Author Archives: Jeff Todd

Rangers Nearing Deal To Acquire Josh Hamilton

SATURDAY 12:46pm: Hamilton would receive a significant buyout if he were to excercise his opt-out, Rosenthal tweets. That makes sense — if not for a buyout, there would be few scenarios in which it would make sense for Hamilton to opt out of the $30MM he’s set to make in 2017.

12:02pm: The Rangers will take on less than $7MM of Hamilton’s contract, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, meanwhile, writes that the Rangers will pay $2MM-$3MM. Hamilton will eat about $6MM of the contract himself, according to Grant, since he can make up at least some of the difference due to the fact that Texas does not have a state income tax. That means the Angels could still save $8MM-$13MM. Hamilton will also receive an opt-out clause after 2016.

FRIDAY 7:15pm: The talks are still “complex” and “volatile” and remain incomplete, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). If the deal is completed, the Rangers will take on less than $15MM and will not send any players to their division rivals.

Multiple reports indicate that the lack of state income tax in Texas is playing a role, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting that Hamilton will cede some pay to make the deal work. Hamilton’s gains through tax avoidance would, presumably, even things out (to some extent, at least) on his end.

If the proposed transaction is indeed one in which the Rangers would assume some of the contract without sending anything in return, and in which Hamilton would give up some guaranteed money, it is not hard to see the complexities. Both the league and union would surely want to take a close look at a deal of that nature.

6:16pm: The Rangers will pick up about $15MM of Hamilton’s salary, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Los Angeles will pay the remainder of the $83MM that he is owed.

6:10pm: The deal “has been agreed to” though there remain several “ancillary” matters to be addressed, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

5:31pm: The Rangers are nearing a trade to acquire Josh Hamilton, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. There is still “legal work” remaining before the deal can be finalized, but Sullivan says an announcement could come Monday.

The details of the arrangement remain unknown, but Shin-Soo Choo is not involved in the prospective trade, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Choo had at least appeared to be a plausible piece to be included in a deal given his huge salary and rather pronounced struggles.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas would either need to have virtually all of Hamilton’s salary covered — or, would add him if and when he negotiates a release. Indeed, per another Shaikin tweet, some cash savings for the Angels may the only substantial element in the deal.

Hamilton, 33, has disappointed in Los Angeles since inking a five-year, $125MM contract before the 2013 season. He has slashed .255/.316/.426 in a Halos cap, a useful enough line but hardly enough to justify his contract. Injuries dogged Hamilton last year, who is still working back from offseason shoulder surgery.

Of course, Hamilton earned that sizeable contract with his play in Texas, where he produced at a .305/.363/.549 clip for five seasons while swatting 142 long balls. Though he did not end his stint with the team on the best off terms, Hamilton will forever be associated with the Rangers — the place where he became a star.


West Notes: Baker, Dodgers, Johnson, Iwakuma

Prior to being hired as the Diamondbacks‘ general manager, Dave Stewart reached out to Dusty Baker to let him know that he may have interest in Baker as a manager if he were to get the GM role, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Baker never heard back from Stewart before the D-Backs hired Chip Hale. Baker said he has no hard feelings about not getting an interview. Stewart told Heyman that he does indeed have a good deal of respect for both Baker and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, both of whom he initially considered for the managerial vacancy. Baker tells Heyman that he hopes to manage again, and Heyman notes that he has applied to three positions, including the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals since being let go from the Reds. “I didn’t fire myself,” said Baker. “I didn’t retire.”

Here’s more from out west …

  • The Dodgers have now acquired and designated no fewer than four relievers, and have made a host of other minor roster moves in the season’s early going. That has all taken place as part of the club’s plan entering the season, manager Don Mattingly explains (video via the Tout feed of J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Media Group).
  • Padres righty Josh Johnson tossed a 40-pitch pen session today and is nearing a rehab stint, manager Bud Black tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has not made a major league appearance since 2013, but represents some nice low-risk upside for an a San Diego club that is off to a nice start.
  • The Mariners have struggled somewhat with keeping runs off the board, a subject that I discussed with Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune on today’s podcast. In addition to starting poorly, veteran Hisashi Iwakuma has hit the DL with shoulder fatigue (officially called a strained lat), as Dutton reports. He will undergo an MRI tonight, though the hope is that some rest will do the trick. Of course, Iwakuma is also a free agent after the season, and he’ll have some catching up to do to re-establish his value at age 34.

East Notes: Red Sox, Rogers Centre, Franco, Harang

There’s been quite a bit written about the Red Sox‘ lack of an ace, but as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes, acquiring an ace-caliber pitcher is harder now than ever before. Speier looks back at the top 20 pitchers in terms of WAR from the 2004 season and notes that not only did pitchers remain elite later in their careers, but they were also more readily available in both free agency and trades. The average age of the top 20 pitchers in WAR has dropped from 29.5 to just under 28 in the year 2014, and none of the top 17 were signed as free agents. One talent evaluator noted to Speier that teams simply aren’t trading established aces anymore. The evaluator continued, “Very few come from free-agent signings given that, traditionally, their age was such that when they signed, they’re aces in age but not in [future] performance.”

Here’s more from the East:

  • The Red Sox have continued to field a lineup that stresses “grinding” at-bats, but at present have yet to deliver much power, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That continues something of a trend from last year, says MacPherson, who notes that unearned runs have propped up the team’s run scoring totals.
  • Complaints about the Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre turf have been hard to ignore, with Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reporting on Twitter that the Orioles actually considered forfeiting a recent game rather than taking the field. Baltimore has contacted the league, per Encina, though Jeff Blair of Sportsnet.ca tweets that the commissioner’s office has not received any formal complaint.
  • Top Phillies prospect Maikel Franco has been on a tear at Triple-A, but the team still does not have immediate plans for a call-up, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Service time remains a factor despite the fact that he saw action at the MLB level last year; as Zolecki explains, by waiting until approximately mid-May, Philadelphia can earn itself an extra year of control. With the big league club seemingly going nowhere and fellow youngster Cody Asche playing well at third, there is little reason for the team to move quickly on Franco.
  • There have been some limited bright spots for the Phillies, of course, and veteran righty Aaron Harang may be chief among them. The 36-year-old righty has tossed 26 1/3 innings of 1.37 ERA baseball, allowing a meager .800 WHIP and striking out 21 batters. Despite an excellent 2014, Harang signed a one-year deal for just $5MM (which he discussed recently with MLBTR’s Zach Links). He is starting to look like a rather appealing summer trade candidate for clubs that need to fill in at the back of their rotation.


Blue Jays Designate Steve Tolleson

The Blue Jays have designated infielder Steve Tolleson, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. With the move, the club has cleared roster space for the activation of outfielder Michael Saunders.

The 31-year-old Tolleson saw just 12 plate appearances this year for Toronto, picking up three hits and a walk. He saw his most extensive MLB action last year with Toronto, slashing .253/.308/.371 in 189 plate appearances. Tolleson has seen limited action in two other seasons.


Dodgers Designate Xavier Cedeno, Purchase Contract Of Sergio Santos

In yet another round of reliever roulette, the Dodgers have designated the just-acquired Xavier Cedeno for assignment. The club selected the contract of veteran righty Sergio Santos, necessitating the move.

Cedeno, a southpaw, was just added in a deal with the Nationals, who had designated him. Like Ryan Dennick and Daniel Corcino before him, Cedeno was added to the roster only long enough to be designated off of it, presumably with intentions of seeking outright waivers to facilitate a stashing in Triple-A.

Santos had an opt-out clause that was due May 1, so it was a use him or lose him situation for L.A. The 31-year-old has had a roller coaster of a career to this point, flashing plenty of talent while struggling with a variety of arm ailments. In 4 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, he has allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out eight opposing batters.


Rangers Designate Logan Verrett

The Rangers have designated righty Logan Verrett for assignment, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. The move clears roster space for the addition of Wandy Rodriguez.

Verrett was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Mets, and was later claimed by Texas. He would ultimately be offered back to New York if no other club decides to put in a waiver claim once he hits the wire (as is likely).

The 24-year-old threw nine innings of relief for the Rangers in just four appearances. He struck out three and walked four in that span, and was charged with six earned runs. Verrett had worked as a starter in the minors, always exhibiting outstanding control and progressing quickly through the Mets system.


Angels Nearing Trade Involving Josh Hamilton

4:57pm: Hamilton “balked” at a scenario that would have sent him to extended spring training, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

The Rangers, meanwhile, would be willing to bring Hamilton back, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. He cautions that there is “no word yet if that will happen.”

4:51pm: Hamilton will be moved via trade, Rosenthal tweets. It is not done yet, but appears likely to happen, he adds.

4:50pm: The Angels are “close to parting with” slugger Josh Hamilton, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports (via Twitter). Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann wrote earlier today that it appeared a move that would sever ties between Hamilton and the club could be made within days.

Hamilton had been said to be preparing to work back from injury in extending spring training. His relationship with the team hit a low point when he admitted to an offseason drug relapse. Though the league pushed for a suspension, an arbitrator ultimately ruled that Hamilton had not violated his drug treatment program and thus could not be suspended.

The team’s negative reaction to the news that Hamilton would not be suspended certainly seemed to portend a possible end to the relationship. At the same time, it has been hard to see a way for the club to accomplish that other than simply cutting him loose.

Indeed, even now, it remains entirely unclear what action the team will ultimately pursue to finalize the separation. A trade is at least hypothetically possible, with a buyout of some kind perhaps making more intuitive sense at first glance.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Bob Dutton

Jeff runs through the week’s quick hits before talking Mariners with Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


AL East Notes: Rays, Red Sox, Tanaka

Here’s the latest from the American League East:

  • The Rays are going to have to drop a player from their 40-man roster to account for the club’s bullpen injuries, Cork Gaines of Rays Index explains. With C.J. Riefenhauser joining Jeff Beliveau on the major league DL, and fellow southpaws Enny Romero and Grayson Garvin both on the DL in the minors, the club is low on options.
  • While the Red Sox rotation additions have struggled badly to start the year, the club did not have many appealing alternatives available to it, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. MacPherson ticks through the possibilities, explaining that, by and large, Boston was probably wise not to beat other teams’ offers for several top arms.
  • Masahiro Tanaka has trended up in his last two outings for the Yankees, as Brendan Kuty of NJ.com explains. His ability to pitch through a partial UCL tear remains critical to the club not just this year, but looking into the future.

NL Notes: Dodgers’ TV Deal, Guerrero, Brewers

With the would-be merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable seemingly on the ropes, the Dodgers‘ TV blackout troubles may be prolonged, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times explains. Analysts see plenty of uncertainty in the situation at present, meaning that many of the club’s fans remain unable to watch games in their homes. It remains unclear precisely when and how the problem will impact the Dodgers, but it obviously does not help to have the club’s cable provider piling up losses while fans are left unable to consume the organization’s product in one of its key forms.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Dodgers utilityman Alex Guerrero has been on quite the streak at the plate, complicating the team’s playing time situation in a good way. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports, skipper Don Mattingly says that the club is taking the long view in constructing its roster and distributing plate appearances. “We’re just a better club the way we are,” Mattingly said. “And we’ll see. We’re not going to be hard-headed to the point where we’re going to say, ‘This is what we said we’re going to do and we’re going to stay with it.’ You make decisions based on where you’re at, where you’re going.” Noting that Justin Turner also warrants more action based on his outstanding 2014, Mattingly explained: “J.T. hits .340 last year, leads the league in hitting, basically. Now, because he’s not the flavor of the day, we start talking about somebody else. That’s where we can’t get involved with what happened over a 10-day period. We have to make decisions based on long term and what we see and project, but also with the fact that things change. Not discounting Alex, but you still have a full roster we know we’ll use over the course of the season.” Of course, it bears noting that the team is still overflowing with quality infield options — even before Hector Olivera comes stateside — and Guerrero is an increasingly interesting trade target.
  • The Brewers have put a quality product on the field fairly consistently for some time now, even if the post-season appearances have been less frequent than might be hoped for. But the club’s brutal start to 2015 could be cause to pursue more dramatic roster turnover, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. GM Doug Melvin seemingly acknowledged that possibility: “It’s good we have 140 some games left. But we’ve got to see change here. We’ve got to see the arrow pointing in the other direction pretty soon,” he said. “Maybe there’s a point you have to say, you have to reset, retool.”