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2:05pm: The Braves announced that they have officially released Uggla (Twitter link).
The 34-year-old Uggla’s tenure with the Braves came to a rocky end, to say the least, as the former All-Star slugger’s bat has eroded over the past few seasons. Dating back to Opening Day 2013, Uggla is hitting just .175/.295/.332 with a 31 percent strikeout rate. However, Uggla still has about $5.2MM remaining on this year’s $13MM salary before earning $13MM next year, which likely made the Braves reluctant to cut ties, as they hoped to salvage some value from those years. The Uggla saga has been an ongoing source of frustration for many Braves fans, even after Uggla lost the vast majority of his playing time to young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
Originally acquired from the Marlins in exchange for Mike Dunn and Omar Infante, Uggla quickly signed a five-year, $62MM extension with the Braves. While he cracked 36 homers in his first year in Atlanta and batted .233/.311/.453, things went south quickly from that point forth. Uggla’s power faded in the second half of an otherwise fairly typical season in 2012, leaving him with a .220/.348/.384 triple-slash.
Overall, Uggla will spend only three and a half seasons of his five-year deal with the Braves, and his time in Atlanta will conclude with a .209/.317/.391 line. Baseball-Reference pegs his time with the Braves at 2.5 WAR, while Fangraphs is more fond of his first two years with the club and values him at 5.3 WAR. Either way, the contract certainly didn’t pan out the way that Braves GM Frank Wren had hoped it would.
As for next steps for Uggla, he’ll first have to clear release waivers — which should be no problem given his remaining salary — before he is free to sign with a new club. Any team could then roll the dice on Uggla for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. Teams with a need at second base might be open to such a minimal financial risk. The Reds could use a second baseman with Brandon Phillips on the disabled list. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays, Giants and A’s have been linked to the second base market for quite some time as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:
- The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
- One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
- Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
- The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
- The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
- Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Ben Zobrist | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Price | James Russell | Josh Willingham | Kansas City Royals | Kurt Suzuki | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Minnesota Twins | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tyson Ross
17-year-old Dodgers lefty Julio Urias wowed observers at the Futures Game, leading to chatter about the possibility that he could make his big-league debut as soon as next year, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. “This guy’s got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18,” says Dodgers scouting director Logan White. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers will promote Urias that soon — he’s currently at Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga, and he’s only pitched 52 1/3 innings because the Dodgers are concerned about overworking him. But his stuff (he can touch 97 MPH) and composure are impressive beyond his years. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Braves badly need lefty bullpen help and particularly like the Red Sox‘ Andrew Miller, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Luis Avilan‘s struggles on Sunday are an example of the problems the Braves have had, O’Brien writes — Avilan entered in a 10-4 game in the eighth and faced three batters, giving up a single and two walks. By the time the inning was over, it was 10-7, and a blowout had suddenly become a save situation. Miller, who has struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings for Boston this season, would be a big upgrade. The Braves also like James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, O’Brien writes.
- The Braves should release second baseman Dan Uggla, writes Mark Bradley of the Journal-Constitution. The $19MM the Braves owe Uggla through 2015 is a “sunken cost,” and the Braves won’t be able to find a team willing to trade for him. Uggla is hitting an execrable .162/.241/.231 in 145 plate appearances this season. Uggla received only 15 plate appearances in June and only has three so far in July. The Braves also suspended him for a game on Sunday for being late arriving at Wrigley Field Saturday.
- A.J. Burnett wants to stay with the Phillies, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “I’m not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren’t going the right way,” says Burnett. “If that happens, then it happens, but I’m not looking to move on. This is my team.” Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, and says he isn’t sure how he would respond if the Phillies asked him to waive it.
- The rash of pitcher injuries this season might affect the salaries of free-agents-to-be like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Recent injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia and the questionable or disappointing contracts of pitchers like Justin Verlander and Johan Santana show how risky long-term deals for star pitchers can be. Scherzer and Lester have performed well this season, but other pitchers’ recent histories might affect the market this winter.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington wants Andrew McCutchen to be a Pirate for life, although he’s realistic about how difficult McCutchen will be to keep, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “We truly hope Andrew McCutchen retires as a Pirate. That is going to be incredibly challenging to do, but that is our long-term goal,” says Huntington. The Bucs already control McCutchen through 2018 at bargain rates — his yearly salary through his age-31 season never exceeds $14.5MM.
1:38pm: Gonzalez expects Uggla to be with the Braves on Friday when play resumes after the All-Star break, tweets O’Brien.
11:44am: The Braves have issued a one-game suspension to Dan Uggla, the team announced. Triple-A second baseman Phil Gosselin was known to be getting a promotion prior to today’s game, and he’ll take Uggla’s spot on the roster in a corresponding move. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez declined to comment on the specifics of the suspension but David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears it was due to tardiness, as Uggla reportedly arrived to the ballpark only an hour before the start of Saturday’s game. (Twitter links).
Uggla has seen barely any action since losing his starting job to Tommy La Stella, and O’Brien speculated yesterday that with Gosselin on the way up, the Braves could have designated Ugggla for assignment today. The suspension gives Atlanta a bit of extra time to decide what they’re going with Uggla over the long run, as the club still owes him approximately $5.42MM for the remainder of this season and $13MM in 2015.
The second baseman hasn’t lived up to expectations since the Braves acquired him from the Marlins in November 2010 and he signed a five-year, $62MM extension two months later. Uggla has a .209/.317/.391 slash line and 79 homers over 1984 PA as a Brave and he’s seen his role decrease as his output has declined — he was left off Atlanta’s playoff roster last fall and his starting job was usurped by La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky. Today’s suspension is the clearest sign yet that Uggla’s time with the club is about to end and the Braves will have to eat the remainder of Uggla’s contract.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
JULY 12: Bello finally has his visa and is en route to Orlando, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets.
MARCH 3: Bello received a $400K signing bonus and an invite to big league Spring Training, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (Twitter link).
MARCH 1: The Braves are completing a minor league deal with Cuban catcher Yenier Bello, an industry source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The contract includes a signing bonus and a Spring Training invitation.
Bello has reportedly drawn interest from as many as 20 MLB clubs. Terms of the agreement aren’t yet known, but the 29-year-old wasn’t expected to command a contract in the same range as recent Cuban signees such as Jose Dariel Abreu and Yasiel Puig. Bello is older than 23 and has more than three years of pro experience, so he won’t count against the Braves’ international spending limit.
In Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2011, Bello hit .274 and slugged 13 homers over the season’s 90-game schedule, so he’s expected to bring some power to the backstop position. Sanchez writes that he’s likely to begin the season in the minor leagues, however. Evan Gattis currently projects as the starting catcher for the Braves, who also have Gerald Laird under contract for 2014.
The 27-year-old righty has made just three appearances for Atlanta this season, holding the opposition scoreless while both striking out and walking three batters. He was claimed by the team in early April. Over 93 1/3 career innings at the major league level, Beato owns a 4.34 ERA with 5.7 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.
In response to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in which it was reported that the Nationals were looking to add shortstop prospects to their system, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post breaks down the reported offers to Ian Desmond and examines his contract situation. Desmond reportedly rejected an offer of $85-98MM over seven years this offseason, but as Kilgore notes, other shortstops with similar (or inferior) production have signed for more. Desmond has already said he feels financially secure — as well he should, having been guaranteed more than $23MM in his career — and he therefore doesn’t need to feel pressured to take a below-market deal, Kilgore writes. He concludes by noting that if Desmond finishes his career elsewhere, it’ll be because the Nationals let him walk, not because Desmond turned his back on the club.
Here’s more on Desmond and the NL East…
- Desmond spoke with MLB.com’s Bill Ladson and flatly said that he expects to be a National in 2016 and beyond. “I can’t picture myself other than this,” said Desmond. “I can’t picture myself in any other uniform, clubhouse and Spring Training complex. I can’t see myself with any other coaching staff or anything like that. This is what I know. This is what’s on my mind. This is home for me.” Asked about the aforementioned Rosenthal report, Desmond declined to comment but added that there’s no ill will between him and the organization, and he has tremendous respect for GM Mike Rizzo’s decision-making skills.
- In a second piece from Kilgore, he looks at the fact that three of the Nationals‘ top 10 picks in this year’s draft — including first-rounder Erick Fedde and second-rounder Andrew Suarez – are unsigned. The Nationals are unlikely to sign ninth-rounder Austin Byler, a source tells Kilgore, meaning the Nats will lose $145,900 from their bonus pool, further complicating their negotiations with Fedde — a Scott Boras client. Rizzo considers it a “cardinal sin” to leave a top pick unsigned, notes Kilgore, who expects both Fedde and Suarez to sign. He feels that negotiations could come down to the wire, however.
- The Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization are working on a buyout of minor league right-hander Yunesky Maya of the Braves, reports Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (on Twitter). The Cuban hurler was originally signed by the Nationals with much fanfare, but he never panned out in the Major Leagues. Maya, now 32, has a 2.63 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 85 2/3 innings this season for Triple-A Gwinnett.
- The Braves don’t have the financial wherewithal to take on Jake Peavy or any other significant salary, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. He notes that in 2011, when the team acquired Michael Bourn from Houston, GM Frank Wren included an additional prospect in the deal to avoid having to pay the remainder of Bourn’s salary.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade stock and a list of teams that will looking for bullpen help. He notes that there are a lot of excellent relievers on the market this year, all of whom make less money than Papelbon. Ultimately, he opines that a package of Papelbon and A.J. Burnett could be beneficial to the Orioles, though he feels the Angels and Tigers are other plausible destinations.
- Antonio Bastardo is the name that Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com hears the most in trade buzz (Twitter link). Entering play today, the 28-year-old southpaw had a 3.60 ERA with 50 strikeouts against 24 walks in 40 innings. Bastardo is earning $2MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this offseason. He is under team control through 2015.
TODAY, 10:19am: The Braves are not interested in adding Peavy, sources tell David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
10:07am: While Peavy remains the pitcher that the club is most interested in dealing, Boston has fielded strong interest in fellow starter John Lackey, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. That is not terribly surprising: since the start of last year, Lackey has logged 306 2/3 innings of 3.64 ERA ball with 7.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. And he is under contract for the league minimum for 2015.
YESTERDAY, 10:12pm: Peavy said that he has spoken with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and understands that there is a possibility he will be dealt, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Don’t think people are making stuff up,” he said.
6:31pm: Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that the team believes it would need to give up one of its own starters to get a “top starter” in return, resulting in a net loss of years of control, tweets Goold.
6:06pm: The Cardinals are “looking for offense not Peavy” right now, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Goold says there is no match with Boston, given that Joe Kelly is expected to return to the rotation in short order.
5:52pm: Boston is discussing starting pitching — not just Peavy — with many teams, but there is “nothing imminent,” a team source tells Abraham (Twitter link).
4:20pm: The Braves are also involved in talks regarding Peavy, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.
4:16pm: The Cards and Red Sox are in active trade talks regarding Peavy, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
12:45pm: ESPN’s Jayson Stark is now also hearing that the Cardinals are interested in Peavy, and he hears that something could come together quickly (Twitter link). The only Red Sox game that the Cards have scouted was the Peavy start that Edes originally referenced, according to Stark.
12:01pm: The Cardinals have had their share of pitching injuries of late, with Jaime Garcia out for the season and Michael Wacha out indefinitely, and Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweeted yesterday that the team scouted Jake Peavy‘s most recent start for the Red Sox. Peter Gammons also tweets that he’s hearing the Redbirds have interest in Peavy.
The 33-year-old Peavy has struggled, to an extent, this season in what has been one of the least-effective campaigns of his 13-year career. He’s posted a 4.64 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate. His 89.9 mph average fastball velocity is the lowest mark he’s posted since his rookie campaign in 2002. He’s been healthy, however, and has averaged more than six innings per start this season. A move to the NL, of course, could help his numbers as well.
Then again, Peavy wouldn’t need to do much to be an upgrade to the back of the St. Louis rotation. With their current injuries, the Cardinals are using a rotation of ace Adam Wainwright and right-handers Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez (with Joe Kelly set to come off the DL in the next few days). Miller has seen his control disappear, along with his ability to miss bats, and he’s posted a 5.50 ERA over his past nine starts as a result. Martinez has pitched well since transitioning from the bullpen, but he threw just 108 innings last year and is already at 53 in 2014. Marco Gonzales, the club’s 2013 first-rounder, served up 11 runs with more walks than strikeouts in a three-start cameo recently. Peavy could serve as a durable back-end piece to complement veterans Wainwright, Lynn and Kelly while serving as an insurance policy for the club’s younger arms.
Peavy is earning $14.5MM this season and has a vesting player option that he won’t trigger. That option, valued at $15MM, required that Peavy pitch 400 innings from 2013-14, but he is still 144 2/3 frames shy of that mark after spending time on the DL last season. As such, he’s owed roughly $6.58MM over the remainder of the 2014 campaign and will be a free agent at year’s end.
As Edes points out, this isn’t the first time that the Cardinals have had interest in Peavy. The team expressed interest in the former NL Cy Young winner last summer. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported over the weekend that Peavy could be of interest to some NL clubs if Boston were to eat some of the remaining salary on his deal.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson maintains that the club is still assessing what course it will take at the trade deadline, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. “Look, let’s see where we are at the end of this week,” said Alderson. “We’re always willing to listen. We may be thinking in terms of the second half of this season. We may be thinking more in terms of next season.” Alderson continued to note that, even if the team sells, it may not be willing to settle for lower-level talent: “We’ve made a lot of deals in recent years where we’ve gotten prospects who are a good ways away. I don’t think we’re thinking that way these days, although sometimes that’s the value in a return.”
Here’s the latest out of New York and the rest of the National League East:
- After talking with people familiar with Alderson’s thinking, David Lennon of Newsday gets the sense that the Mets‘ GM isn’t necessarily committed to the idea of trading Daniel Murphy. Lennon does note that the team is eager to get another look at Wilmer Flores, who is playing second base at Triple-A Las Vegas these days.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. took to the air to defend the capabilities of several of the team’s veterans in a radio interview (audio link) with Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic. “If you want to talk about declining, that happens,” said Amaro. “But that doesn’t mean they aren’t producing in some way shape or form and Chase [Utley] is one of those guys.” Nevertheless, Amaro acknowledged that several of the team’s long-term deals have not worked out as hoped: “Unfortunately these guys are human beings and they aren’t living up to what we expected and we’re trying to do something about that right now.” Going forward, the team is in a “fluid situation,” said the Philly GM. “I talk to [team owner] David [Montgomery] and our group all the time about what our direction is,” he said.
- The Braves are prioritizing the acquisition of a “lockdown-type left-hander” for the bullpen, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O’Brien argues that the club should make a push to add Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, noting his outstanding 14.7 K/9 mark and domination of opposing left-handed hitters. The 29-year-old has indeed been outstanding, with a 2.41 ERA through 33 2/3 frames thus far in his walk year.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Brewers have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league deal, the club’s player development department announced on Twitter. Clark had been hitting .297/.380/.498 at Double-A for the Mets before he was released recently. He will take the roster spot of Hunter Morris, the club’s tenth overall prospect coming into the year (per Baseball America), who was DL’ed after breaking his arm.
- Veteran righty Luis Ayala has been released by the Blue Jays, according to the International League transactions page. The reliever had been working at Triple-A. As MLBTR’s Zach Links reported at the time of the signing, Ayala did not have the right to opt out of his deal. Though he worked to a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 31 innings last year for the Braves, Ayala has not had an opportunity to throw in the bigs yet this season. Through 17 innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he owns a 5.29 ERA (7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)
- The Braves officially acquired minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, as per a Houston media release. Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported yesterday that the trade was imminent.
- The Cubs released left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports (Twitter link). The Cubs signed Sanchez to a minor league deal in December but the southpaw has been injured for most of the season and only pitched 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Iowa. After being traded from the Giants following the 2011 season, Sanchez’s numbers ballooned to the tune of an 8.73 ERA over 78 1/3 IP with the Royals, Rockies and Pirates in 2012-13.
- The Royals have signed infielder Paul Janish to a minor league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Janish opted out of his previous minors deal with the Rockies on Tuesday. Janish provided some good defense but only a .572 OPS in 1206 PA with the Reds and Braves from 2008-13, and he spent all of his season with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
- The Blue Jays have released outfielder Brett Carroll, as announced via Twitter by the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Carroll posted only a .438 OPS in 63 Triple-A plate appearances after signing a minor league contract with the Jays in February. Carroll appeared in 173 games with the Marlins from 2007-10 and had cups of coffee with the Brewers and Nationals in 2011-12 before spending 2013 with the Pirates’ Triple-A franchise.