Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

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.

Braves To Sign Wil Nieves

1:24pm: The deal includes a July 1 opt-out date, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.

11:21am: Catcher Wil Nieves has agreed to a minor league deal with the Braves, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports on Twitter. Nieves opened the year as the Padres’ backup receiver, but elected to become a free agent rather than accepting an outright assignment with the club.

Nieves, 37, contributed just one hit and one walk in 14 plate appearances before being designated by San Diego. Obviously, he never received much of a chance to make an impact, with Derek Norris receiving the lion’s share of the playing time while the club waited to see whether prospect Austin Hedges was ready. Hedges, of course, displaced Nieves.

Over a dozen seasons of big league action, Nieves owns a .241/.280/.317 slash. Nieves, who has averaged just over 100 plate appearances per season in his time in the bigs, has obviously been valued more for his defense. Last year, he rated as one of the better overall defenders, according to Baseball Prospectus.


Braves Outright Donnie Veal

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

  • Left-hander Donnie Veal has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett by the Braves, the pitcher himself announced (Instagram link). Veal had the ability to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency, but he elected to return to Triple-A Gwinnett. He notes in the above link that it’s disheartening to be added to the roster and removed in the same week, but he’s grateful that he doesn’t have to move his family around the country and can remain in the organization. Veal allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings with the Braves this week and has a lifetime 5.16 ERA with 72 strikeouts against 49 walks in 68 big league innings. At the Triple-A level, Veal owns a 3.95 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning pitched.

Draft Notes: Rodgers, Braves, Diamondbacks

We’re just over a month away from the 2015 amateur draft, and here’s the latest about some of the players and teams who will be in the news on June 8…

  • Florida high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers tops Baseball America’s latest ranking of the top 100 draft prospects.  Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson, UC Santa Barbara righty Dillon Tate, Louisville righty Kyle Funkhouser and LSU shortstop Alex Bregman round out the top five.
  • The ranking aside, this year’s draft class has even more difficult than usual to evaluate, as Baseball America’s John Manuel writes.  Several of the top prospects have thin or unconventional track records, while others have seen their draft stock drop due to injuries.
  • “Expect the Braves [to] buck that [industry] consensus early and often,” Manuel writes.  This will be a big draft for Atlanta, as the Braves have six of the first 89 picks and the fourth-highest draft bonus pool of any club.
  • The Diamondbacks have had discussions with right-hander Garrett Whitley and catcher Tyler Stephenson about making either high schooler the first pick in the 2015 draft, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports.  Whitley, Stephenson and outfielder Daz Cameron (another high schooler) are named by McDaniel as the co-favorites to be the #1 pick, with Tate and Swanson as longshot options.  While Whitley, Stephenson and Cameron aren’t at the top of most draft boards, the D’Backs may be looking to take an unconventional choice ifrst overall and then sign the player to a “cut rate” contract at below slot value.  This would free up more draft pool money for Arizona to spend on their later selections.  McDaniel speculates that Whitley or Stephenson could accept a deal worth less than half the $8.616MM slot value for the first overall pick since they otherwise might not be taken in the top seven.
  • Rodgers, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to be an option for the D’Backs, as McDaniel reports that the team haven’t scouted many of his games.

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels, Astros, Hinch, Greinke

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman touched on many topics in his latest “Inside Baseball” column, and since we’ve already focused on Heyman’s notes about the Brewers, let’s look at some of his other hot stove info from around the league…

  • The Astros will be looking to add one or even two starting pitchers, though Cole Hamels is “too pricey” for them, according to one team source.  MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored the case for Houston going after the Phillies southpaw, and 42.44% of MLBTR readers polled thought that the Astros should indeed pursue Hamels.
  • Rival executives aren’t bothered by Hamels’ sub-par performance this season since all of this trade speculation is assumed to be impacting his work.  Executives “seem to be split on” whether the Phillies are making the right move in holding out for a blue chip prospect or two in exchange for Hamels, or if they should just be looking to get his big salary off the books for a lower return of young talent.
  • A.J. Hinch’s deal with the Astros is a three-year contract with a club option for 2018.  The exact dollar figure isn’t known but Heyman reports that the average annual value is less than $1MM, which could end up being a bargain given how Houston has thus far played under Hinch’s management.
  • While Zack Greinke is expected to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, Heyman doubts he’ll leave the Dodgers since they certainly have the money to sign him to a new deal.
  • One scout suggests that Javier Baez might need “a change of scenery” to get back on track.  Baez struck out a whopping 95 times in 229 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, and only has a .755 OPS at the Triple-A level this year.  Baez is only a year removed from being considered an elite-level prospect, so while it seems early to consider trading him, Chicago is already deep in young middle infield talent.
  • The Rangers are willing to deal Shin-Soo Choo, rival executives believe.  This is no surprise given Choo’s huge contract and underwhelming performance in Texas, though obviously those same issues will make dealing him a tall order.  Heyman notes that the Yankees were interested in Choo when he was a free agent two winters ago, though even if Choo turns it around, I’m not sure I see New York taking on a big contract when they already have a pretty full outfield.
  • The Cardinalswill rue the day they made that trade” of Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jorden Walden, in the words of one scout.  Heyman feels this is a bit of a stretch, even though Miller has been outstanding for the Braves and Heyward has struggled for the Cards (and Walden is on the DL).
  • Veteran Andruw Jones isn’t yet planning to retire, though he won’t play in 2015.  Jones has played in Japan for the last two seasons and expressed interest in a return to Major League Baseball this winter, drawing interest from at least two teams, including the Indians.  According to Heyman, Jones turned down minor league contract offers from multiple teams.

Braves Designate Donnie Veal

The Braves have designated lefty Donnie Veal for assignment, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter.

Veal, 30, has given up four earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings pitched this year, striking out and walking two batters. Over parts of five years in the big leagues, he owns a 5.16 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 6.5 BB/9.

Atlanta hopes that Veal will make it through outright waivers and accept an assignment in Triple-A, per O’Brien. The southpaw would have the ability to decline an assignment and elect free agency, however, as he has previously been outrighted.