Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

Braves Acquire James Russell, Emilio Bonifacio

3:38pm: ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers tweets that the Cubs are sending cash to Atlanta as well. It will be about $1MM going to Atlanta, tweets Wittenmyer.

3:33pm: Wittenymyer tweets that a minor league catcher is headed to Chicago. Peter Gammons tweets that Chicago receives Victor Caratini from Atlanta.

3:24pm: The Braves have acquired left-hander James Russell and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio from the Cubs, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter).

James Russell

Russell, 28, has posted a 3.51 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a career-best 40.9 percent ground-ball rate. While he’s picking up more grounders than ever, Russell has also shown the worst command of his career — a trend he will hope to correct with the Braves. Russell has typically handled left-handed hitters pretty well, but the opposite has been true in 2014; right-handed batters have a meager .364 OPS against Russell, while same-handed batters have an alarming .295/.358/.525 batting line against him. In his career, however, lefties have batted .240/.276/.416 against Russell. He is earning just $1.9MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015.

The switch-hitting Bonifacio, 29, had a solid debut season for the Cubs before being included in the trade. He’s hitting .279/.318/.373 with a pair of homers and 14 steals (in 20 attempts). Defensive metrics have liked his work at second base, third base and in center field this season, though his career marks aren’t as strong.

Bonifacio had an interesting offseason, as he was tendered a contract by the Royals and agreed to a $3.5MM salary before being released (and subsequently paid only a portion of his still non-guaranteed deal). The speedster latched on with the Cubs in Spring Training and played well, though he’s spent a portion of the year on the disabled list.

As for Caratini, he was a second-round pick by the Braves in 2013 and ranked as the organization’s No. 7 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason top 20 list. The 20-year-old Caratini has batted .279/.352/.406 in 87 games at Class-A this season. He’s a switch-hitting catcher who also plays third base. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com feel that he’s a good enough defender to handle either position, but clearly he would have more value behind the dish. Though Callis and Mayo praise his defense, they feel that his bat is a better tool.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Latest On Andrew Miller: Tigers, Braves Out Of Pursuit

1:57pm: The Braves are also out on Miller, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

1:23pm: The Tigers are not going to land Miller, tweets ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes.

12:18pm: The Tigers are getting close on a deal to acquire Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Originally drafted by Detroit, Miller was part of the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers.

Miller has made fairly significant leaps in performance over each of the past two years, settling into a pen role. In 2014, he has been among the most dominant relievers in baseball, striking out 14.7 batters per nine while walking just 2.8.

Detroit, of course, has already made quite a significant bullpen addition by adding Joakim Soria. But the club has also received suboptimal production from its southpaw pieces (Ian Krol and Phil Coke, primarily), seemingly leading to the interest in Miller. Of course, the club had an excellent left-hander in the pen in Drew Smyly, but moved him to the rotation as part of the team’s offseason reshuffling (which, of course, included dealing away Doug Fister for a return that included Krol and signing closer Joe Nathan).

Though it would be foolhardy to predict a hypothetical return, Miller is expected to draw fairly significant value given his dominance, though he is a free agent at the end of the year. The sides have previously discussed righty Austin Kubitza in a Miller deal, Morosi tweets, though it is not known if he is still part of the conversation. Kubitza is rated as Detroit’s 7th-overall prospect by MLB.com.


Royals And Braves In Lead To Land Padres’ Denorfia

11:44am: The Mariners consider Denorfia a fallback option if they are unable to acquire Alex Rios, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

11:20am: The Mariners also have interest, according to a tweet from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.

11:15am: The Padres are very likely to move outfielder Chris Denorfia today, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who says that the Royals and Braves are currently the two likeliest destinations.

A pending free agent, Denorfia has scuffled to a .244/.295/.321 line this year. But the 34-year-old has a .810 career OPS against lefties, and would bring a solid glove (and plenty of experience coming off the bench) to a contender.



Quick Hits: Blue Jays, Braves, Yankees, Byrd, Tigers, Padres

Here are the latest trade deadline news and rumors:

  • The Blue Jays appear unlikely to add a significant starter or position player, especially a rental, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, with the most likely acquisition being a relief pitcher that comes with some team control. It remains possible, says Davidi, that Toronto will make no further moves before tomorrow’s deadline.
  • Likewise, the Braves remain focused on left-handed relief, and Andrew Miller of the Red Sox in particular, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. But with other teams also interested, Boston’s current asking price appears to be out of the Braves’ comfort zone. With Atlanta unable to add any more salary, it may need to increase the prospect return to convince a trade partner to hold onto its monetary obligations. It is possible that the club will hold out until August to add a southpaw to the pen and/or a bench piece.
  • The Yankees have discussed outfielder Marlon Byrd with the Phillies, but nothing is close, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. New York remains concerned with his $8MM salary next year, however, and appears to have some questions about how he would fit into the clubhouse.
  • Despite adding Joakim Soria, the Tigers are still scouting possible reliever additions, tweets Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. Detroit has long been rumored to be looking at multiple arms for a pen that has not lived up to expectations.
  • While the Padres seem more likely to deal reliever Joaquin Benoit than starter Ian Kennedy, it remains possible that neither will change hands, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Lee, Lackey, O’s, Yanks, Payroll Limits

Here’s the latest from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark:

  • The Rays are still holding onto David Price unless and until an offer forces a move. “I’d say they’re kind of where they were all winter,” said a competing executive. “Yeah, they’d trade him. But you’ve got to make it so they can’t say no.”
  • Though both sides explored the possibility, the Cardinals and Phillies did not match up on a potential Cliff Lee deal. With Philly seeking a “major prospect” in return, the Cards ultimately turned elsewhere and added Justin Masterson. While St. Louis seemed the best fit for a pre-deadline deal with Lee, Philadelphia still is looking to see if the lefty can be moved before August.
  • The Red Sox are encountering some skepticism from trade partners that John Lackey will play for the league minimum rate next year, as provided by his contract. Of course, that provision makes up a huge portion of Lackey’s trade value, as he would not only contribute down the stretch in 2014 but looks like a very solid rotation piece at a replacement-level price for 2015.
  • The Orioles seem to be focusing more on adding a reliever at this point than a starter, says Stark. Baltimore has been liked to Neal Cotts of the Rangers and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks, neither of whom is a pure LOOGY.
  • In search of bullpen help, the Yankees have inquired into Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, James Russell of the Cubs, and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies. The club has also checked on outfielders Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox.
  • The Blue JaysBraves, and Royals are telling teams they cannot add significant payroll in a trade, though Kansas City could take on a starter who would slot in place of James Shields next year.

Jon Lester Scratched From Tomorrow’s Start

Yesterday, reports indicated that the Orioles and Mariners have both inquired on Red Sox ace Jon Lester, but the Sox are likely to take any decision down to the wire. Earlier this morning, we noted that Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com heard there was less than a 50 percent chance Lester is dealt based on current talks, but offers are expected to increase in the coming days.

We’ll keep track of the rest of Tuesday’s Lester-related rumors in this post…

  • A source with direct knowledge of the situation says that there are six clubs still in on Lester, per Edes (via Twitter): the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Athletics.
  • At present, the Red Sox have not received a trade proposal that the club is satisfied with, tweets Abraham. Multiple reports have indicated that no trade was in place when Lester was scratched from his start. At the moment, the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Pirates are all in the mix for Lester, tweets Rosenthal.
  • The Brewers are “not on” Lester, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Lester has been scratched from his start tomorrow, manager John Farrell tells reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (via Twitter). A rival GM tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link) that it appears a deal will be in place tonight or tomorrow morning.
  • The division-rival Jays and Orioles seem out of the running for Lester at this point, per Bradford (Twitter links). A team source rejected the suggestion that the Dodgers would offer top prospect Joc Pederson for Lester, Saxon reports.
  • If the Pirates make a deal for Lester, it will have to occur before his start tomorrow so he can take his next turn for Pittsburgh, reports MLB.com’s Tom Singer. The Bucs are not willing to part with prospects Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, or Austin Meadows in a deal. But the team would consider dealing Alen Hanson or JaCoby Jones, and Singer says that outfielder Jose Tabata is a “wild card” in discussions, which could potentially expand to include Mike Carp or one of several Boston relievers.

Earlier Updates

  • The Red Sox were never given a “figure … on what it would have taken to sign” Lester, a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). But while Lester and his representatives never formally made an offer to the Red Sox, both sides exchanged numbers and understood their respective parameters, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports.
  • The Red Sox have enhanced leverage regarding Lester because he could tip the balance in the NL Central, if not also the rest of the National League, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Sherman discusses the possibility of the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, and Brewers making the move for a rotation upgrade. Boston is “at least considering” attempting to deal and later re-sign its staff ace, Sherman adds.
  • Sox manager John Farrell says that the club still has Lester penciled in to start, but is prepared to use Brandon Workman in his place if Lester is dealt, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • The Dodgers are not close to any major deals at the moment and adding Lester “appears … unlikely,” tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Nevertheless, Los Angeles appears on top of the list of likeliest suitors for the Boston lefty, as handicapped by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • The Pirates are emerging as a dark-horse to acquire Lester, report Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. (John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times was first to link the Bucs with a possible move on Lester; subscription link.) One possible centerpiece of such a deal would be well-regarded prospect Josh Bell, the Yahoo writers add. A deal with the Pirates would not necessarily involve Bell, however, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets.
  • The Red Sox are actively taking offers and preparing to deal Lester, a National League GM tells Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Abraham says it is difficult to see Lester taking his start tomorrow for Boston.
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays, Mariners, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and Marlins are all currently in on Lester. The Marlins are certainly a new addition to the mix, although that would line up with Buster Olney’s report from earlier today pegging them as a potential surprise candidate for some starting pitchers. Miami has a number of high-end prospects, and Lester’s remaining $4.48MM in salary might not be too overwhelming.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears the same as Olney did earlier this morning (Twitter link): There’s “little doubt” in the industry that Boston will move its ace. Rival clubs are expecting a trade.
  • Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson of ACES, denied a previous report that his client’s asking price in extension talks motivated the Red Sox to trade him, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Unsurprisingly, Levinson shed no further light on any extension talks with Lester: “The discussions we had with the Red Sox were confidential and will remain that way,” Levinson said to Edes in an email.
  • Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com adds some new teams to the Lester mix, as he reports that the Athletics, Blue Jays and Braves have all called to inquire on the BoSox ace. Of those teams, Toronto is being the most aggressive in its pursuit, a source tells McAdam. The Sox are willing to move him to the division-rival Jays or Orioles, according to McAdam’s source. Boston is still seeking multiple prospects in return, specifically one elite prospect — McAdam uses Oscar Taveras, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager as examples — and at least one more lesser prospect. Interestingly, McAdam notes that the Red Sox will not consider trading Lester to the Yankees.
  • The Brewers have spoken to the Sox about Lester, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Milwaukee was said to have asked the Rays about David Price as well, but Price might not be dealt now, and Lester would cost less to acquire. Heyman notes that Milwaukee has top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson to offer as a centerpiece and has a deeper farm system than it has in prior years. Nelson ranked 38th on Baseball America’s midseason list of the game’s Top 50 prospects, and MLB.com ranked him 53rd on their midseason Top 100.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Stark’s Latest: Lester, Burnett, Lee, Kennedy, Lackey, Suzuki

Jon Lester remains the most-discussed name at the moment, and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark contributes his take after discussing the lefty with several club executives who will not be involved in any deals. He discusses the possibility of eight teams going after Lester: the Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, and Pirates. Though Los Angeles still seems unwilling to part with any of its premium prospects, Stark tabs them the likeliest landing spot.

Of course, Stark also provides a number of important updates from elsewhere in the market in his latest post. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Talks between the Phillies and Pirates regarding A.J. Burnett are “all but dead,” writes Stark. The issue is that Burnett has been unwilling to give an assurance that he would not pick up his player option for next season, creating too much financial uncertainty for Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Phillies have not yet abandoned hope of dealing fellow starter Cliff Lee before the deadline, though an official says that they want significant prospects in return.
  • Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if David Price of the Rays or Ian Kennedy of the Padres are moved, with Stark writing that the former will be a last-minute decision and the latter remains a 50-50 proposition. With the GM seat still unfilled in San Diego, and given that Kennedy remains under control for next year, the club is unwilling to move him unless the return includes a starter capable of stepping into the rotation along with another prospect.
  • The Red Sox are asking for a strong return on John Lackey in discussions. The club wants an established major league starter, presumably with additional control. If that is part of the return on Lester, however, the club might be open to more flexibility in a return for Lackey.
  • The Twins are telling inquiring clubs that they have not yet given up on extending Kurt Suzuki, and could keep him past the deadline. If that occurs, the team could still consider August deals, though the waiver process (and Suzuki’s cheap contract) could prove a hindrance.
  • Scouting trips can obviously be undertaken for many purposes, but Stark provides a few interesting ones to note: The Rangers have scouted the Nationals‘ top affiliate this weekend; though rumors quickly died down, Washington was said to have inquired about Adrian Beltre. The White Sox are looking at the affiliates of the YankeesBlue Jays, and Red Sox as they consider offers for John Danks. And the Red Sox have scouted the Triple-A affiliate of the Braves, who are said to be very interested in lefty Andrew Miller.

Mariners, Braves Most Active Teams For Denorfia

4:11pm: The Mariners and Braves are the two teams pursuing Denorfia most heavily right now, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

11:04am: The Padres have received a lot of interest in outfielder Chris Denorfia and a trade is likely to happen “sooner rather than later,” sources tell Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.  The Giants, Mariners and Blue Jays are all interested, and the Royals have also talked to the Padres about a possible move, and could get in on Denorfia if they can’t acquire Alex Rios or Marlon Byrd.

San Francisco and Seattle are new names connected to the Denorfia sweepstakes, and like the Jays and Royals, both teams would be helped by a right-handed hitting outfield bat.  Denorfia could form a platoon with Gregor Blanco in center for the Giants, as Angel Pagan‘s injury status is still up in the air, or Denorfia could potentially platoon in left field with Tyler Colvin with Michael Morse seeing more time at first (if Brandon Belt‘s concussion continues to linger).  The Mariners have also been linked to Byrd, though since the M’s are one of the four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list, Denorfia could be easier to obtain.

Denorfia is a free agent this winter, and the 34-year-old hasn’t helped his value by hitting only .244/.295/.321 over 266 PA this season.  That total includes a .644 OPS against left-handed pitching, though Denorfia has an .810 career OPS against southpaws.


Nationals Notes: Astros, Hill, Prado, Iglesias

It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…

  • The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend.  Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
  • The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado.  Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second.  Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach.  Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
  • With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended.  The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
  • Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams.  The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
  • Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller.  Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.

Red Sox Shopping Andrew Miller; Pirates, Braves Interested

The Red Sox are willing to move southpaw reliever Andrew Miller in a trade, according to multiple reports. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter) says that Boston is shopping the lefty, adding that the Pirates have been scouting the club for weeks and have interest in Miller. Likewise, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears (Twitter link) that Miller is available and reiterates that the Braves are still on him, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that Miller is Atlanta’s “prime bullpen target.”

Miller, 29, could well be the most impactful late-inning lefty available, as I noted yesterday in a breakdown of the left-handed relief market. He owns stellar peripherals (14.5 K/9 vs. 2.8 BB/9, 51.9% groundball rate) to go along with excellent results (2.31 ERA). Unsurprisingly, ERA estimators are also a fan: Miller sports a 1.77 FIP, 1.82 xFIP, and 1.47 SIERA.

This is undoubtedly Miller’s finest season, as he has only once sported an ERA of below three earned per nine (last year) and struggled earlier in his career, when he was use a starter. But his results have steadily improved since he shifted to the pen, and Miller has plenty of value to a contending team that does not want to take on long-term commitments. He is earning just $1.9MM this year and will hit the open market following the end of the season.