Author Archives: Steve Adams

NL Central Links: Ramirez, Bucs, Byrd, Cubs, Cardinals

The next game that Aramis Ramirez plays will be the 2,000th of his Major League career, but the Brewers‘ third baseman doesn’t sound like he plans on calling it quits anytime soon. Ramirez told reporters today, including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, that he plans to try to play another 500 games: “I’m going to go for 2,500 (games) so let’s see what happens. … I’m playing past this year, for sure. I don’t know how much longer but definitely more years.” Ramirez’s contract contains a $14MM mutual option with a $4MM buyout. Given the rarity with which mutual options are exercised, there seems to be a good chance that Ramirez could hit the open market as a free agent this winter.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • The Pirates are scouting the Diamondbacks‘ bullpen of late, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who speculates that old friend Oliver Perez could be a potential target for the Bucs.
  • The Reds and Phillies remain in contact regarding a potential Marlon Byrd trade, sources tell Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN (Twitter link). The Reds have Jay Bruce in right and Billy Hamilton in left, but their left fielders have combined to hit .242/.304/.358. Additionally, with Bruce’s slumping and Joey Votto on the disabled list, the team is short on power.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer tells Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that Arismendy Alcantara will likely be in the lineup everyday, splitting time between second base and center field. The Cubs designated defensive specialist Darwin Barney for assignment yesterday, which should clear some playing time for the 22-year-old Alcantara.
  • Alcantara isn’t the only Cubs prospect on the rise. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets that outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora have each moved up a level, with Almora heading to Double-A Tennessee and Soler reaching Triple-A Iowa.
  • David Price, who recently took in a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the fans of St. Louis were great and treated him well in his time there. One high-ranking AL exec tells Nightengale that if the Rays decide to move their ace, the Cardinals stand out as the most likely team to acquire him.
  • MLB.com’s Jen Langosch was among the reporters who spoke to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak yesterday. Langosch writes that the Redbirds are pursuing rotation help as the deadline approaches, but Mozeliak cautioned that no deal is imminent. Asked if the club was pursuing a top-of-the-rotation arm or some depth for the back end, Mozeliak replied that the latter was more likely.

Yankees Designate Bruce Billings For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they’ve designated right-hander Bruce Billings for assignment to clear a roster spot for fellow righty Chris Leroux, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Additionally, Kelly Johnson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.

In a brief stint with the Yankees this season, the 28-year-old Billings allowed four runs in four innings. Most of his time has come at Triple-A, where he’s posted a 4.94 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 71 innings for the Rail Riders.

Leroux, 30, also had a short stint with the Bombers earlier in the year, in which he allowed five runs in a pair of innings. The Canadian hurler has posted a 5.08 ERA with a 23-to-10 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings for the Rail Riders this season.


Multiple Teams Scouting Antonio Bastardo

With multiple teams on the lookout for bullpen help, left-hander Antonio Bastardo is drawing some significant trade interest, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Sources tell Salisbury that the Royals are very interested in Bastardo, while the Tigers, Pirates and Blue Jays are all in the mix as well. All four teams have scouted each of Philadelphia’s past two games (Salisbury notes that the Tigers are also believed to be keeping an eye on Jonathan Papelbon).

The 28-year-old Bastardo makes sense as a trade chip for the Phillies, whose large commitments to veterans and willingness to include no-trade clauses and vesting options in their contracts has left them with few pieces that are both movable and desirable. Bastardo is both of those, however, as he’s owed just $2MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. He’s also had good results this season, having compiled a 3.27 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate. Bastardo has been effective against both left-handed hitters (.616 OPS) and right-handed hitters (.634 OPS) throughout his career.

The Reds have also been connected to Bastardo this month, and the Braves have been known to be seeking a southpaw for their bullpen as well (though the usual intra-division caveat applies). Interested teams do have some alternatives, including James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, and possibly Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.



AL Central Links: Royals, Hanrahan, Lindor, Sox

Despite the fact that the Royals recently went through a stretch of 18 losses in 27 games, GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that manager Ned Yost’s job is safe. Perhaps more pertinent to MLBTR faithful is that Moore tells McCullough his 49-50 ball club will not be sellers at this year’s deadline. Moore says that he doesn’t blame the players, coaches or anyone but himself: “I look at myself, and what I can do, and what we can do as a baseball operations department to improve our team. … We’re going to keep pushing until the standings say we’re done.”

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • The Royals scouted the Phillies twice this week already, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury notes that Antonio Bastardo performed well in front of Kansas City evaluators, who are on the lookout for bullpen help.
  • Joel Hanrahan is a “long shot” to pitch in the Majors this season, reports Lynn Henning of the Detroit News (Twitter link). The Tigers, who signed Hanrahan for a guaranteed $1MM base salary in May, have been hopeful that he will eventually fortify their late-inning relief corps, but they’ve also been linked to numerous bullpen arms, suggesting that they may not be counting on much from the former Pirates All-Star.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while it may have been a planned promotion, the timing of Francisco Lindor‘s promotion to Triple-A is “as subtle as a brick to the head.” The Indians announced Lindor’s promotion to Columbus shortly after Asdrubal Cabrera left Monday’s contest with an injury, and while Lindor likely wouldn’t be the immediate replacement, there’s little doubt that he’s seen as Cabrera’s replacement next year. Hoynes also notes how poorly timed a DL stint would be for Cabrera, as it would hurt the team’s chances to stay in the AL Central race while also costing them a potential trade chip.
  • The two White Sox players that are generating the most interest in trade are John Danks and Dayan Viciedo, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The Yankees have reportedly had some discussions with the South Siders about acquiring Danks as of yesterday afternoon. Danks has a six-team no-trade clause, with only four contenders on the list, according to yesterday’s report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. He can block deals to the Orioles, A’s, Nationals and Blue Jays.

NL Central Links: Pirates, Burnett, Cardinals, Peavy

The Pirates are not on A.J. Burnett‘s 20-team no-trade clause (as outlined by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick earlier today), and they are his preferred destination if the Phillies choose to move him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As I speculated in this morning’s post on his no-trade clause, however, Rosenthal notes that Burnett’s complex mutual/player option may be a deterrent for the Bucs, as Burnett could potentially be a spendy acquisition if he makes a full season’s worth of starts. Nonetheless, Pirates players are lobbying with the front office in an attempt to persuade GM Neal Huntington and his staff to reacquire their former teammate, according to Rosenthal.

Here’s more out of the NL Central…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly says that the team has financial flexibility to add payroll, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Whether or not that would extend to taking on Burnett’s future commitments, of course, remains to be seen.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said last night that he expects Michael Wacha to pitch in September, but Rosenthal tweets that St. Louis is still looking for rotation upgrades. The Cardinals are exploring everything from front-line starters to back-of-the-rotation types, he says.
  • Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox have been scouting Cardinals short-season Class-A outfielder Rowan Wick in case the Redbirds decide to make a run at Jake Peavy (Twitter link).
  • The reason that a deal sending Peavy to the Cardinals has not yet taken place, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com, is that Boston wants a prospect of some kind in return. St. Louis, meanwhile, was more interested in doing the deal primarily in exchange for taking on Peavy’s salary. Peavy is earning $14.5MM this year. (A $15MM player option would vest for 2015 if he is able to log at least 137 2/3 more innings this year, though that would appear to be quite a tall order.)

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Blue Jays Designate Brad Mills For Assignment

2:17pm: The Blue Jays have announced the move to designate Mills.

1:35pm: The Blue Jays will designate left-hander Brad Mills for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for top prospect Aaron Sanchez, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter). Earlier today, Nicholson-Smith’s colleague, Shi Davidi, reported that Sanchez would be promoted.

The 29-year-old Mills pitched two innings for the Blue Jays after they claimed him off waivers from the A’s, yielding eight runs on seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Overall, he’s surrendered 16 runs in 18 1/3 innings of work at the big league level this season despite tremendous success at the Triple-A level. In 75 innings with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate, Mills pitched to a 1.75 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.


Yankees, White Sox Have Discussed John Danks

The Yankees have checked in on White Sox left-hander John Danks, but talks are still in the early stages, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish hears that the market for Danks has begun to pick up over the past three days. Nothing appears close at this time, though Heyman notes that the Sox are looking for prospects, so Danks likely would require more than just salary relief to acquire.

The 29-year-old Danks averaged 195 innings for the ChiSox from 2008-11, but a shoulder injury required surgery in 2012 and limited him to just 192 innings combined over 2012-13. He’s been healthy all year in 2014, and while his fastball velocity is down to an average of 88.2 mph (per Fangraphs), he’s been reasonably effective.

Danks’ ERA spiked after a seven-run hiccup in his most recent start, but he had been a roll prior to that, posting a 2.69 ERA with a 42-to-20 K/BB ratio over his past 67 innings (10 starts). Overall, Danks has a 4.35 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 40.1 percent ground-ball rate in 124 innings this season.

While Danks has a fairly sizable chunk of money owed to him, that shouldn’t be a huge issue for the Yankees. Danks is due $5.4MM through season’s end and $14.25MM in both 2015 and 2016, making for a total commitment of roughly $33.9MM.


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Yankees Acquire Chase Headley

The Yankees announced that they have officially acquired Chase Headley from the Padres. The Yankees will send Yangervis Solarte and minor league right-hander Rafael De Paula to the Padres in return for Headley and $1MM.

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Headley, a lifetime member of the Padres, is hitting just .229/.296/.355 with seven homers this season, though he’s playing outstanding defense at third base, per both UZR/150 (+19.7) and Defensive Runs Saved (+7). Headley is earning $10.535MM in 2014, of which $3.97MM remains. He is eligible for free agency following the season.

The Yankees are just four games out of the division lead in the AL East and two and a half games back of a Wild Card berth, meaning every additional win the team picks up could be crucial. Yankees third basemen are hitting .245/.323/.391 on the season with 14 home runs (which translates to a nearly league-average 98 wRC+). However, much of that is due to what looks to have been an unsustainable hot streak for Solarte early in the season. The 27-year-old Solarte had a scorching hot month of April (fueled by a .349 BABIP), but he’s batted just .233/.307/.347 in 200 plate appearances since that time. If nothing else, Headley’s glove may provide an extra win over the rest of the season, but the hope is undoubtedly that a move from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park to the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium will rejuvenate his bat as well.

It’s not long ago that Headley looked to be a breakout star. He batted a whopping .286/.376/.498 with 31 homers to go along with elite defense and solid baserunning in 2012, but since that time he’s been slowed by a fractured thumb, a calf strain and a herniated disc in his back (for which he received an epidural injection earlier this month). He’s hitting .323 with a homer, a triple and four doubles this month, so perhaps the injection helped to ease some of the pain he was experiencing. However, he’s yet to walk in July and has struck out 16 times, so his approach at the plate certainly doesn’t appear to be what it was in 2012 when he posted a career-best 12.3 percent walk rate.

From a big picture standpoint, the move signifies that the Yankees, in typical fashion, will maintain a dogged pursuit of the postseason. Despite losing CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and potentially Masahiro Tanaka for the season (with Michael Pineda missing the majority of the year as well), the Yankees feel they have a shot to contend in an abnormally weak AL East. The team has already acquired Brandon McCarthy (in exchange for lefty Vidal Nuno), and it seems likely that GM Brian Cashman will continue to be aggressive as he looks to upgrade his roster.

For the Padres, it’s tough to describe the outcome as anything but disappointing. Headley looked to be on the verge of stardom following the 2012 season, and they could likely have netted a king’s ransom had they moved him then. Even this offseason, Headley’s value coming off a .250/.347/.400 season with excellent defense would have been fairly strong. Now, they’ll receive a player whom the Yankees signed to a minor league deal this offseason (Solarte) and a pitcher that ranked 15th in a weak Yankees farm system coming into the year (per Baseball America). At this point, however, it has to be considered a silver lining for the Friars that they weren’t able to extend Headley — either with the reported franchise-record deal they were weighing last spring or the three-year, $33-39MM deal they offered over the winter.

Solarte is hitting .254/.337/.381 with the Yankees this season, though much of that production came in the aforementioned April hot streak. The Padres can control him for six years, as he made his big league debut this year, and he’s appeared at second base, third base and shortstop this season. Ideally, he could settle into a utility role for San Diego for the next several seasons.

De Paula, 23, has a 4.15 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 89 innings (17 starts, three relief appearances) at Class-A Advanced Tampa this season. Baseball America noted in its scouting report that De Paula’s mid- to upper-90s fastball was enough to dominate hitters in Low Class A, but he struggled with last year’s debut in High-A Tampa due to an inability to throw his breaking pitches for strikes. He’s made some strides in his command this year, averaging fewer walks. BA noted that if he could learn to command either his slider or changeup, that would be enough to pair with his plus fastball to project as a big league reliever, but if he could learn to command both, he could start in the bigs.

De Paula doesn’t come without personal baggage, as BA’s Ben Badler notes (on Twitter). Badler says De Paula “will be a big leaguer,” but points out that he’s used multiple falsified identities and dates of birth in his road to professional baseball.

Jack Curry of the YES Network first tweeted that the two sides were close to a deal. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the trade was done and added the terms shortly thereafter (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Yankees Nearing Deal For Chase Headley

12:05pm: Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears (Twitter link) that one or two minor leaguers will be heading to the Padres, neither of whom are considered “top guys.”

12:01pm: The Yankees are in the process of finalizing a deal to acquire Chase Headley from the Padres, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (on Twitter).

Headley, a lifetime member of the Padres, is hitting just .229/.296/.355 with seven homers this season, though he’s playing outstanding defense at third base, per both UZR/150 (+19.7) and Defensive Runs Saved (+7). Headley is earning $10.53MM in 2014 and is eligible for free agency following the season.