Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors

Arizona Diamondbacks trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/29/15

We’ve got some catching up to do on the minor moves front after a busy couple of days:

  • Reds outfielder/first baseman Chris Dominguez has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Dominguez has seen short big league stints in each of the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old has played mostly in the upper minors. He owns a .216/.264/.368 slash over 221 plate appearances on the year at Louisville.
  • The Pirates outrighted infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A after recently designating him for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). Following two seasons as a significant utility piece for the Nationals, Lombardozzi has received only 85 big league plate appearances over the 2014-15 campaigns. He owns a .303/.362/.352 slash in his 291 turns at bat for Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • After he, too, cleared waivers, Pirates third baseman Brent Morel elected free agency, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). The 28-year-old has spent at least some time in the big leagues in every season since 2010, putting up a .601 OPS in 712 plate appearances. In 326 times coming to bat at Triple-A this year, he owns a .266/.322/.441 batting line.
  • As expected, Astros outfielder Alex Presley has accepted an outright assignment with the organization, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. He previously agreed to an outright assignment in order to preserve his $1MM arbitration salary, and chose to do the same once again.
  • The Mariners acquired righty J.C. Ramirez from the Diamondbacks, Seattle announced. Ramirez, 26, made it up to the big leagues for the second time this year, throwing 15 1/3 innings of 4.11 ERA ball from the Arizona pen. He’ll return to his first professional team, which shipped him to the Phillies in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.

Diamondbacks Discussing Aroldis Chapman With Reds

6:26pm: General manager Dave Stewart candidly acknowledged that he has indeed contacted the Reds regarding Chapman, according to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (All Twitter links). Said Stewart: “I’m going to go down that path and see where it takes us.” The GM didn’t characterize a deal as likely or unlikely, saying he didn’t know how things would play out, but he was clear that he didn’t want to do anything to hurt his team in the future, Gilbert adds.

2:32pm: The Diamondbacks have engaged in discussions with the Reds regarding ace closer Aroldis Chapman, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Cincinnati has a “huge” asking price and the chats could just be “due diligence,” per the report.

Regardless of how serious the interest is between the two sides, it’s notable that Arizona is looking into a deal. We heard yesterday that the team inquired on Cole Hamels of the Phillies, another notably available trade piece who comes with future control.

Arizona has control over current closer Brad Ziegler through a 2016 club option, but it would not be the only team that would love to add Chapman regardless of the team’s present 9th-inning situation. He’s arguably established himself as the best closer in baseball, and with another year of arbitration to go he’s a valuable commodity.

Considering Arizona’s interest in both Hamels and Chapman, it seems that the club is at least entertaining the idea of putting some impact pieces in place that would give it an outside shot at contention this year while also providing future value. We’ve heard of similar approaches being weighed by other clubs, and the D’Backs certainly do appear to have some future salary capacity to make that kind of move work.

That being said, investing in a relief piece is always a risky proposition, and Chapman will certainly not come cheap. Spending big on a closer (in both prospects and dollars) has already arguably cost the D’backs once in recent memory. Addison Reed, who was a major trade acquisition of the prior front office, has been playing at Triple-A as he tries to work out his struggles.


Latest On Hamels: D’backs Interested, Astros “Making Big Push,” Rangers Talking Prospects

8:04pm: The Astros are “making [a] big push” to add Hamels even after nabbing rental starter Scott Kazmir, Crasnick tweets.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports updates the names that have been discussed between the Rangers and Phillies, noting that not all would be included in a theoretical deal. (Links to Twitter.) Catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, young righty Chi Chi Gonzalez and Luis Ortiz, and outfielders Nick Williams and Lewis Brinson have all come up recently, per Rosenthal.

Texas will not move Nomar Mazara in a deal for Hamels, he says, and would only include Alfaro if the Phillies pay down more of the deal. The club is also hesitant to part with Gonzalez, who made his major league debut this season. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today, the Phillies are focused on adding Alfaro or Mazara if they strike a deal with the Rangers.

Heyman adds that the Phillies continue to dangle Hamels to the Yankees in hopes of acquiring either Luis Severino or Aaron Judge. He suggests that could be an indication that the team is not really satisfied with what it’s being offered elsewhere.

4:19pm: There’s a late possible dark horse in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, who says that the Diamondbacks have “reached out to the Phillies to express their interest.” (Twitter link.)

While Arizona seems an unlikely suitor, as they sit five games under .500 entering today’s action, their situation is not necessarily much different from the Rangers, who are reportedly among the teams in most active pursuit. It would seem that the D’Backs are mostly interested in adding Hamels for the future, though he would certainly bolster their marginal Wild Card chances. With an obvious

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Diamondbacks have very little in guaranteed commitments for the future. Next year’s current tab is just over $27MM at present, though of course there will be some arbitration salaries to account for, and it only goes down from there. With an obvious need for both current and long-term improvement in the rotation, it makes sense that Arizona is exploring the market for future-oriented pitching additions.

The Hamels contract is sizable, but manageable for the mid-market D’backs. He is owed $22.5MM annually from 2016-18, and comes with a $20MM option for 2019 ($6MM buyout). That kind of cash likely won’t buy a top-line starter through free agency, so Arizona may see an opportunity to get such an arm at a discount.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be a steep price to pay in terms of talent. The Diamondbacks are generally viewed as having a middle-of-the-road farm, but they do have plenty of quality young pieces at or near the big leagues — including arms like Archie Bradley and up-the-middle infielders such as Chris Owings. It would obviously be foolish to speculate as to what the club might be willing to offer, or what the Phillies might hypothetically look to bring back, but Arizona possesses sufficiently intriguing players to make a match seem plausible.

It’s worth noting that the D’backs are on Hamels’ no-trade list, meaning he could block a deal there, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. We’ve heard chatter about the lefty’s preferences regarding other clubs, but it’s not clear whether he’d have any interest in a move to Arizona.



Heyman On Padres, Tigers, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Sox, Reds, Marlins, Yankees

The real question facing the Padres at present is not whether to buy or sell, but how far to go in moving pieces, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. At least one rival GM expects the club to “sell big,” and Heyman says that San Diego is “offering around” closer Craig Kimbrel and starter James Shields, both of whom are under long-term control. While the former would figure to have a wide market, potentially including the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Dodgers, another GM says that he believes the club would have to chip in cash to move Shields. That may indicate that he could become an August trade piece, Heyman suggests, because he could well clear waivers. San Diego is interested in adding a young shortstop, he goes on to note, and has looked at several of the Brewers options (Jean Segura, Luis Sardinas, and top prospect Orlando Arcia).

Here are more highlights from the column:

  • Heyman hears that the Tigers are still weighing their options, too, and have not decided to sell. The club could even add an arm, he says, and is likely to see how its next two series play out before reaching a final conclusion.
  • While the Cubs are indeed willing to consider including Starlin Castro or Javier Baez in a deal for Cole Hamels of the Phillies, a source tells Heyman that the team would not be interested in moving both to add the lefty. Philadelphia’s plans for Hamels remain something of a mystery, but per the report the club may be backing down from its previous high-end demands from clubs like the Dodgers (Corey Seager or Julio Urias) and Red Sox (Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart).
  • There is now virtually no chance that Phillies lefty Cliff Lee will try to make it back this year, and he appears likely to retire over the winter.
  • As they approach the deadline and look ahead to free agency, the Cubs have some limitations on their spending capacity but will nevertheless try to add David Price (at least once he hits the open market). Meanwhile, the team has at least some interest in Reds starter Mike Leake as a trade piece but are somewhat hesitant to pursue rental options. While the Giants have plenty of rotation options, they too have considered Leake.
  • While we’ve just heard a suggestion that the Orioles could reverse course, Heyman says that they are still weighing outfield additions. The team has considered rental pieces like Marlon Byrd, Gerardo Parra, and Justin Upton. And he suggests that Carl Crawford or Shane Victorino could make sense as well; presumably, Baltimore would only be interested in either if their current clubs paid down a good bit of salary.
  • The Orioles intend to make qualifying offers after the season not only to Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, but also to lefty Wei-Yin Chen. The 30-year-old never seemed like a qualifying offer-level player, but was strong last year and has put up even better results in 2015 (while significantly outperforming his peripherals, it should be noted).
  • The Red Sox have received no trade interest in struggling first baseman Mike Napoli, says Heyman, but has gotten hits on Victorino as well as bullpen arms Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.
  • The White Sox are looking to add some volume if they deal righty Jeff Samardzija, says Heyman. Chicago would like to pick up four young pieces in any trade.
  • While the Marlins have fielded interest in righty Tom Koehler and super utilityman Martin Prado, the club is not interested in dealing either player at present. Meanwhile, Miami is open to dealing veteran Dan Haren, but has rebuffed at least one club that asked for money to be sent along with him.
  • The Yankees are looking at both second base and top rotation candidates, says Heyman, but don’t feel a pressing need to add in either area. New York has no interest in veteran Diamondbacks infielder Aaron Hill, he adds.
  • Be sure to check out the rest of the piece for more notes on many of the teams around the league.

Diamondbacks’ Brad Ziegler Drawing Significant Interest

The Diamondbacks are receiving “lots of calls” on right-hander Brad Ziegler, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). However, the D-Backs have told other clubs that they’d need to be overwhelmed to move Ziegler, who has transitioned seamlessly into the team’s closer role following Addison Reed‘s early struggles. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, the Twins are one team with interest in Ziegler.

Ziegler is 35 years old, but the side-armer is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career despite his age. He’s never been a hard-thrower (85.2 mph average fastball in his career) or missed many bats (career 6.0 K/9), but Ziegler is a ground-ball machine that has consistently dominated right-handed hitters and posted strong ERA marks. Righties have hit him at just a .216/.268/.279 clip in his career, and while he at one time struggled versus lefties, he’s held them to a .206/.302/.321 line over the past three seasons.

Thus far in 2015, Ziegler’s posted a pristine 1.08 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 69 percent in 41 2/3 innings. With Reed losing a handle on the ninth inning early in the year, Ziegler has picked up 15 saves in 16 tries as well. Though he’s typically been deployed as a traditional one-inning closer, manager Chip Hale has shown a willingness to use him for multiple innings recently. Ziegler has been asked to get six outs and five outs in his past two outings — his first multi-inning efforts since May 8, when he was still pitching as a setup man.

Ziegler’s strong results aren’t the only reason that teams are showing interest, as he’s also on an affordable contract. He signed a two-year, $10.5MM extension with the D-Backs that covers the 2014-15 seasons and includes a reasonable club option for the 2016 campaign as well. Ziegler is earning $5MM in 2015, of which about $2.05MM remains. He’s also guaranteed a $1MM buyout of a $5.5MM option for the 2016 season, though given his excellent results through the first three-plus months, that option would seem like a lock to be exercised, whether it’s by the D-Backs or another team following a trade.


2016 Competitive Balance Lottery Results

The Reds have drawn the first competitive balance selection in the 2016 draft, as Cash Kruth of MLB.com reports. While the precise draft slots remain to be determined, Cincinnati will pick after the conclusion of the first round (including compensation choices).

Here is the order of the selections, which were determined by lottery between the clubs that fell among the ten smallest markets and/or the ten smallest revenue pools league-wide. Other teams that participate in revenue sharing are also eligible, but only for the second round.

Round A (selections occur after first round)

1. Reds
2. Athletics
3. Rockies
4. Diamondbacks
5. Marlins
6. Pirates

Round B (selections occur after second round)

1. Padres
2. Indians
3. Twins
4. Brewers
5. Orioles
6. Rays

These results mean that the Cardinals, Royals, and Mariners failed to receive a pick despite being eligible. With some restrictions, the picks can be traded — and increasingly have been in recent seasons. You can take a look at this year’s draft results and slot values to get an idea of the range of selections (and drafted players) that the most recent competitive balance awards ultimately represented.


Pirates Showing Interest In Zobrist, Barmes, Pennington

With both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer out for six to seven weeks, the suddenly injury-plagued Pirates have reached out to the Athletics, Padres and Diamondbacks to express respective interest in Ben Zobrist, Clint Barmes and Cliff Pennington, reports Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Of the names in question, Zobrist is clearly the most high-profile addition. The switch-hitting 34-year-old missed a little more than a month earlier this year after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, but he’s shown little in terms of ill effects at the plate. Since his activation from the DL on May 26, Zobrist is hitting a very solid .264/.358/.429 in 190 plate appearances.

In addition to a strong offensive track record, Zobrist is coveted by many clubs due to his defensive versatility. It should be noted that defensive metrics are down on his work in 2015, but we’re looking at a small sample of work there, and it’s certainly possible that the knee operation has had some lingering effects on his range at this year’s primary positions — second base and left field. (Zobrist has also made three errors in left, which is perhaps to be expected as he adjusts after serving far more time in right field during his Rays tenure.)

At $7.5MM in 2015, Zobrist’s contract is hardly prohibitive from a financial standpoint, but because of the sheer demand for his services and the affordable nature of that salary, an acquiring club would likely have to pay a relatively steep prospect price for a player that is a pure rental; Zobrist will hit free agency for the first time following the season.

Both Pennington and Barmes are strict rentals as well, though the price on either would be markedly lower than with Zobrist. Pennington has spent the past three seasons serving as a utility man for the D-Backs. He’s getting on base but showing little power this year, hitting .245/.322/.292. (Much of those on-base skills are likely attributable to the fact that 40 percent of his plate appearances have come in the eighth slot, in front of the pitcher.)

Pennington is known as a solid defensive player at shortstop, third base and second base, so he could provide the Pirates with some versatility even as their roster mends. He’s earning $3.275MM in 2015, and about $1.38MM of that sum remains.

Pirates executives, coaches, players and fans alike are all familiar with Barmes, who spent the 2012-14 seasons in a Pirates uniform. Known primarily as a defensive specialist at shortstop, Barmes is actually enjoying quite a strong season at the plate in his first year with the Padres after signing a one-year, $1.3MM contract this winter. In 144 plate appearances, he’s hitting .284/.324/.440 with three homers. Of course, he’s been allowed to see nearly half of his at-bats against left-handed pitching and slashed .317/.388/.500 in such situations, and he may not have that same platoon luxury in a return to Pittsburgh.

Should the Bucs elect to bring Barmes back to PNC Park, he’d likely play shortstop, with Jung Ho Kang remaining the club’s primary third baseman as both Harrison and Mercer heal. A return for Barmes would no doubt be well received by a large portion of the Pirates fan base, who greeted Barmes with a warm ovation in his return to PNC Park as a member of the Padres while the team honored him by playing his old walk-up music (video link).


Rosenthal’s Latest: Pitching Market, O’s, Zunino, Inciarte, Astros

In his latest notes post for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal writes that while he opined on Saturday that pitching-hungry GMs should act sooner rather than later, he spoke to one exec yesterday that plans to wait until the trade deadline is nearly at hand, believing prices will drop late in the month. A second exec opined to Rosenthal, though, that the market for pitchers other than Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels will soften in the coming days. Rosenthal gets the sense that the trade market will “erupt” and action will be “frenetic,” but it might take awhile to reach that boiling point.

Some highlights from his column (though I’d recommend checking out the entire column)…

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette is very serious about wanting to add a bat and has indeed expressed interest in Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, but as Rosenthal notes, the Orioles may have the thinnest farm system in the game. Baseball America ranked Baltimore’s farm just 29th heading into the season, and that was before recent injuries to top arms Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. The team has some interesting names ready at the Triple-A level, but they also need to replace departing free agents Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Wei-Yin Chen and will need to rely on the farm to fill some of those holes.
  • The Mariners aren’t just looking for a backup to Mike Zunino, Rosenthal hears, but a veteran option who would allow them to send Zunino back to Triple-A. Of course, he points out the fact that Seattle had such a player in the form of Welington Castillo but traded him to the D-Backs in the Mark Trumbo deal, only to watch Castillo out-hit Trumbo.
  • The Padres talked with the Diamondbacks about a trade that would’ve brought both Aaron Hill and Ender Inciarte to San Diego during Spring Training, and they’ve made a much more recent inquiry on Inciarte than that as well. The D-Backs are also receiving interest in David Peralta, Rosenthal writes, but Arizona isn’t motivated to trade either outfielder. Both are controlled through the 2020 season. Inciarte is a logical trade candidate for the Padres, in my mind, as a plus defender in center field and a left-handed bat — two things which the club currently lacks.
  • The Phillies may end up hanging on to Jeff Francoeur rather than trading him, according to Rosenthal. While a last-place team hanging onto a short-term veteran such as Francoeur seems counter-intuitive, he notes that the return on Francoeur would be extremely minimal, so the team may value his leadership over the warm body they’d receive for trading him. I agree that the return on Francoeur, who’s hitting .257/.288/.449 with suspect range in the corner outfield, wouldn’t be all that exciting.
  • The Astros do want to add a bat, but the team’s search for starting pitcher is a significantly greater priority, sources tell Rosenthal. GM Jeff Luhnow did tell MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart on Friday that getting a bat is a growing area of focus, however, and Chris Carter hasn’t played since Friday due to an ankle sprain. (He and other Houston first basemen have struggled at the plate even when healthy, as well.)

NL West Notes: Diamondbacks, Gray, Padres, Giants

The Diamondbacks mismanaged their draft pool, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com. The club took Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick and inked him at the last possible moment. In doing so, they spent $1.7MM less than their pool allowed. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweeted, the club could have spent up to $2.328MM more without losing a future draft pick. While a franchise shouldn’t spend that money just to spend it, they should have a few over-slot picks in the early rounds in order to make the most of limited resources.

  • The Rockies originally planned to promote top prospect Jon Gray for Sunday’s start, but they’ve backed off that decision, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. His last outing at Triple-A was a three-inning stinker in which he allowed four runs and six hits. The club will wait for a future opportunity to call upon their top pitching prospect. Eddie Butler will take tomorrow’s start.
  • Former Padres GM Josh Byrnes steadily built the farm system during his tenure with the club, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Now current GM A.J. Preller is being second guessed for his bold decision to dismantle the farm for win-now talent. The club could be one year closer to a more organic revitalization, but now the farm system is shallow. Massive offseason overhauls have a bad track record – ask the Marlins and Blue Jays (and the White Sox). It’s also worth noting that Preller may have wanted to reshape the farm system to his preferences.
  • The Giants have built one of the best infields in the sport, notes Jonah Keri of Grantland. The home grown crew includes several surprising contributors. Brandon Belt was a well-regarded prospect – especially among sabermetric circles. However, Brandon Crawford‘s offensive emergence was unexpected. Joe Panik is deceptively well-rounded. Matt Duffy was supposed to back up Casey McGehee. Instead, he’s arguably the best rookie in the National League, a class that includes Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco among others.

D-Backs, Brandon League Do Not Have Agreement

6:02pm: Eddy now tweets that he’s been informed by the D-Backs’ baseball operations department that they are not in agreement with League on a contract (Twitter link). League, then, remains a free agent.

5:36pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a minor league pact with right-hander Brandon League, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (Twitter link). League was designated for assignment by the Dodgers about two weeks ago and released by the team last week. He’s represented by ACES.

Now 32 years old, League’s three-year, $22.5MM contract with the Dodgers (signed under the previous front office’s watch) was widely panned from day one. That’s not to say League had necessarily been a poor pitcher, but perhaps not one deserving of such a hefty commitment. The Dodgers picked up League in a trade with the Mariners midway through the 2012 season, and he rode a stretch of 27 1/3 solid innings (2.30 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9) to that contract.

League’s first full year with the Dodgers was a notable disappointment, as he worked to a 5.30 ERA and saw his strikeout rate plummet to 4.6 K/9. League did log 54 1/3 innings that season, but he quickly lost the closer’s role to Kenley Jansen and spent much of his time late in the year working in mop-up duty. League does deserve credit for the second year of that contract, however, as he quietly enjoyed an excellent rebound campaign. Last year, League tossed 63 innings of 2.57 ERA ball, averaging 5.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 with an outstanding 67.3 percent ground-ball rate.

A shoulder impingement prevented League from logging a single Major League inning this season, but he had very good results in a minor league rehab stint, yielding just one earned run on 10 hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. League will give the D-Backs an experienced depth piece that could factor into their bullpen in the second half. His addition could become more significant if Arizona parts with some pieces from its current bullpen in trade over the next two weeks; fill-in closer Brad Ziegler has been speculatively mentioned as a trade candidate, and Addison Reed is said to be available as well.