Atlanta Braves Rumors

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Trade Market Notes: Papelbon, Indians, Cotts, Maybin

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said today that he would be surprised and disappointed if he is not traded this summer,’s Todd Zolecki reports. The veteran righty indicated that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for any contender — provided, that is, that he’d work in a closing capacity. “I think [the front office] knows where I’m at,” he said. “I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it. I feel like that’s my right and my prerogative to have that opportunity and, you know, it’s in their hands. The ball’s in their court. I guess that’s kind of it.” While Papelbon’s preferences will play a significant role in his market, he’s done nothing but increase his trade value through his on-field performance this year. Entering today’s action, the 34-year-old owns a 1.65 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 — and a career-best 50.6% groundball rate — on the season.

  • The Indians are still alive for a post-season berth even though the club has underperformed expectations, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the club will probably stand pat for the most part at the trade deadline. Cleveland is not terribly interested in dealing away Carlos Santana, but could consider moving David Murphy or Ryan Raburn, both of whom have been quite productive this year and can be controlled through fairly reasonable 2016 options. In the event that the Indians decide to add pieces, says Rosenthal, the club could target a pen arm or a bat (at an unidentified position — the left side of the infield seeming most likely).
  • The Twins and Brewers have had some preliminary trade chats, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports (Twitter links). It is not clear precisely what players were under discussion, though Berardino indicates that Milwaukee lefty Neal Cotts could hold some appeal to Minnesota.
  • Some opposing clubs believe the Braves could be interested in selling high on outfielder Cameron Maybin this summer, Buster Olney of reports on Twitter. Olney had previously indicated on Twitter that Atlanta was not interested in parting with Maybin, who’s been quite a pleasant surprise since coming over as part of the salary swaps in the Craig Kimbrel deal. But he could have significant appeal to teams in need of an outfielder, particularly if the market ends up being largely devoid of bats.

A’s Acquire Aaron Kurcz From Braves

The Braves announced that they’ve traded right-hander Aaron Kurcz to the Athletics in exchange for an international bonus slot that’s valued at $167K.’s Mark Bowman tweets that this latest trade will allow the Braves to sign Venezuelan shortstop Juan Morales.

The Braves have been the most active team in terms of trading for international bonus money. They’ve moved right-handers Cody Martin, Caleb Dirks and Garrett Fulenchek in addition to outfielder Jordan Paroubeck and now Kurcz in order to acquire an additional $1.299MM in bonus money to sign Morales, Dominican shortstop Derian Cruz and Dominican outfielder Christian Pache. By making these trades, the Braves have avoided incurring spending restrictions in the 2016-17 signing period, and Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets that the organization plans to spend aggressively in next year’s class.

An 11th-round pick by the Cubs in 2011, Kurcz went to the Red Sox as part of the compensation package for Red Sox GM turned Cubs president Theo Epstein. Boston traded him to the Braves in the offseason deal that sent Anthony Varvaro to the Red Sox. Kurcz, 24, missed the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery but has otherwise posted consistently low ERA marks and gaudy strikeout totals with questionable control. He has a lifetime 2.87 ERA in the minors with 11.6 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9, with his BB/9 rates worsening as he’s ascended he minor league ladder.

Latest On Braves’ First-Rounder Kolby Allard

The Braves have signed all of their top picks with the exception of first-round selection Kolby Allard, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that it’s looking like there’s a “legit chance” that Allard will honor his commitment to UCLA rather than sign with Atlanta (Twitter links). O’Brien does add that there’s a chance this could be posturing in an attempt to get a bit more money out of the Braves.

Selected with the No. 14 overall pick in this year’s draft, Allard’s slot comes with a value of $2,842,200. However, Allard was at one time speculated to be selected within the top 10, if not top five picks of this year’s draft before a stress reaction in his back cost him about two months of his senior season at San Clemente High School in California. As such, it’s possible that Allard’s advisers are pushing for a bonus that’s more commensurate with higher draft slots.

The Braves were assigned a bonus pool of $10,684,100 (via Baseball America) heading into this year’s draft, and they’ve saved a total of $87,500 on the rest of their picks from the top 10 rounds, per The Braves can also exceed their allotted bonus pool by 4.99 percent before incurring the loss of a pick in next year’s draft, which comes out to about $533K. Paired with the $87,500 they’ve saved on their other top picks, that means the Braves could afford to offer Allard up to $3,462,000 (roughly $620,600 over slot) without losing a future pick. That value would be just slightly below the slot value of the No. 8 overall selection ($3,470,600).

Allard ranked sixth on the Top 100 of ESPN’s Keith Law heading into the draft, while rated him 16th, and he placed 18th on the draft lists of BA and Fangraphs. Allard was considered the top prep arm in this year’s class thanks to a plus curve and an above-average fastball before injuring his back, per Law. Should Allard indeed end up attending UCLA, the Braves would be awarded with the 15th overall pick in next year’s draft (one slot lower than that of the failed signing).

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/5/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Braves acquired left-hander Mitchell Lambson from the Astros, Bryant-Jon Anteola of the Fresno Bee reports (Twitter link).  Lambson was a 19th-round pick for Houston in the 2011 draft who has posted strong minor league numbers in five pro seasons: a 2.79 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 4.34 K/BB rate over 242 relief innings, including his first taste of Triple-A ball this year.
  • The Cubs have signed righty Ben Rowen to a minor-league deal, the Iowa Cubs have announced. Rowen had previously been in the Orioles organization until opting out of his contract. Rowen had posted a 2.41 ERA with 1.4 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings with the Orioles’ top two minor league affiates. His strikeout rate (5.8 K/9) was a bit low, but he has a strong history of inducing ground balls. The 26-year-old came to the Orioles from the Dodgers as part of the two teams’ curious trade involving reliever Ryan Webb.
  • The Athletics have outrighted first baseman Nate Freiman to Triple-A Nashville, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. They had designated him for assignment on Thursday. The 28-year-old Freiman hit .218/.269/.448 in 93 plate appearances with the A’s in 2014 and has struggled greatly in 129 plate appearances with Nashville in 2015.
  • The Blue Jays have outrighted righty Todd Redmond to Triple-A Buffalo,’s Gregor Chisholm tweets. They had designated him for assignment earlier this week. Redmond has pitched a total of 16 innings for the Jays so far this year, and he’s been designated for assignment and then outrighted three separate times. The 30-year-old has a 4.25 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 171 1/3 career big-league innings in parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays and Reds.

NL West Notes: Frias, Giants, Maybin, Parra, Greinke, Gray

The Dodgerssearch for pitching may only intensify with the news that Carlos Frias has been placed on the 15-day DL with lower back tightness.  Los Angeles already dipped into its starter depth by installing Frias and Mike Bolsinger into the rotation in place of Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, so all eyes will be on the Dodgers this month to see if they can land another big arm before the trade deadline.  Here’s the latest from the NL West…

  • The Giants are looking for outfielders and Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin are two of the names who have been discussed, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter).  In another tweet, Olney notes that the Braves aren’t open to dealing Maybin right now.  Outfield had been cited as a possible target spot for San Francisco, though GM Bobby Evans didn’t seem set on obtaining an everyday outfielder since Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki will be expected to resume their regular spots in the lineup when they’re both healthy.  In my opinion, I’d think that a left-handed hitting outfielder like Parra could be of particular use in a center field platoon with Angel Pagan, who has struggled badly against right-handed pitching this season (though Pagan has generally fared better against righty arms over his career).
  • The Giants have liked Parra “forever,” according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter).  Parra had spent his entire career prior to August 2014 with the Diamondbacks, however, and Arizona didn’t want to deal the outfielder to a division rival.
  • In Olney’s latest Insider-only post, he observes that Zack Greinke‘s big season is putting him in position for a massive free agent payday this winter.  “It seems like a foregone conclusion” Greinke will opt out of his Dodgers contract in search of a more lucrative deal, and while he turns 32 in October, Olney believes he’s the type of pitcher with the athleticism, mechanics and pitching know-how to still be very effective as he ages.  Andrew Friedman has generally eschewed giving big contracts to older players in his career as an executive, though this could well change now that he runs a high-payroll team.
  • The Rockies are again in need of pitching reinforcements, and Nick Groke of the Denver Post wonders if the team could promote top prospect Jon GrayTroy Tulowitzki and Walt Weiss seem in favor of Gray coming to the bigs soon, though GM Jeff Bridich was more cautious.  “Jon Gray is doing a great job right now of learning lessons and evolving at the Triple-A level.  So there are things that he needs to do and will continue to do. And we’ll continue to exercise patience with him,” Bridich said.  Gray has a 4.88 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and a 2.45 K/BB rate in 90 1/3 Triple-A innings this season — respectable numbers in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Braves Designate Masset, Eveland For Assignment

The Braves have designated Nick Masset and Dana Eveland for assignment,’s Mark Bowman tweets. In their place, they’ve selected the contract of David Carpenter and reinstated Arodys Vizcaino from the restricted list.

The moves represent yet another shakeup for a Braves bullpen that has struggled to find the right pitchers behind Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan. The veteran Masset, who signed with the Braves after the Marlins outrighted him in late May, posted a 4.70 ERA with 12 strikeouts, seven walks and three home runs allowed in 15 1/3 innings with Atlanta. Masset allowed three runs and took the loss in the Braves’ 4-0, extra-inning defeat against the Phillies today. The lefty Eveland, who signed in June after he opted out of his deal with the Red Sox, had appeared in nine games but only recorded nine outs, allowing two runs while striking out four and walking three.

Carpenter (not to be confused with the Nationals pitcher of the same name) pitched briefly for the Angels in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. He had posted an 0.73 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 37 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett.

The 24-year-old Vizcaino, a former top prospect in the Yankees and Braves organizations, returned to Atlanta when the Cubs dealt him for Tommy La Stella in November. He began his 2015 season with an 80-game PED suspension. When Carpenter and Vizcaino make their first appearances with the Braves, they will be the 21st and 22nd relievers to appear for the Braves this season.

NL East Notes: Maybin, Nola, Latos

Phillies interim manager manager Pete Mackanin said that he sees closer Jonathan Papelbon as the most worthy candidate to represent his team in the All-Star Game, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

The save numbers aren’t there, but when you look at the other numbers, he’s been very efficient,” Mackanin said of Papelbon, who owns a 1.71 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. “He’s the first guy that comes to mind. I don’t know if there’s anyone else. He would be a guy that I would have to believe is under consideration.”

Here’s more out of the NL East..

  • Cameron Maybin was not viewed as a potential difference maker when the Braves acquired him via the April trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Padres.  However, over the past couple of months, Maybin is doing just that, as Mark Bowman of writes.    In 281 plate appearances for the Braves, Maybin has hit .295/.364/.418 with seven homers.  The Braves have him under contract through the 2016 season with a club option for 2017.
  • As the Phillies‘ starting pitchers continue to struggle, Todd Zolecki of if we’ll see prized prospect Aaron Nola sooner rather than later.  Of course, the Phillies’ starting five will be even weaker if ace Cole Hamels is traded in the next month.  In four starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, Nola has pitched to a 2.28 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.  Nola, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft, was ranked as the No. 39 prospect in the country by Baseball America heading into the 2015 season.
  • Dan O’Dowd of listed Marlins pitcher Mat Latos as one of the most likely players to get dealt between now and July 31st.  With Jose Fernandez back in the fold, O’Dowd believes that the Marlins will look to recoup the type of quality talent that they gave up to land the impending free agent in the first place.  Late last week, MLBTR’s Steve Adams looked at Latos as a trade candidate.

Cafardo’s Latest: Revere, Kennedy, Hamels, Jays

The Angels were first linked to Ben Revere in trade rumors in May but the rumors almost became a reality.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies and Angels came close a few weeks ago on a trade that would’ve sent Revere to Anaheim for right-hander Trevor Gott.  The Phils thought the deal was done but the Halos “pulled out of the deal at the last minute and tried to redirect the Phillies toward a starting pitching prospect.”  Talks fell through after that.  Here’s some more from Cafardo’s weekly notes column, with a particular focus on news from Toronto…

  • Ian Kennedy has a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts and the Padres right-hander has begun to generate some trade interest in his services.  Kennedy had an ugly 7.15 ERA over his first eight starts and owns a 4.86 ERA for the season, though his peripherals (8.51 K/9, 3.04 K/BB rate, 3.74 xFIP, 3.70 SIERA) are are pretty solid, aside from a 22.1% homer rate that more than double his career average.  Kennedy is a free agent this winter and would be a natural trade chip for San Diego if the Friars decided to sell.
  • Cole Hamels has publicly said he’s willing to consider deals to any team but is reportedly unlikely to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Astros or Blue Jays.  Cafardo wonders if Hamels would remain adamant against a move to Houston or Toronto, however, if those were the only deals on the table and his only avenues away from the rebuilding Phillies.
  • Attracting free agents north of the border has long been an issue for the Blue Jays, as Cafardo cites higher taxes, customs delays and the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface as factors that can sometimes make Toronto a tough sell.  (Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes both praised their city, though Reyes admitted he isn’t a fan of the turf.)  The bigger problem for the Jays, however, is that they have barely contended since their last playoff appearance in 1993.  “It just seems GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go through corporate layers to OK big expenditures, slowing the process considerably,” Cafardo writes.  “Players always want to know that their ownership is doing all it can to produce a winner.”
  • Braves closer Jason Grilli is one of the Blue Jays‘ targets as the team looks for bullpen help.  Grilli would cost less in both salary and trade chips than Jonathan Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez, two closers who have also been connected to the Jays this summer.  Atlanta isn’t yet looking to move Grilli, however, as the team is still in the race.
  • Other have asked the Blue Jays about several players in trade talks, including young talent like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis.
  • “Every indication is that” R.A. Dickey is in his last year with the Blue Jays, as the team will either use their $1MM buyout of Dickey’s $12MM club option for 2016 or Dickey may just retire.  The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a tough start today against the Tigers and now owns a 5.02 ERA over 107 2/3 innings this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Cafardo writes.  The White Sox aren’t ready to start selling yet, but they’ll find a strong market for Samardzija’s services that includes the Royals, Astros and Tigers.  (Cafardo cited several more teams in the Samardzija market in his column last week.
  • Nobody knows what the Red Sox are going to do because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” one NL executive said.  Boston has played modestly better as of late, winning 10 of its last 16 games, though the Sox are still just 38-45 on the season.  Koji Uehara is cited by the executive as one of “a few players teams would want” if the Red Sox decided to start selling.  The team is known to be looking for young pitching on the trade market.

Braves Still Shopping Chris Johnson

The Braves have continued to look for a trade partner for third baseman Chris Johnson, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in a series of tweets.  In addition to deals for Johnson himself, Atlanta has also made proposals that would include Johnson along with another (more desirable) player, akin to how the Braves managed to get Melvin Upton Jr.‘s contract off their books by dealing him to the Padres with Craig Kimbrel in April.  The Braves tried a similar “packaging” tactic with Johnson himself in offseason trade talks.

Johnson is hitting .229/.272/.313 with one homer over 103 plate appearances this season, and he also missed about a month of action recovering from a hand fracture.  If struggling at the plate in 2014 and 2015 wasn’t enough to lower his trade value, Johnson is owed roughly $3MM more in salary this season and $17.5MM through the 2017 campaign.

The Giants were one of the clubs who at least discussed Johnson with the Braves last winter but Rosenthal reports that San Francisco doesn’t have any interest now.  Rookie Matt Duffy has quite capably stepped in at third base in the wake of Casey McGehee‘s struggles, and since both Duffy and Johnson are right-handed bats, there would be little avenue for Johnson to find playing time in the Bay Area even if he was being acquired largely as a throw-in.

Rosenthal speculates that a deal of Johnson and Cameron Maybin for Jake Peavy and Angel Pagan would balance out the salaries, though that exact package was never discussed between the two teams.  It’s also hard to imagine Peavy waiving his no-trade clause to go to a rebuilding team, though the Braves are just a few games back of the Giants in the standings.

Though Atlanta is still in the wild card hunt, the team has made such a push to acquire young talent under president of baseball operations John Hart that it’s hard to see the Braves being notable buyers at the trade deadline.  The Braves could perhaps tie Johnson to one of those newly-acquired prospects in order to get him off the roster — the “buy a prospect” strategy that Hart himself used to recently acquire Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo‘s expiring contract from Arizona.  Maybin or closer Jason Grilli stand out as veterans who could be shopped and possibly linked along with Johnson in a trade.

Braves Inquiring On Young Catchers, Willing To Deal Pitching Prospects

The Braves are looking to upgrade their offense and have let other clubs know that they’re willing to trade from their recently bolstered stable of pitching prospects in order to acquire a bat, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN (via Twitter). According to Stark, Atlanta has asked other clubs about the availability of their young catchers.

It’s just one tweet, but there’s a lot to digest there. For one, it doesn’t seem that the Braves will act as strict sellers, as they did for much of the past offseason. Additionally, the Braves’ desire to add a young catcher is perhaps somewhat telling of the confidence they have in rocket-armed but offensively-challenged (to this point, at least) Christian Bethancourt.

Bethancourt has been tabbed as the Braves’ catcher of the future for quite some time, but he’s batted just .223/.248/.279 in 222 big league plate appearances in his young career. Still just 23 years old, Bethancourt’s been optioned back to Triple-A this season in favor of a more veteran combination of A.J. Pierzynski and Ryan Lavarnway. He’s hit well in he minors since his return, but the fact that the Braves are inquiring about young backstops has to at least call into question whether or not the restructured front office feels that Bethancourt’s bat can catch up to his vaunted arm.

As far as pitching prospects are concerned, the Braves are very suddenly in no short supply. The Braves seem likely to use a combination of Shelby Miller, Alex Wood and Julio Teheran at the front of their rotation for the foreseeable future, and they have a handful of MLB-ready arms to choose from for the remaining two spots. Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler and Manny Banuelos have all made starts for Atlanta this season, and any two of the three could be looked at as a rotation piece going forward. Further down the line are Max Fried and Lucas Sims, each of whom is recovering from injury. The Braves also picked up right-hander Touki Toussaint, the No. 16 overall pick from the 2014 draft, in a recent trade with the Diamondbacks. Fellow Class-A hurler Ricardo Sanchez, a high-ceiling arm in his own right, was acquired from the Angels this offseason.

Suffice it to say, the Braves have gone from an underwhelming farm system to one teeming with pitching prospects after an offseason of trades from new president of baseball operations John Hart. What the team lacks, however, is offense at a number of positions. In addition to the struggles of their catchers — a combined .237/.270/.357 batting line — left field has been an egregiously detriment to the club’s offensive output. Atlanta left fielders have combined to bat just .221/.284/.311 this season.

It seems unlikely that the Braves would move one of their talented young pitchers for a pure rental, so the expectation here is that any bat theoretically acquired by Atlanta would be under control beyond the 2015 season — perhaps beyond the 2016 campaign as well. Previous reports have indicated that the Braves inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy‘s availability, though most indications remain that the Brewers are unlikely to move him.