Atlanta Braves Rumors
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
The Braves announced today that former Rangers and Indians GM John Hart has joined their front office in the role of Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations (Twitter link).
Hart has spent the previous eight seasons as a senior advisor to Rangers GM Jon Daniels and spent the previous four seasons serving as the club's GM. He also served as the Indians' GM from 1991-2001 -- a period of time in which they won six division titles and played in two World Series. He won Executive of the Year honors in 1994-95 with the Indians and has also served as a TV analyst for the MLB Network.
Thursday: Hawkins has passed his physical, and the deal is now official, Hawkins himself tweets.
Monday: The Rockies have agreed to terms with right-hander LaTroy Hawkins on a one-year, $2.25MM deal, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links) The contract also carries a $2.25MM option for 2015 with a $250K buyout and will be official if Hawkins passes a physical on Thursday. Hawkins is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
Hawkins will serve as the Rockies' closer, Nightengale reports. The club was known to be looking for back-end relief help, and though Rex Brothers pitched well as a replacement close for Rafael Betancourt, Colorado will instead use Brothers as a setup man with an eye towards slowly easing him towards the closer's job (according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post). Since Hawkins is a righty and Brothers is a lefty, it's possible manager Walt Weiss could platoon his two closing options depending on the situation.
This is the well-traveled Hawkins' second stint in Colorado, as the veteran righty threw 55 1/3 relief innings for the Rockies' pennant-winning team in 2007. Hawkins turns 41 in December but is coming off one of his stronger seasons --- he posted a 2.93 ERA, 5.50 K/BB and 7.0 K/9 in 70 2/3 IP with the Mets in 2013. Hawkins has done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground over his career, with a 47.8% grounder rate and an 8.6% HR/FB rate over his 19 Major League seasons, so he projects well at Coors Field.
There was solid demand for Hawkins, as Nightengale reports that the Mets, Braves and Indians were all interested in his services and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson notes that the Twins "had [a] brief talk" of signing the veteran as well.
Midnight tonight is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month's Rule 5 Draft. There should be no shortage of players being added, and we'll run them down here in this post...
- The Brewers announced that they've added first baseman Hunter Morris, first baseman/outfielder Jason Rogers and right-handers Brooks Hall and Kevin Shackelford to their 40-man roster.
- The Braves announced that they've added left-hander Carlos Perez, right-hander Luis Vasquez and infielder Elmer Reyes to their 40-man roster. MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves had only recently signed Vasquez, 27, to a minor league deal. His entire career to this point has come in the Dodgers' minor league system.
- The Reds have added catcher Tucker Barnhart, right-hander Chad Rogers and outfielders Juan Duran and Ryan LaMarre to their 40-man roster, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- In addition to McGuire, the Blue Jays announced that outfielder Kenny Wilson has been added to the 40-man roster as well (Twitter link).
- Catcher Tommy Joseph, left-hander Rob Rasmussen and outfielders Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan have been added to the Phillies' 40-man roster, the team announced.
- Right-hander Kirby Yates and southpaw C.J. Riefenhauser have been added to the Rays' 40-man roster, according to their agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (Twitter link). The Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney reports that infielder Vince Belnome and righty Jesse Hahn have been added as well (also on Twitter).
- In addition to Aguilar, the Indians announced that they've added right-handers Bryan Price and Austin Adams, infielder Erik Gonzalez and outfielder Carlos Moncrief to the 40-man roster (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox announced that right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, outfielder Bryce Brentz and third baseman Garin Cecchini have been added to the 40-man roster. Ranaudo (No. 79) and Cecchini (No. 82) each rank among the Top 100 prospects in the game, per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
- The Twins have added left-hander Logan Darnell, outfielder Max Kepler, middle infielder Jorge Polanco and first baseman Kennys Vargas to their 40-man roster, the team announced via press release.
- The Rangers announced that they have added right-handers Lisalverto Bonilla and Ben Rowen to the 40-man roster as well as infielder Luis Sardinas. Bonilla was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for Michael Young last offseason. Sardinas currently ranks as the No. 70 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
- Badler tweets that the White Sox have added second baseman/shortstop Carlos Sanchez to their 40-man roster. Sanchez batted just .241/.293/.296 in his first full season at Triple-A this year, but he did so as one of the league's youngest players, as he didn't turn 21 until late June. The White Sox also announced that outfielder Trayce Thompson has been added to the 40-man roster.
- John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the Athletics have added right-hander Raul Alcantara to their 40-man roster. Alcantara had a tremendous rebound campaign in 2013, pitching to a 3.11 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 156 1/3 innings between Class-A and Class-A Advanced. Alcantara is one of the players they received along with Josh Reddick in the Andrew Bailey trade, which I profiled in retrospect prior to the season.
- Badler tweets that the Rockies have added 20-year-old Jayson Aquino to their 40-man roster. Though Aquino has just 64 innings of full-season ball, all coming at Low-A, Badler feels he's a good arm to protect. The left-hander posted a 4.34 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
- The Blue Jays have added right-hander Deck McGuire to their 40-man roster, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportnet. The 2010 first-rounder has struggled in since reaching the Double-A level last season, though he improved in 2013 to post a 4.86 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. The Jays now have 38 players on their 40-man roster, Nicholson-Smith adds.
- The Pirates have added top prospects Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson to their 40-man roster, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America (on Twitter). Polanco currently ranks 13th on MLB.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, and Hanson comes in at No. 39 on the list.
- The Indians have added first baseman Jesus Aguilar to their 40-man roster, tweets Badler. The 23-year-old slashed .275/.349/.427 with 16 homers at Double-A Akron in 2013 and is enjoying a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League, according to Badler.
- The Tigers announced that they have added left-hander Kyle Lobstein, right-handers Justin Miller and Jose Valdez, first baseman Jordan Lennerton, shortstop Eugenio Suarez, center fielder Daniel Fields and right fielder Steven Moya to their 40-man roster. As MLB.com's Jason Beck points out, this places their 40-man roster at 39 players (Twitter link).
Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link) that the club still likes Bronson Arroyo, even after signing Tim Hudson. "Bronson Arroyo is not out of our picture," Evans said. The Giants made a two-year, $23MM commitment to Hudson yesterday. Here's tonight's look around the majors..
- Kelvin De La Cruz is out of options, so the Orioles must be planning on having him in their big league bullpen, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTR. The O's won't be able to remove him from the 40-man roster without him passing through waivers, and they signed him to a Major League deal despite his lack of MLB experience.
- In his latest mailbag, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that while the Braves will certainly make every attempt to move Dan Uggla and a piece of the $26MM he is owed over the next two seasons, they understand it will not be easy. Teams that can't afford to sign top second baseman Robinson Cano can look into signing Omar Infante or trading for the likes of Ian Kinsler or Howie Kendrick.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says that the Mets should be serious players for Cano. The Mets met with Cano's agents, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z, last night, but all indications are that they won't be in the mix for his services.
- Catcher Henry Blanco, 42, is looking to play one more season, Tim tweets. The veteran is likely to have a career in coaching once he's through playing. Blanco saw 50 games of big league action for the Blue Jays and Mariners last season.
Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links). Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract. Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson. Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.
Here are some more items from around the NL West...
- The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
- Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen. Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
- Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension. De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship. The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
- The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield. Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
- Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch." Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
- The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines. "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
- In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.
Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client. The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.
Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters...
- One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club. The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations. Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
- Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
- The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix. O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
- The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
- If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
- In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
- The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets. This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.
4:03pm: Venters' deal is worth $1.625MM, the same as he earned last season, a source tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (on Twitter).
4:47pm: The Braves have avoided arbitration with reliever Jonny Venters, agreeing to a one-year deal, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twiter). Financial terms of the deal are not yet known but Matt Swartz of MLBTR estimated that he would earn $1.625MM through arbitration.
Venters is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery and should be available to the club in April or May of 2014. Because of his injury woes, the reliever was a non-tender candidate, but Atlanta decided to bring him back in hopes that he can make a full recovery. The left-hander owns a career 2.23 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 across three seasons.
The Braves will be moving into a brand new stadium in time for the 2017 season, the team announced today. The new ballpark is located in Cobb County, about 14 miles northwest of Turner Field. The move will end the club's tenure at Turner Field after an even 20 seasons --- "the Ted" was originally built as the main venue for the 1996 Olympic Games and then converted into a ballpark for the start of the 1997 season.
Here are some more items from around the NL East...
- The Nationals are interested in free agent southpaw Boone Logan, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Logan posted strong numbers out of the Yankees bullpen over the last four seasons and is expected to fully recover from recent surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow.
- Kilgore notes that Washington is expected to target left-handed relief this winter and besides Logan, the team could also check in on J.P. Howell or Manny Parra, as the Nats had interest in both pitchers last offseason.
- Also from Kilgore, an American League executive tells him that the Nationals would likely have to part with Anthony Rendon as the key piece of a David Price trade package.
- Marlins president David Samson discussed Giancarlo Stanton's contract and the Marlins' policy against no-trade clauses in an appearance on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on SiriusXM. Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has a partial transcript of Samson's comments.
- If the Marlins are serious about convincing Stanton to stay over the long term, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says the club needs more stability in the dugout. Frisaro notes that in Stanton's short career, he has already played under five different managers and five different hitting coaches.
- Of their two first base options, the Mets would reportedly prefer to trade Ike Davis over Lucas Duda, though Andy Martino of the New York Daily News thinks Davis is a better option for the team going forward.
- From earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links shared some more NL East notes, and we also posted team-centric collections of about the Phillies and the Mets.
13 free agents received qualifying offers a week ago, and I think they are all likely to decline by today's 4pm central time deadline. If these players sign Major League deals elsewhere, their old teams stand to gain a draft pick in each instance. The latest:
- Curtis Granderson is "100 percent" turning down the Yankees' qualifying offer, a person involved in the situation tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
- Kendrys Morales will turn down the Mariners' QO, people familiar with the situation tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- As expected, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew will allow the 5pm deadline to pass without accepting qualifying offers from the Red Sox, a baseball source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- After an MRI on his hips showed no signs of further deterioration, Mike Napoli has decided to decline the Red Sox's qualifying offer, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- Starting pitcher Ervin Santana declined the Royals' qualifying offer, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Catcher Brian McCann will decline his qualifying offer from the Braves today, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. This was an easy choice for McCann, who has a good chance at a five-year contract.
- Right fielder Nelson Cruz informed the Rangers he will decline his qualifying offer, tweeted Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier today.
- You can also keep track of all the qualifying offer decisions using MLBTR's free agent tracker.