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Alberto Callaspo Rumors
Giants right-hander Juan Gutierrez has a June 1 opt-out clause approaching in his contract that will allow him to request his release if he is not added to the 25-man roster, as MLBTR reported back at the end of Spring Training. The 31-year-old has struggled in some regards at Triple-A this season, as he’s posted a 4.94 ERA thus far. However, he’s posted a nice 21-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time and is sporting a 3.42 FIP, suggesting that he may have better results were it not for a .400 BABIP. Gutierrez worked to a 3.96 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings for the Giants’ big league club in 2014.
A few more NL West items as the day’s games come to a close…
- Though Juan Uribe was choked up about leaving the Dodgers when interviewed by reporters following last night’s contest, president of baseball operations told reporters today that Uribe’s agents at Praver/Shapiro had made it known earlier in the week that their client would welcome a trade (Twitter link via the Orange County Register’s Pedro Moura). Uribe, Friedman continued, had hoped for a situation that would allow him to play every day. He may very well have that opportunity with the Braves, though Atlanta does have Chris Johnson as an option at the hot corner as well.
- Also via Moura, Friedman told reporters that he’s tried on multiple occasions to acquire left-hander Ian Thomas from the Braves before landing him in this six-player trade. Friedman feels that Thomas’ floor is that of a quality Major League reliever. However, multiple reporters (including the L.A. News Group’s J.P. Hoornstra) have noted that the Dodgers will stretch Thomas out as a starter for now at the Triple-A level.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at a number of different reasons that the Dodgers made the trade. While some have already questioned the move, Rosenthal hears that the Dodgers preferred Callaspo’s switch-hitting bat and ability to cover first base. Rosenthal, too, notes that the team is high on Thomas, and he adds that they weren’t sure if they’d be able to keep Chris Withrow on the 40-man roster this winter, as his 2016 production figures to be somewhat of a question mark. Shedding Uribe’s contract also saves the team not only $1MM in salary, but a greater amount in luxury taxes, as Uribe’s $7.5MM average annual value creates a bigger luxury tax hit than Callaspo’s mere $3MM AAV.
- Tony La Russa’s one-year anniversary as the Diamondbacks‘ chief baseball officer was May 17, and Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes that La Russa is pleased with the organization’s progress. “I think we feel good about the front-office team and we feel good about our scouts and scouting directors and our player development and our coordinator,” La Russa said. Of course, that front office looks markedly different, as Dave Stewart has replaced Kevin Towers at GM and been joined atop the baseball operations pyramid by senior VP De Jon Watson. Also new to the organization is scouting director Deric Ladnier, who formerly held that position with the Royals and replaced the well-respected Ray Montgomery in Arizona. With the new front office in place, the team aggressively pursued international free agents and trade veteran players, and the fruits of those efforts are already surfacing with the big league team. Rubby De La Rosa, Buchanan notes, is outperforming Wade Miley, for whom he was traded. (Arizona also got Allen Webster in that deal.) Yasmany Tomas is contributing at the plate, and the decision to trade Trevor Cahill to free up a rotation slot for Archie Bradley has injected some youth and upside into the starting mix (though Bradley has struggled since returning from a line-drive to the face).
WEDNESDAY, 3:30pm: The deal is official, with both teams announcing it. Stults has been acquired and designated in one fell swoop, indicating that he was included in large part to offset Uribe’s salary. With more than three but less than five years of service, Stults will have the right to elect free agency if he clears outright waivers, but would have to give up his guaranteed salary to do so.
On the Los Angeles side of the deal, only Callaspo will head to the club’s active roster. Jaime will look to work into form at extended spring training, while Thomas will take a job at Triple-A.
2:55pm: The Braves paid Callaspo $100K to waive his no-trade rights, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
8:41am: Callaspo received a “stipend” as inducement to agree the trade, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets.
TUESDAY: Trade talks between the Dodgers and Braves regarding Alberto Callaspo and Juan Uribe fell apart Tuesday morning after Callaspo vetoed the transaction, but talks rekindled just hours later after Callaspo had a change of heart, and the two sides have reportedly reached a deal, pending approval from the commissioner’s office. The Braves will acquire Uribe and right-hander Chris Withrow from the Dodgers in exchange for Callaspo, right-hander Juan Jaime and left-handers Ian Thomas and Eric Stults.
As a player that signed as a free agent just this offseason, Callaspo was ineligible to be traded prior to June 15 without his consent. After news of the revitalized deal broke, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Callaspo reconsidered after his initial decision to stay with a team that wanted him traded weighed on him further.
Though the Dodgers are surrendering talent to acquire him, it’s worth wondering how long Callaspo will be retained by his new team. The Dodgers, earlier this season, were content to acquire Ryan Webb and release him almost immediately in order to acquire a Competitive Balance draft pick from the Orioles. The Dodgers may view this as a means of shedding a bit of payroll and unclogging their logjam at third base, though that’s still purely speculative at this point.
The Dodgers have Alex Guerrero, Justin Turner, Hector Olivera and, eventually Corey Seager as potential in-house options at the hot corner, making both Uribe and Callaspo seem somewhat expendable. Callaspo has batted just .206/.293/.252 for the Braves this season, so his on-field production isn’t necessarily something the Dodgers would view as an upgrade, even though he has a superior track record to that output. Callaspo is capable of handling multiple infield positions, but while that versatility is appealing, the same could be said of Turner, who has experience at more positions and superior numbers at the plate.
From the Braves’ standpoint, the team likely views Uribe as an upgrade over Callaspo and, quite possibly, the injured Chris Johnson (who will be activated from the DL later this week). Uribe has posted consistently excellent defensive marks at third base over the past three seasons, and he batted .295/.334/.439 while playing half his games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium from 2013-14. He’s off to a slow start in 2015 — .247/.287/.309 in 87 PAs — but he’s also been slowed by a hamstring injury.
Financially speaking, the Braves are actually taking on some money in this deal, assuming there’s none changing hands (and there has not been, to this point). Uribe is earning $6.5MM in 2015 — the final season of a three-year contract. That means he has about $4.69MM remaining on his contract, which is more than double the $2.16MM remaining on the one-year, $3MM contract signed by Callaspo with Atlanta this offseason. Stults’ minor league contract came with a $2MM base upon making the roster, meaning about $1.44MM is left on his commitment. In total, then, the Braves are taking on just over $1MM in additional salary in order to add Uribe and Withrow.
Withrow, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery at this time, is slated to return from his operation in the second half of the season after undergoing surgery 51 weeks ago, on June 3, 2014. A hard-throwing reliever and former first-round pick of the Dodgers (2007), Withrow spent parts of the 2013-14 seasons pitching in relief for L.A., and doing so quite effectively.
The 56 innings he accumulated in those two seasons are the only Major League work on his resume, but he made quite the impression, registering a 2.73 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, a 39.7 percent ground-ball rate and a fastball that averaged 95.7 mph. It should be noted that while Withrow’s BB/9 rate looks a bit troubling, eight of his 31 Major League walks came over his final 8 2/3 innings prior to Tommy John; his control looked markedly better in 2013, and Baseball America noted prior to the 2014 season that he’d significantly improved upon his ability to locate his fastball.
The 28-year-old Thomas has worked to a 3.94 ERA with 18 strikeouts against 11 walks in 16 innings of relief for the Braves over the past two seasons. Thomas primarily throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, and he posted generally strong marks over the course of his minor league tenure after being signed out of indy ball. The Dodgers aren’t particularly short on left-handed relief, with J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore and Paco Rodriguez all serving as MLB-caliber options, but Thomas will further give them some depth in that regard.
Stults, 35, was actually drafted by the Dodgers in 2002 and spent parts of four seasons with the team from 2006-09. Of course, that was under different ownership and a different front office. Since that time, Stults bounced around the league a bit before settling into the Padres’ rotation from 2012-14. Over those three seasons, the southpaw worked to a 3.87 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 472 innings. Despite that relatively solid production, Stults was non-tendered this offseason and signed a minor league contract with the Braves, beating out Wandy Rodriguez for the fifth spot in Atlanta’s rotation. The results for Stults haven’t been particularly appealing, however, as he’s posted a 6.34 ERA with a 30-to-13 K/BB ratio in 44 innings out of the Braves’ rotation. The Dodgers may feel that a move back to the NL West will allow him to rediscover some success, and the team clearly is in need of some rotation depth after losing Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu for the season due to Tommy John and shoulder surgeries, respectively.
Jaime, the fourth piece headed to the Dodgers, is a hard-throwing right-hander that found himself designated for assignment earlier this season. He broke camp in the Braves’ bullpen but made just two appearances before being designated for assignment. The 27-year-old cleared waivers and remained with the organization at the time, but his 96 mph average fastball will now be property of the Dodgers. Jaime has just 13 2/3 innings of experience in the big leagues, but he’s posted a lifetime 3.12 ERA with 12.9 K/9 in the minors. However, Jaime has also walked 6.3 hitters per nine in his career, including an alarming 42 walks in 44 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the re-kindled talks, the completion of the trade, and the inclusion of Withrow and Stults (All links to Twitter). MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Thomas and Jaime were in the trade (Twitter links). Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez first told reporters, including Bowman, that Callaspo was being discussed in trades last night (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
2:21pm: Callaspo’s primary motivation was that he liked playing in Atlanta and did not want to play on the west coast, Heyman tweets.
12:13pm: The deal is indeed dead at present, and there is “no indication it’ll be revived,” O’Brien tweets.
11:44am: Callaspo has rejected the deal, as is his right, per Rosenthal (Twitter link).
For those unsure of why Callaspo may have declined the move, it’s not clear that he would ever have had a chance to suit up for the Dodgers: Los Angeles may well have intended simply to take on Callaspo’s salary and then release him as part of the broader arrangement. Were that the team’s intention, which seems at least plausibly implied in Callaspo’s veto, he likely would have ended up a free agent (while remaining entitled to his full salary).
Should Atlanta choose to designate him, that would still be the probable result, meaning that Callaspo may ultimately have been unwilling to be run through procedural hoops (all while sitting at home without a chance to play) simply to facilitate a deal between two clubs that aren’t terribly interested in his services at this point.
Alternatively, Callaspo might have preferred to avoid relegation to a 25th-man role in L.A. It’s impossible to know precisely what conversations and considerations were had, but as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes on Twitter, Callaspo may well have had valid reasons to act as he did.
11:28am: The Dodgers would actually receive MLB-level pitching in the deal, Rosenthal tweets, though he cautions not to expect any “major names” to be involved.
11:15am: The deal appears to have “lost traction,” tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A move is not presently imminent, per the report.
10:15am: The Dodgers would stand to add three minor league players from the Braves, with a farmhand also heading eastbound to Atlanta, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Some of the players going to Los Angeles would serve to bolster the club’s upper-level pitching reserves, per the report, suggesting an addition motivation.
The Dodgers would also stand to avoid some piece of their obligation to Uribe, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
9:48am: The Dodgers are in discussions with the Braves about a deal that would send third baseman Juan Uribe to Atlanta and deliver Alberto Callaspo to Los Angeles, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Other, “lesser names” would also be included in a deal, per the report.
Agreement was close last night, says Rosenthal, who adds that it is not yet known whether progress continues this morning. The holdup could be related to the fact that Callaspo has the right to veto any deal, Rosenthal tweets. As a free agent who signed last offseason, he can decline to be dealt prior to June 15. With more than five years of service time, Callaspo would at least be entitled to refuse a minor league assignment and keep all of his guaranteed money if he ended up being outrighted after the deal.
Both teams have been creative in structuring deals of late: the Braves recently swapped bad contracts as a major part of the Craig Kimbrel trade, and the Dodgers effectively purchased a draft pick by acquiring and designating Ryan Webb. This prospective transaction, too, seems likely to be motivated by a variety of considerations.
Callaspo is playing on a $3MM contract this year, and could conceivably be going to offset some of the balance of the $6.5MM salary owed to Uribe. It seems somewhat unlikely, after all, that the Dodgers would have serious interest in the scuffling Callaspo. The club is loaded with options at second and third quite apart from Uribe, who has all but been displaced at the hot corner already.
Then again, the switch-hitting Callaspo does have a clear track record of sterling plate discipline, and has been better when facing right-handed pitching. (For all their options at second and third, L.A. doesn’t have any left-handed bats in the 4-5-6 mix.) As for Uribe, he’s off to a slow start but has consistently rated as an outstanding defender and produced at the plate when receiving regular playing time over 2013-14.
Needless to say, there are a number of interesting elements to this prospective transaction. Atlanta would certainly like to pick up a solid option at third, where Callaspo and Chris Johnson have struggled, while the Dodgers are probably glad to free up Uribe’s roster spot.
TODAY: Callaspo said last that the club gave him no indication that a deal had actually been struck, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Per Callaspo, the club told him that he was scratched from the lineup because “there might be a possible trade.” But he was not advised that a transaction would necessarily occur today: “No, they didn’t tell me that,” he said. “They just said, ‘Let’s wait until tomorrow and see what happens.’”
YESTERDAY: The Braves are attempting to deal infielder Alberto Callaspo, manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter link). That explains why the veteran was held out of tonight’s just-concluded ballgame.
It’s obviously unusual to hear a manager divulge such information when a transaction has (apparently) yet to be formalized, which would seem to suggest that a roster move is all but inevitable at this point. Presumably, Atlanta is looking to find a taker for some portion of Callaspo’s remaining salary.
Callaspo, 32, signed a one-year, $3MM deal to join the Braves this offseason. He has seen plenty of action, most of it at third base. But the results have not been there: over 123 plate appearances, Callaspo has slashed just .206/.293/.252 with one home run. That continues a rough stretch dating back to the start of 2014, though Callaspo has maintained his outstanding plate discipline and ability to make contact.
Of course, the switch-hitter does have a deeper history of producing approximately league-average results while providing some versatility around the infield. It has been a while now, but back in 2011-12, Callaspo combined solid offensive production with sterling defensive ratings to grade out at better than three wins above replacement annually.
The Braves have designated reliever Anthony Varvaro for assignment, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweeted earlier that the move was expected.
Last season was the second solid campaign in a row for the 30-year-old, as he pitched to a 2.63 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 and a 49.7% groundball rate over 54 2/3 frames. Varvaro also earned good marks from ERA estimators, with FIP (3.21), xFIP (3.15), and SIERA (2.86) all liking his work.
5:54pm: Callaspo’s deal is a one-year, $3MM contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Another $1MM is available for Callaspo in performance incentives, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
12:49pm: The Braves have agreed to a deal with free agent infielder Alberto Callaspo pending physical, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com first reported on Twitter that the sides were nearing agreement.
Callaspo, 31, is a switch-hitter but struggled from both sides of the plate last year. His .223/.290/.290 slash over 451 plate appearances was obviously well below-average. But Callaspo has produced at an average to slightly-above-average clip in recent seasons, and Atlanta may have cause to believe that he’ll return to that level.
Presumably, Callaspo would have the inside track to take over at second for Atlanta. He also represents an option at third, where he has spent some time, either as a platoon mate or replacement for Chris Johnson if the incumbent is dealt away.
The Blue Jays are considering signing free agent Alberto Callaspo to fill their hole at second base, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The Blue Jays have already added Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson to their offense this offseason, but they’re still weak in left field and at second, where Ryan Goins currently tops their depth chart. The Jays also have Maicer Izturis, who will be returning from a significant knee injury.
Callaspo, 31, had a poor .223/.290/.290 season with Oakland in the last season of a two-year deal he originally signed with the Angels. He should therefore be available fairly cheaply, however, and Rosenthal notes that the Jays think Callaspo ought to rebound in 2015. Callaspo also ought not to require a multi-year deal, which means the Jays can keep second base clear for recently-acquired prospect Devon Travis in 2016 if Travis continues to hit.
Callaspo had back-to-back seasons of at least 2.9 WAR in Los Angeles in 2011 and 2012. At his best, the switch-hitter has generated value with an OBP-heavy offensive game and a good glove at both second base and third. He did, however, have negative UZR figures at second in both the last two seasons. Still, Toronto’s reported opinion that Callaspo is a good candidate to rebound appears to be well founded — Steamer projects he’ll hit .252/.326/.354 and be a win above replacement if given a full-time job next season.
A few notes on some free agents on a busy first day of the annual GM Meetings…
- Octagon agent Alan Nero and his team are ready to advance talks regarding clients Victor Martinez, Jason Hammel and Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. While we don’t typically see too many free agents come off the board this early in the offseason, it sounds as if Octagon is being aggressive.
- Corey Hart has received interest from several teams despite his down season in 2014, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The market is thin on power hitters and Hart, 32, was a 30-homer threat from 2010-12 before undergoing surgery on both knees and sitting out the 2013 campaign.
- Jason Grilli has had some interest from multiple clubs, but the bullpen-hungry Tigers aren’t among them, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
- Ichiro Suzuki has switched agents and is now represented by John Boggs, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Suzuki had previously been represented by Tony Attanasio.
- Also from Rosenthal, Alberto Callaspo has switched agents and is now represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management. Callaspo had previously been represented by Eric Goldschmidt. For agency info on over 1,700 players, check out MLBTR’s oft-updated Agency Database.
Here's the latest from both the Athletics and Giants…
- The A's are scheduled to meet with Adam Katz, Bartolo Colon's agent, this week to discuss a one-year deal for the veteran righty, CSNBayArea.com's Joe Stiglich reports. Colon has shown an interest in returning to Oakland but a number of teams would be interested on Colon for just a one-year commitment.
- Also from Stiglich, he wonders if Alberto Callaspo could be expendable now that Nick Punto has been signed to increase the Athletics' infield depth. Callaspo is set to platoon with Eric Sogard at second base next season, but Callaspo's salary ($4.875MM) is a high one for the payroll-conscious A's.
- Bronson Arroyo has been linked to the Giants in trade rumors, so CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly breaks down the pros and cons of an Arroyo signing for San Francisco.
- The Giants are "continuing a dialog" with Ryan Vogelsong's representatives, assistant GM Bobby Evans tells Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
We'll begin a quiet morning in baseball with a few links from the American League …
- Mark Reynolds started his Yankee tenure with a bang, ripping a two-run homer, going two-for-five, and adding another RBI on the evening. As Mark Feinsand and Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News report, Reynolds and his new teammates and manager all seemed pleased with his signing after the game. The Yanks will hope that Reynolds catches one of his patented hot streaks down the stretch this year.
- The Angels' acquisition of young second baseman Grant Green in exchange for Alberto Callaspo is looking better and better in the eyes of MLB.com's Lyle Spencer (via Twitter). Spencer says that Green evidently has the kind of talent that it is worth taking a chance on. After an underwhelming (0-for-15) stint with the Athletics earlier this year, Green has been on fire early in his Angels tenure. In his 36 plate appearances with the Halos, Green has posted a .433/.528/.500 triple-slash.
- For his part, Callaspo's .229/.308/.371 line since joining the A's corresponds to the OPS+ mark (92) he put up in Anaheim this year. With his defensive metrics trending down, Callaspo seems unlikely to put up more than one win above replacement this season (whether measured by Fangraphs or Baseball Reference) for the first time since he became a regular. He will earn $4.875MM next season before becoming a free agent the following year.