Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade

The Dodgers, Marlins and Braves have swung one of the most complex three-team trades in recent history. The “basic” structure of the deal (though there’s nothing basic about this move) is as follows: the Dodgers will receive right-hander Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins. They’ll also add top prospect Jose Peraza and pitchers Alex Wood, Bronson ArroyoJim Johnson and Luis Avilan from the Braves. Atlanta, in turn, will receive infielder Hector Olivera, lefty Paco Rodriguez and minor leaguer Zachary Bird from the Dodgers. The Braves are also picking up Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft (No. 35 overall). The Marlins will come out of this deal with three minor league pitchers — Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo — plus the financial relief of shedding the remaining $14.3MM that is owed to Latos and Morse. Each team has announced the trade’s completion.

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Mat Latos is headed to the Dodgers.

In making this trade, the Dodgers bolster their rotation not only for the remainder of the 2015 season but also potentially through the 2019 campaign. Latos, who is earning $9.4MM in 2015 and has $3.6MM of that sum remaining on his contract, is a free agent at season’s end, but Wood can be controlled for four years beyond the current campaign.

While he’s battled injuries and struggled early in the season, Latos has increased his velocity and upped his results since returning from a DL stint (as noted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams when examining his trade candidacy). All told, the 27-year-old Latos owns a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings on the year. But ERA estimators view him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor, and that has shown up in his last seven starts, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 45 2/3 frames with a 43:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Wood is perhaps the more intriguing name here for the Dodgers, though. The 2012 second-round pick was never vaunted as a Top 100 prospect, but he’s emerged as a reliable cog in the Braves’ rotation over the past few seasons. Though many have expressed long-term health concerns with Wood and his numbers are down in 2015, his overall body of work is nonetheless impressive. Wood has a lifetime 3.10 ERA in 368 2/3 big league innings with very strong averages of 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 to go along with a 46.5 percent ground-ball rate. Both Latos and Wood will join co-aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Dodgers’ rotation, solidifying the starting five down the stretch. Those additions, however, demonstrate a different approach than many pundits expected, as L.A. was heavily rumored to be involved with the top names on the trade market.

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Alex Wood could be a long-term rotation piece for L.A.

In landing Johnson, the Dodgers are picking up a reliever that was serving as Atlanta’s closer and doing so quite well. Johnson led the AL in saves from 2012-13 before a down season in 2014. Atlanta snatched him up on a one-year, $1.6MM contract with enough incentives to carry the deal to $2.5MM if he maxes it out. He’s been an outstanding buy-low piece for the Braves and will carry a 2.25 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 60.8 percent ground-ball rate into the Dodger bullpen, where he’ll help set up for Kenley Jansen.

The 26-year-old Avilan gives the Dodgers another left-handed relief option to pair with J.P. Howell and Ian Thomas, though it’s debatable whether he’s a long-term improvement over Rodriguez, who heads to Atlanta in the deal. Avilan has a 3.58 ERA on the season with a 31-to-10 K/BB ratio (though two of the walks were intentional) in 37 2/3 innings. He’s upped his velocity this season and his strikeout rate as well, but Avilan’s previous good fortune in terms of homer-to-flyball ratio has dried up this season, and he’s near the league average (above it, in fact) in that regard for the first time in his career. Avilan hasn’t missed a ton of bats throughout his career but does have strong overall totals against left-handed hitters.

Morse doesn’t really fit on the Dodgers’ roster and was likely included as a means of offsetting some salary, so it’s possible his stay with the Dodgers will be brief, at best. Los Angeles designated Eric Stults for assignment immediately upon acquiring him from the Braves earlier this year and did so with Ryan Webb as well, so there’s certainly precedent for them to flex their financial muscle as a procedural necessity and simply cut ties with the unwanted or superfluous players in a deal.

Arroyo serves as a second example of the Dodgers flexing their financial muscle. The veteran right-hander signed a two-year deal with the D-Backs prior to the 2014 season but underwent Tommy John surgery last summer and hasn’t pitched this season. Arizona unloaded his contract in a prior trade with the Braves, and that money will now go to the Dodgers, bringing the total amount of cash they’re eating in this deal to roughly $43.5MM. It’s possible, at least, that Arroyo could pitch at the back of the L.A. rotation down the stretch.

Dealing Peraza away was probably a tough pill to swallow for the Braves, who have long lauded him as one of their top prospects. The 21-year-old entered the season as a consensus Top 50 prospect in the game, and though his offensive numbers are down somewhat, that’s not necessarily a red flag for someone playing at the minors’ top level at the age of 21. That’s not to say, of course, that Peraza’s numbers are poor; he’s hitting .295/.319/.380 this season. Peraza ranks as the game’s No. 26 prospect on the midseason Top 50 from Baseball America and No. 30 on MLB.com’s midseason update to their own Top 100 prospect list. Peraza began his career as a shortstop and eventually moved to second base, but it’s not certain where the Dodgers project him in the future. He has little power but draws rave reviews for his speed and glove, and he’s swiped 149 bases over his past 310 minor league contests. I feel it should be noted that Peraza, too, could be a piece that the Dodgers will consider dealing, as they’re reportedly reluctant to part with their own top prospects: Corey Seager and Julio Urias.

As for the Braves, they’ll finally land a player they pursued extensively this offseason in the form of Olivera. Atlanta simply couldn’t match the Dodgers’ enormous $62.5MM offer to the 30-year-old infielder, but $28MM of that came in the form of a signing bonus that is to be paid in three installments. The Dodgers will pay the final two installments of Olivera’s signing bonus, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That means the Braves are essentially taking on Olivera on a six-year, $32.5MM contract that began this season. He’s earning $2MM in 2015, of which about $754K remains, so their total financial commitment to him will be about $31.25MM over the course of five and a half years. That’s a much more palatable obligation for the Braves (who have notably shed significant payroll from their books by moving Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel since Olivera signed.)

Olivera, a right-handed hitting third baseman/second baseman, was said at the time he signed to be a safe bet to post strong average and OBP marks due to his pure hitting abilities and a keen eye at the plate. The question was how much power he’d show in the Majors, but some felt that he could be a 20-homer bat on a yearly basis. He’s looked sharp to this point in the minors, hitting .348/.392/.493 across three levels and reaching Triple-A. The Braves undoubtedly consider him to be a major component of their long-term future in the infield, though the specific position he’ll play is yet an unknown.

In Rodriguez, they’ll pick up a left-handed reliever who could be out for the season but has pitched well when healthy. Rodriguez had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow in late June — a procedure that will sideline him for eight to 10 weeks. However, the former second-round pick has been excellent while on the mound. He was the first player from the 2012 draft to reach the Majors, debuting the same year he was drafted, and he sports a lifetime 2.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.

The 21-year-old Bird has largely unimpressive numbers in the minors — a 4.74 ERA in 351 minor league innings — but MLB.com rated him 15th among L.A. farmhands. Per their scouting report, he made big strides with his velocity late in 2014 and has gone from a low-90s heater to a mid-90s offering that “threatens triple digits” at times. He still needs to get a better feel for his offspeed pitches and has a long ways to go as a slider, they add.

With all that said, we’re at last to the Marlins’ portion of the trade, which looks meager. Of the three names in question, only Brigham ranks among L.A.’s top 30 prospects, per MLB.com, who rank him 28th. Brigham had Tommy John surgery in college in 2012 and missed all of 2013 before pitching himself into the fourth round, their scouting report notes. He’s 90-94 mph with his fastball and has shown shaky control, though some of that can be attributed to the surgery. He’s punched out 75 hitters in 75 innings this year but has also walked 38 and has a 5.52 ERA.

Guzman is a 20-year-old starter pitching at the Class A level who has notched a 3.90 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in 83 innings this year. The 22-year-old Araujo is in his second stint with Class-A Advanced and hasn’t found very favorable results. He’s missed plenty of bats (55 strikeouts in 50 innings) with solid control (14 walks) but has been hittable and ultimately surrendered a 5.40 ERA this season.

The Marlins had a number of ways they could go in terms of dealing Latos, but it seems they either prioritized shedding the Morse contract or simply didn’t find that teams were willing to offer much in return given his rental status, health concerns and early struggles. In the end, while this trade started off being termed the “Mat Latos trade,” it will be more remembered as a deal that netted the Braves their second baseman or third baseman of the future in exchange for a promising young arm and one of their top prospects.

Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported (on Twitter) that Latos and Morse were headed to the Dodgers. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link) reported the financial components for Miami/L.A. and the inclusion of the Marlins’ draft pick. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweeted that a third team was potentially being brought in. Frisaro reported the prospects going to Miami. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the Braves’ inclusion (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the Braves would get a young starter (Twitter links), and Rosenthal tweeted that Wood was the pitcher in question. Bowden tweeted Johnson’s inclusion. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first suggested Peraza’s name (on Twitter) and Sherman confirmed his inclusion (via Twitter). Bowman also tweeted that Olivera was in the deal, and Bowden tweeted that Avilan was as well. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that Bird was headed to Atlanta. Bowman added that Rodriguez was going to the Braves. Passan added the final wrinkle: Arroyo’s inclusion (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Pitching Notes: Teheran, Karns, Ross, Giants

We just checked in on Yovani Gallardo, who may or may not be dealt before the deadline. Here’s the latest on the starting pitching market, which was one of many topics covered in today’s podcast with Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.

  • Despite reportedly being prepared to deal Alex Wood to the Dodgers, the Braves are still listening on Julio Teheran, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). He suggests, however, that the club may just be hoping for an overpay rather than actively shopping the young righty.
  • Given their starting depth, the Rays have indicated a willingness to listen to offers on right-hander Nate Karns, Passan reports on Twitter. Karns is already 27, but has ample team control and has emerged with 115 innings of 3.37 ERA pitching this year.
  • Padres righty Tyson Ross is “drawing intense interest,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The AstrosBlue JaysCubs, and Dodgers are all in the mix, says Heyman, and Houston could be the “at the forefront” of efforts to pry him away from San Diego. Notably, many of those clubs are also viewed as prime contenders for David Price. Heyman further breaks down Price’s market in an article today.
  • The Giants are also said to be looking into a run at Price after falling short in a “late push” for Cole Hamels (per Rosenthal, on Twitter). GM Bobby Evans says he doesn’t foresee the club parting with players from the team’s current everyday lineup in any deals, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com tweets. But the Tigers do like several of San Francisco’s minor league arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, which could make them plausible pursuers of the ace lefty.

Pitching Notes: Leake, Astros, Pirates, Angels, Johnson, Royals

The sudden availability of David Price will shake up the starting pitching market, of course, but there are plenty of less significant, but still notable developments to cover. Let’s take a look in at a few notes on the pitching market.

  • Reds starter Mike Leake is among the many pitchers still being considered by the Blue Jays, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Per Rosenthal, the club is looking at a variety of arms at a similar level of ability, with the hope of getting the best value out of a deal.
  • The Astros are “monitoring” the market for bullpen pieces, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. They have given at least some thought to quality arms like Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, and Francisco Rodriguez. Houston is also still involved on Cole Hamels, though it still doesn’t seem that they are terribly likely to get him, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Pirates, meanwhile, seem to be looking more at middle relief options, per MLB.com’s Tom Singer. And the Angels are also looking to add another arm to their pen, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. Los Angeles is looking for something on the order of last year’s addition of Jason Grilli says Gonzalez. Presumably, the same holds for Pittsburgh, which sent Grilli out west last summer in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.
  • With many teams (including those just noted) looking to add arms, the Braves are “getting lots of play” on righty Jim Johnson, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Johnson isn’t too expensive, has been solid this year, and has obviously spent a lot of time in high-leverage situations, so it stands to reason that he’ll be moved to a contender looking to build out their stable of relief arms.
  • The Royals asked the Tigers about Price before acquiring Johnny Cueto, but moved on to the righty when they learned that Price was not yet being marketed, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets.
  • Wondering who the teams listed above could target? MLBTR recently listed the starters and relievers most likely to be available at this year’s trade deadline.


Braves Designate David Carpenter For Assignment

The Braves announced tonight that they’ve designated right-handed reliever David Carpenter for assignment. The move creates a spot for Mike Foltynewicz to return to the big league club.

This marks the second DFA of the season for Carpenter, who is not to be confused with the Nationals reliever of the same name. Both David Carpenters, of course, have pitched for the Braves in the past two seasons, creating a bit of confusion around Atlanta’s pair of DFAs this season.

The Carpenter in question — David Lee Carpenter — has the more limited track record of the two. He’s pitched just 3 2/3 innings for the Braves this season, allowing three runs in that time but also fanning five without any walks. Carpenter has a 5.40 ERA over the life of his career — a span of 46 2/3 innings. He has a 4.02 ERA in 118 2/3 Triple-A innings to go along with averages of 7.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.


Outfield Market Notes: Maybin, Reddick, Mets, Angels, Parra, Gomez

Though the Braves have fielded plenty of interest in the revived Cameron Maybin, and have considered moving him, the team now feels it “would need to be blown away with an offer” to make a deal, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Contrary to an earlier report, Bowman adds, an Atlanta source vehemently denied the suggestion that Maybin had been dangled in an earlier effort to add Angel Pagan of the Giants. Maybin, 28, has been one of the game’s best turnaround stories, with his play dramatically altering perceptions of both his contract and the deal that brought him to Atlanta (which was already widely viewed as a Braves win).

Here’s more on the still-developing outfield market, which just saw one move with Shane Victorino heading to the Angels:

  • The Athletics seem unlikely to move outfielder Josh Reddick, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. In his comments after today’s Tyler Clippard trade, GM Billy Beane said that his club is not presently working on deals involving players who are under future control.
  • Despite a trio of acquisitions already completed, the Mets are still looking at a handful of outfield options, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York has, of course, just brought up top prospect Michael Conforto with Michael Cuddyer on the DL, but the team also designated John Mayberry Jr. and could use another quality option.
  • A source also tells Marc Carig of Newsday that the Mets are still shopping for outfield bats. Carig notes that the team could wait for asking prices to drop on deadline day.
  • The Angels are also still looking at left-handed hitting outfielders after adding Victorino, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that Jay Bruce (Reds), David Murphy (Indians), and Ben Revere (Phillies) are all still on their radar.
  • Gerardo Parra of the Brewers is also a player that the Angels are interested in, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Heyman breaks down his market, citing the Mets and Orioles as prime suitors (along with the Halos) for the left-handed hitter. There’s also a classic mystery team involved, per the report.
  • Heyman adds that some in the Brewers organization do not believe that Carlos Gomez will end up being dealt. Milwaukee is somewhat hesitant to move an affordable, in-prime player with control remaining.
  • Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Trade Market series for all the most likely outfield trade pieces. We’ve covered both center field candidates as well as corner options.

Mets Asked Braves About Simmons; Asking Price “Unreachable”

The Mets’ pursuit of a long-term answer at shortstop has been well-documented, and one of their latest endeavors was to explore the possibility of an intra-division swap that would bring Andrelton Simmons from Atlanta to Queens, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). However, Olney hears that talks went nowhere, as the Braves placed such a high asking price on Simmons that it was “basically unreachable.”

That Simmons would come with an exorbitant asking price should be expected, as he is the game’s premier defender at shortstop (if not the game’s premier defender, period) and brings a competent bat to the table as well as a highly affordable contract. Over the past three seasons, Simmons leads not only all shortstops, but all qualified position players in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. It’s not even close when it comes to DRS, as his +86 mark dwarfs the 61 runs credited to the also-excellent Nolan Arenado.

That elite glove is paired with a bat that has produced a .254/.303/.366 line. That’s hardly elite production, but it’s also weighed down by what looks to be a somewhat fluky down season in 2014. Simmons doesn’t walk much (6.1 percent in his career), but he also rarely strikes out (9.1 percent) and has a bit of pop in his bat, as evidenced by a 17-homer campaign back in 2013.

On top of that, Simmons is controlled through the 2020 season for a very reasonable total of about $54.1MM. He’s still owed roughly $1.1MM in 2015 in addition to annual salaries of $6MM, $8MM, $11MM, $13MM and $15MM over the life of the deal, which will conclude after his age-30 season. Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron recently placed Simmons 30th when ranking the Top 50 players in the game in terms of trade value. As he notes, Simmons hasn’t been much of a hitter yet, but plenty of teams would be happy to make the bet that his bat will improve before his glove declines, adding that his elite defense creates a very high floor.

The Mets have been oft-connected to shortstops over the past 18 months, with names such as Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez representing just a few of the players to be connected to GM Sandy Alderson’s club. They’re known to be on the hunt for some offensive improvements as well, though the acquisition of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson and the recent promotion of Michael Conforto have lessened those needs, to some extent.


Mets Acquire Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson

SUNDAY, 2:38pm: The Mets took on exactly $2.5MM in the deal, meaning that the Braves chipped in close to $500K, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

FRIDAY, 10:33pm: The Mets have officially acquired both Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the division-rival Braves. Two minor league righties — John Gant and Rob Whalen — will head to Atlanta in return.

New York will also absorb about $2.7MM in salary, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). That’s not quite the full amount owed to the two acquired players, but Atlanta is chipping in some salary, per Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter).

Jul 21, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves third baseman Juan Uribe (2) singles on a fly ball scoring a run in the fifth inning of their game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Both Uribe and Johnson would provide options at positions of need for New York. With David Wright still out indefinitely, third base has become a pressing concern, and adding a left-handed corner outfield bat remains a priority. Both of the veterans provide options at the hot corner, and the left-handed-hitting Johnson has ample experience in left.

Uribe, 36, has hit an excellent .285/.353/.464 since coming to Atlanta in a deal with the Dodgers earlier in the year. While his glove hasn’t rated out as highly as it used to, there’s little question that he represents a reliable option at the hot corner. Uribe is owed $6.5MM this season.

Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Johnson has been a solid presence in Atlanta since joining the team on a minor league pact. He owns a .275/.321/.451 slash with nine home runs. By making the club, he earned a $1.5MM guarantee for the season.

As for the return to the Braves, Whalen is the name that has appeared on prospect sheets more frequently. He rated as the Mets organization’s 20th-best prospect entering the season, according to Baseball America, which praised his curve ball and promising additional offspeed offerings. Whalen has a reasonably high ceiling despite the lack of a huge fastball. He has not been quite as effective this year, his first at St. Lucie, but still owns a 3.36 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 over 83 innings.

Meanwhile, Gant earned a quick promotion after six excellent starts to open the year. He’s slowed down now that he’s at Binghamton, with a 4.70 ERA and 6.5 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in 59 1/3 frames. Gant is a “solid back-end type” with four useful pitchers, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs on Twitter, who provides video of both of Atlanta’s newest additions and assesses them as likely big league contributors.

Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link)first reported that a deal to send Uribe and Johnson to the Mets was close. Joel Sherman of the New York Post (links to Twitter) reported the return. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported (via Twitter) that the deal was done.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL East Notes: Dietrich, Upton, Hamels, Papelbon

Cole Hamels fired a no-hitter against the Cubs in what could have been his final start for the Phillies. Cubs manager Joe Maddon thinks the studly performance will help the Phillies to land a top prospect, tweets Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Meanwhile, the Nationals welcomed back Anthony Rendon, and the Braves activated Freddie Freeman. Washington also expects Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman to return soon.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • The Marlins have drawn trade interest in utility fielder Derek Dietrich, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miami would move him for the right return. Rosenthal adds that some teams view him as a potential starter at second or third base. Dietrich is hitting .301/.378/.548 in 82 plate appearances at the top level this season. The Marlins have used him as a platoon bat against right-handed pitchers while Dee Gordon recovers.
  • The Mets were rumored to be in pursuit of Padres outfielder Justin Upton, but nothing is imminent, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Upton is currently sidelined with a mild oblique strain. Lin lists Upton and Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as the top hitters on the market. The Mets have the worst offense of any contender, although tonight’s outburst should help the season numbers. They’re currently third to last in team wRC+. The Phillies and White Sox are the only teams trailing New York. The acquisition of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe will help, but only so much.
  • The market for Hamels includes the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, and Rangers, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN. He mentions the Red Sox as non-traditional buyers with a desperate need to succeed in 2016. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets that some Phillies talent evaluators are “very high” on prospect Manuel Margot.
  • Earlier today, we learned the Nationals were interested in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Add the Cubs and Blue Jays to the list of engaged clubs, writes Zolecki. Both Chicago and Toronto are practical fits for Papelbon who has said he won’t accept a trade to serve as a setup man. The Nationals would either need to change his mind or demote Drew Storen despite excellent performance.

NL Notes: Tulo, Teheran, Braves, Reds, Niese

In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said that he is “at least open to considering” a deal involving star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (Twitter link). Last we checked in, Tulowitzki said he was not interested in being dealt, and he is believed to have significant sway with club ownership over his status. All said, there remains little reason to believe at present that Tulo is a serious trade candidate.

We already touched upon a series of interesting rumors involving National League clubs earlier today, but here’s the latest out of the NL:

  • Despite recent chatter that the Braves could consider dealing starter Julio Teheran, the young righty is “not being shopped,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Given his cheap control, O’Brien says the team would need to be overwhelmed by an offer to consider such a move.
  • Indeed, the Braves are more likely to hold off on deciding whether to part with Teheran or outfielder Cameron Maybin, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. The more likely trade pieces for Atlanta, he suggests, are veterans on one-year deals such as reliever Jim Johnson, utilityman Kelly Johnson, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Braves have been asked about outfielder Nick Markakis, who still has three years left on his free agent deal, but the team is not making him available. And while Juan Uribe could well be dealt, the club reportedly prefers to attempt to move Chris Johnson first.
  • An executive of a club with interest in adding a hitter says the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That seemingly speaks to the availability of outfielder Jay Bruce, who recent reports indicate is very much in play.
  • The Mets are still willing to deal Jon Niese, but are asking for a player with multiple years of control in return, Stark tweets. The southpaw has turned up his performance of late, racking up eight straight quality starts (at least 6 innings pitched, no more than 3 earned runs) since a run of rough outings to end the month of May. He is playing on a $7MM salary this year and represents a $9MM tab for 2016, but can be controlled thereafter through a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, respectively, each with $500K buyouts). Given New York’s evident budgetary restrictions, it has seemed that moving Niese’s salary could be a way for the club to free resources to allocate to the struggling offense, but it’s not clear whether they’ll have much hope of pulling that off in a single transaction.

Rotation Rumors: Royals, Teheran, Price, Padres

The starting pitching market appears to be in flux, with numerous buyers reportedly considering an array of options and a variety of potential sellers weighing whether to deal away impact arms. Here are the latest rumors on the rotation front:

  • The Royals are interested in both Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers, as well as other arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Both, obviously, would be pure rental pieces, and we’ve mostly heard of Kansas City connected to half-year contracts. The club’s level of need certainly went up with the loss of Jason Vargas, though it’s unclear whether that will prompt any effort to add more than one pitcher.
  • Some rival executives believe that the Braves are willing to deal Julio Teheran, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But an Atlanta source indicates that the team sees too much upside in the young righty (and his reasonably-priced extension) to consider such a move. Teheran, 24, has not matched his excellent results over the prior two seasons, but it does seem hard to imagine the club selling low on him unless president of baseball operations John Hart is just not a believer in his future.
  • Rosenthal also addresses the possibility of the Tigers dealing David Price, noting that the team is unlikely to retain him beyond this year if it doesn’t. If and when Detroit puts him on the market, some of the most obviously starting pitching buyers — the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Astros — would have interest, per the report.
  • The Padres are not only all ears on outfielder Justin Upton, but are “listening … intently” on soon-to-be free agent starter Ian Kennedy, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, rival executives say that San Diego would “love” to find a taker for righty James Shields. Given that we’ve also heard suggestions that the Padres are holding conversations regarding Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, it would appear that the club is considering a variety of possible scenarios involving its staff.