Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

Rangers Notes: Upton, Andrus, Gallo, Alfaro

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the latest on the Rangers (all Twitter links):

  • The Rangers have spoken to the Braves about Justin Upton, echoing a recent report by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, but the current focus for Texas is pitching.
  • The Rangers are willing to deal any of their shortstops, but Elvis Andrus is the least likely to be moved because the team believes 2015 will be a big season for the 26-year-old.
  • The Rangers are open to trading their better prospects rather than spend big money on free agents. Rosenthal, however, notes Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro (the club’s top two prospects, per MLB.com) are considered untouchable.

 


Braves Release Venters, Designate Pena

FRIDAY: Atlanta has released Venters, per the MLB.com transactions page.

WEDNESDAY: The Braves have designated left-hander Jonny Venters and infielder Ramiro Pena for assignment, according to the team’s transactions page. Additionally, the team has added Brandon Cunniff, Yean Carlos Gil, Kyle Kubitza, Williams Perez, Mauricio Cabrera and top prospect Jose Peraza to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.

The 29-year-old Venters was an elite setup man with Atlanta from 2010-12 but underwent Tommy John surgery — the second of his career — that kept him out for all of the 2013 season. Venters rehabbed the injury through August of this season before learning that he had re-torn the ligament. In September, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Venters would undergo a third Tommy John and attempt to make a comeback. Venters has a 2.23 ERA in three career seasons to go along with an average of 10.1 strikeouts and 4.3 walks per nine innings pitched.

Pena, 29, batted .245/.304/.347 in 165 plate appearances for the Braves this season — a decline from the .278/.330/.443 line he posted in 107 PA the previous year. Pena has more than four years of big league service as a utility player with the Yankees and Braves. He’s a career .244/.288/.330 hitter in 610 PAs at the big league level.

Both Venters and Pena were arbitration eligible. Venters would have earned either the same $1.6MM he made in 2014 or slightly less, had he gone through arb, while MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Pena to earn $900K.


Minor Moves: Satin, Kensing, Romak, Orioles, Billings, Avery

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

Earlier Updates

  • The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
  • The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
  • The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
  • Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.


NL West Notes: Preller, Montero, D’Backs, Anderson, Giants

A pair of rival executives described Padres GM A.J. Preller as “all over the map” when asked by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Preller, Rosenthal writes, is furiously exploring both trade and free agent possibilities to boost his new club’s offense. According to Rosenthal, Preller was in contact with the Braves about Jason Heyward prior to their trade with the Cardinals, and he’s also called on Jay Bruce and Matt Kemp in addition to showing legitimate interest in Pablo Sandoval. One of Preller’s colleagues estimated to Rosenthal that the San Diego GM has had “baseline discussions” on at least 200 players this offseason. Suffice it to say, Padres fans should likely expect some form of significant move in Preller’s first offseason at the helm.

Elsewhere in the division…

  • Trade talks regarding Miguel Montero have not escalated significantly since Russell Martin came off the board and signed with the Blue Jays, reports the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro (the Montero portion comes at the bottom of the article). However, the D’Backs have spoken to the White Sox, Cubs and Dodgers about Montero, who is owed $40MM over the next three seasons.
  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart was recently in the Dominican Republic, and senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson is in Mexico scouting some of the top international teens on the market. The D’Backs are hoping to make waves on the international front soon, he adds.
  • The Rockies are still interested in re-signing Brett Anderson to a more team-friendly deal than the $12MM option they declined, tweets the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders. However, the Royals and Astros are interested in adding Anderson under similar circumstances, he adds.
  • Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans said on KNBR radio yesterday that his team is very interested in both Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada (via Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). However, Evans wouldn’t commit one way or another when asked if his club had the money to sign both Tomas and Sandoval.

NL East Links: Lester, Stanton, Niese, Mets

Though the Braves met with Jon Lester‘s camp yesterday, the team did not make a formal offer to the free agent lefty, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Beyond that, president of baseball operations John Hart told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that the possibility of Lester signing in Atlanta is a “long shot,” but added that he is keeping all doors open (Twitter link).

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • In an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria says that the Giancarlo Stanton extension is only the beginning of his team’s offseason additions. Loria candidly discusses the team’s 2012 fire sale, stating that he knew he was going to get killed for it in the media but simply didn’t feel the mix of players the club had acquired was going to work. Loria adds that he’s not concerned with what other owners think of the Stanton extension and is putting behind him the days of fire sales as he looks to make winning a “part of the tradition of this baseball club.” Loria says he feels that his team will be competitive next season and that come September, the Marlins will not only be competitive, but contending. Nightengale backs up previous reports that the Marlins have indeed made an offer to Adam LaRoche.
  • Jon Niese‘s trade value simply isn’t what it used to be, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears, despite what the Mets consider to be a team-friendly contract. Niese is owed $7MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016 with a pair of club options valued at $10MM and $11MM. However, one executive from a somewhat interested team told Martino, “I think they underestimate the impact his injuries have had on perception. It’s not a team-friendly contract if he is on the DL.” Niese did toss 187 innings in 2014, but he’s had shoulder and elbow issues over the past two years.
  • The Mets are interested in re-signing left-hander Dana Eveland and right-hander Buddy Carlyle, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Mets cut each reliever loose to avoid arbitration increases but have interest in each journeyman on a lower-cost deal. Both were effective in 2014, though Eveland was sidelined for the final few weeks of the season with an elbow injury.
  • Rubin also hears that the Mets will wait out some free agent options at shortstop and could take action later in the offseason if players on whom their currently lukewarm drop their asking prices (Twitter links). He also hears that the Mets would be willing to forfeit their second-round pick to add another qualifying offer free agent if the player was stuck without a contract come January. Of course, the Mets already gave up their first-round pick to sign Michael Cuddyer.

Braves Shopping Justin Upton; Asking Price Higher Than Heyward

Following the trade of Jason Heyward to the Cardinals, there’s been plenty of speculation that the Braves could also consider dealing Justin Upton, with the Mariners being named as a potential fit. Joel Sherman of the New York Post now hears that the Braves are “very much shopping” Upton, but the asking price is said to be steeper than their price for Heyward, which was rather significant itself.

For Heyward, Atlanta received four years of right-hander Shelby Miller and a solid pitching prospect in Tyrell Jenkins. To be seeking more than that is ambitious, especially considering the fact that Heyward’s $8.3MM salary is markedly lower than Upton’s $14.5MM commitment. There’s also a widespread perception that Heyward, despite his inferior power numbers, is more valuable than Upton due to his elite defense in right field.

Of course, not all teams may see things that way. While WAR strongly favors Heyward, it’s certainly not unthinkable that a team would value Upton’s power more than Heyward’s glove, especially considering the scarcity of power in today’s game. As Sherman notes, Giancarlo Stanton is the only right-handed hitter in the NL who hit more homers than Upton’s 29 last season. Those 29 homers tied Upton for 12th in all of Major League Baseball. Overall, he batted .270/.342/.491 with the Braves in 2014.

Interest in Upton is said to be “significant” by those to whom Sherman spoke, as is the likelihood that Upton will be dealt. One executive from another club plainly told Sherman, “Justin Upton will be moved.” Sherman said the Mariners do indeed have interest, and they also have the type of pitching prospects that the Braves covet. (Last night, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported that Taijuan Walker doesn’t appear to be off limits, but the Mariners would likely want more than one year of Upton to part with him.) Upton also removed Seattle from his no-trade list this offseason.

If the Braves are to move Upton, their connection to Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas makes more sense. Dealing Upton for pitching prospects and replacing him with Tomas could afford the Braves comparable right-handed power that they will control for a much longer term. Tomas would, in theory, pair with Evan Gattis on the outfield corners to give the Braves a pair of powerful right-handed bats with which they could surround Freddie Freeman in the long term. As of this morning, Atlanta is said to be one of the front-runners for Tomas.


Padres, Braves Emerging As Yasmany Tomas Favorites

Yesterday, the Braves reportedly became a late entrant in the Yasmany Tomas sweepstakes, while other reports indicated that the Phillies may be backing off due to growing concerns over his glove and conditioning. Tomas is reportedly a bit restless and becoming anxious to sign, though those close to him are urging him to express patience.

That sums up the majority of yesterday’s Tomas rumors, and we’ll keep track of Friday’s rumors pertaining to the 24-year-old Cuban slugger in this post…

  • Not only are the Braves in the mix for Tomas, writes MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, they’re emerging as one of the two favorites alongside the Padres. Top officials from Atlanta and San Diego will meet with Tomas in the Dominican Republic this weekend, Sanchez hears. However, the signing process may not wrap up soon and could extend into the Winter Meetings, as Sanchez writes that his camp is considering attending the event, which will be held in the Padres’ home city of San Diego. Sanchez notes that Tomas is still believed to be seeking five to seven years with an average annual value of $15MM+, but his camp has begun to warm to the idea of a Yoenis Cespedes-like shorter term deal at a higher AAV, which would allow him to hit free agency sooner than the oft-mentioned five- to seven-year contract.

Yasmany Tomas Rumors: Thursday

Here’s the latest on Yasmany Tomas, the 23-year-old Cuban slugger who is among the exciting international players demanding attention:

  • Tomas is growing tired of the “dog-and-pony show” and wants to sign as soon as he can but he is being urged by others to show patience, sources tell Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The Phillies, Royals and Padres have shown the most interest in landing him, though the D’Backs and Mariners “lurk as possibilities,” and Atlanta is also in the mix. The Giants have seen Tomas four times, Passan adds.

Earlier Updates

  • The Padres are still in on Tomas up to around the $70MM level, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs hears (Twitter link).
  • The Braves are set for a private workout and should be considered part of the sweepstakes, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. As Heyman noted earlier today, Tomas has a visa and could be in attendance at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported recently that several dark horses could be in the race, and Atlanta would certainly qualify.
  • The Phillies are increasingly concerned with the defensive part of the equation on Tomas, reports MLB.com’s Paul Hagen. The club is “backing off” somewhat, despite generally being viewed as the front-runner to land him. Philly sees Tomas more as a DH, per Hagen, but could be more intrigued if his asking price begins to creep down.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com echoes those thoughts (Twitter links). He says the team believes in Tomas’s bat, but is worried about both his defense and conditioning and is not interested in guaranteeing him nine figures.
  • For his part, Ben Badler of Baseball America sees the Giants and Phillies as the most likely landing spot for Tomas. A rival executive tells ESPN.com’s Jayston Stark (Twitter link) that he believes the Phils remain the easy favorite, with Stark noting that the bidding on Tomas has been making “furious progress.”

Trade Notes: Porcello, Ramirez, Upton, Kendrick, Padres

It’s already been a fairly active winter on the trade front, as we’ve seen the Brewers acquire Adam Lind, the D’Backs acquire Jeremy Hellickson, the Tigers acquire Anthony Gose and of course the Cardinals/Braves Jason Heyward blockbuster. All of this has come before the Winter Meetings, so action on the trade front only figures to increase over the next month. Here are some of the latest rumblings from around the league…

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that in addition to Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and the Reds’ quartet of starters that are rumored to be available (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon), Rick Porcello is believed to be attainable in trades. Rival evaluators feel that many players that are set to be free agents a year from now could be had for the right offer. The Tigers, of course, are aiming to contend in 2015, but Porcello is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12.2MM in arbitration and could fetch a nice piece while freeing up some cash for GM Dave Dombrowski to address other areas of need.
  • Olney also hears (Twitter link) that the White Sox‘ asking price on Alexei Ramirez is “steep to the degree that you’d want to be buying in for two to three years.” Ramirez is guaranteed $10MM next season and has a $10MM club option for the 2016 season with a $1MM buyout.
  • The Mariners will surely make a run at either Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, if they haven’t already, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). O’Brien gets the sense that top prospect Taijuan Walker is not completely off the table in trade talks with Seattle, but it would probably take more than one year of Upton to acquire him.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that he’s had trade discussions regarding Howie Kendrick, but he’s in no way eager to move his second baseman. The Halos entered the offseason thinking they might be able to move Kendrick for a controllable, young rotation option but somewhat surprisingly did so by acquiring Nick Tropeano in the Hank Conger trade. “The only way we would move him is if we become a better club,” Dipoto tells DiGiovanna. “And it would take a heck of a deal for us to feel like we’re a better club by moving Howie.”
  • Though much has been made of the possibility that the Padres could trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner to bolster the club’s offense, the team is now strongly considering hanging onto both pitchers, sources tell MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Interestingly, Brock’s report mentions reported trade interest in Ian Kennedy but does not state that the Friars are similarly likely to hold onto the 29-year-old. Kennedy will be a free agent next winter.

Kubatko On Orioles: Delmon, Ubaldo, De Aza

Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com provides an interesting round-up on the latest out of Baltimore. Among the highlights:

  • Baltimore remains interested in bringing back Delmon Young, but are not willing to meet his demand for two years at present. Given his strong work last year in a bench role, it is not surprising that he would test the interest in a multi-year guarantee. Though Young has never quite lived up to expectations, of course, he is just 29 and put up a .779 OPS last year and actually posted reverse platoon splits in so doing.
  • The O’s have been approached by multiple clubs regarding struggling righty Ubaldo Jimenez. The Braves asked about the possibility of a swap involving B.J. Upton, but Kubatko says that is “not happening.”
  • While there has been some indication that the Orioles would consider non-tendering outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Kubatko says that the team has “every intention” of keeping him in the fold. He could serve as a platoon option in left, notes Kubatko, though of course his projected $5.9MM arbitration earnings will make that a fairly expensive choice.
  • After announcing a host of minor league signings yesterday, Baltimore has interest in adding infielders Paul Janish and Rey Navarro as well. Kubatko writes that the 24-year-old Navarro, a switch-hitting shortstop, is expected to draw significant interest around the game.