Alex Rios Rumors
ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams. That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column...
- Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars. While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals. "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
- The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick. The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
- Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter. Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said. Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
- We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams. The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
- The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club. Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week. The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
- Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
- Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers. The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
- The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year. The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
- Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder. The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
- The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline. Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him.
- The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching. While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
- In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal. You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."
The Orioles paid a steep price to acquire Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, ESPN's Keith Law opines, (Insider subscription required), given that Rodriguez will be a free agent this offseason. The busy marketplace for relief pitching could be a boon to another AL East club if they decided to become sellers; "if a two-month rental of K-Rod gets a mid-level prospect, the Jays should shop Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar," Law tweets.
Here's the latest from around the AL East...
- Speaking of the Blue Jays, GM Alex Anthopoulos predicts a "quiet" trade deadline for his struggling team, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reports (Twitter links). The Jays are looking for players who are controlled beyond the 2013 season and not just rental players. "From our standpoint, we’re having dialogue....I really don’t see us doing anything," Anthopoulos said.
- The Rays are also likely to have a pretty uneventful deadline period, principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) though they're always open to making moves.
- Jim Hendry, special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, attended tonight's Tigers/White Sox game, according to Meghan Montemurro of the Northwest Herald. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune speculates that the Yankees could be interested in Alex Rios as a backup plan if they fail to acquire Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs (both links are to Twitter).
- The Orioles may need to make some tough choices given the number of key players whose contracts are soon up, CSN Baltimore's Rich Dubroff writes. Players like Chris Davis, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Jim Johnson are only under contract through 2015 at the latest and Nate McLouth, Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel are set for free agency this winter.
- In other AL East news from earlier today....Dustin Pedroia agreed to a seven-year extension with the Red Sox, the baseball punditry weighed in on the Pedroia extension, we compiled a series of Red Sox notes, Alex Rodriguez plans to fight any possible PED suspension and the Yankees and Cubs continue to discuss a deal for Soriano.
We'll end the evening with some links from the AL Central ...
- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau talked to reporters, including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, about the recent trade rumors that have circulated. While he has a six-team no-trade clause, Morneau said that none of those teams are among the clubs reportedly interested in dealing for him.
- Morneau also expressed that he hopes to stay in Minnesota, but has not been contacted about an extension. Set to become a free agent in 2013, the 32-year-old figures to be worth far short of his now-expiring six-year, $80MM deal.
- For his part, Twins owner Jim Pohlad told La Velle E. Neal II of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that, while he would not "feel great about [Morneau] being traded," the team ultimately must "do whatever it takes to win." He added that Minnesota has twice rebuffed Morneau when he approached the club to try and discuss an extension.
- Even with Joaquin Benoit, Drew Smyly, and Bruce Rondon pitching well at the back of the bullpen, the Tigers continue to explore the trade market, according to CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. He says that Detroit is scouting the Marlins, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Astros in search of bullpen pieces.
- While Knobler does not connect the Tigers to any specific relievers, he does say that the team is not interested in Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees. Dan Martin of the New York Post, on the other hand, reports precisely the opposite. (Hat tip to River Ave. Blues.) He writes that the Tigers may be one of the only teams interested in Chamberlain, with the Phillies, Braves, and Giants not intrigued.
- There was a moment of excitement tonight when White Sox outfielder and trade candidate Alex Rios was pulled from the game after the sixth inning. Rumored to have been seen hugging in the dugout, it turns out that Rios was pulled for not hustling on the basepaths. MLB.com's Scott Merkin was among the first (Twitter link) to firmly quash the speculation that a Rios trade had gone down.
- Since peaking in late May with an OPS that reached .928, Rios has seen his on-base and (especially) power numbers plummet. On the heels of two substandard months, Rios now stands at a league-average OPS of .755 for the year, making him a less compelling trade piece than he looked to be back in May.
- Expect a lot of teams to be watching Jake Peavy's start today for the White Sox. Peavy, who could be the most valuable starter available since he is controlled through next season, will look to prove that he is healthy and effective after a DL stint.
The Red Sox have scouted both Alex Rios and Michael Young recently, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Cafardo adds that the team is likely to scout Jake Peavy's next few starts for the White Sox as he returns from the disabled list. In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports that the Yankees and Red Sox are both likely to scout Aramis Ramirez next week when he returns from the disabled list.
Boston's in Rios is somewhat of a surprise, as both Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury have played well across the board, and Daniel Nava is hitting .288/.374/.429 while playing the outfield corners. Nava's OPS has declined in each month this season, however, and he grades out as a poor defender according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and The Fielding Bible. Rios would also present the Sox with a right field option if they wish to move Victorino to center field in 2014, should Ellsbury sign elsewhere (my own speculation).
The Young connection makes sense in light of recent reports that they're looking at upgrades on the left side of their infield. There's said to be "intense" interest in Young from a number of teams, and the Phillies could probably move him even if they don't wish to fully commit as sellers.
Ramirez hasn't hit for much power this season when on the field, but he's hitting .271 with a .359 on-base percentage, which should appeal to both teams. Neither has received much production at the hot corner. He's under control through 2014, but the $16MM salary that he is guaranteed next year could be prohibitive for interested parties.
The Pirates own the second-best record in all of baseball but find themselves in second place in their own division thanks to the Cardinals. Seeking to bolster their lineup for the season's second half, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that GM Neal Huntington has his sights set on Alex Rios and may be interested in Alexei Ramirez as well.
Pirates right fielders have combined to hit .235/.309/.394 this season and played below replacement level as a whole, according to Fangraphs, thanks to poor defense and baserunning. Rios would obviously serve as a massive upgrade for the final two and a half months, as he's hitting .270/.326/.429 with strong defense and baserunning. However, as Heyman notes, the $18MM that he is guaranteed through next season is steep for the Pirates, who opened the season with a payroll just under $67MM.
Ramirez is also costly, as he's owed $23MM through the 2015 season. He's hitting .286/.311/.358 with 20 stolen bases, and advanced metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating love his range at shortstop. Jordy Mercer took over as Pittsburgh's starting shortstop recently, but he's hitting just .188/.246/.188 over his past 18 games and doesn't have much of a track record.
To this point, the White Sox have been "extremely disappointed" in the offers they've received for Rios, but the Pirates have a deep farm system that ranked seventh in baseball prior to the season, according to Baseball America. It stands to reason that the Pirates could put together an enticing offer, especially if White Sox GM Rick Hahn agrees to include cash to help facilitate a deal. The Buccos are not one of the six teams on Rios' no-trade list.
We're less than two weeks away from the non-waiver trade deadline, and with the rumor mill heating up, here's the latest out of the AL West...
- Angels lefties Jason Vargas and Sean Burnett aren't likely to return before the trade deadline, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The duo could return shortly after July 31, however. Both southpaws would have been attractive July trading chips, as Vargas is a free agent at season's end, and Burnett is on the first year of an affordable two-year, $8MM contract.
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge are in a tricky position. The duo will likely be judged based on the team's record, which would be better if they hang onto Kendrys Morales, Joe Saunders, Raul Ibanez and the rest of the team's trade chips. However, that also does little to build for the future, leading Stone to say that they could be in a lose-lose situation.
- In addition to their talks with the Cubs regarding Matt Garza, the Rangers are also seeking a right-handed bat, GM Jon Daniels told reporters today (including Todd Wills of ESPNDallas.com). Alex Rios and Alfonso Soriano "have been mentioned as possible acquisitions," according to Wills, who adds that the Rangers aren't yet ready to give Manny Ramirez a chance at the big league level.
- From that same piece, Daniels adds that the Rangers aren't panicking over Nelson Cruz's connection to the Biogenesis scandal.
The trade deadline is just two weeks away, and with the All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio writes that the market will pick up rapidly beginning Friday. Here are some highlights from the highly informative article penned by the former GM of the Reds, Expos and Nationals (ESPN Insider required and recommended)...
- Bowden hears there's an 80 percent chance that Matt Garza will be traded before his next scheduled start (Monday or Tuesday of next week). The Rangers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks are still involved, He describes the D-backs as "dark horses," adding that their odds in the Garza sweepstakes would increase if they were willing to part with left-hander David Holmberg.
- The Rockies could also be interested in Garza, but they're not clear-cut buyers right now, and the prospective cost is prohibitive to them. If they were to sell, Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle could be had. Michael Cuddyer could be moved, but only if Colorado is "blown away."
- The White Sox have been "extremely disappointed" with offers for Alex Rios thus far. Bowden feels that offers will improve as the deadline draws closer.
- The Justin Morneau era in Minnesota is coming to an end, and the Twins are prepared to trade the former MVP, according to Bowden. The Rays, Pirates and Yankees are said by Bowden to be possible destinations for Morneau.
- The Cardinals, Reds, Dodgers and Braves have all inquired on Twins closer Glen Perkins and been turned away. Those four teams are all monitoring the health of Jesse Crain as well.
- The Yankees are trying to use Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and catching prospect J.R. Murphy to acquire a bat but have had no luck thus far. None of those players figure to interest the Twins in regards to Morneau, Bowden adds, given the impending free agency of Hughes and Chamberlain and the presence of Joe Mauer behind the plate for the Twins.
National League All-Star starter Matt Harvey has become a well-known name around baseball...though not necessarily a well-known face. Harvey personally explored his relative anonymity in a comedy bit tonight on The Late Show With Jimmy Fallon (YouTube link). If it makes Harvey feel better, I rarely hear, "Hey, are you Mark Polishuk from MLB Trade Rumors?!" when I'm strolling around New York. Here's some news from around baseball on the eve of the All-Star Game...
- Jeff Wilpon promised that the Mets are willing to spend in 2014, the team COO said in an interview on WFAN radio (and partially transcribed by Newsday's Neil Best). The Mets will be helped when the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts expire this winter, which will by themselves free up $43.625MM in payroll space. "We haven't set a payroll for next year, but I can tell you we're ready to invest with those big contracts coming off the books," Wilpon said. "We have the money to invest. We're going to invest it prudently. Sandy [Alderson] is going to set a path."
- The Rangers could avoid giving up top prospects for White Sox right fielder Alex Rios, depending on how much of Rios' contract Texas is willing to eat, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes. Rios is owed roughly $4.85MM for the rest of 2013, $12.5MM in 2014 and a $13.5MM club option for 2015 that can be bought out for $1MM. The Rangers are one of several teams interested in acquiring Rios, though his trade stock has dipped due to a six-week slump.
- “A lot of teams you think might normally would be breaking things up aren’t,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There just aren’t a lot of players that are truly available. That could change. That’s my observation today.” The Cardinals are known to be interested in acquiring starting pitching and have recently been connected to Matt Garza, though the Cards aren't too keen to trade within the NL Central and are unlikely to make a deal that would cost them one of their top prospects.
- Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Cecil all tell Sportsnet's Shi Davidi that the Blue Jays already have the talent to turn their season around. Bautista, for one, doesn't think GM Alex Anthopoulos necessarily needs to make any further roster additions. “Alex is not out on the field playing for us, we’re totally capable of playing a lot better baseball than we’ve shown, we just need to play better as a team,” Bautista said. If the Jays don't make any moves, Bautista "wouldn’t look too much into it" since Anthopoulos “made plenty of moves in the off-season to make our team the best team that he could put on the field.”
- The three prospects acquired by the Nationals in the Michael Morse trade have performed well for Washington thus far, MASNsports.com's Byron Kerr observes. Right-handers A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen have pitched well at high A-ball and Double-A, respectively, while southpaw Ian Krol reached the Majors and delivered a 1.80 ERA, 13 strikeouts and just one walk over 15 relief innings for the Nats.
- Chase Lambin turned 34 years last week and has played 12 years of professional baseball in the minors and in Japan, but the veteran has still yet to reach the Major Leagues. Kent Babb of the Washington Post profiles Lambin, who currently plays for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate.
- The Mets' infamous long-long-term deferred contract with Bobby Bonilla is actually a pair of contracts that will pay the retired slugger $42MM between 2004 and 2035, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. While the Orioles are paying part of Bonilla's ongoing salary, the Mets are solely responsible for another 25-year deferred payment plan, this one to Bret Saberhagen. The former two-time Cy Young Award winner has received $250K per year from the Mets since 2004.
With today's earlier notes on the division and several relevant bullets from our most recent post, the National League Central continues to be busy. We've also seen another trade deadline hotspot develop in the NL East. Let's look at the latest:
- With Matt Garza taking the hill for the Cubs tonight, ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets that it is looking increasingly likely that it will be his last time doing so. Olney writes that Chicago is making progress in trade talks with at least two teams, and could be in position to complete a trade over the All-Star break.
- Another piece of Cubs trade bait, outfielder Nate Schierholtz, is expected to get a few days off for general wear and tear. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link), the ambiguous reasoning for the time off has led some scouts to suggest that Chicago could be shelving Schierholtz in anticipation of a trade.
- One team that could be in on the Cubs' outfielder is the division-rival Pirates, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With Pittsburgh failing to receive adequate production from the right field position, Biertempfel says that multiple sources tell him that the team is looking closely at both Schierholtz and White Sox outfielder Alex Rios.
- Everyone's favorite buying/selling fence-straddlers, the Phillies, have suffered a major blow to the team's 2013 chances with the team reporting that center fielder Ben Revere has suffered a broken foot. (Twitter links.) While the full severity is not yet known, Revere is set to see a specialist on Monday and a relatively prolonged absence seems inevitable. With some already wondering whether Ryan Howard's knee surgery could drive the Phils to sell, the loss of Revere -- who had emerged as a major contributor over the last few months -- can only increase that likelihood. MLBTR's Aaron Steen took a look at the Phils' decision-making process last night, before Revere came up hurt.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks Alex Rios' anxiety about a possible trade may be a cause of his recent slump, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. "He’s not squaring it up as much. He’s staying in the middle of the field," says Ventura. "Probably a little of all the rumors going around. That does affect people in certain ways. I don’t know if that’s him, but it’s probably leading to it." Rios, however, denies that trade rumors have an effect. "At this point, we shouldn’t be worried about what’s going to happen because you just can’t control it," he says. In mid-May, MLBTR's Jeff Todd profiled Rios' trade value, although Rios' poor hitting since then (he had a .643 OPS in June and a .579 OPS so far in July) may affect his trade outlook. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- The White Sox hope their upcoming game against the Cubs on Monday (which will feature the Cubs' Matt Garza, himself a trade candidate) will provide a good opportunity to showcase their players, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. He notes that the Rangers, in particular, have been watching the Sox recently.
- The Rangers' placement of Nick Tepesch and Lance Berkman on the disabled list on Sunday shows their need to acquire a starting pitcher and a hitter at the trade deadline, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.
- Angels GM Jerry DiPoto does not sound like he plans to make big moves at this month's trade deadline, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. "You’re always looking for ways to get better, to maybe find some smaller pieces to contribute, but the high-profile moves? I wouldn’t suspect that we’re looking for those," says DiPoto. DiGiovanna points out that the Angels could benefit from the returns of Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson and Sean Burnett from the disabled list.