Author Archives: Brad Johnson

Braves Acquire Bronson Arroyo, Touki Toussaint

The Braves have acquired right-handed pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks in exchange for infielder Philip Gosselin, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Both teams have confirmed the move via press release.

The move appears to be monetarily motivated for the Diamondbacks. Arroyo is owed the balance of $9.5MM this season plus a $4.5MM buyout (or $13MM option), tweets Rosenthal. The total guarantee is about $10.1MM. He could return from Tommy John surgery as soon as August. Prior to landing on the disabled list last season, Arroyo was the perfect workhorse. He made at least 32 starts in nine straight seasons. He owns a 4.19 ERA in 2,364 innings.

The inclusion of Toussaint in the deal comes as a surprise. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated him the 114th best prospect prior to the season. Toussaint, 19 today, was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. He had a 3.69 ERA with 6.69 K/9 and 3.46 BB/9 in 39 innings. He was the club’s 16th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft.  Prior to the draft, he was rated No. 8 in his class by  MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis and No. 13 by both Baseball America and ESPN.com’s Keith Law.

Gosselin was a useful utility infielder for the Braves, but the presence of Jace Peterson and prospect Jose Peraza likely made him expendable. He hit .325/.357/.525 in 42 plate appearances this season. Atlanta will have to swallow the cost of Arroyo and the roughly $10.1MM guaranteed to him. However, in Toussaint, they acquire yet another young, high ceiling arm for their farm system. From the Diamondbacks perspective, the club will save money now at the cost of their fifth best prospect.


Quick Hits: International Spending, Giants, Cubans

Remember when the Padres, Red Sox, and White Sox were the most improved teams in the majors? They, along with the Marlins, are below .500 despite their busy offseasons, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Alternatively, the Blue Jays have pushed into playoff contention with a recent winning streak. Toronto added Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin over the offseason, but the core of the team has remained largely intact. Kepner notes that these quick turnaround rebuilds are no guarantee for solid performance.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • A new international signing period will begin on July 2nd, but 2016 is the time for your favorite team to break the bank, per Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Angels, and Diamondbacks are already unable to spend more than $300K on a player for the next two seasons. The Dodgers, Cubs, Royals, Phillies, and Blue Jays may blow past their bonus limit in the 2015 signing period. That will remove many of the most active teams from the market in 2016. Badler gives a complete description of the international market conditions. It’s well worth a read.
  • The Giants will soon face a roster crunch in their rotation, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Jake Peavy is medically ready to return, and Matt Cain is nearing readiness. The easiest move would be to option Chris Heston, but he’s tied for the club lead with seven wins and recently no-hit the Mets. Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Hudson have been merely serviceable. The same can be said of Tim Lincecum in recent weeks. With the exception of Heston, the other rotation arms could be lost if they’re designated for assignment. The club could opt to move Lincecum and Vogelsong into the bullpen, but that just pushes the roster crunch elsewhere.
  • An influx of Cuban players could soon flood the majors, writes Bill Shaiken of the Los Angeles Times. Cuban players, even those who fall under international spending restrictions, are currently able to negotiate with all 30 clubs. That increases their bargaining power. It’s a big reason why infielder Roberto Baldoquin cost about four times more than the Angels’ entire 2015 amateur draft class. Cubans are currently the third most represented foreign nation in the majors. Opening day rosters included 18 Cubans, 65 Venezuelans, and 83 Dominicans. Cuba has a comparable population to the Dominican Republic. As such, we could see a surge of Cuban players as diplomatic relations continue to thaw.

AL Notes: Martinez, Luhnow, Chen, Schafer

The Mariners have named former franchise star Edgar Martinez their new hitting coach, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Martinez will replace Howard Johnson who has been reassigned elsewhere in the organization. Seattle’s offense has struggled despite the notable additions of Nelson Cruz over the offseason and Mark Trumbo earlier this month. The team has the lowest batting average in the league. Only the Phillies, Brewers, and White Sox are worse by on base percentage. The Mariners will hope Martinez can teach some of the skills that helped him to a .312/.418/.515 line over 7,213 plate appearances.

  • While Astros GM Jeff Luhnow claims to be on good terms with his former St. Louis co-workers, a top player agent tells MLBTR’s Zach Links that it’s not entirely true (via Twitter). No elaboration was provided, but Links did mention (tweet) that the agent called Luhnow “very smart.” While it may seem like little more than gossip, there could be an undercurrent of motive if Luhnow had made some enemies in his former organization.
  • Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was understandably unhappy about being optioned to Class-A despite good numbers. However, he isn’t worried about the incident affecting his relationship with the Orioles, reports Steve Melewski of MASN.com. Baltimore’s decision to option Chen will have no obvious financial implications for the lefty since he’ll return to the rotation next week. The club was simply looking to activate Chris Parmelee, and Chen had options.
  • The Twins released Jordan Schafer on Thursday in part because he would have declined an attempt to reassign him to the minors, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. As a player with more than five years of service time, Schafer could refuse reassignment without forfeiting pay. Wolfson adds that Schafer is healthy.


Latest On Investigation Of Cardinals

The Cardinals are under investigation for allegedly hacking into the Astros’ Ground Control database. Details are now emerging about the incident, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One expert termed the hacking as “unauthorized intrusion” rather than a sophisticated attack. The legal definition of hack does include unauthorized intrusion, but no advanced techniques were used to access the Astros database.

It’s thought that one of Jeff Luhnow, Sig Mejdal, or Mike Elias did not properly update their passwords after moving from the Cardinals to the Astros. The access occurred as a result of password guessing, says Drellich. “Possibly with well-educated guesses.”

As you might have intuited, the security for the Ground Control database was below industry standards. Anybody could access the log-in page via groundcontrol.astros.com and a password. This is referred to as single-factor authentication. Houston has since moved the database to a virtual private network (VPN). It reportedly now has two-factor authentication which is more secure.

At least one of the three breaches was done by somebody using Tor, an “anonymity network” meant to hide the activities and location of its users. While the article doesn’t mention it, there is a freely available browser-based front end to access the Tor network.

In other news, the Cardinals brand has been “tarnished” by the scandal, but economic damage should be minimal according to the Associated Press.  Primary revenue streams like fan attendance and television network payments will be unaffected by the crime. Sponsors have not backed away from the Cardinals according to a spokesman for FOX Sports Midwest.

Taking the other perspective, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch elaborated on the Cardinals back story. Luhnow was hired by Cardinals chairman Bill Dewitt Jr. in 2003 to bring St. Louis into the sabermetric revolution. Luhnow was in large part responsible for building the group that is now under investigation. The team’s analytical efforts yielded excellent results like the selection of first baseman Matt Adams in the 23rd round. The article provides many other great anecdotes about St Louis’ move into the information age.


Quick Hits: Harper, DBacks, Phillies, Gregorius

Here’s the latest from around the league as the evening winds down:

  • Bryce Harper may be likely to enter free agency after the 2018 season, but Yankees fans shouldn’t start counting their chickens just yet. Bill Shaiken of the LA Times believes the Dodgers have a better chance to sign Harper. The Yankees roster is aging and none of their prospects are among Baseball America’s top 30. Meanwhile, the Dodgers may have a brighter future when Harper is a free agent. They have a young, talented active roster with Corey Seager and Julio Urias waiting in the minors. Harper could prove to be a valuable supplement to young assets like Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, and Yasmani Grandal. Of course, this all assumes the Nationals can’t manage an extension or that they won’t trade him to another team that can.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart “does not seem inclined” to trade for pitching at the trade deadline, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. The club has plenty of young depth both in the majors and the minors, but Stewart wants to continue developing internally. Arizona is currently fourth in the NL West and 7.5 games behind the first place Dodgers. They’re also five games back in the Wild Card hunt. In my opinion, there will be more pressure to improve the rotation and bullpen if the club is within a few games of the plays at the deadline.
  • Don’t expect the Phillies to sit on their veteran assets at the trade deadline, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. Last July, the Phillies controversially opted to hold steady, but the club is now more thoroughly committed to rebuilding. Lawrence runs through possible destinations and hypothetical trade packages for the team’s remaining veterans. Interestingly, he believes the performance and complicated contracts of Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz will make them harder to trade than Ryan Howard.
  • The Yankees trade to acquire Didi Gregorius doesn’t look so bad after the Tigers optioned starter Shane Greene to Triple-A, opines Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Greene began the season with a 0.39 ERA in three starts, but he has since allowed just under a run per inning. Of course, Gregorius has hardly lit the world on fire with a .228/.287/.298 line and 0.4 UZR. While it’s much too early to declare a winner of this modest trade, perhaps we should be looking at the Diamondbacks. They acquired Robbie Ray in the swap. Through three starts, he has a 1.53 ERA with 6.62 K/9 and 2.55 BB/9. Just don’t forget how Greene looked through three starts!

NL Central Notes: Cubs, Soriano, Ramirez

The Cubs have shifted from developing players to playing for the win, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The eye-opening moment came last week when manager Joe Maddon removed closer Hector Rondon from the ninth inning of a 5-4 game. Now the club is going with a closer-by-committee approach – a familiar tactic from Maddon’s days in Tampa Bay. Maddon himself confirms that he prefers to have a set closer – it makes his job easier. However, doing the best thing for the club is a positive wake up call for the entire roster.

Here’s more from the senior circuit’s central division:

  • Maddon says that recently signed reliever Rafael Soriano may not reach the majors until around the All-Star break, tweets MLB.com’s Bruce Levine. Before he can shake off the rust in the minors, Soriano must obtain a visa. As we learned on Friday, the reliever can opt out of his deal if he’s not on the active roster by the All-Star Game. He’ll earn a pro-rated $4.1MM base salary with up to $4MM in incentives. Additional visa delays could have implications for his salary and opt-out clause.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez does not have a no trade clause, but he’s not letting trade rumors affect him, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Ramirez has hit just .223/.263/.406 on the season. He had his best game yesterday, bopping three doubles and driving in five RBI. Ramirez plans to retire after the 2015 season so it’s reasonable to assume he’s open to finishing the season with a contender. He has recently been tied to the Mets, but New York is looking for either a clear upgrade at third base or a versatile player. Ramirez will need more games like yesterday to fit the bill.

Athletics Agree To Terms With Dakota Chalmers

The Athletics have agreed to a $1.2MM bonus with third-round draft pick Dakota Chalmers, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com. Slot value for pick 97 is $586.9K. The deal is $613.1K over slot value.

Callis adds (via Tweet) that Chalmers is an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher from Georgia. He tops out at 98 mph with his fastball and flashes quality breaking stuff with an improving changeup. He was viewed as a possible first round selection. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked him 64th overall. He’s shown decent command and control.

The over slot signing likely means that the Athletics expect to save money on first round pick Richie Martin ($2.214MM slot) and/or second round pick Mikey White ($979.6K).


Rosenthal’s Latest: Reds, A’s, Orioles, Marlins

The Reds are doomed by injuries and an 11.5 game deficit, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in his latest video. However, owner Bob Castellini is not yet ready to concede. The baseball operations staff understands that the club needs to convert veterans and soon-to-be free agents into future talent – they just have to convince their boss.

  • The A’s have performed well by run differential as well as the BaseRuns metric used by FanGraphs. However, they are 13 games below .500 and 10 games back in the AL West. The bullpen is a serious issue. Other clubs are looking to snipe players like Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard. Expect GM Billy Beane to jump on a properly enticing offer.
  • The Orioles have nine impending free agents. They should act as both buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. The club needs a power hitting corner outfield. They could trade a starter like Bud Norris.
  • The Marlins may also look to deal a starter. Jarred Cosart will return from the disabled list soon. Jose Urena or Tom Koehler are candidates to be optioned. However, there will be a surplus once Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery. At that point, the club could look to trade Dan Haren or Mat Latos. The Marlins are currently nine games below .500 but just six back in a weak NL East.
  • If Cincinnati shops Aroldis Chapman, count the Marlins among the potential suitors. The club is always a fit for Cuban talent. Personally, I’m not sure if Chapman is the best use of Miami’s resources. Reliever A.J. Ramos has ably replaced Steve Cishek as the closer, but he has bouts of wildness in his track record. However, Carter Capps is standing by should Ramos falter.

Indians To Promote Francisco Lindor

The Indians are expected to promote shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. He will join the team tomorrow.

"JunThe 21-year-old is widely viewed as a top 10 prospect. He’s ranked fourth by Baseball Prospectus, sixth by ESPN’s Kieth Law, and ninth by Baseball America. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel is the sole guru to rank him outside the top 10 (14th). Lindor was the eighth overall pick of the 2011 Rule 4 draft.

The switch-hitter slashed .279/.346/.398 in 259 Triple-A plate appearances. Unlike other notable prospect promotions like Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, Carlos Correa, or Byron Buxton, Lindor’s bat isn’t expected to be special in the near future (he could certainly develop). He’s viewed as a high contact, gap-to-gap hitter, but it’s his speed and defense that ooze potential.

The decision to promote the youngster is not surprising. The team recently demoted Jose Ramirez after he hit just .180/.247/.240. Cleveland would probably like to move Mike Aviles (.284/.344/.405) back into a reserve role. He’s viewed as a modest defensive liability at shortstop and can also be used to spell Giovanny Urshela and Jason Kipnis. Lindor should add stability to a sometimes shaky Indians defense.

Like the promotion of Buxton by the Twins earlier today, Lindor is unlikely to qualify as a Super Two. He’ll remain club controlled through 2021 at the very least. Lindor is reportedly battling some minor injuries. Expect the club to handle their top prospect carefully.


Minor Moves: Gott, Young, Santos, Lindgren

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Angels have selected the contract of right-handed reliever Trevor Gott. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to note the move (via Twitter). Gott was a sixth round pick of the Padres who traded him as part of the Huston Street deal. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Gott the Angels’ 10th best prospect, noting a 93-97 mph fastball and an above average curve. He has a 2.25 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 28 innings across two levels. The club’s 40-man roster was at 39 players after Kirk Nieuwenhuis was designated last week.
  • Braves outfielder Eric Young Jr. has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of SBNation. Atlanta announced the move yesterday, but Young Jr. had the right to elect free agency. He hit a meager .169/.229/.273 in 85 plate appearances.
  • The Yankees have selected the contract of right-handed reliever Sergio Santos, tweets Rosenthal. He’ll take the place of Esmil Rogers in a decidedly left-handed New York bullpen. Santos was initially signed to a minor league deal on June 9th. The Dodgers had previously designated him for assignment, and he elected free agency on June 6th. The righty threw 13 and one-third innings this season with 10.13 K/9, 4.73 BB/9, and a 4.73 ERA.
  • The Yankees also optioned left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren and recalled righty Jose Ramirez, writes Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Lindgren had a 5.14 ERA in seven innings. Most damagingly, he allowed three home runs in his brief work. He did show a health 10.29 K/9, but it was offset by 5.14 BB/9. His minor league work has produced similar strikeout and walk rates. Ramirez has one lousy inning at the major league level (four earned runs allowed). He pitched well in Triple-A with 9.32K/9, 3.86 BB/9, and a 2.25 ERA.