Atlanta Braves Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Upton, Robertson, Headley, Ethier, Mets Shortstop

Justin Upton might be the best hitter on the market, but that’s not the only reason teams want him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports. With one year and $14.5MM remaining on his contract, Upton is a financial steal. If a team acquires him this offseason, they’ll also be looking at a free draft pick when he declines their qualifying offer. He’s in his physical prime at 27 years old, and he’s a former number one overall pick. Heyman lists the Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Orioles, and Padres as possible destinations. We can expect the Braves to receive a notable player in return – after all, they netted Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.

  • The Yankees would like to re-sign Chase Headley and David Robertson, reports Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. However, New York refuses to go overboard, which may let other clubs swoop in on the pair of free agents. Headley is said to have a four-year, $65MM offer on the table, and the Giants are reportedly “getting aggressive.” It’s unknown at this time if San Francisco is the team that offered the $65MM deal. The Yankees aren’t expected to value Headley that highly. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays supposedly “love” Robertson, and the Astros are in on him too. After New York signed Andrew Miller last week, there is less urgency to sign another relief ace.
  • A proposed swap of Andre Ethier and Miguel Montero fell through, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Diamondbacks would have received Ethier and catcher Tim Federowicz for Montero and lower level prospects. The Dodgers would have also kicked in money to help balance the extra $16MM guaranteed to Ethier over the next three seasons. Rosenthal lists a couple reasons the deal may have fallen through. DBacks owner Ken Kendrick is a fan of Montero, and Arizona may be hesitant to trade with their former GM Josh Byrnes on the other side of the negotiations (Byrnes is now the Dodgers Sr. VP of Baseball Operations).
  • Shortstop tops the Mets wish list at the winter meetings, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. While club officials keep saying they’re comfortable with Wilmer Flores, an upgrade would be welcomed. Unfortunately for the Mets, there aren’t many options available. The Mariners have a couple shortstops, but they have talked about using Brad Miller in the outfield. Other trade targets like Alexei Ramirez, Starlin Castro, and Troy Tulowitzki strike me as unlikely to move. As we know, the free agent market is bleak. Many clubs prefer Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie at second base. The next best options, Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera, have a lot to prove before a team trusts them as a starter.

East Notes: O’s Outfield, Cash, Braves

Here’s the latest from Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta:

  • Outfield is the top priority for the Orioles next week, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The team is trying to bring back Delmon Young on a one-year deal, but may be open to including an option. Young is looking for a multi-year deal after playing for five teams in the last four seasons. Justin Upton may not fit since the club already has several starters slated to hit free agency after the 2015 season. In fact, all of the most readily available outfielders come with baggage that could make them unattractive to Baltimore.
  • Although the O’s have a full 40 man roster, Connolly thinks they will free up space for a Rule 5 draft pick. GM Dan Duquette has a solid track record, having selected Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland in recent seasons.
  • The Rays aren’t worried about newly minted manager Kevin Cash‘s lack of experience, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The existing clubhouse infrastructure should help to ease him into the job. Luminaries such as Terry Francona, David Ortiz, and Chris Gimenez all praised his baseball intelligence.
  • The Braves aren’t done make moves, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a series of tweets. The club is looking to add another starting pitcher, second baseman, and backup catcher. Atlanta is still in the mix for former Braves backstop David Ross, which could address one of those concerns. A left-handed reliever and additional bench help are also on the wish list. As for available funds, they can afford to pursue a moderately priced free agent or perhaps make a bigger splash if they move more money.

Minor Moves: Ramirez, Pena, De La Torre, Hood, Sanabia

We’ve already covered quite a few minor moves today, but Matt Eddy of Baseball America has plenty more to consider. Here’s the latest on the minor league front:

  • The Diamondbacks signed pitcher J.C. Ramirez and re-signed catcher Blake Lalli. The 26-year-old Ramirez pitched 24 innings for Philadelphia in 2013, but performed poorly. He spent 2014 in the Indians system. Scouts like his 94 mph fastball, but he struggles with command and control as evidenced by a 5.63 BB/9 in his major league sample. Lalli, 32 next season, hit .275/.340/.373 in 2014 at the Triple-A level. He briefly appeared in the majors for the Cubs and Brewers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
  • Utility infielder Ramiro Pena has elected free agency after the Braves outrighted him off the 40 man roster. Pena owns a career .244/.288/.330 line over 610 plate appearances in parts of six seasons. Capable of playing shortstop, second, and third base, the 29-year-old offers plenty of flexibility. He’s spent his entire career with the Yankees and Braves.
  • The Reds signed pitchers Jose De La Torre, Marcus Walden, and utility infielder Irving Falu. De La Torre, 29, offers big strikeout stuff with control issues out of the bullpen. He appeared briefly for the Red Sox in 2013. Walden is less flashy than De La Torre, and he has spent most of his minor league career in the rotation. The 26-year-old has posted a 3.92 ERA, 5.4 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9 over 622 minor league innings. His results in the upper minors have been markedly worse. Falu, 32 next season, has appeared briefly for the Royals, Brewers, and Padres over the past two years.
  • The Indians have signed outfielder Destin Hood. Possibly one of the gems of the minor league market, Hood hit .298/.348/.460 across three levels last season – mostly with the Nationals Triple-A affiliate. The former second round pick struggled prior to the 2014 campaign, which is probably why the Nationals did not add him to their 40 man roster. As Eddy notes, Hood hit .315 and slugged .556 against left-handed pitching last season, making him a good fit for a lefty heavy Cleveland lineup. He’s 25 next season.
  • The Angels signed 26-year-old pitcher Alex Sanabia. The former Marlin has 138 major league innings to his name with a 4.15 ERA, 5.58 K/9, and 2.86 BB/9. The righty should serve as rotation depth.
  • The Marlins signed pitcher Chris Narveson and outfielder Cole Gillespie. Narveson, a former Brewer and Cardinal, has a 4.65 ERA over 396 innings. He pitched in Japan last season with similar results. He’ll turn 33 later this month. Gillespie, once a prospect with the Diamondbacks, has bounced around the league. He’s briefly appeared with five major league clubs and owns a .230/.295/.329 batting line in 270 plate appearances. He’s 31 next season.
  • The Padres have re-signed left-handed pitcher Jason Lane. The former Astros outfielder reached the majors as a pitcher last season and performed well in 10 and one-third innings. He allowed just one run on a home run, struck out six, and walked none in his age 37 season.
  • The Mariners signed 32-year-old pitcher Justin Germano. The soft-tossing righty is best used as minor league depth, although he’s appeared with eight major league clubs over nine seasons. He owns a 5.40 ERA, 5.70 K/9, and 2.92 BB/9 in 330 career innings. His fastball averaged 85.5 mph last season.


NL Notes: Markakis, Ethier, Cubs, Rosario, Gattis

New Braves outfielder Nick Markakis is leaning toward undergoing neck surgery to repair a bulging disc, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The possibility of the surgery, which could come with a recovery time as long as 12 weeks, was known to the Braves before signing him, Rosenthal adds. The neck issue is believed by some to be one of the reasons that the Orioles were reluctant to go beyond three years for Markakis. Even with a 12-week recovery, Markakis would seemingly be ready to go for most of Spring Training. The Braves are confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, per Rosenthal.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • An executive from a team with interest in trading for Matt Kemp tells ESPN’s Jayson Stark that he’s still unconvinced that the Dodgers will actually move Kemp (Twitter link). Stark’s source feels that Andre Ethier is “still the guy they want to move.” Earlier today, it was reported that Ethier has communicated to the Dodgers that he prefers to be a starter next season, even if it means with another club. Ethier took his loss of playing time in stride this past season and has drawn praise for handling it quite well.
  • The Cubs are still looking for help behind the plate, president Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. On the one hand, Epstein praised incumbent Welington Castillo, noting that he does a “nice job” of many things and has a promising future. In particular, Epstein praised Castillo’s throwing and blocking, though he noted that framing and receiving are areas to improve. He also added that, “…catching is one of the few areas on the field where we can add some veteran leadership — in the near term, anyway — and not block a potential impact player.” The allusion to veteran leadership could imply a backup catcher, though Rogers also speculates on adding someone like Miguel Montero to platoon with Castillo and receive the lion’s share of playing time.
  • In an excellent analysis for GammonsDaily.com, David Golebiewski examines whether or not trade candidates Evan Gattis (Braves) and Wilin Rosario (Rockies) should remain behind the plate or only be of interest to teams who can move them off the position. Golebiewski notes that Gattis is a perhaps surprisingly competent pitch-framer, though he struggles to block balls in the dirt and is below-average at catching base stealers. Rosario, on the other hand, averages -12 runs in pitch-framing and -5 runs in blocking per season. Golebiewski feels that Gattis can follow a career path similar to Mike Napoli, providing a few solid seasons behind the plate before his large 6’4″, 260-pound frame causes him to move for another pitcher. Regarding Rosario, he offers a much bleaker take: “No matter where he suits up in 2015, it’s time to hide his mask and chest plate.”

Quick Hits: Upton, Santana, Ethier, Blue Jays

Here’s the latest from around the majors:

  • The Orioles, Rangers, and Padres are still among the bidders for Braves outfielder Justin Upton, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. All three clubs have a need for a powerful outfielder, so it will be interesting to see where the bidding goes. It’s unclear if the Braves are targeting a specific position in return.
  • The Giants are showing interest in Ervin Santana and other starting pitchers, tweets Morosi. I assume this is due diligence as the club competes for Jon Lester. If they miss on the ace lefty, they will have groundwork laid for the next tier of free agent.
  • Andre Ethier has stated he would like to start in 2015 – be it for the Dodgers or another club, writes Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. Ethier, 32 next season, has informed the club via his agent of his feelings. After spending much of last season as a part-time outfielder, Ethier is ready to get back into a regular role. Even with the club shopping Matt Kemp, it seems unlikely that a full time role will be available for Ethier in L.A.
  • The Blue Jays are focused on improving their bullpen at the Winter Meetings, reports Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Toronto had the sixth worst bullpen ERA at 4.09, and they suffered through continual changes at the closer position – eight players recorded a save. Hiring a true closer and perhaps a setup man remain high on the Jays to-do list.

NL East Notes: Phillies President, Beachy, Marlins

It’s unclear who is steering the ship for the Phillies, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. There is speculation that team president Dave Montgomery may have been ousted. The Phillies partially denied the report, saying “no determination [has been] made.” Others suggest a decision could be reached in January. Montgomery is currently recovering from jaw cancer surgery. Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick is the interim president.

  • On a related topic, Phillies minority owner John Middleton may be interested in acquiring a majority share of the club. Middleton currently has a 48 percent stake in the team. From my vantage, the Phillies should try to get ahead of these stories which have plagued them all offseason. Uncertainty over future stakeholders can only hurt the club’s position with free agents and in the trade market.
  • Recently non-tendered Braves starter Brandon Beachy is drawing interest from 10 teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The Braves are among the interested clubs, but aren’t the most aggressive. He’s expected to land a major league deal and has multiple offers on the table. Beachy is currently rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery. An aggressive rehab schedule could have Beachy back on the mound in the early part of the season, but the average recovery time would indicate a mid-to-late season return.
  • Extension candidates top the list of Winter Meeting activities for the Marlins, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Marcell Ozuna are among those with open discussions. Other topics of interest include the club’s interest in Jake Peavy and potential willingness to trade Garrett Jones.
  • Derek Jeter‘s recent visit with the Marlins could signal his interest in purchasing the team, suggests Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. He has long talked about his plans to purchase a club, and he has some ties to Florida. It’s unclear if current owner Jeffrey Loria is willing to sell. Jeter doesn’t possess the wealth necessary to buy a majority stake in a major league franchise, but he could headline a consortium.

NL Notes: Martinez, MacDonald, Upton, Giants, Stauffer

Former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who left the organization after he was not selected as a finalist for their managerial opening, has joined the Cubs‘ coaching staff, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Martinez will assume the familiar role of serving as Joe Maddon’s bench coach, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. That the well-respected Martinez wasn’t named a finalist in Tampa’s managerial search surprised many. He’s previously interviewed for other managerial gigs and is widely considered to be have a chance to manage in the Majors someday. Heyman also notes that Brandon Hyde, who was expected to serve as bench coach on what was a full Cubs staff, will be re-assigned, but the team is expected to move him to a significant role.

A few more notes from around the National League…

  • The Braves announced today that former Padres vice president/assistant general manager Chad MacDonald will join the front office as a special assistant to president of baseball operations John Hart. MacDonald, according to the release, will be involved in all facets of Atlanta’s scouting efforts, including international, amateur and professional scouting. He’s previously served as the Mets’ director of scouting and both the assistant director of scouting and director of international scouting for the Diamondbacks.
  • Interest in Justin Upton has increased since the Braves signed Nick MarkakisHeyman tweets. ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that the Braves have fielded more than a dozen calls on Upton, who is considered by many to be the best available bat on the trade market (Twitter link). Atlanta is still in no hurry to move Upton, Stark adds.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, meanwhile, tweets that it’s still possible the Braves will trade Evan Gattis and hang onto Upton in order to at least position themselves to collect a draft pick should Upton depart following the 2015 season.
  • The Giants‘ priorities at the Winter Meetings (and beyond) are third base and starting pitching, tweets Rosenthal. The team is in need of a left fielder but feels that Juan Perez, Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa are all capable of handling the position. They’re not ruling out signing a free agent outfielder, but that priority has taken a back seat to the rotation and the hot corner.
  • The Padres are one of a number of to reach out to free agent righty Tim Stauffer, tweets Jeff Saunders of the San Diego Union Tribune. The 32-year-old Stauffer, formerly the fourth overall pick in the draft, posted a 3.50 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 64 1/3 innings (three starts, 41 relief appearances) for the Friars this past season. Friar has worked as a reliever in recent seasons but hurled 185 2/3 innings of 3.73 ERA ball for San Diego back in 2011.

AL Notes: Donaldson, Moss, Markakis, Tigers, Twins, Smoak

Athletics GM Billy Beane firmly rejected the recently-suggested idea that some kind of tension between he and Josh Donaldson played any role in the latter’s recent trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. “It is so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility,” said Beane. We’ll take a closer look at Oakland on today’s podcast, which features beat reporter Jane Lee of MLB.com.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Athletics are “going to trade Brandon Moss,” an executive told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark last night (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the Indians were making a run at the slugger, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the pursuit continues today. Of course, as Lee reported last night (via Twitter), there are other teams looking into Moss.
  • Lingering concerns over neck issues may have played a role in the Orioles‘ decision not to top the Braves’ offer to Nick Markakis, Rosenthal reports. Markakis has been quite durable over the last two seasons since being diagnosed with a “small disc herniation,” but of course he has also failed to deliver much pop in that time.
  • Nevertheless, the Orioles did have the second-highest offer on the table to Markakis, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). He hears that Baltimore offered four years and $40MM.
  • The Tigers are receiving strong interest in David Price and Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter). What Detroit would ask for in return for these starters remains a mystery, Rosenthal adds. Of course, there are several other big-name, 5+ service time pitchers who could potentially be had, and Rosenthal notes that all are still “in play.” He adds that the primary appeal of such arms is their generally below-market salary and the achievement of a year of exclusive negotiating rights. Implicit, of course, is that teams are interested not only in a reasonable hope of achieving excess value on the contract, but also in doing so without exposure to the massive downside risk of a longer-term deal.
  • The Twins will turn their attention to the pitching staff during the Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. When asked what the team’s priority is, GM Terry Ryan left little doubt how he feels: “Pitching is, and I don’t think there’s any question. We’ve had our struggles on the mound, so we’ll continue to look at pitching first.”
  • Justin Smoak left money on the table to join the Blue Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Agent Dustin Bledsoe told Nicholson-Smith that his client wanted the chance at everyday playing time at first more than the possibility of increasing his guarantee next year.

Minor Moves: Beavan, Herrera, Sitton, Kohn, Carrera, Obispo

Here are the latest minor moves …

  • The Diamondbacks have signed righty Blake Beavan to a minor league deal, via the MLB.com transactions page. The former first-round pick was outrighted by the Marines back in August.
  • The Cubs inked second baseman Jonathan Herrera, per the same source. Herrera lost his roster spot with the Red Sox a month ago after a fairly disappointing campaign in Boston.
  • The Angels re-signed righty Yoslan Herrera on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Herrera had been non-tendered yesterday.
  • Likewise, southpaw Kraig Sitton has re-signed with the Rockies on a minor league deal a day after being non-tendered, the club announced via Twitter. Sitton posted a 3.68 ERA last year at the Double-A level.
  • Righty Michael Kohn has gone to the Braves on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Kohn originally signed with the Rays but was designated off the 40-man roster.
  • The Blue Jays announced the signing of outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to a minor league deal. Carrera was designated recently to clear space for the Tigers’ claim of Josh Zeid.
  • The Brewers have signed righty Wirfin Obispo, the club’s player development account tweeted. Obispo, 30, spent last year with the Braves and Pirates organizations and worked to a 4.12 ERA over 48 Triple-A frames.

NL Notes: Upton, Ross, Hundley, Lackey, Cards

The Braves have already received attractive trade proposals for outfielder Justin Upton, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. With several free agents off the board, a deal could come together soon, per Sherman, possibly during the upcoming Winter Meetings. The team’s addition of free agent Nick Markakis would appear to increase the odds of the club dealing Upton and/or Evan Gattis, though its final course remains unclear.

More from the National League:

  • The BravesCubs, and Padres are among the teams pursuing free agent catcher David Ross, along with the incumbent Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 37-year-old Ross rates among the game’s most respected veterans.
  • The Rockies have expressed interest in free agent backstop Nick Hundley, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Were the team to add Hundley or another option, it would likely deal Wilin Rosario, Crasnick adds.
  • Though John Lackey is under contract at league minimum for 2015, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak will meet with his representatives at the upcoming Winter Meetings to discuss “possibly reworking” that deal, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports on Twitter. It is not entirely clear what manner of modification could be contemplated, though one would expect that St. Louis would only be interested in a proposal that added a reasonably priced season or two to the 36-year-old’s deal.
  • The Cardinals have promoted Chris Correa to become the club’s new scouting director, Langosch reports. The club had an opening arise recently when Dan Kantrovitz left to become an assistant GM with the Athletics.