Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

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.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/22/15

Here are some recent minor moves from around the game:

  • The Mariners have acquired Triple-A reliever Tyler Knigge from the Phillies in exchange for cash, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Twitter. Knigge, 26, was a 12th-rounder back in 2010 that has advanced as far as Triple-A. He’s spent time there in both 2014 and 2015, working to a 4.89 ERA with 5.5 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 70 innings. His numbers at Double-A and Class-A Advanced were markedly better.
  • Braves reliever David Carpenter was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Carpenter — not to be confused with the former Atlanta reliever and current Nationals reliever of the same name — has worked 3 2/3 innings in the bigs this season and 46 2/3 innings at the Major League level as a whole. He’s struggled to a 5.40 ERA, though the 27-year-old has a more palatable 2.73 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over the life of his minor league career.
  • The Dodgers recently released righty Ryan Buchter after he opted out of his deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 28-year-old notched a stellar 1.65 ERA with 39 strikeouts against 16 walks in 32 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season.
  • And the Rays released infielder Vince Belnome, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. The 27-year-old Belnome has been solid throughout most of his Triple-A tenure, but he’s slumped to a triple-slash of just .169/.293/.225 in 191 plate appearances this season.
  • The Brewers announced yesterday that they’ve signed lefty Jeremy Horst and released right-hander John Ely. Horst, 29, saw a fairly significant amount of Major League action from the 2011-13 seasons with the Reds and Phillies. He has a career 3.32 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 in 72 2/3 innings. Horst began the season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, where he tallied a 1.64 ERA with 42 strikeouts against 16 unintentional walks in 38 1/3 innings. As for Ely, the now-29-year-old Ely logged 115 2/3 innings with the Dodgers from 2010-12 but hasn’t appeared in the bigs since. Injuries have played a role in his absence from the league, but he also struggled to a 7.42 ERA in 13 1/3 innings between Rookie ball and Triple-A this season.

Heyman On Cueto, Uribe, Wilson, Brewers, Niese, Pirates, Gallardo

In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”

Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):

  • The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
  • While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
  • Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
  • The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
  • The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
  • While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
  • Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.

NL East Notes: C. Johnson, K. Johnson, Parra, deGrom, Prado

The Braves have been determined to deal away Chris Johnson for some time, and the third baseman tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he hopes to find a new home. “I’ve been called in the manager’s office,” said Johnson. “[Manager Fredi Gonzalez] has told me they are trying to move me. I want to be moved, and they want to move me. Hopefully, something gets done.”While saying he’s enjoyed his time in Atlanta, Johnson emphasized that he is interested in receiving a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere. Obviously, the Braves are looking to shave off as much of Johnson’s contract as possible. Under the extension he signed early in the 2014 campaign, he is due roughly $19.99MM (including $2.52MM for this season and the buyout of a 2018 option).

A bit more on the Braves and their division…

  • Kelly Johnson has parlayed a minor league deal into a critical role on the Braves, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Johnson credits first-year hitting coach Kevin Seitzer with helping him to shorten his swing and improve his overall approach at the plate. Of course, as a veteran on a one-year deal with a losing team, Johnson’s name may pop up over the next few days as a trade candidate; I listed him and three others Braves when looking at the trade market for third basemen earlier today.
  • The Mets continue to be intrigued by Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They’re also looking at Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, though multiple reporters (most recently Marc Carig of Newsday, who also reported interest in Parra late last week) have characterized that type of high profile acquisition as a long shot. Parra, Heyman notes, is drawing quite a bit of interest around the league.
  • Peter Gammons relays an anecdote from the 2012 trade deadline that could have vastly reshaped the current state of two franchises. When the Red Sox and Mets were discussing a trade for veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach, Boston initially asked about right-hander Jacob deGrom, who had recently undergone surgery. (deGrom was never projected to become the ace that he presently is, of course, and he had just undergone surgery.) However, after talking it over with his minor league evaluators, GM Sandy Alderson and the Mets passed. The two sides eventually lined up on a deal that sent right-hander Pedro Beato to Boston.
  • Marlins third baseman Martin Prado tells Zach Buchanan and Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic that he’s not concerned with the possibility that he could be traded for the third time in the past year. Prado says there’s no sense in thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is going to happen again,” and he’s instead focused on helping his teammates out. He’s candid when addressing the current state of the Marlins, however. “We’re in a pretty bad situation here,” says Prado. “I’m just trying to bring good energy for my teammates and my team. That’s all I can do right now.”

Twins Monitoring Market For Catchers

The Twins are “closely monitoring” the market for catchers, including the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Derek Norris, Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

It’s not certain at this time how available each of those names might be, but Berardino writes that the Braves are open to trading Pierzynski, which comes as no surprise when considering that he’s a 38-year-old veteran playing on a one-year deal for a club that is seven games back in its division. One can imagine that the Tigers, who as of last night are reportedly planning to be sellers at the trade deadline, would be open to moving free-agent-to-be Avila.

Pierzynski has a $2MM base salary in 2015, of which roughly $841K remains. His contract also contains incentives based on games started behind the plate. To this point, he’s already earned $100K for reaching 60 starts, and he’ll earn an additional $50K for his 65th, 70th, 75th and 80th starts at catcher. He’ll earn $100K every fifth start from 80 through 100, allowing him to max out at $2.7MM. He’s hitting .280/.316/.432 with six homers this season, and it’s also worth noting (as Berardino points out) that the Twins reportedly made Pierzynski a two-year offer to return to Minnesota prior to the 2014 season. He instead chose to sign with Boston.

Minnesota’s plenty familiar with Avila, whom they’ve watched behind the plate for the Tigers dating back to 2009. However, he’s earning a not-insignificant $5.4MM this season and has played in only 34 games, hitting .192/.333/.293. Avila’s career behind the plate has been threatened by concussions, and as a club that is more than familiar with the ill effects of concussions (see: Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Corey Koskie), the Twins may desire more certainty.

Both Norris and Lucroy would represent long-term upgrades over incumbent Kurt Suzuki as opposed to mere rentals. Norris is under club control through 2018 and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, but he’s also struggled in his transition from Oakland to San Diego. Norris has followed up a .270/.361/.403 line in 2014 with a .231/.278./.401 line in 2015. He’s certainly hitting for more power — he has a 38 point increase in his ISO, and his 11 homers already top last year’s 10 — but his walk rate and average have plummeted. Norris’ line-drive rate is down from 18.7 percent to 12.9 percent, which, paired with an increased strikeout rate, helps to explain the dip in his average.

Lucroy could very well be the prize of the catching market. He’s a premium defender in terms of both controlling the running game and pitch framing, and he’s also produced a .291/.353/.455 batting line dating back to 2012. His production has been slowed this season, in part by a fractured toe sustained earlier in the year. However, he’s hitting .274/.335/.382 dating back to June 1, and two of his three homers this season have come in the past eight games. Lucroy’s contract, though, is perhaps the most appealing part about a potential acquisition; he’s earning $3MM in 2015 before a $4MM payday in 2016 and a $5.25MM club option for the 2017 season.

That Minnesota is seeking an upgrade behind the plate is reasonable, considering the difficulty that Suzuki has had at the plate since signing a two-year, $12MM extension on July 31 last year. Suzuki had an excellent first half in Minnesota, but it was largely BABIP driven, and he closed out the year hitting .248/.290/.366. This year’s been even worse for the former A’s/Nats backstop, as he’s hitting just .227/.283/.303, making him one of the least effective bats in baseball. He’s also caught just 19 percent of attempted base stealers — 13 percent below the league average. The Twins, though, value the comfort that the pitching staff has with Suzuki, his clubhouse presence and his durability.Those positive traits, of course, would still be in play were he to transition to a backup role, even if only for the remainder of the 2015 season.