Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

Post-Draft Links: Aiken, Schwarber, Davidson, Verdugo

The first day of the 2014 draft is complete, and as many expected, the Astros selected high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick. The team is in no hurry to sign Aiken, however, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports (Twitter links). Still,the Astros are understandably excited about the player they drafted. “This is the most advanced high school pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” says GM Jeff Luhnow. “He has command like I’ve never seen before.”

Here’s more from the draft’s first day…

  • The Cubs turned some heads by selecting Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick, but scouting director Jason McLeod told reporters that Schwarber was No. 2 on the team’s draft board all along. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers quotes McLeod (on Twitter) as saying that Schwarber trailed only Aiken on their board, though as the Chicago Sun Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer tweets, McLeod did acknowledge that the pick will save them some money. The Cubs are expecting him to sign quickly.
  • Braves top pick Braxton Davidson says he will sign rather than attending UNC, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Davidson’s slot — No. 32 overall — carries a $1.7054MM value, per Baseball AmericaI spoke with Davidson as part of MLBTR’s Draft Prospect Q&A series.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish hears that the Dodgers and No. 62 overall pick Alex Verdugo already have an agreement in place, and the ASU commit will not be attending college (Twitter link). VP of amateur scouting Logan White tells MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick that Verdugo, a two-way prospect, will start as a center fielder and convert to pitching if he doesn’t hit well (Twitter link).
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke with Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino and got the impression that the team will shift its focus on jump on some arms tomorrow (Twitter link). San Diego drafted a pair of bats today in UNC shortstop Trea Turner and prep outfielder Michael Gettys.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


NL West Notes: Hudson, Lyles, Pennington, Webb

Giants veteran Tim Hudson clarified recently that he bears no ill will toward his prior team, the Braves, as Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Though he was initially offended when Atlanta offered him only $2MM on a one-year deal, Hudson said that the club ultimately made multiple, “fair offers at the end.” Hudson, who ultimately signed a two-year, $23MM deal, continued: “I totally understand [the Braves'] side of things. I’m not and wasn’t bitter at all.”

Here’s more out of the NL West, with an unfortunate focus on injuries:

  • The struggling Rockies received bad news last night with starter Jordan Lyles going down with a broken left hand, reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Though the injury was to Lyles’s non-pitching hand, he will hit the DL, though the precise prognosis remains unknown. Colorado has already dipped into its prospect ranks to call up Eddie Butler, and could again look to the minors (or displaced starter Franklin Morales) to cover for the absences of Lyles, Brett Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood. In concert with the team’s slide in the standings, it is looking increasingly unlikely that the Rockies will look to add to the club over the summer; now fully eight games back in the NL West, the team may soon be pegged a seller.
  • Diamondbacks middle infielder Cliff Pennington has undergone surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb, the club announced. He is not expected to begin baseball activities for eight to ten weeks. As I noted yesteday, the injury — especially given its newly-reported severity — could potentially have some impact on how the club proceeds over the summer. It is also bad news for Pennington’s upcoming free agency; the 29-year-old, who is in the back end of a two-year, $5MM deal, has slashed just .242/.313/.312 through 382 plate appearances with Arizona.
  • Former Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb looked back at the disappointing run of shoulder injuries that derailed his career, in a piece from MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. His initial shoulder troubles seemingly emerged out of nowhere one afternoon, but Webb never returned to a big league mound despite years of trying. “That was the most frustrating part, never being able to come back, especially when everything seemed to look fine in the pictures and all that,” says Webb. “That was the toughest part, to go from the top of the game, probably one of the best pitchers in the game, to be done.” Then-pitching coach Bryan Price says that it remains difficult to draw any lessons from Webb’s situation. “If you look back at his delivery, there wasn’t a reason,” he said. “He pitched a lot, but he was a low pitch-count guy. It’s one of those things that we’ll be left to guess about.”

Minor Moves: Maloney, Hanzawa, Lopez

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

  • The Reds have released left-hander Matt Maloney after just two starts according to a tweet from Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats. Maloney, a former Reds prospect, allowed 16 runs (12 earned) in 6 2/3 innings with Louisville this season, striking out three with no walks. He allowed a staggering 25 hits in that time, however, including two homers. Despite the rough outings, Maloney does have a very strong Triple-A background and has seen Major League action in parts of four seasons with the Reds and Twins.
  • The Tigers have released shortstop Troy Hanzawa from Triple-A Toledo, according to the International League transactions page. Hanzawa, 28, collected just three hits and no walks in 30 plate appearances for the Mud Hens. The former Phillies farmhand is a career .248/.300/.324 hitter in parts of seven minor league seasons since being drafted in the 16th round in 2008.
  • Former Pirates farmhand Cesar Lopez has signed a minor league deal with the Braves, according to the club’s transactions page. The 23-year-old Cuban-born hurler was pitching for the independent American Association’s Grand Prairie AirHogs prior to this deal. Lopez notched a 4.46 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 42 1/3 innings across three levels for the Pirates last season, though he topped out at Class-A Advanced.


Pirates Claim Wirfin Obispo

The Pirates have announced that they’ve claimed reliever Wirfin Obispo off waivers from the Braves and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. The Braves designated Obispo for assignment yesterday. The Pirates’ claim comes hours after their trade of fellow reliever Bryan Morris to the Marlins, so Obispo should help them replenish their relief depth.

Obispo, 29, had pitched 19 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett this season, posting a 4.66 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9. The Braves added the hard-throwing righty to their 40-man roster following a 2013 season in which he posted a 3.53 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 63 2/3 Triple-A innings. Obispo has never pitched in the Majors, but he pitched in parts of four seasons in Japan from 2007 through 2011.


Quick Hits: Holt, Astros, Bell, Simmons

Infielder Brock Holt was surprised when the Pirates traded him to Boston before last season, but he’s doing his best to provide the Red Sox with value in the deal, writes WEEI.com’s Katie Morrison. “I was expecting to go to big league camp with them [the Pirates] with the chance to make the team,” says Holt. “€œThen a couple days after Christmas, Neal Huntington called me, and said, ‘Hey, we traded you to the Red Sox,’ so then I didn’t have a clue what to expect.” Morrison points out that the other player the Red Sox received was Joel Hanrahan, who got hurt almost immediately and then left via free agency, so Holt represents the Red Sox’ only chance of recouping value from the trade (a deal that netted the Pirates a very good reliever in Mark Melancon, along with another interesting arm in Stolmy Pimentel). Holt has hit well this year while filling in at third base, with a .299/.349/.390 line in 87 plate appearances this season. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • The Astros‘ strong month of May suggests they might not be a punch line anymore, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes for FOX Sports. The big differences between this year’s Astros team and the 100-loss teams of years past are, of course, rookie outfielder George Springer and breakouts from starters Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Keuchel and McHugh didn’t look like important parts of the Astros’ future before this season, and now it looks like they might be, so the next competitive Astros team might be coming more quickly than we think.
  • Heath Bell will opt out of his minor-league deal with the Orioles next Saturday if he isn’t promoted, David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot tweets. Since being released by the Rays, Bell has pitched 6 2/3 innings for Triple-A Norfolk, allowing five runs while striking out five and walking six.
  • Reliever Shae Simmons, whose contract the Braves purchased on Saturday, was so good in Double-A that the Braves didn’t feel he needed to go to Triple-A, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Simmons struck out 30 batters in 23 Double-A innings this season, throwing a fastball that reaches into the high ’90s to go along with a good slider. O’Brien notes that Simmons has been compared to Craig Kimbrel and Billy Wagner — like those pitchers, Simmons has great stuff and is a bit small, at 5-foot-11.

Minor Moves: Ramirez, Ayala, Adams, Simmons

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Orioles have agreed to terms with pitcher Ramon Ramirez, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski tweets. Ramirez will report to Sarasota before heading to Triple-A Norfolk. Ramirez had previously made four appearances this year for the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. He played sparingly for the Giants last season and spent most of the year at Triple-A Fresno, where he had a 3.46 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9. In addition to that of the Giants, the righty has also pitched out of the Rockies, Royals, Red Sox and Mets bullpens.
  • Reliever Luis Ayala is opting out of his minor-league deal with the Orioles, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Ayala pitched 5 1/3 innings for Double-A Bowie, striking out five and walking two while allowing three runs. He pitched for the Braves and Orioles in 2013, posting a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 31 innings.
  • Outfielder Brian Adams, the Padres‘ eighth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has retired, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. In 410 career plate appearances at the Class A level, Adams hit .219/.262/.356. Brock notes that Adams will go back to the University of Kentucky to finish his degree.
  • The Braves have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of pitcher Shae Simmons from Double-A Mississippi and optioned pitcher Ian Thomas to Triple-A Gwinnett. Simmons, 23, shined at Double-A, posting an ERA of 0.78 to go with 11.7 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.
  • The Marlins have signed 18-year-old Colombian pitcher Cristian Olmos, Joe Frisaro and Maria Torres of MLB.com write. Olmos is 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, and he throws as hard as 94 MPH and has the makings of a good curveball. He will start the season in the Dominican Summer League.

Braves Designate Wirfin Obispo For Assignment

The Braves have designated pitcher Wirfin Obispo for assignment, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. The move clears space on the Braves’ roster for the newly-promoted Shae Simmons.

Obispo, 29, has pitched 19 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett this season, posting a 4.66 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9. The hard-throwing Obispo was added to the Braves’ 40-man roster after a 2013 season for Gwinnett in which he posted a 3.53 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings of relief. He pitched in the Reds organization in 2012, and previously spent parts of four seasons with the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.


Minor Moves: Ross Wilson

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

  • The Braves have inked second baseman Ross Wilson to a minor league deal, according to the team’s transactions page. The 25-year-old Wilson is a former 10th round pick of the White Sox but spent 2013 and the beginning of the 2014 campaign with the Marlins organization. In 1580 minor league plate appearances, Wilson has totaled a .255/.351/.350 batting line, reaching Double-A for the first time this season. It’s not surprising to see the Braves adding some second base depth, as they could potentially have both Tommy La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky on the big league roster this year, which would leave their minor league ranks a bit depleted.

NL East Links: La Stella, Uggla, Lee, Franco, Mets

Just five games stand between the first-place Braves and the last-place Phillies in the current NL East standings. Here’s the latest out of baseball’s tightest division…

  • The Braves announced that they have called up second base prospect Tommy La Stella, though no corresponding move has been announced. However, a source has indicated to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that Dan Uggla is remaining with the team rather than being released or designated for assignment to create room for La Stella. The 25-year-old La Stella hit .293/.384/.359 in 198 Triple-A plate appearances this season and ranked as Atlanta’s No. 7 prospect per MLB.com and No. 9 prospect per Baseball America.
  • There’s no telling how long Phillies ace Cliff Lee will be sidelined until he’s reevaluated today, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News“It could be up to a month, it could be a month and a half, it could be three weeks,” said Amaro. “I have no idea when the guy is going to be ready to pitch … I have no timetable until he’s up and throwing again.”
  • Amaro also tells Lawrence that top third base prospect Maikel Franco was considered as an option when Cody Asche was injured, but ultimately, Franco simply isn’t ready for the Majors yet. “Offensively, he’s made some adjustments, he’s made some improvements better than in the earlier part of the season, but he’s not really going on all cylinders now. We’re still contemplating it. We’ll see how it goes.”
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that Mets GM Sandy Alderson thought he’d be working with a bigger payroll when he took the job, though Alderson would never admit to that himself. Martino adds that the mood around the Mets is tense these days, due to speculation about Terry Collins’ job security (which he says is not justified) and the post-firing comments from hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

Minor Moves: Loe, Dolis, Rodriguez, Williams

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Braves have signed pitcher Kameron Loe to a minor-league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Royals released Loe late last week. He had pitched 11 innings for Triple-A Omaha, whiffing four batters and walking seven. The former Rangers, Brewers, Mariners, Cubs and Braves pitcher threw 76 2/3 innings for the Braves’ Triple-A team in Gwinnett in 2013, posting a 3.07 ERA with 4.4 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.
  • The Giants released right-hander Rafael Dolis, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  Dolis was a non-roster invitee to San Francisco’s Spring Training camp and he badly struggled (8 ER in 4 1/3 IP) in a brief stint with Triple-A Fresno.  The 26-year-old righty posted a 5.48 ERA and recorded more walks (26) than strikeouts (25) over 44 1/3 relief innings with the Cubs from 2011-13.
  • Veteran catcher Eddy Rodriguez signed a coaching contract in the Red Sox organization, Rodriguez announced himself earlier this week via Twitter.  The University of Miami product spent nine years in pro baseball with the Reds, Padres and Rays, slashing .235/.286/.386 in 2271 minor league PA.  He appeared in two Major League games with San Diego in 2012 and his only big league hit (in seven PA) was a solo home run.  Rodriguez was released by the Rays earlier this month.
  • The Phillies acquired outfielder Everett Williams from the Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations earlier this week, Eddy reports.  Williams was picked by San Diego in the second round of the 2009 draft and has a .249/.314/.356 line over 1322 minor league PA, none higher than the Double-A level.
  • The Rays signed righty Casey Weathers to a minor league contract, Eddy reports.  The eighth overall pick of the 2007 draft, Weathers was once considered to be a strong prospect in the Rockies’ system before he missed the entire 2009 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.  He has struggled to regain his form since, and didn’t pitch at any level in 2013.  Weathers signed a minors deal with the Giants last December but was released in March.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.