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Author Archives: Steve Adams
Click here to read a transcript of this week’s live chat, hosted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams.
The Astros announced that they have designated right-handers Paul Clemens and David Martinez for assignment in order to make room on their 40-man roster for September callups. Righties Jorge De Leon and Nick Tropeano each had their contracts selected, necessitating corresponding 40-man moves. Additionally, catcher Max Stassi, outfielder L.J. Hoes and shortsop Jonathan Villar have been recalled, while lefty Darin Downs has been activated from the DL and waiver claim Sam Deduno has been added to the active roster.
Clemens, 26, has mopped up 98 innings for the Astros over the past two seasons and posted a 5.51 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 36.9 percent ground-ball rate in the process. Though he posted strong numbers through Double-A in his minor league career, he stumbled at Triple-A and has recorded a combined 5.91 ERA in 182 2/3 innings over parts of four seasons at that level.
The 27-year-old Martinez has logged 18 1/3 innings with Houston over the past two seasons with a 6.38 ERA and a 12-to-5 K/BB ratio in that time. He, too, has struggled at Triple-A, posting a 6.03 ERA over his two seasons (94 innings) with Oklahoma City.
Tropeano is the most notable prospect of the bunch, ranking 13th among Astros prospects on the midseason list compiled by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. The 2011 fifth-round pick pitched to a 3.03 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 124 2/3 innings as a member of Triple-A Oklahoma City’s rotation this year. Callis and Mayo note that his low-90s fastball and changeup give him two above-average offerings, and his slider has the potential to be above-average as well. With the potential for three above-average offerings, Tropeano would seem to have a shot at being a rotation member in the future.
The Brewers announced that they have designated outfielder Caleb Gindl for assignment and released right-hander Hiram Burgos. These moves have helped clear room for infielders Matt Clark, Hector Gomez and Jason Rogers, who have been added to the roster as September callups.
Gindl received his second taste of Major League action this year, but he didn’t receive nearly the same playing time that he did last year when Ryan Braun was serving his suspension. Gindl slashed just .158/.304/.158 in 23 plate appearances — a far cry from the very respectable .242/.340/.439 triple-slash he posted last year with the Brewers. However, the 26-year-old’s struggles weren’t confined to the Majors, as he batted just .227/.310/.354 in 408 PA with Triple-A Nashville.
Burgos, 27, ranked as Milwaukee’s No. 12 prospect heading into the 2013 season (per Baseball America), but as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy points out (on Twitter), a shoulder injury has wrecked the last two seasons. Burgos posted a 6.44 ERA in the Majors last season and a 6.50 ERA at Triple-A this year as he battled through that injury, but prior to that he had totaled a 3.27 ERA in 77 Triple-A innings. Heading into this season, Burgos had a 3.64 ERA and a 427-to-137 K/BB ratio in 497 1/3 career minor league innings.
The Blue Jays announced a flurry of roster moves with rosters expanding for the month of September. Both Darin Mastroianni and Matt Hague have been designated for assignment, while right-hander Neil Wagner, who was designated yesterday, has been released. Additionally, Brett Lawrie has been transferred to the 60-day DL.
The 40-man moves create space for the selection of top prospect Dalton Pompey‘s contract, the selection of veteran George Kottaras‘ contract and the reinstatement of Brandon Morrow from the 60-day disabled list. Additionally, Toronto has activated Dan Johnson from the DL and recalled Ryan Goins, Anthony Gose, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Daniel Norris from Triple-A.
Mastroianni, 29, hit .156/.156/.250 in 32 plate appearances with the Blue Jays after they claimed him on waivers from the Twins earlier this season. The Jays had lost Mastroianni to the Twins on waivers two years prior, and the speedster looked to have carved out a spot for himself in Minnesota as a fourth outfielder following a solid .252/.328/.350 batting line in 77 games. However, a series of ankle injuries kept Mastroianni off the field, and he’s yet to again show the respectable bat and plus speed that made him an asset in that 2012 season.
Hague, also 29, has posted strong Triple-A numbers this season between the Pirates and Blue Jays organizations. He’s totaled a .282/.371/.465 batting line with 15 homers in his fourth season at that level. Hague has never received an extended look in the Majors, though the first baseman does have 76 PA in the bigs. He’s hit just .222/.263/.250 in that limited chance, however.
Wagner underwent Tommy John surgery in August, which will likely sideline him for the majority of the 2015 season. He was a reasonably effective bullpen piece for the Jays in 2013, posting a 3.79 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 38 innings. Those numbers aren’t too dissimilar from his career marks at Triple-A, where he’s posted a 3.91 ERA with a superior 10.1 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9 rate.
The Astros fired manager Bo Porter yesterday, and owner Jim Crane confirms to Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle that Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow weren’t seeing eye to eye. “[The GM and the manager] have to be closely aligned and singing the same song,” said Crane. “That wasn’t happening.” Crane acknowledged that Porter was put in a difficult situation and said he feels Porter “did a pretty good job with what we gave him” before voicing his support for Luhnow’s vision. Crane says that Nolan Ryan, Reid Ryan and Craig Biggio will all be involved in the search for the next Houston manager, and he wonders if the Astros would benefit from someone with more managerial experience.
Here’s more on Porter’s firing and the search for the next Astros skipper…
- There were some within the Astros organization that thought Porter should be dismissed following the 2013 season, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney in his daily Insider-only blog. However, the prevailing opinion wound up being that it was too soon to let go of a manager who had just completed his first season. Olney spoke with team sources that told him some players and club employees are angry over the situation. Some club employees are even looking for jobs elsewhere, according to Olney.
- With porter out of the picture in Houston, Luhnow could be next on the chopping block if the team does not show significant improvement in 2014, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines (video link). One specific area of improvement for Luhnow will be showing that he can successfully build a bullpen, Rosenthal points out.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with pitching coach Brent Strom regarding his relationship with Porter, and Strom had positive things to say. Strom was hired by Luhnow and has a longstanding relationship with the GM, but says he learned a lot from Porter, whom he met just this past offseason. “I really grew to appreciate his intelligence and his attention to detail,” Strom said. “I actually learned a great deal from him, I really did. Stuff that in all my years of baseball I had not thought about, and I documented all those things and actually had passed it on to our minor league pitching coaches for future years throughout our system.”
- Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is likely to be a candidate, sources tell ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
- Some “potential candidates,” according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, include former Astros star (and current adviser) Craig Biggio. Other possibilities include bench coaches Tim Bogar (Rangers) and Dave Martinez (Rays) along with third base coaches Dave Clark (Tigers) and Joe McEwing (White Sox). McTaggart’s colleague, Richard Justice, also tweets that Bogar is a candidate.
- In addition to the names listed above, Drellich lists some other hypothetical candidates for the skipper’s role. Former big league managers Manny Acta and Trey Hillman, A’s bench coach Chip Hale, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, recent Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch, and interim manager Tom Lawless.
1:49pm: Broxton was a waiver claim, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes (Twitter links). Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that the two teams have agreed on one of the players to be named later and have a list of players for the other.
12:49pm: The Brewers have bolstered their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Jonathan Broxton from the division-rival Reds in exchange for a pair of players to be named later, the teams have announced.
Broxton, 30, is in the second year of a three-year, $21MM contract with the Reds. He’s owed about $1.19MM of his $7MM salary this season before earning $9MM in 2015. His contract also contained a $9MM club option for 2016, which comes with a $1MM buyout. However, Broxton’s contract has a clause that causes that club option to become a mutual option with a $2MM buyout if he is traded, meaning he is now guaranteed $12.19MM through the end of the 2015 campaign and can reach free agency sooner even with a strong performance next year.
The former Dodgers closer is enjoying a strong year with the Reds. Broxton opened the season as Cincinnati’s closer with Aroldis Chapman on the disabled list, and he’s pitched well in a setup role since that time. In 48 1/3 innings this season, Broxton has pitched to a 1.86 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate. Broxton has been fortunate on balls in play (.221 BABIP) and home runs (5.0% homer-to-flyball ratio), causing sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (3.52), xFIP (4.26) and SIERA (3.79) to rate his work less favorably than his actual run prevention rate would indicate.
Milwaukee’s bullpen could certainly use an upgrade, as they’ve recently lost both Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson to season-ending injuries. Broxton will provide manager Ron Roenicke with an experienced relief arm, as he figures to aid Will Smith and Brandon Kintzler in bridging the gap from a solid rotation to closer Francisco Rodriguez.
It’s unclear if Broxton had cleared waivers or whether the Brewers claimed him, although given his relatively large salary and the trade provision that increases his option buyout, he seems like a candidate to have cleared waivers. The budget-conscious Reds will likely save some, if not all of Broxton’s remaining salary, which will provide general manager Walt Jocketty with additional flexibility in the coming offseason. The Reds are expected to shop at least one of their starters this offseason, according to multiple reports, as Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon are all set to hit free agency following the 2015 season.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the trade (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
In his Sunday column, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that “the key to [the Rays'] offseason flexibility might be trades” before noting that Tampa would be eager to deal either Grant Balfour or Jose Molina if they opportunity presented itself. He also speculates that names such as Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Jeremy Hellickson are names to watch, and he wonders whether or not Desmond Jennings and even Wil Myers will be discussed in trades this winter as well.
Here’s more from Topkin’s piece and the rest of the AL East…
- While trading Yunel Escobar to the A’s or letting him go on waivers might’ve been popular with Rays fans (and even some in the clubhouse, Topkin notes), the team held onto him for multiple reasons. Firstly, the Rays are confident that Escobar will rebound from a tough 2014 season next year. They also don’t trust Ben Zobrist at shortstop next year in his age-34 season and aren’t sold on Nick Franklin‘s defense at short. Nor are they certain whether or not Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham will be ready in 2015. Beyond that, the Rays don’t feel they can replace Escobar for as cheap little as he stands to earn in 2015 ($5MM).
- Kelly Johnson, who went to the Orioles as the key to a four-player deal Saturday night, is now headed to his fifth straight AL East team. He’s happy to be headed to a likely playoff team in Baltimore, he tells the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “It’s crazy,” says Johnson. “Obviously I’ll be familiar with the surroundings. … I’m obviously excited to be in a situation where you’re on a first-place team.”
- In a second piece, Britton also looked at the struggles of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, and he spoke with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen about whether or not the hardships experienced by that duo has led the Sox to reevaluate their evaluation process for young players. Hazen speaks at length about the league-wide decline of offense, the increase in defensive shifts and the progress made in scouting reports, noting that it’s tougher now for young players to break through.
3:08pm: The Athletics will pay just $1MM of the $2.3MM remaining on Dunn’s contract, Slusser tweets.
10:45am: Dunn will join the A’s tomorrow, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.
10:38am: The A’s have acquired Adam Dunn from the White Sox in exchange for minor league pitcher Nolan Sanburn, the team announced. Though the A’s were on his limited no-trade clause, word broke this morning that Dunn, who has never played in the postseason, was willing to waive that clause in order for a chance to win.
Dunn, 34, is hitting .220/.340/.433 with 20 homers on the season, and his numbers against right-handed pitchers are even better: .232/.357/.457 with 18 homers. The hope for the A’s is that adding some left-handed pop can help to spark an offense that has gone dormant in the month of August. Though the A’s still lead the Majors in total runs scored, they’re hitting just .248/.324/.394 this month and they’re tied with the Phillies for 20th in runs scored this month at 102. Many fans attribute those struggles to the decision to trade Yoenis Cespedes, and in Dunn, Oakland will receive a hitter whose wRC+ of 114 is similar to the 113 mark posted by Cespedes.
Those offensive struggles for the A’s have been a significant factor in the team’s fall from atop the American League West. They’ve had a particularly difficult time scoring runs against the now-division-leading Angels, as Anaheim has outscored the A’s by a score of 10 to three thus far in their four-game series. Oakland has been shut out in each of the past two contests against the Halos and has fallen to four games back in the division. They are still, however, in position to finish as one of the Wild Card winners.
John Jaso has served as Oakland’s left-handed DH quite a bit this season, but the A’s recently placed Jaso on the seven-day disabled list due to concussion-like symptoms, and they’ve been mixing and matching with Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp, Derek Norris and Gomes of late. Crisp, however, has recently re-strained his neck, which could lead to more outfield time for Moss, especially if Crisp is out for a significant amount of time.
Dunn is earning $15MM in the final season of a four-year, $56MM pact with the White Sox, meaning he is owed about $2.54MM for the month of September. Presumably, that salary commitment and Dunn’s well-documented defensive limitations allowed him to clear waivers. This marks the fourth significant trade of the summer for the A’s, who have acquired Sam Fuld, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes in other deals.
In Sanburn, the Sox will acquire a right-hander that ranked 12th on MLB.com’s midseason list of top 20 Athletics prospects. The 23-year-old was Oakland’s second-round pick back in 2012 and has pitched to a 3.28 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 71 1/3 relief innings at Class-A Advanced this season. He’s finished 23 games and picked up six saves in his time at Stockton.
Sanburn has been plagued by some shoulder issues, but he also has less mileage on his arm than many pitching prospects due to the fact that he was an outfielder in college and for part of his time in college at Arkansas. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note in their free scouting report that Sanburn touched 99 mph in college and offers a curveball with good depth as well. The MLB.com duo notes that Sanburn has a promising slider and changeup as well, but concerns over his durability have led to a bullpen role this season in Oakland.
Tom Verducci of SI.com first reported that the A’s were pursuing Dunn. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the A’s were the front-runners to land him and that Dunn would waive his no-trade clause. ESPN’s Buster Olney first tweeted that the A’s were closing in on a deal for Dunn.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Phillies announced that they have released veteran right-hander Jason Marquis from his minor league deal.
The 36-year-old Marquis signed with the Phillies back in early June as the longtime Major Leaguer was on the road back from Tommy John surgery. He made eight starts for the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate at Lehigh Valley, pitching to a 4.63 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, totaling 46 2/3 innings. Marquis was slowed by a sore back and eventually placed on the minor league disabled list with an oblique injury, though he recovered and made a start as recently as Saturday.
It’s possible that a team in need of veteran pitching depth will take a look at Marquis for the season’s final month. In parts of 14 Major League seasons, Marquis has a 4.56 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a strong 50.7 percent ground-ball rate.
9:30am: The A’s are closing in on a trade for Dunn, Olney tweets.
9:00am: The Giants are no longer a potential landing spot for Dunn, according to Olney (Twitter link).
8:45am: Rosenthal tweets that the A’s are the front-runners to acquire Dunn, who is willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a trade to Oakland.
8:34am: The Giants, A’s and one other club are pursuing Dunn, Rosenthal further reports (Twitter links). Oakland is indeed on Dunn’s no-trade list, but Dunn will consider allowing a trade for a chance to win in the postseason, he adds. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that the Dodgers are still in discussion with the White Sox on Dunn (Twitter link).
8:31am: The Giants and A’s are both looking to make a late trade for White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, reports Tom Verducci of SI.com. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that there was a lot of chatter yesterday that Dunn could be moved in advance of the Sept. 1 deadline for postseason eligibility. Rosenthal also notes that Dunn has a limited no-trade clause, and while the teams on that list aren’t known, Oakland frequently finds itself listed on players’ no-trade clauses.
However, as Verducci notes, Dunn leads all active players in games played without a postseason appearance, and he’s also discussed the possibility of retiring after the season. With those factors in mind, it’s hard to imagine Dunn blocking a trade to a team with a good chance of providing him with the first playoff experience of his 14-year career.
Players acquired via trade after Aug. 31 are not eligible for their new team’s postseason roster, making today somewhat of a soft trade deadline (we of course have seen trades take place after Sept. 1). As such, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Dunn (and/or others) on the move, and the White Sox certainly aren’t averse to trading veterans, having just dealt Alejandro De Aza to the Orioles last night.
While there haven’t been reports on Dunn clearing revocable trade waivers, his $15MM salary and defensive limitations both make him a candidate to clear waivers. If that has happened, he’s free to be dealt to any team, and that would certainly seem to be the implication in Verducci’s article, as he notes that the Dodgers also inquired on Dunn but aren’t considered a fit. The “Big Donkey” is owed about $2.54MM in September, so Chicago GM Rick Hahn could sweeten a potential trade by offering to pay some or all of Dunn’s remaining salary.
Dunn hit his 20th homer of the season yesterday and has posted a .220/.340/.433 batting line on the season as a whole. His platoon issues have been building for years, and they’re very apparent in 2014, as he’s hitting just .154/.274/.288 with two homers against southpaws and .232/.351/.457 against righties. Dunn could be used as a bench bat for the Giants and perhaps a platoon option at DH for the A’s. Clearly, he could play a bigger role in Oakland than in San Francisco, and for what it’s worth, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that A’s GM Billy Beane has told him that he “loves” Dunn in the past.