving a two-year deal worth $4.9MM.  The second baseman recorded an atrocious .466 OPS in 74 games.

One wonders if the addition of Fox could mean that Jack Cust's time in Oakland is through, as he may not be tendered an offer.

Cubs Rumors: Marmol, Payroll, Theriot

Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald has a few tidbits of information about the Chicago Cubs in his latest blog post.

Miles notes that the Cubs have an unusually high number of arbitration-eligible players this offseason, and singles out Carlos Marmol as an important case. Miles figures that the Cubs and Marmol's agent Barry Praver could disagree about the reliever's value, since his holds total and opponents' average are so strong, while his control is so unpredictable. The Cubs haven't had an arbitration case go to a hearing since early in the 1990s, but this one is a candidate for it.

Miles also writes that the number of raises through arbitration could affect the Cubs' payroll flexibility. GM Jim Hendry points out that since most of the players are in the first year of arbitration eligibility, there shouldn't be many massive raises, but says, "You do have guys that certainly are going to command an increase in salary, and yeah, you have to factor that all in with your total payroll. We'll see what the numbers look like."

Hendry was also asked whether middle infield was a priority this winter, and replies: "Not necessarily. I'm very happy with Ryan [Theriot]." He adds that Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles had disappointing 2009 seasons, but that he expects them to bounce back next year.

More On Aaron Miles

Some interesting facts are mentioned in Derrick Goold’s article about Aaron Miles’ departure from St. Louis.

Apparently, the Cardinals were prepared to offer $4.3MM themselves – only $600,000 less than the Cubs. What drew Miles to Chicago, however, was a more sincere interest demonstrated by Cub management. As reported previously, the Cardinals waited until the last minute to give Miles their offer. Goold suggests that offer was delayed by dealings with Adam Kennedy.