A.J. Ellis Rumors

Los Angeles Notes: Ellis, Lackey, Wells, Greinke

The Dodgers lead the NL West by the slimmest of margins (half a game) over the Giants, but their American League counterpart isn’t so well-positioned. The Angels are just two games above .500 after losing four games in a row and they’re now 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leaders. Here's the latest on Los Angeles' two teams…

  • Catcher A.J. Ellis explains how this year's trade deadline unfolded from the point of view of the Dodgers’ players in a guest column at Buster Olney's ESPN.com blog. Ellis acknowledges that players refresh MLBTR in search of news as the trade deadline approaches. "Few of us would admit to religiously checking websites like MLBTradeRumors and Twitter feeds looking for rumors, but we do," he writes.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times would not be surprised if the Angels try to engage the Red Sox in trade talks about a possible John Lackey for Vernon Wells deal this offseason (Twitter links). Wells, who has $42MM on his contract after 2012, could be a fit in Fenway Park,  DiGiovanna writes. Lackey, who pitched in Anaheim from 2002-09, has $30.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012.
  • The trade that sent Zack Greinke to Anaheim hasn't worked out as well as expected for the Angels, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. Greinke has a 6.19 ERA in five starts since being traded.

The Astros’ Catching Options

Jason Castro's 2011 season came to a quick end when the news broke that Castro had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.  The injury leaves the Astros with Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles as their top internal options behind the plate, and it's possible that Houston is content to stick with this duo.  Quintero is a solid defender, if nothing else, and Towles is just a couple of years removed from being considered a top prospect himself, so the Astros might be willing to give Towles one last chance to prove himself at the Major League level.

As with any notable injury, however, the hot stove is already heating up with speculation about who Houston could pursue if the team looked outside its organization.  Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and David Golebiewski of Fangraphs have both already chimed in on the situation, so let's take a look at their possible candidates…

  • Ryan Doumit.  Pittsburgh is known to be shopping the veteran, and willing to eat some of his $5.1MM salary for the right talent in return.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, however, wonders if the Astros would really give up anything of value for just one year of Doumit.
  • A.J. Ellis.  He isn't exactly a proven veteran, but Ellis could be available.  Ellis and Dioner Navarro are battling to be Rod Barajas' backup in Los Angeles.
  • Jesus Flores.  The Nationals could be the most fitting trade partner here, given the number of catchers on their roster.  Flores has looked healthy in Spring Training and could probably be obtained at a low cost.
  • Tyler Flowers.  His future with the White Sox suddenly became blurry following a mediocre 2010 season in Triple-A and A.J. Pierzynski's new two-year contract with the club.  Flowers is just 25, however, and was ranked by Baseball America as the 60th-best prospect in the game heading into last season.  It's very unlikely that Chicago has already given up on Flowers.
  • Bengie Molina.  Unlike these other players, Molina is a free agent, and would cost Houston nothing but money.  We heard last month that Molina was on the fence about returning next season since he couldn't find a team that would offer him regular playing time.
  • Brian Schneider.  McTaggart observes that Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. have collaborated before, most notably on the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last summer.  Schneider and Carlos Ruiz make a nice lefty-righty platoon, however, and it's unlikely the Philles would want to break that combination up. 
  • Kelly ShoppachJohn Jaso is pencilled into the starting job in Tampa Bay, so the Rays could listen to offers for their veteran backup, who makes $3MM in 2011.

McTaggart also notes the Yankees' minor league depth at catcher, but says they're an unlikely trade partner since the Astros would be looking for a Major League-ready catcher.  Besides, New York is dealing with their own injury problems behind the plate, as Francisco Cervelli will be sidelined with a broken foot.


Odds & Ends: Coyle, V-Mart, Lackey, Ellis

Saturday night links, as Troy Tulowitzki's jaw-dropping September continues….

  • Fort Washington, Pennsylvania product Sean Coyle is now represented by Sosnick-Cobbe Sports, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.  The shortstop received a $1.3MM bonus from the Red Sox as a third-round draft pick out of high school this year.  Sosnick-Cobbe already represents the draft's other big-name Pennsylvania native in the Phillies' Jesse Biddle, who was drafted in the first round.  There may be another million dollar draft pick from the state next year in Derek Fisher, a high school outfielder hailing from Rexmont.
  • Clay Buchholz would love to see Victor Martinez return to the Red Sox next year, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
  • Terry Francona tells MLB.com's Ian Browne that he was "thrilled" the Red Sox signed John Lackey last winter, and that he hasn't lost any confidence in the investment.
  • A.J. Ellis' recent play for the Dodgers could put him in line for a bigger role next year, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.


Dodgers Don’t Plan To Trade For Catcher

The Dodgers do not plan to bring in a catcher after losing Russell Martin for four to six weeks with a pulled groin, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Instead, they will rely on A.J. Ellis to fill the void, with Brad Ausmus serving as the understudy.  Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes that Torre has faith in the rookie.

The post notes that Paul Bako is likely the top remaining free agent catcher.  The 37-year-old hit .224/.308/.336 in 130 plate appearances for the Phillies last season.  Another notable catcher without a job is Michael Barrett, though he missed the majority of 2009 due to injury.

Los Angeles dealt one of the game's top catching prospects, Carlos Santana, in the Casey Blake deal in 2008.  The 23-year-old Santana will likely make his major league debut this season.


Odds & Ends: Astros, Schmidt, Callaspo

A few Thursday evening links to browse through….


Royals Prefer Trades

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star dishes on the Royals…

  • Dayton Moore…step away from the free agent market.  The Royals are moving toward trades, with an eye on the long-term.  Owner David Glass says the plan is to "turn over some of the club."  Moore already made a nice move in flipping Mark Teahen for Josh Fields and Chris Getz.
  • Dutton again mentions the talks between the Dodgers and Royals on a possible A.J. Ellis for Alberto Callaspo deal.  Ellis, 29 in April, posted OBPs over .436 in Triple A for 2008-09.
  • The Royals are probably stuck with Jose Guillen, but David DeJesus and Gil Meche could be trade chips.  Dutton says the Royals prefer to keep Meche though.
  • Dutton says the Royals are more likely to trade for a center fielder than to re-sign Coco Crisp.
  • Via Twitter, Dutton says lefty Lenny DiNardo and reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta elected free agency.