Author Archives: Zach Links

Ben Cherington On Shane Victorino, Rusney Castillo

Earlier this evening, the Red Sox and the Angels reached agreement on a deal to send Shane Victorino and cash considerations out west in exchange for infielder Josh Rutledge.  In a conference call with reporters, Red Sox Executive Vice President/GM Ben Cherington explained that the talks started only in the last few days.

The deal kind of came together over the weekend,” Cherington said. “I talked to Shane this afternoon during batting practice about it…He’s been a part of a lot of great moments, not just for the Red Sox, but throughout his career.”

The deal was not an easy one for Cherington to make and it has brought about some mixed emotions for the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  Victorino expressed to Cherington that he’s happy to have an opportunity to join up with a contender and play meaningful games down the stretch.  On the other hand, the veteran feels that his time in Boston marked a very important part of his career and he is sad to leave his Red Sox teammates behind.

Baseball-wise, the deal opens up space on the Red Sox’s roster, allowing them to get a good look at international signee Rusney Castillo.  While Cherington wouldn’t quantify how much that played a role in the Victorino trade, he said that it was “certainly” a consideration.  However, there aren’t any immediate plans to make a similar move to accommodate Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie is doing well. There’s merit and consideration in trying to get some opportunities for him too, but today it’s Castillo.  We’ll see where it goes after that,” said the GM.

As for Rutledge, Cherington confessed that he has had interest in the infielder “going back to his Colorado days.”  With Dustin Pedroia on the DL, the 26-year-old figures to see a good amount of playing time the rest of the way.  If he does well, Cherington says he can envision him “being a part of the team going forward.”

Outside of today’s transaction, Cherington kept mum about other possible dealings this week.  When asked about the level of interest he’s received in Mike Napoli, he effectively gave a no comment.  When another reporter inquired on what’s next, Cherington tersely replied, “[There’s] nothing to announce and nothing is particularly close.”


Minor MLB Transactions: 7/26/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The Pirates activated infielder Justin Sellers from the disabled list and outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis, Adam Berry of MLB.com tweets.  Sellers, who has been dealing with an Achilles injury, had been on the 60-day DL, so the move does not change the Pirates’ 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39.
  • The Angels have outrighted lefty Adam Wilk to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The team designated Wilk for assignment on Friday. Wilk has pitched two innings for the Angels and has spent most of the season in Salt Lake’s rotation, posting a 5.52 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings.

Quick Hits: Royals, Pirates, Dodgers, Benoit

Here’s a roundup of the latest trade-deadline-related news:

  • The Royals are still working to upgrade their bench, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  Kansas City is looking at both infielders and outfielders to improve its reserve group.
  • Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen is now a stronger trade candidate now that the Rays have slipped to 49-51, Morosi tweets.  Jepsen, who is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, owns a 2.88 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 through 45 appearances this season.
  • Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is adamant that his team should not sell before the deadline, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington says that he’s not necessarily done shopping even after acquiring Aramis Ramirez, Adam Berry of MLB.com writes.  “We’ve shored up what we felt was our biggest soft spot. We’ll continue to look,” Huntington said. “It just gives us some versatility and flexibility to find where we think the next best match and next best fit is.”  However, he wouldn’t specify what area he might target in the coming days.
  • One issue for the Dodgers is that they aren’t willing to part with top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.  At that point, there’s a big dropoff to whoever their No. 3 prospect might be, whether it’s pitcher Jose De Leon or someone else.
  • The perception in the market is that the Padres will definitely move Joaquin Benoit before the deadline, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.


Pirates Interested In Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino

The Pirates have considered acquiring Mike Napoli and/or Shane Victorino, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Napoli hasn’t been successful at the plate lately but he has been decent defensively, Biertempfel notes.

The Bucs’ interest in Napoli might be a brand new development.  Late last week, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Red Sox weren’t getting any interest in the struggling first baseman.  Napoli has hit just .205/.301/.372 in 335 plate appearances this season, well off the .818 OPS mark he carried through his first two seasons in Boston. If he can rebound, though, he might help the Pirates against lefties while also easing their dependence on Pedro Alvarez, who has struggled defensively in his first season at first base.

Victorino has been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary.  For his part, the 34-year-old says that he hopes to stay in Boston through the end of his contract. The right-handed Victorino would complement Gregory Polanco in right field, although Polanco has played better lately. Victorino could also potentially help the Pirates’ bench, although he hasn’t hit well in either of the last two seasons and has struggled since returning from a calf injury earlier this month. He’s making $13MM this season, after which he’ll be a free agent.


Latest On David Price

Now that Johnny Cueto has been moved to the Royals, one can’t help but wonder if fellow ace David Price will be on his way out of the AL Central.  A deal could very well take place, but it probably won’t happen until very close to the deadline, agent Bo McKinnis told MLB Network Radio.

[Last Thursday], I had some folks that asked me my thoughts.  Then, I said I feel like if they were to go 5-3 in those eight, that [Tigers president/GM Dave] Dombrowski would hang onto him [past the deadline],” McKinnis said, according to MLB.com’s Jason Beck. “Well, since I made that comment of them needing to go 5-3, they’ve actually gone 2-2 … so it’s kind of hard to say I’m optimistic about us staying. Yet I have no doubt that Dave’s going to drag it to Thursday or Friday. If I was in his shoes, that’s what I would do, because this team was set up to win, and it’s just kind of hard to throw in the towel.”

McKinnis also addressed speculation that there haven’t been contract talks between Price and the Tigers.  That chatter is “incorrect,” though McKinnis says that the two sides have been too far apart to ever make serious headway towards a deal.

When asked about the prospect of allowing another team a 48-hour window to negotiate a long-term deal, McKinnis wouldn’t rule it out, but he seemed skeptical that something could get done.

I try to never say never,” McKinnis said, “so I’m not going to give a blanket no to that, because you don’t know what’s going to be on the other end. They may offer us a billion dollars. You just never know. So I’m not going to say no to it…We’re sitting here two months away from free agency. It’s kind of tough to not wait on that, but I’m not going to say it’s impossible to at least entertain something of that nature.”

The Tigers aren’t necessarily opposed to granting a 48-hour window, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports.   A high-ranking Tigers official told Morosi that the team has no such policy against doing that, even though such windows are rare in MLB trades.

Still, it’s not certain that Price will get moved.  If the Tigers keep their ace, they’ll look to add between now and the deadline, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.  Right now, they’re currently in the market checking on upgrades.


Latest On Cole Hamels

4:42pm: The Rangers and Dodgers have emerged as the likely favorites to land Hamels, multiple sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.  The Phillies continue to discuss Hamels with at least four other teams – the Cubs, Yankees, Giants and Red Sox – but those teams don’t match up as well as Los Angeles or Texas, according to a source who spoke with Stark.  Sources also told Stark they would be surprised if a trade was completed before Tuesday.

3:13pm: The Yankees are exploring deals for all of the major available starting pitchers, but they’re not inclined to move top prospects or take on lots of salary to acquire Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

12:10pm: The Phillies and Rangers remain in dialogue about a Hamels trade, but nothing is “close” at this time, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) hears from sources.

9:52am: “Industry sentiment” has the Rangers as the favorites for Hamels, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.  Texas has long-term motivation for acquiring Hamels, the prospects necessary to swing a deal, and the hurler can’t block a trade to the Rangers.

9:48am: Momentum is building towards a Cole Hamels trade, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.  Offers for the Phillies ace have improved since Hamels’ no-hitter and teams are now asking for less money and offering better players, sources tell Rosenthal.

At this time, Rosenthal hears (link) that the five teams with the most recent interest in Hamels (in no particular order) are the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees, and Giants.  The Red Sox, who are eager to win in 2016, have been connected to Hamels, but they are absent from Rosenthal’s top five.

On Saturday, Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Yankees have asked about Hamels, but their interest does not appear to be much more than due diligence at this time.  The Astros also scouted Hamels’ Saturday start and while they were undoubtedly impressed with his performance, they are not amongst the top five teams according to Rosenthal.


Reactions To Johnny Cueto Trade

After months of speculation, the Reds finally parted ways with pitcher Johnny Cueto.  On Sunday, the Reds and Royals finalized a deal that sends Cueto to KC for pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.  In this deal, the Reds landed two lefties who could blossom into mid-rotation starters and a third lefty who can be placed in the back of their rotation right away, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America writes.  Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the Cueto deal..

  • It’s unlikely that the Reds will reacquire Cueto in free agency this winter, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.  Rosecrans wouldn’t be surprised to see the Reds make a run at Mike Leake – another rumored trade candidate – this winter, but he doesn’t expect that reunion to happen either.
  • Cueto told reporters “It’s a good trade. But I am sad,” Nick Groke of The Denver Post tweets.
  • If Cueto gets the Royals where they want to go in 2015, it won’t matter whether he stays or leaves, Richard Justice of MLB.com writes.  GM Dayton Moore definitely weakened his farm system, but Cueto gives them a chance to win big this year.
  • One AL scout told Jack Magruder of The Sports Xchange (on Twitter) that Reed is the sleeper in the deal.  That scout sees Reed’s future as a reliever and also feels that Finnegan best fits in a bullpen.
  • Finnegan and Lamb will head to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.  Finnegan will be used as a starter.
  • The Reds did well in the deal considering that Cueto is a rental, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.  Finnegan and Lamb, he says, both need more time to develop but they both have upside.
  • The Reds got a great return, but this was a deal the Royals had to make, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Here’s a sneak peek at what Cueto might look like in his new Royals jersey, from our official Instagram page.  For the latest from MLBTR on Instagram, follow us today – @traderumorsMLB.

Dodgers Interested In Rangers’ Yovani Gallardo

The Dodgers view Rangers pitcher Yovani Gallardo as a backup plan if they do not land Cole Hamels or David Price, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  It was reported last week that the Rangers are listening on Gallardo.

Gallardo, 29, has provided the Rangers with 121 1/3 quality innings since coming over in a winter deal from the Brewers. He owns a 3.19 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 on the year.

But, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Gallardo has given no indication of interest in an extension, making him an expiring asset for a club that has faded of late. Despite his solid work, Gallardo’s value may not quite match his results. His track record is more that of a mid-rotation innings eater than a top-of-the-rotation arm, and ERA estimators take a somewhat dim view of his work this year (particularly a 4.39 SIERA mark).

For his career, Gallardo owns a 3.65 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.


NL Rumors: Bruce, Mets, Cueto, Padres

The Reds already made one big move today, could another be around the corner?  The Mets are heavily scouting outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Recently, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com heard that the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, and that could be an indication that Bruce is very much available.

Here’s more from the National League..

  • The Blue Jays‘ talks with the Reds concerning Johnny Cueto never gained traction, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter).  Davidi hears that the Reds were asking for a package headlined by Marcus Stroman.  Cueto, of course, went from the Reds to the Royals on Sunday afternoon.
  • “Industry perception” is that there is some pressure on the Padres to move out future payroll as the deadline approaches, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.  On Sunday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Tyson Ross was drawing the most interest of any of the Padres’ starting pitchers.  Of course, when it comes to finances, the Padres would surely prefer to move the contract of James Shields.
  • The Marlins should get a better indication what they can get for Mat Latos after learning the details of the Johnny Cueto deal, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets.

Royals Acquire Johnny Cueto From Reds

The Reds announced that Johnny Cueto has been traded to the Royals for left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.  The Reds are also sending cash considerations to KC, according to the Royals’ press release.

Cueto, 29, is months from his first shot at free agency, and the fourth-place Reds were been rumored to be shopping him for a while now. Along with the Royals, the Dodgers and Blue Jays were among teams that have been connected to Cueto. However, KC has come out on top.

Johnny Cueto

[RELATED: Latest On Cole Hamels]

Cueto impressed in his final start as a member of the Reds when he threw eight shutout innings at Coors Field on Saturday night.  Just minutes prior to the game, the right-hander wasn’t sure if he’d even be getting the start.  The possibility of a KC trade apparently was so close last night that pitcher Michael Lorenzen had been warming up before the game, prepared to take Cueto’s place.  The deal fell through, for a time, but the two teams reconnected Sunday morning to complete a swap.

Cueto has been a rumored trade candidate for some time now but the Reds were apparently reluctant to move any of their key pieces before this year’s All-Star Game, which was played in Cincinnati.  Now that the All-Star festivities are in the rear view mirror and the Reds are at 43-52, there was little reason for them to hang on to the ace.  Cueto is earning a relatively modest $10MM salary in 2015, of which less than $4.3MM remains.

Through 19 starts this season, Cueto has posted a 2.62 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.  For his career, Cueto has posted a 3.21 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 across eight seasons with the Reds.  Cueto didn’t get to pitch in front of his fans in this year’s All-Star game but he did earn an All-Star nod in 2014, his best complete season to date.

Finnegan, a left-hander, was rated as the No. 55 prospect in the nation by Baseball America heading into the 2015 season.  In seven starts and four relief appearances this season between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Finnegan has posted a 5.00 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 6.3 BB/9.  Those numbers aren’t impressive, but they also came in a limited sample size of 27 innings.  At the big league level this year, Finnegan owns a 2.96 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 14 relief appearances.

Rated as the No. 18 prospect in the country by Baseball America prior to 2011, the 25-year-old Lamb has ascended the ranks of KC’s farm system but has yet to make his big league debut.  Tommy John surgery in 2011 kept him from pitching for the better part of two seasons and slowed his development.  So far this season, however, he’s looking sharp in Triple-A Omaha, pitching to a 2.67 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 17 starts. In years past, BA has praised Lamb for his control and changeup.

Reed, a left-handed reliever, has split his time between Advanced-A ball and Double-A this year.  Across 15 starts and three relief appearances, the 2013 second-round pick has pitched to a 2.53 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.

The agreement was first reported byKen Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Details added by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter), Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter), Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (on Twitter), and John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).