Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Podcast: Bruce Chen Talks Retirement; Patrick Mooney On Cubs

Longtime MLB veteran Bruce Chen joins the show to talk about his decision to bring an end to a distinguished career after throwing more than 1,500 big league innings over 17 seasons. Though he ended his career with the Indians, Chen saw action with eleven big league teams — most prominently, the RoyalsOrioles, and Braves. The consummate crafty lefty, Chen has a fascinating story both personally and as a ballplayer.

Jul 22, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Bruce  Chen (52) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY SportsAlso hopping on with MLBTR is Cubs beat writer Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, who stops by to discuss the team’s most recent moves and to break down how things are shaping up for the trade deadline.

This episode comes to you courtesy of DraftKings.com, who invite you to use promo code “MLBTR” for a free shot at playing fantasy baseball for cash prizes!

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The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursdays.


Red Sox Acquire John Cornely From Braves

The Red Sox announced today that the club has acquired right-handed pitcher John Cornely from the Braves. Atlanta will receive cash considerations in the deal.

The 26-year-old saw just one inning with the Braves, his first as a big leaguer, before being designated for assignment yesterday. He has posted 17 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA pitching at Triple-A this season, showing promise with 11.9 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.

This is Cornely’s first season at the highest level of the minors. He earned the promotion after posting a 2.49 ERA in 68 2/3 Double-A frames last year. The former 15th-round pick will head to Pawtucket on optional assignment for Boston.



Hector Olivera Discusses Signing With Dodgers

Hector Olivera is Los Angeles’ newest star, but he easily could have wound up elsewhere given the widespread interest clubs had in him.  On a conference call Tuesday evening, I asked the infielder how many teams he had serious conversations with and whether he was close to signing with any of them.

There were five teams that had interest in me [including] San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami,” Olivera said through a translator.  “But, in the end, I decided to sign with the Dodgers because I know that this is a great organization.”

Hours ago, team president Andrew Friedman told reporters that he is open to different positions for Olivera, who is said to have the ability to play second base, third base, and the corner outfield.  It appears that Olivera and Friedman are in agreement.

My whole career I played second base, but I don’t think I’m in the position to decide where I should play or to say what my preference is,” said the Cuban star when asked what position he is most comfortable playing. “Wherever they put me, I’m going to give my best…Wherever they put me, they’ll see results.”

Friedman was unwilling to put a timetable on Olivera’s Major League debut, but the player doesn’t think it’ll take all that long.  The second baseman told reporters that he’ll probably need “three or four weeks” to get ready before making the leap to L.A.  As he prepares to make the biggest transition of his professional career, he’ll do so unencumbered by any elbow trouble.  For weeks, it has been reported that Olivera was dealing with an issue in his arm, rumored to be a a slight UCL tear in his right elbow.

I don’t know where that rumor came from.  I know that there was a little bit of inflammation in my forearm…It was just fatigue in the muscle, but it wasn’t a serious problem and I don’t know where that rumor started.”


Rosenthal’s Latest: Managers, A’s, Reddick, Tulo, Astros

Earlier this week, in the wake of the Marlins’ managerial change, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the two skippers who were most obviously on the hot seat had now been dismissed. With Mike Redmond and Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke having been replaced, Rosenthal looks at four more managers who could eventually find themselves in danger of losing their jobs, listing John Gibbons (Blue Jays), Bud Black (Padres), Fredi Gonzalez (Braves) and Terry Collins (Mets) as the likeliest options. Gibbons can’t be blamed for the lack of quality relief arms he has at his disposal, Rosenthal notes, but bench coach Demarlo Hale has long been thought of as a managerial prospect and makes sense as a replacement option. Black’s Padres are struggling with pitching, and Mark Kotsay‘s name is floated by Rosenthal as someone who could be the next recently retired player to turn manager. Braves president of baseball ops John Hart isn’t as high on Gonzalez as president John Schuerholz or Bobby Cox, and there’s been some recent “internal finger-pointing,” Rosenthal hears. Collins nearly lost his job at the end of the 2014 season, he notes, and while the team is still in first place, the Mets’ managerial situation has long been volatile in nature.

Here’s more from Rosenthal…

  • In a new Notes column, Rosenthal looks at the Athletics‘ roster in the wake of a brutal start to the season. As many have pointed out, Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist — each a pending free agent — would all be logical trade candidates if the team is still underperforming in July. However, Rosenthal writes that there’s no way GM Billy Beane will act quickly and sell, as he’ll first want to see how the team performs with Zobrist and closer Sean Doolittle healthy and activated from the DL. One change that won’t be coming, Rosenthal adds, is at manager. Beane and skipper Bob Melvin have a strong relationship, and it’s “exceptionally unlikely” that Melvin would be dismissed, in Rosenthal’s eyes.
  • Another possible trade chip for the A’s could be Josh Reddick, who is earning $4.1MM after his second trip through arbitration this year. The Athletics, however, resisted trade offers for Reddick all offseason, Rosenthal hears.
  • Rosenthal recently called Rockies owner Dick Monfort to discuss the recent Troy Tulowitzki trade chatter. However, when Rosenthal began asking about Tulowitzki, Monfort “quickly hung up.” The bizarre situation lends credence to wide-spread belief that Tulo, his agent and even GM Jeff Bridich have little say in whether or not the Rockies trade the face of their franchise. Rather, it’ll come down to the team owner’s wishes.
  • The Astros are considering a long list of pitchers that either are or could become available, and they’ve recently been scouting Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen if the Astros would be willing to part with enough to get their hands on Samardzija, though. As Rosenthal notes, some rival execs feel that the tandem pitching system the Astros use in the minors devalues their pitching prospects, though one exec told him that it actually increases the value, as it suppresses the young pitchers’ inning counts.
  • Rosenthal believes the Rays should consider trading left-hander Jake McGee to either help their rotation or another area of the team. McGee, he notes, is earning $3.55MM this season and will see that price tag sail beyond $5MM in arbitration this winter.
  • Of course, as I noted yesterday when looking at this topic, using McGee in the ninth inning would help to keep down the future earnings of Brad Boxberger, who would benefit greatly from two full seasons of saves when he heads into arbitration following the 2016 season. And, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd mentioned to me earlier today when we were chatting, left-handed relief is an area of weakness for the Rays at this time. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if the scenario Rosenthal lays out came to fruition, and it’s hard to imagine that the Rays wouldn’t at least be open-minded to moving McGee.

Braves Sign Nick Masset, Designate John Cornely

The Braves have signed reliever Nick Masset, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter links). To create 40-man roster space, the club designated fellow righty John Cornely for assignment.

Masset is a long-time big leaguer who established himself as a reliable arm over 2009-11 with the Reds. But injuries derailed his career, and he struggled last year upon returning with the Rockies. Masset was actually off to a fairly promising start with the Marlins this year when he was designated and then outrighted. While his average fastball velocity is down to below 92 mph, he had permitted just two earned runs over 9 2/3 innings while logging six strikeouts against just one walk.

Cornely, who just turned 26, was hit hard in his first and only big league inning. He has worked exclusively in the minors over his career, most recently throwing 17 1/3 Triple-A innings with a 4.15 ERA and 11.9 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. He was also quite productive last year at the Double-A level, where he notched a 2.49 earned run mark in 68 2/3 frames.

(Oddly, both Masset and Cornely celebrated their birthdays on Sunday.)


NL East Notes: Gosselin, Kendrick, Billingsley, Lagares, Redmond

Braves infielder Phil Gosselin will miss about eight weeks with a thumb fracture, the team announced. Gosselin will require surgery. Taking his place on the active roster is fellow infielder Adonis Garcia, a 30-year-old who had a rather quiet minor league career before posting strong results at Triple-A over the last two seasons. After logging 368 plate appearances with a .319/.353/.474 slash last year in the Yankees organization, the infielder/outfielder has slashed .351/.380/.455 thus far at Gwinnett. Garcia signed with New York out of Cuba back in 2012, ultimately settling for a minor league deal when early rumors of a $16MM to $18MM bonus never panned out.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Righty Kyle Kendrick discussed his departure from the Phillies, telling Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News that the end did not come without some perceived irony. “Ruben [Amaro Jr.] called me about a week after the season and said we’re going to go in a different direction, we’re going to go younger,” Kendrick said, “and then he signs Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams. So I was like, [huh]. That’s the way it is. Honestly I think it’s just part of the game and [they] wanted some different faces. That’s the way it goes.”
  • Meanwhile, the Phillies are struggling with pitching health, as the club announced that righty Chad Billingsley is headed to the 15-day DL with a right shoulder strain. The talented but oft-injured thirty year old had made his first starts since early in 2013. He has permitted 12 earned runs over 16 total frames, striking out seven and walking three, though the good news is that his fastball velocity is sitting right at career norms. While the setback is discouraging, Philly will certainly hope that Billingsley can return in relatively short order and provide innings — if not also a trade piece.
  • ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick profiles the recently-extended Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, explaining that Lagares has undergone a rather interesting breakout on the defensive side of the ledger after receiving some middling scouting grades in center in the minors. It is now broadly recognized, of course, that his glove is what gives Lagares such unique value. You’ll want to give the piece a read to learn about the 26-year-old’s journey.
  • Deposed Marlins manager Mike Redmond will still take home a fairly significant amount of guaranteed money from his former team, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. In addition to the remainder of this year’s $850K salary, says Heyman, the Fish owe Redmond just over $1MM annually over the next two seasons.

Quick Hits: Brown, Martinez, Hamilton

Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.

  • Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
  • While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.

Mike Minor Undergoes Shoulder Surgery

MAY 14: The Braves announced that Minor underwent shoulder surgery today to repair the labrum in his shoulder. As David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets, initial MRIs didn’t reveal a tear in the labrum, but upon undergoing exploratory surgery, Dr. Neal ElAttrache did indeed find damage in the labrum, which has now been prepared. The Braves’ press release indicated that Minor is expected to be ready for the 2016 season.

MAY 12: Braves left-hander Mike Minor will undergo surgery on his left shoulder that will likely end his season, reports Bill Shanks of FOX Sports 1670 and Scout.com. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman adds that the surgery will take place this week (Twitter link).

Minor, 27, landed on the 60-day disabled list earlier this month and had yet to show “measurable improvement” as of that report. The former No. 7 overall pick has not pitched this season and spent a portion of the 2014 season on the shelf due to inflammation in his left shoulder as well. That injury led to a diminished performance in terms of both bottom-line results (4.77 ERA) and time spent on the field (145 1/3 innings), but Minor still topped the Braves in an arbitration hearing this offseason, netting a $5.6MM salary. (Atlanta had filed at $5.1MM.)

Minor’s rather significant arbitration earnings cloud his future with the Braves. Last December, the Braves cut bait on both Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, non-tendering the pair rather than paying similar salaries to the ones they earned in their lost 2014 campaigns. Of course, both of those right-handers were recovering from Tommy John surgery, not shoulder surgery, so the situations are not entirely similar. Medlen and Beachy were both going through their second Tommy John, and it was known that they would be out through the early portion of summer, at least. While shoulder problems are often actually more severe for pitchers than Tommy John, we don’t yet know the type of procedure that Minor will undergo, and therefore it’s impossible to know specifically what kind of timeline will come along with his rehab.

With Minor absent from the rotation, Eric Stults and spring trade acquisition Trevor Cahill joined Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller in the rotation to begin the season. However, Cahill’s early struggles have led to a bullpen role and a rotation audition for the highly touted Mike Foltynewicz, who was acquired from Houston in the Evan Gattis trade.


NL East Notes: Doumit, Soriano, Mets’ Shortstop

Veteran Ryan Doumit, who played last year for the Braves, “considers his playing career over,” according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old switch hitter logged 166 plate appearances last year in Atlanta, slashing just .197/.235/.318. He has had many more productive seasons in his decade in the big leagues, of course, and owns a lifetime .264/.324/.432 batting line. Doumit also spent significant time with the Pirates and Twins after being drafted in the second round of the 1999 amateur draft by Pittsburgh. While it appears that Doumit will not look to make a return to the bigs, the wording of the report suggests that he is not yet prepared to make an official retirement.

Here are some NL East Notes:

  • The Marlins‘ interest in Rafael Soriano is tied closely to his cost, according to a Twitter report from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. As things stand, Miami is only willing to bite if it can add him “at a low price,” per the report. It is not terribly surprising to learn that the Fish are not prepared to break the bank at this stage for the veteran righty; as the initial reports of interest suggested, the club is looking at all options to deal with its late-inning relief woes.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is not currently interested in adding a shortstop,Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports“Nothing has changed,” said Alderson of the team’s current daily deployment of Wilmer Flores. That is not terribly surprising given the timing, of course — to say nothing of the fact that Alderson would not be likely to broadcast any interest he did have — but should at least function to curb any immediate speculation about the possibility of a Troy Tulowitzki blockbuster.