Author Archives: Charlie Wilmoth

Quick Hits: Cishek, Lee, Kendrick

Steve Cishek‘s name has begun appearing in trade talks, suggesting that the Marlins could be sellers, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Another Marlins reliever, Mike Dunn, might also be a trade possibility, although the Marlins still do not want to trade Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins had hoped to add talent at the deadline, but they’re now at 45-52 and would have a tough swim against the current to make it to the playoffs. Cishek, a proven closer who’s making just $3.8MM this year, would be a very desirable trade target. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Competitive Balance Lottery will take place in New York on Wednesday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis notes. Thanks to their market size and/or revenue pools, the Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals will each be in the running for one of six 2015 supplemental first-round picks. The Mariners, Twins and teams from the above list that miss on a first-rounder will each vie for one of six supplemental second-round picks. Callis notes that these picks are especially valuable under the current draft system, since each supplemental pick adds money to the pool from which a team is allowed to spend on picks from the first ten rounds of the draft. Teams are also allowed to trade competitive balance picks.
  • After missing two months with an elbow injury, Cliff Lee will rejoin the Phillies‘ rotation on Monday , giving interested teams a couple chances to watch him before the trade deadline, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Given his contract, Castrovince notes, Lee will need to pitch very well in order to be much of a trade asset. There’s also the chance Lee could be traded in August.
  • The Blue Jays could consider the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick if they aren’t able to make a higher-profile trade, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes. A Jays scout watched Kendrick as he struggled in his start against the Braves on Sunday. It’s unclear what sort of return Kendrick might fetch — he has struggled this season, posting a 4.87 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 over 125 2/3 innings. Kendrick is eligible for free agency after the season.

Tigers, Pirates, Indians Interested In Benoit

The Tigers, Pirates and Indians are interested in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The Padres have already shipped out one reliever with closing experience, trading Huston Street to the Angels, but Heyman writes that Benoit will likely fetch a less attractive return, since teams generally view him as a setup man, not a closer.

Heyman notes that the Tigers or Pirates could use Benoit in the eighth inning, allowing Joe Nathan or Mark Melancon, respectively, to continue to close. (Those two teams are also interested in Joakim Soria of the Rangers, Heyman notes.) It isn’t yet clear whether the Indians will be buyers.

Benoit is owed $8MM next year plus $8MM or a $1.5MM buyout in 2016. His 2016 option will vest if he finishes at least 55 games in 2015. Benoit has a 2.04 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 2/3 innings with San Diego this year.


AL West Notes: Astros, Athletics, Johnson

The Astros have a perception problem, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. The Astros missed out on top overall pick Brady Aiken and another top pick, Jacob Nix, because of a disagreement about Aiken’s health. During part of the time they might have been negotiating with Aiken, Drellich points out, GM Jeff Luhnow was on vacation with his family in Mexico. That might not have had any bearing on their ability to sign Aiken, Drellich notes, but it doesn’t look good, and the Astros generally don’t get the “benefit of the doubt” with such matters.

Drellich also takes a close look at each party’s motivations as the Astros and Aiken tried to negotiate. He points out that, if Aiken goes to junior college and reenters the draft next year, it will be hard for Aiken to top the $5MM the Astros offered, given that the Astros themselves will have the No. 2 overall pick as a result of losing him, along with their own standard first-round pick, which will also be one of the early ones. For a player to get $5MM is very difficult under the new bonus pool system, especially with the Astros taking two very early picks. Here’s more from the AL West.

  • Astros scouting director Mike Elias is disappointed with the way the draft signing deadline went, Drellich writes. “I haven’t been very happy about anything to do with it, because of just the unfortunate situation that I think all parties found themselves in,” says Elias. “It’s something that I think we, and everyone involved with, will look forward to ultimately having behind us at some point.” Add the failures to sign Aiken, Nix and Mac Marshall to top 2013 pick Mark Appel‘s poor performance, and it’s a tough time all-around for Elias.
  • The Athletics would like to trade reliever Jim Johnson before the trade deadline, John Hickey of IBABuzz.com writes. The A’s don’t want to just cut him and swallow the rest of his salary, and they’re also having trouble drumming up interest in him. Johnson is a pitcher without a role — the A’s have been using him in low-leverage situations given his struggles this season, but even that is a problem, since he isn’t a multi-inning pitcher.


Mets Designate Buddy Carlyle For Assignment

The Mets have designated righty Buddy Carlyle for assignment to clear roster space for Jon Niese, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets. Niese, who’s returning from a shoulder injury, is set to start Monday against the Mariners.

Carlyle had pitched seven innings of relief for the Mets, allowing one run while striking out seven and walking three. He also pitched 33 1/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014, posting a 2.16 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. The 36-year-old has pitched parts of eight seasons in the big leagues, also appearing with the Padres, Dodgers, Braves and Yankees.


AL Notes: Indians, Royals, Blue Jays, Denorfia

The Indians need steadier performances from their starting pitchers, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have pitched well, but beyond that, the Indians’ rotation is in question. Help might be on the way from the minors — T.J. House and Danny Salazar are set to return to the team this week, with House (who last pitched in the big leagues just ten days ago) pitching for the Indians on Monday and Salazar Tuesday. Also, Justin Masterson is currently in the midst of a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus. Indians GM Chris Antonetti said last week that he believed in the team’s starting pitching and would be unlikely to trade for more unless it represented an obvious upgrade. Here are more notes from around the American League.

  • The Royals have interest in Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. It’s not clear, however, whether the Royals will be buyers at this point — their recent slide has left them at 48-49, seven games back in the AL Central and four games out of the last Wild Card spot.
  • The Blue Jays are interested in outfielder Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Morosi tweets. Denorfia has not hit well this season (.243/.293/.327 in 244 plate appearances), but he’s hit very well against lefties in his career. Like Padres teammate Chase Headley (in whom the Blue Jays have also shown interest), Denorfia is a free agent after the season.

Quick Hits: Rangers, Castillo, Ziegler, Butler

The Rangers believe they can be competitive in 2015 and therefore won’t be trading players like Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Even with a number of talented young infielders in their system, they don’t want to trade Andrus, who is an important figure in their clubhouse. They will, however, consider dealing Joakim Soria and Alex Rios. The Tigers have shown interest in Soria, and the Mariners, Blue Jays, Giants or Royals could all be fits for Rios. Reliever Neal Cotts could also fetch a nice return for Texas. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Cubs, White Sox, Braves and Giants all have interest in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Sanchez notes that Castillo has received comparisons to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kenny Lofton. All teams throughout MLB are likely to be represented at Castillo’s showcase next week.
  • The Tigers have asked about the availability of reliever Brad Ziegler, but the Diamondbacks are likely to keep him, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi. Ziegler has pitched well this year and is under contract for $5MM in 2015, with a reasonable option on his services the following year.
  • Billy Butler believes the Royals should pick up the $12.5MM 2015 option on his contract, but if they don’t want to, he’s willing to renegotiate so he can stay in Kansas City, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. “My numbers throughout my contract suggest they should (pick it up),” says Butler. “Maybe not the way I’ve necessarily played this year, but that’s the reason you play a full 162 games. … That’s the reason why you have a track record.” Butler has struggled this year, with a .272/.324/.354 line in 383 plate appearances that’s well below his career norms.
    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article762548.html#storylink=cpy

Minor Moves: Shackelford, Valdespin, Shreve

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.

  • The Brewers (via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy on Twitter) have announced that pitcher Kevin Shackelford has been outrighted to Double-A Huntsville. The Brewers designated Shackelford for assignment when they claimed Irving Falu earlier this week. Shackelford pitched well this year for Class A+ Brevard County but has struggled at Huntsville, posting a 6.35 ERA with 3.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 28 1/3 innings there.
  • The Marlins announce that they’ve selected the contract of IF/OF Jordany Valdespin, optioned Justin Bour to Triple-A New Orleans, and moved Rafael Furcal to the 60-day disabled list. After a poor 2013 season with the Mets, Valdespin signed a minor league deal with the Marlins, then hit .270/.374/.437 in 265 plate appearances at New Orleans.
  • The Braves have purchased the contract of lefty Chasen Shreve from Double-A Mississippi and optioned Luis Avilan to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. The Braves have struggled with lefty relief, and Shreve posted a 2.48 ERA with 12.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 at Double-A.
  • The Tigers have released catcher Ronny Paulino, according to MiLB.com. Paulino had appeared in 13 games for Triple-A Toledo in 2013 before receiving a 100-game PED suspension this offseason. He has not yet played this season. The former Pirates starting catcher has also appeared in the big leagues with the Marlins, Mets and Orioles, last playing in the Majors in 2012.
  • The Tigers announced that they have purchased the contract of P Drew VerHagen, who is slated to start one game in Saturday’s doubleheader against the Indians. To clear space for VerHagen on their 40-man roster, the Tigers moved reliever Joel Hanrahan to the 60-day DL. VerHagen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, had pitched 110 1/3 innings for Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.67 ERA, 5.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.

Reactions To The Huston Street Trade

Here’s a collection of reactions to and fallout from the trade of closer Huston Street from the Padres to the Angels.

  • The fact that the Angels could control Huston Street for 2015 was a key factor in trading for him, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. “Were it not for the fact we had the ability to control Huston for a year and two months, it would have been far more difficult to justify giving up the type of package we gave up to get him,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
  • Angels reliever Joe Smith doesn’t mind ceding the closer’s job to Street, DiGiovanna writes. “If they think it’s better for the ballclub, I’m all for it. I signed my life away, so to speak, last off-season. I came here to win,” he says. “If they think he can help this club, bring it on.”
  • From the Padres’ perspective, the deal increases the likelihood that Chase Headley will be traded this month, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus writes (subscription only). The inclusion of second baseman Taylor Lindsey in the deal likely bumps Jedd Gyorko to third base. Gyorko had a disastrous start to his season is no sure thing himself, of course, but the Street trade makes the Padres’ future infield at least a little clearer.
  • The Padres did quite well in the deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cites another team’s GM who sounds excited about R.J. Alvarez (“could be a future closer“) and Jose Rondon, in particular, even though he doesn’t like Lindsey as much.

Phillies, Orioles Have Discussed A.J. Burnett Trade

The Phillies and Orioles have had “very preliminary” talks about a trade involving starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. Morosi further emphasizes that there has not yet been much progress toward a deal.

Burnett, who is making $7.5MM this year with a $7.5MM signing bonus, has a complex player/mutual option that guarantees him at least $7.5MM in 2015 if he wants to pitch (a guarantee that will increase as Burnett makes starts down the stretch). Burnett also has limited no-trade protection. Although Burnett has said he wants to remain with the Phillies, his no-trade clause likely does not include Baltimore, since Burnett’s family resides in Maryland. The Orioles were rumored to be interested in Burnett last offseason.

Burnett, 37, has posted a 4.08 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 this season for the Phillies. Both his ERA and his peripheral numbers have taken a step backward after a strong 2013 season in Pittsburgh.


Draft Notes: Bonuses, Astros, Aiken

67 players in this year’s draft signed for at least $1MM, Clint Longenecker of Baseball America writes. Many teams signed two players to deals worth at least $1MM, although the Indians, Pirates and Royals, who all had extra Day 1 picks, signed four players each to deals worth that much. The Orioles, who didn’t have a selection until the No. 90 overall pick, were the only team without a $1MM signing. Here are notes on the draft.

  • The Astros‘ failure to sign Brady Aiken is baffling, MLB.com’s Richard Justice writes. The difference between the Astros’ final offer of $5MM and the $6.5MM to which the two parties initially agreed is tiny in terms of MLB talent. Meanwhile, another draft pick, Jacob Nix, saw his own deal disappear as the Astros lost the bonus pool allotment for the first overall pick. Justice also argues that it will take time for the Astros to repair the damage to their reputation the Aiken decision will cause.
  • Nobody wins” in the Aiken/Astros snafu, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca writes. Nix, in particular, loses out through no fault of his own. Nicholson-Smith cites an agent who notes that the current system forces teams to prioritize balancing their draft budgets, even when that means they lose out on talent — because the Astros didn’t sign Aiken, they couldn’t sign Nix, even though Nix and the Astros had previously agreed to a deal.
  • Aiken advisor Casey Close ripped Astros GM Jeff Luhnow on the phone for leaking the results of Aiken’s physical, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Close also reportedly suggested that other teams dislike dealing with the Astros because of their approach in negotiations.