Atlanta Braves Rumors

Atlanta Braves trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Rays Acquire Garrett Fulenchek From Braves

The Braves announced that they have traded minor league right-hander Garrett Fulenchek to the Rays in exchange for a pair of international bonus slots. The value of those slots comes out to roughly $494K.

This marks the third separate trade that the Braves have made today in order to acquire international bonus money. The moves were made necessary by a pair of agreements to sign promising young international prospects Derian Cruz and Christian Pache for a combined total of $3.4MM. The Braves began this year’s international signing period with a bonus pool of $2,458,400, meaning they needed to acquire nearly $900K to accommodate the agreements free of penalty. Thus far, Atlanta has traded right-hander Cody Martin to the A’s and, in a second trade, sent minor leaguers Jordan Paroubeck and Caleb Dirks to the Dodgers. The combined total of those three moves has added $1,131,600 to its bonus pool, which will allow the Cruz and Pache signings to be finalized under the team’s cap, which has swelled to an even $3.59MM.

In parting with Fulenchek, however, the Braves have surrendered perhaps the most promising piece yet in any of these three deals. The 19-year-old was Atlanta’s second-round pick (66th overall) just one year ago. A high school righty out of Texas, Fulenchek debuted with the Braves’ Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2014 and pitched to a 4.78 ERA with 29 strikeouts against 22 walks in 37 2/3 innings. While those numbers aren’t exactly impressive, he still ranked firmly within the team’s Top 20 or so prospects. Baseball America rated him ninth among Atlanta farmhands this offseason, while Fangraphs placed him 17th. (Those rankings occurred prior to some of the team’s trades, however.) MLB.com presently ranks Fulenchek as the Braves’ No. 13 prospect.

Fulenchek received a $1MM signing bonus last year and is described by most as a projectable right-hander. BA praised Fulenchek’s ability to generate ground-balls with his fastball. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel noted that he sits 91-95 mph with his fastball and touches 96 at times, also flashing an above-average slider. MLB.com notes that he’ll have to work on repeating his delivery point, but could develop into a big league starter over time.

Fulenchek is a far more notable acquisition than most players that are swapped for international pool money, though it should be noted that he was selected by the Braves’ previous front office, which has since undergone some changes. He’s not as highly touted a prospect as Touki Toussaint, whom Atlanta effectively purchased from the D-Backs last month, but it’s nonetheless a bit surprising to see such a high profile draft pick moved just over a year after he was selected.

The Rays, for comparison, acquired a similar pair of slots from the Marlins earlier today in exchange for minor league right-hander Enderson Franco despite being limited to a maximum of $300K per signing this period.


Dodgers Acquire Minor Leaguers Paroubeck, Dirks From Braves

The Dodgers announced that they have acquired minor league outfielder Jordan Paroubeck and minor league right-hander Caleb Dirks from the Braves in exchange for an international bonus slot that is worth $249K. This is the second international bonus slot that the Braves have acquired today, as the team earlier sent righty Cody Martin to the A’s in exchange for an additional slot. Combined, Atlanta has acquired $637,400 to allocate to international signings.

Paroubeck is probably the more notable of the two names going back to Los Angeles. The Braves acquired Paroubeck, Matt Wisler, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and a Competitive Balance draft pick (No. 41 overall) from the Padres in the blockbuster deal that sent Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel to San Diego. Paroubeck drew praise for his athleticism at the time, but he’s yet to debut for the Braves in the minors this season. A second-round pick in 2013, Paroubeck slashed .286/.346/.457 in 157 plate appearances with the Padres’ Rookie-league affiliate in his pro debut last year.

Dirks was selected in the 15th round last season and has amassed a 1.53 ERA in 59 pro innings, averaging 10.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in that small sample. A closer late in his college career, Dirks has worked exclusively as a reliever in the Braves’ system. Baseball America noted at the time he was drafted that he features a 91-94 mph fastball with a below-average slider but an aggressive temperament that makes him well-suited for late-inning action.

The roughly $638K the Braves have picked up in this pair of trades boosts their bonus pool to $3,095,800. That leaves the Braves about $300K shy of the combined $3.4MM the Braves will reportedly spend on international prospects Derian Cruz and Christian Pache. The team likely will not announce the signings until acquiring additional bonus money, as money cannot be acquired once a team’s spending limitation has been officially reached.

Some may find the Dodgers’ willingness to trade away their international bonus money curious, considering the team is already spending far and away more money than any club in baseball on international prospects. However, there’s little reason for the Dodgers to hang onto their slots. They’re already going to incur the maximum penalties and be unable to sign players for more than $300K in the coming two signing periods, so by trading the slots away, there’s merely increasing the amount of overage taxes they have to pay while also accumulating some minor league talent. The only incentive for a team exceeding its bonus pool to hang onto the slots is to save a bit of money, and that’s not something with which the deep-pocketed Dodgers are overly concerned, so it makes sense to see them using these assets to add some depth.


A’s Acquire Cody Martin From Braves For International Slot, Designate Freiman

The Athletics have announced that the team has acquired righty Cody Martin from the Braves. In return, Atlanta will receive the 53rd overall international signing slot, which carries a bonus allocation of $388,400. To create roster space for Martin, Oakland has designated first baseman Nate Freiman for assignment.

Martin, 25, gives the A’s a Major League ready bullpen option that has logged 21 2/3 innings in the Braves’ bullpen this season. He’s struggled to a 5.40 ERA in the Majors, but Martin has excelled in the minors, working to a 2.10 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 34 1/3 innings — six starts and one relief appearance.

Freiman, 28, was a Rule 5 pick of the Athletics out of the Astros’ organization in 2013. He batted .256/.309/.408 between 2013-14 with the A’s, playing primarily against left-handed pitching, but he’s struggled to this point of the season at Triple-A. In 35 games with Nashville this year, Freiman has batted just .171/.225/.188 in 129 plate appearances.



NL International Signings: Rockies, Mets, Braves, Nats, Reds

Here are the day’s notable international signings from the National League. Rankings courtesy of Ben Badler of Baseball AmericaKiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

  • The Rockies have a $2MM deal in place with outfielder Daniel Montano after he signed today, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Montano rated 12th on the MLB.com board, based upon his good instincts in center, smooth left-handed stroke, and decent power potential. There are some questions, including inconsistent performances at times, which led BA to slot him 16th and Fangraphs to rank him just outside the top twenty.

Earlier Updates

  • The Mets have landed two top international shortstops, according to Badler. Venezuelan product Andres Gimenez, the second overall prospect on Badler’s list, is headed to New York. The bonus will be for $1.2MM, per Sanchez (via Twitter), for a player that Badler called the second-best available prospect based upon his excellent batting skills from the left side of the plate, decent power potential, and strong overall defensive profile. And Dominican shortstop Gregory Guerrero will also join the club after agreeing to a $1.5MM bonus, per Badler. Guerrero, cousin of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and nephew of Vlad Sr., rated 9th among July 2 prospects in McDaniel’s estimation. Per McDaniel, the Mets signee has a more advanced hit than power tool, but could increase his pop over time. He is ultimately expected to move off of short to the hot corner. Having entered the day with $2,531,300 in spending capacity, these two deals put New York at just over 6.6% above their pool. That would line the team up to face a one-year ban on signings of over $500K, making a deal for another bonus slot appear likely.
  • The Braves have a deal in place with shortstop Derian Cruz for $2MM, Badler reports. McDaniel was high on Cruz, rating him the 8th-best player available, citing his outstanding speed, good hitting tools, and potential ability to stay at the shortstop position or otherwise play up the middle defensively. Atlanta also agreed to a $1.4MM bonus with outfielder Christian Pache, per Sanchez (via Twitter), the tenth-rated player on MLB.com’s top-thirty list. While these signings will put pressure on the team’s total spending allotment of $2,458,400, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the club will attempt to trade for about $1MM in extra capacity to steer clear of future signing restrictions.
  • Dominican outfielder Juan Soto will join the Nationals after agreeing to a $1.5MM deal, Sanchez tweets. That’s the team’s largest-ever bonus for a young international signing, James Wagner of the Washington Post notes on Twitter. Soto’s appeal lies more in his feel and approach at the plate than in pure bat speed, Baseball America writes in rating him 13th in the class. Though he does not offer much on defense and looks to be a corner outfielder in the future, Soto is said to have the potential to be an above-average offensive producer both in terms of pure hitting and power.
  • The Reds have agreed to a $1MM bonus with outfielder Christian Olivo, according to Sanchez (via Twitter). MLB.com was highest on Olivo, rating him 23rd on the international market and noting that he has a fairly high power ceiling that he has yet to fully tap into. The left-handed hitter has drawn mixed reviews in the baserunning and defensive departments.

Which Rule 5 Picks Are Still With Their New Teams?

There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…

  • Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season.  As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
  • Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
  • Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
  • Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
  • J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
  • Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
  • Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
  • Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
  • Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call. He’s eligible to be activated on July 20.
  • Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
  • Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
  • David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015. Rollins has tossed 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in rehab and will have served his suspension after four more games.
  • Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.

NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Phillies

Braves assistant GM John Coppolella tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that the club is still working to put a winner on the field at present, though it won’t lose focus of its longer-term needs. “We don’t want to lose 100 games or put our fan base through any type of extended suffering,” he said. “We are trying to walk two parallel roads: making this team better and building for the future. So, it’s one eye on the present and two eyes on the future.” While that means that the club will weigh present needs in considering trades this summer, it still appears unlikely that Atlanta will be a significant buyer. Instead, it seems, the club may not be aggressive in moving veterans if it’s still in playoff contention — an easier decision, perhaps, given that the Braves moved their best shorter-term assets before the season. “When we get to the Trade Deadline, we won’t look to ship out everyone who is on a free-agent contract or everybody who is over the age of 30,” he said. “We’re going to look to make good solid baseball trades that will be made in the best interest of this franchise. I don’t know if we’ll be as active as we have been previously. We’ll see what comes up at the Deadline, but by no means will we totally gut this team.”

  • The Mets‘ long-term plans at short probably will not involve Wilmer Flores, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests on Twitter. New York will either fill that slot via trade or turn to 24-year-old Matt Reynolds, who is currently in his second stint at the Triple-A level. Of course, it’s worth noting that the organization has an even younger option in Gavin Cecchini. The 21-year-old is enjoying his best season as a professional at the Double-A level, where he’s slashing .285/.340/.423 over 262 plate appearances.
  • The Phillies‘ front office announcement today also revealed something about the club’s ownership situation, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. John Middleton — who owns the single largest stake in the club (48%) — was front and center during today’s press conference, putting a new face on the organization. “We spent $18 million buying our initial interest in this team,” Middleton explained. “We’re a long way from $18 million now, so you have to take a greater role in the team. You have to.”
  • Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail emphasized that he is prepared infuse analytics into the organization’s decisionmaking, as Nick Suss of MLB.com reports. With Middleton noting the importance of updating the club’s use of data, including a customized system that the club expects to bring on line in September, MacPhail indicated that his aim is to harness statistical analysis with a focus on the people performing and utilizing it. “The more experience you have with it and the more you get a better sense of which formulas really are predictors of performance and which ones aren’t, it’s something that knowledge accrues over time,” MacPhail said. “But I think it’s absolutely essential that you marry that with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change. Weaknesses get exposed and they get exploited. People make adjustments. So you need to look at every single facet that is possible when you’re making player evaluations.”

Minor Moves: Mazzaro, Sizemore, Murata, Rogers

Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post.  All moves were announced by the teams themselves unless otherwise cited.

  • Vin Mazzaro has elected to become a free agent, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page.  The veteran righty was designated for assignment by the Marlins earlier this week and then outrighted, giving him the option of accepting the assignment or choosing free agency.  Mazzaro has a 3.75 ERA, six strikeouts and six walks over 12 relief innings for Miami this season.
  • The Rays selected the contract of Grady Sizemore prior to today’s game, and the veteran outfielder delivered three hits in his Tampa debut.  Sizemore was released by the Phillies and signed to a minor league deal by the Rays earlier this month.  In corresponding roster moves, righty Matt Andriese was sent to Triple-A and outfielder Desmond Jennings was moved to the 60-day DL.
  • The Indians purchased the contract of right-hander Toru Murata, who is making his MLB debut in a start tonight against the Orioles.  Murata was signed as a free agent out of Japan in 2010 and he owns a 3.88 ERA, 3.01 K/BB rate and 6.8 K/9 over 489 2/3 minor league innings.  In a corresponding move, the Tribe released right-hander Scott Atchison.
  • The Yankees selected the contract of righty Esmil Rogers, who was just outrighted off the roster two weeks ago.  Rogers has a 6.27 ERA over 33 bullpen innings for New York this season, though he has been hamstrung by a .356 BABIP and a very low 56% strand rate.
  • The Pirates selected the contract of utilityman Gorkys Hernandez.  Once a top-100 prospect, Hernandez appeared in 70 MLB games with the Pirates and Marlins in 2012 and hasn’t since been back to the Show.  Hernandez has a .278/.342/.376 slash line, 33 homers and 213 steals (out of 285 chances) over 4055 career minor league plate appearances.
  • The Braves selected the contract of right-hander Ryan Kelly, who is getting his first taste of the majors after nine pro seasons.  Kelly was a 26th-round draft pick for the Pirates in 2006 and he’s compiled a 3.99 ERA, 3.10 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9 over 462 2/3 innings (mostly as a reliever).

Minor Moves: Mazzaro, Gillespie, Brigham, Carson

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

  • The Marlins have outrighted righty reliever Vin Mazzaro, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Mazzaro had recently been designated for assignment. It’s not clear whether he’ll accept the outright. He pitched 12 innings for the Marlins this season, posting a 3.75 ERA with six strikeouts and six walks. Mazzaro has pitched in the big leagues in all of the last seven seasons, but in the past two years he’s spent most of his time in the minors. He’s pitched 20 innings with Triple-A New Orleans this season, with a 3.15 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9
  • The Marlins have announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Cole Gillespie, who will take Giancarlo Stanton‘s place on the active roster as he heads to the disabled list with a hamate fracture. The 31-year-old Gillespie has played for the Diamondbacks, Giants, Cubs, Mariners and Blue Jays in a big-league career that has spanned small parts of four seasons. He was hitting .291/.356/.360 in 281 plate appearances for Triple-A New Orleans.
  • The Braves have selected righty Jake Brigham‘s contract, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves haven’t made a corresponding move but that that could depend on whether the Braves’ game today in Pittsburgh is postponed due to rain. Williams Perez hurt his foot in yesterday’s game and could be placed on the disabled list, but if the Braves have to play a doubleheader tomorrow, Brigham could simply be used as the 26th man. The 27-year-old Brigham has a combined 3.13 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 at Double-A and Triple-A this season. He has never pitched in the big leagues.
  • The Athletics have released outfielders Matt Carson and Kent Matthes, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The 33-year-old Carson hit .209/.296/.336 for Triple-A Nashville after the A’s acquired him from the Dodgers last month. The 28-year-old Matthes was once a highly regarded prospect in the Rockies system, but he also struggled for Nashville in 2015, hitting .233/.294/.358 in 239 plate appearances after also hitting poorly at the Triple-A level last year.
  • The Red Sox have released catcher/first baseman Luke Montz, Bill Koch of the Providence Journal tweets. The 31-year-old was hitting .167/.270/.333 for Triple-A Pawtucket. He appeared briefly for the Nationals in 2008 and the Athletics in 2013 and has a .163/.250/.347 in his very brief big-league career.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Padres, Niese, Cubs, Jays

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • At 36-40, the Padres have considered buying as well as selling at the trade deadline. They could pursue a shortstop and left-handed hitter if they buy. If they sell, they could consider dealing Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Upton is the only one of the three who’s eligible for free agency after the season, though, and the Padres might not want to tear down entirely, since they’re hosting the All-Star Game next year.
  • The Cubs have considered dealing for Mets left-hander Jon Niese, although they might also aim higher. The salary remaining on Niese’s current deal (he’ll make $9MM next year, plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2016) might also be a slight obstacle to trading him.
  • The Blue Jays are interested in pitching, but also perhaps in outfield help. Acquiring an outfielder would help the Jays to keep top young player Dalton Pompey in the minors — he’s currently hitting very well for Double-A New Hampshire after struggling in both the big leagues and in Triple-A this year.
  • Former Padres manager Bud Black could be a possibility for the Braves if they eventually decide to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Black worked for the Indians front office when current Braves GM John Hart was in Cleveland, and Braves president John Schuerholz traded for Black all the way back in 1982, when Schuerholz was GM of the Royals.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Market, Phillies, Byrd, Toussaint

As we continue to read the tea leaves on the coming trade market, here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

  • With the Reds and Athletics playing winning baseball of late, the trade market is “tightening,” Rosenthal tweets. “No one is available, really,” a GM tells him. That jives with comments earlier today from Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who noted that very few clubs are truly out of the race at this juncture. Of course, much can change in a matter of weeks.
  • Nobody would suggest that the Phillies are anything but sellers, but the club seems to be in something of a “holding pattern” in discussing transactions while it waits to finalize its reported front office moves, Rosenthal further reports on Twitter. That is understandable, given that Andy MacPhail is expected to be installed in a critical oversight role in short order. He’ll presumably desire a chance to evaluate the situation and have a role in any significant decisions.
  • Some in the game aren’t sure whether MacPhail is the right executive to bring the Phillies up to speed with the analytical developments in the game, Rosenthal writes. But Rosenthal says that he believes that the organization and MacPhail are well aware of the need to modernize and will make that a priority.
  • Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd may now be a more valuable trade piece because of his recent DL stint, Rosenthal notes. Byrd’s $8MM option would vest next year if he makes it to 550 plate appearances, but he’s racked up only 205 thus far. Of course, he’d still reach the mark if he stays in a lineup on an everyday basis.
  • Rosenthal adds one interesting note on the Braves‘ recent acquisition of Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks. Atlanta’s current director of baseball operations, Billy Ryan, was Arizona’s assistant GM at draft time last year, and actually was heavily involved in getting Toussaint to sign.