Author Archives: Zach Links

Quick Hits: Marlins, Parra, Pederson

Ichiro Suzuki earned $400K in bonus money for reaching the 300-plate appearance threshold last week. As per the terms of Suzuki’s one-year, $2MM deal with the Marlins, Suzuki will earn an additional $400K for every 50 PA past 300, up to 600 plate appearances. Between Marcell Ozuna‘s demotion and injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, Suzuki has seen quite a bit more playing time than expected this season. With 332 PA after today’s action, Ichiro looks well on his way to adding at least another $800K to his 2015 salary, though he could lose some at-bats to younger outfielders once the rosters expand. Here’s more from around the league as we wrap up the weekend…

  • The Marlins are considering lowering the walls and bringing in the fences at Marlins Park, team president David Samson tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.  The stadium has finished at or near the bottom of the Park Factor home run rankings since opening in 2012.
  • The Reds placed Manny Parra on the DL today with bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder, the third time the southpaw has hit the DL this season.  John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) thought that Parra would be a good trade candidate for the Reds, but that’s now an impossibility with him on the DL until at least September 4th.  Parra has been solid when healthy, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3-to-1 K/BB rate over 25 innings and pitching well against both left-handed and right-handed batters.  He drew some trade interest prior to the July 31 deadline though that buzz was scuttled by an earlier DL stint.
  • Joc Pederson has lost his job as the Dodgers‘ everyday center fielder, manager Don Mattingly told reporters (including ESPN’s Mark Saxon).  Enrique Hernandez will take over in center for the time being.  Pederson enjoyed a huge start to his rookie season but has been in a protracted slump since early June, hitting just .168/.328/.298 with six homers over his last 259 PA.
  • In July of this year, Mike Morse went from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates.  Morse admits that he was hoping for a return to the Giants, but he’s happy with how everything turned out, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  “If there was one place at the time I would have wanted to go, it was the Giants, not knowing that I’d get an opportunity here in Pittsburgh,” said Morse, who entered today with an .821 OPS over 25 PA as a Pirate. “Now that I see everything here, it’s awesome.”
  • Ian Kinsler wasn’t thrilled at the time of the deal that sent him from the Rangers to the Tigers, but he now tells Katie Strang of ESPN.com that the change of scenery worked out for the best.  “It’s a good place to be. There’s no hidden agenda,” Kinsler said. “The owner is all in, the [former] general manager, Dave Dombrowski, was all in. [Current] general manager Al [Avila] is the same way. There’s no difference between behind the scenes and in your face.”

NL West Links: Betancourt, Venable, Hall

The Dodgers‘ losing streak extended to five games after dropping a 3-2 result to the Astros today.  It was another rough outing for the struggling Los Angeles bullpen, as Kenley Jansen blew a save by allowing Houston to tie the game in the ninth, and Chris Hatcher picked up the loss after giving up a 10th-inning walkoff homer to Jason Castro.  Entering Sunday, Dodgers relievers had combined for a 6.00 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-worst bullpen ERA of any club in the second half.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Rafael Betancourt was designated for assignment by the Rockies earlier today, and the veteran reliever told reporters (including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) that he’s at peace with the fact that his 12-year career could be over.  He isn’t too optimistic about another team picking him up, saying “I don’t see any team that’s a contender right now that is looking to” acquire a struggling 40-year-old.  Betancourt may be a little hard on himself; several ERA indicators (3.32 FIP, 4.27 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA) show that he’s pitching much better than his 6.18 ERA would imply, and his velocity, strikeouts and walk rates are around his career averages.  Betancourt has been hurt by a .328 BABIP and a stunningly low 52.6% strand rate over his 39 1/3 innings of work.
  • The Dodgers declined to claim Will Venable on trade waivers, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  Los Angeles is rather deep with outfield options but, as Morosi notes, the Dodgers could’ve used Venable in center with Joc Pederson struggling.  The Dodgers were hardly alone in passing on Venable, who went through waivers and then garnered interest from several teams.  The Padres dealt Venable to the Rangers last week.
  • The Diamondbacks are eager to make an impact in Japan both marketing-wise and in terms of player acquisitions, team president Derrick Hall told Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times.  “For us, we’ve always looked to be identified with someone in Japan.  We’re still hoping to find that talent one day,” Hall said.  “It’s a dream of mine personally to have a Japanese player in a D’Back uniform, as well as a Mexican-born player who can have an impact. Because I’ve seen what a difference that makes having grown up and cut my own teeth in the Dodgers organization all those years. Of course I was around during the time of Nomo-san and Nomomania and that was electric.”
  • Hall, Tony La Russa, Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez recently traveled to Japan on a goodwill tour on the Diamondbacks’ behalf, and while they weren’t specifically there to scout players, they did see Kenta Maeda and Shohei Otani pitch in NPB action.  Arizona was one of several teams linked to Maeda last offseason before the righty decided to re-sign with the Hiroshima Carp.  Maeda could be posted this winter, while Otani is just 21 and it’ll be at least a few seasons before the Nippon Ham Fighters consider making him available to North American teams.  Hall said the D’Backs are “going to be aggressive” on signing talent they believe in, though given the large fees involved in signing top-flight Japanese talent, “it makes it more difficult for teams like us in smaller markets.  When we write that big a check, we cannot miss. We’ve gotta be right.”

Cafardo On Dombrowski, De Aza, Buchholz, Lackey

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe runs down the candidates for the Red Sox GM job.  Frank Wren, who has a history with new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, is believed to be the favorite for the gig, but there are many other candidates who could be in the mix.  Cafardo runs down several intriguing names, including ex-Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd.  For what it’s worth, O’Dowd told Cafardo that he enjoys his current job as an MLB Network analyst and has no idea whether Dombrowski would consider him for a position.  Here’s more from Cafardo….

  • In addition to the Dodgers, the Giants also had interest in acquiring Red Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza after he cleared waivers, but they felt the asking price was too high, Cafardo writes.  Boston acquired De Aza from the Orioles in early June and one has to imagine that the NL West clubs were drawn to him, in part, because he would have served as a highly-affordable rental.  The Red Sox were on the hook for only $1MM of his salary after acquiring him from Baltimore.
  • Ben Cherington probably would have picked up the $13MM option on the injury-prone Clay Buchholz, but Cafardo isn’t sure if Dombrowski will do the same.  One AL GM told Cafardo that Buchholz would likely be in line for “around $15MM on a three-year deal” if he were to hit the open market.
  • Cafardo doesn’t buy the theory that the Red Sox hired Dombrowski quickly in order to give him more time to trade Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez.  To deal either of the struggling sluggers, Boston “would have to eat major money and that may not be in the cards.”
  • Sources close to Cardinals hurler John Lackey tell Cafardo that the veteran wants to stay in the National League because he’s had an easier time pitching there.  St. Louis has interest in a reunion, though not on a lengthy contract since Lackey turns 37 in October.
  • Tigers adviser Scott Reid has been mentioned as someone Dombrowski could bring with him to the Red Sox, but at this time, Dombrowski has not asked permission to speak with Detroit executives.  Many of those execs also received promotions after Dombrowski’s departure, so it’s not clear if they can be lured away.
  • Agent Alan Nero believes there will be a ripe market for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park. “We’re just preparing for the process right now,” Nero said. “We believe there’s going to be a lot of interest as there was with [Jung Ho] Kang. Major league teams certainly covet right-handed power.” The Red Sox have been scouting the Nexen Heroes star for most of the season and Cafardo suggests that they could platoon him with left-handed-batter Travis Shaw. Even though Park could carry a notable price tag via the posting system, that could be cheaper for the Sox than going after the likes of Chris Davis or Justin Morneau on the open market.


Minor MLB Transactions: 8/23/15

Today’s minor moves, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…


MLBTR Originals

A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR the last seven days:

  • The MLB Trade Rumors podcast returned this week as host Jeff Todd spoke with Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald about the Red Sox’s surprising front office shakeup.  A new episode of the MLB Trade Rumors Podcast will be released every Thursday and can be accessed on iTunesSoundCloud, and Stitcher.
  • Recently, MLB Trade Rumors launched a brand new official Instagram account:@TradeRumorsMLB.  Each day, we’re sharing conversation-inspiring images about the hottest topics in baseball.  From there, we invite you to give us a like, weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section, and even share the link with a friend.  So, what are you waiting for?  If you don’t have an Instagram account, this is the perfect excuse to sign up and get one.  Follow us on Instagram today!
  • Steve Adams examined Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna as a trade candidate.  Trading Ozuna would be selling low on a player that could certainly blossom into a premium talent, but that same upside would probably be enough to net the Marlins an enticing return, Steve writes.
  • We’ve seen some notable transactions go down on August 23rd in years past.  This morning, we reflected on some of the bigger moves to happen on this date in recent years.
  • If you missed out on the weekly chat hosted by Steve, you can get caught up with the transcript here.
  • Earlier today we rounded up the best from the baseball blogosphere in our weekly feature, Baseball Blogs Weigh In.

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This Date In Transactions History: 8/23/15

The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone but there are still plenty of moves that go down in the month of August.  Historically, we’ve seen some significant transactions go down on the date of August 23rd.  Could we see some moves of note today on MLB Trade Rumors?  While we wait to find out, let’s take a look back at the last few years..

  • One year ago today, the Red Sox signed Cuban sensation Rusney Castillo.  The seven-year deal could be worth up to $72.5MM in total, assuming that the outfielder does not opt out before 2020.  The buzz around Castillo was building momentum all through the summer, but the size of the deal took many around baseball by surprise.  Owner John Henry has acknowledged that missing out on Jose Abreu may have played a role in Boston’s aggressive pursuit of Castillo, but Red Sox exec Allard Baird recently defended the signing and stressed that Boston did its homework on Castillo.  The 28-year-old hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the contract so far but he has looked strong since his latest recall from Triple-A.
  • On this date in 2013, the Nationals sent David DeJesus to the Rays for a player to be named later.  Of course, DeJesus’ stint in Washington amounted to little more than a layover.  The Nats acquired DeJesus in a waiver deal with the Cubs on August 19th and sent him packing just days later.  In total, DeJesus went 0-for-3 with a walk in his brief tenure with the Nationals.  DeJesus would enjoy a lengthier stint with the Rays before a late July deal this season sent him to the Angels.
  • On the same date as the DeJesus deal, the Nationals also shipped Kurt Suzuki to the A’s for minor leaguer Dakota Bacus.  Suzuki’s time in Washington was fairly short, though not as quick as DeJesus’ stint.  The catcher, who was sent to the Nationals in August of 2012, found himself back in Oakland just one year and 20 days later.  After helping the A’s reach the postseason, Suzuki had his $8.5MM option declined in the offseason.  The catcher would go on to sign a one-year deal with the Twins that winter and he later inked a multi-year extension in the midst of his first All-Star campaign.
  • On this date in 2009, the Red Sox signed Xander Bogaerts as an amateur free agent.  While he’s regarded as a possible up-and-coming star today, Bogaerts did not have a great deal of hype around him when he was signed as a 16-year-old.  The Red Sox inked the Aruban shortstop for a paltry $410K signing bonus.

Giants Interested In Drew Stubbs

The Giants have interest in Drew Stubbs, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter).  If the Giants were to sign Stubbs, it would have to be on a minor league deal, he adds.

Stubbs cleared waivers Sunday morning after being designated for assignment earlier this month and released late last week.  The 30-year-old Stubbs enjoyed arguably the best season of his career with the Rockies in 2014, but he opened the season with a 6-for-51 slump and was ultimately optioned to Triple-A, where’s he spent much of the year. Stubbs hit well enough in the minors, but his typical power was nowhere to be seen, as he homered just twice at the Triple-A level. He returned to the Majors in early July and has hit well in limited duty, though his overall batting line of .216/.286/.431 leaves plenty to be desired – especially for someone playing half his games at Coors Field.

Stubbs and the Rockies agreed to a $5.825MM contract this winter to avoid arbitration, a raise he earned by hitting .289/.339/.482 in 424 plate appearances last season. Stubbs has always had pretty notable platoon splits, though, and nearly all of his damage both with the Rockies and the Reds came while playing in his hitter-friendly home environments. Defensively speaking, he can handle all three outfield spots with UZR and DRS pegging him as a roughly average center fielder over the life of his career.


Rockies Designate Rafael Betancourt For Assignment

Rockies skipper Walt Weiss says Rafael Betancourt has been designated for assignment, Thomas Harding of MLB.com tweets.  The Rockies manager also wondered aloud if Betancourt could be picked up by another team in the next ten days.

Weiss went on to call Betancourt a “warrior” and he said that his conversation with the veteran right-hander was tough (link).  Weiss said that he admired the way Betancourt came back from Tommy John surgery and gave him a tip of the cap for his Rockies career.

In 45 games for the Rockies this season, Betancourt has struggled, pitching to a 6.18 ERA, although his 9.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 rates are not that far off from his career numbers.  Betancourt was a fixture in the Rockies’ bullpen for many years, finishing out 136 games over parts of six seasons.  In his 12 total MLB seasons with the Indians and Colorado, Betancourt owns a 3.36 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

To follow the status of Betancourt and other players in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


AL East Notes: Dombrowski, Red Sox, Orioles

Now that Dave Dombrowski is on board as the Red Sox‘s chief decision maker, his No. 1 objective will be to acquire an ace for the rotation, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes.  Fortunately for Dombrowski, this year’s market for top-end starters will be strong with options such as David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Zack Greinke, if he opts out of his deal with the Dodgers.  Failing that, Bowden wonders if Boston could parlay its young talent into landing an ace like Sonny Gray or Chris Sale.   Here’s more from the AL East..

  • There’s a team interested in working out a trade for recently DFA’d Orioles outfielder David Lough, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.  There should be a resolution on his situation today, he adds.  If no trade is worked out, Lough will likely be outrighted to Triple-A.  To keep track of Lough and everyone else in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.
  • Jonah Keri of Grantland reflected on Ben Cherington’s time in Boston and his missteps with the Red Sox.  Cherington whiffed on deals for Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval this offseason while largely neglecting the team’s pitching needs.  Later, despite his reluctance to give a long-term deal to a pitcher, Cherington locked up hurler Rick Porcello to a sizable contract.  Still, despite his mistakes, Keri gives Cherington a good deal of credit for building the team’s farm system.
  • Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com reflected on Dombrowski’s trade history and wondered if he’ll trade away the Red Sox‘s prospects to win in the here and now.

Reds Designate Donn Roach For Assignment

The Reds have designated Donn Roach for assignment, according to Robert Bondy of MLB.com (on Twitter).  The move will help create room for Collin Balester on the 40-man roster.

The Reds claimed Roach off waivers from the Cubs just a little over a month ago. The 25-year-old has made seven starts for Triple-A Louisville and hasn’t fared all that well.  In that small sample size, Roach has a 6.00 ERA with 3.9 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.  Prior to that, Roach made 15 starts for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate and posted a 2.33 ERA with 3.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.  Roach also has 17 big league appearances to his credit the last two years.

To keep track of Roach and everyone else in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.