Baltimore Orioles Rumors

Baltimore Orioles trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Orioles Designate Ryan Lavarnway

The Orioles have designated backstop Ryan Lavarnway for assignment, the club announced. Baltimore has called up Steve Clevenger to take his place on the active roster.

Lavarnway, 27, bounced around the waiver wire this winter before settling with the O’s. He has received just 32 plate appearances, hitting safely just three times. Once a top-100 prospect, Lavarnway has failed to regain his former promise. Now, he’ll likely need to show real improvement in the minors — whether in the Orioles organization or elsewhere — before receiving another chance at MLB action.

Meanwhile, the Orioles will take another look at Clevenger, 29, who has put up excellent numbers at Triple-A this year (.352/.413/.451, 11 walks vs. 10 strikeouts). He offers a left-handed bat to pair with current starter Caleb Joseph as the club awaits Matt Wieters‘ return from injury.

With two years and 58 days of MLB service entering the year, Clevenger would reach a third year of service (and arbitration eligibility) if he stays in the bigs the rest of the way, but another demotion could well leave him shy of the mark. So long as he sticks on the big league roster for 86 days, the minimum required for Super Two status, he’ll likely be arb-eligible next year.


AL East Notes: Loney, Bautista, Sandoval, Kelly, Bundy

Rays first baseman James Loney is headed to the DL for the next four to six weeks with a broken finger, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While the 31-year-old has not exactly been tearing things up at the plate, he is a particularly difficult player for Tampa Bay to replace. As Topkin explains, the club’s 40-man roster does not admit of any ready options at Triple-A. That could lead the Rays to look outside the organization, he suggests, with players in DFA limbo (Casey McGehee, Travis Ishikawa), on the open market (Kila Ka’aihue), or possibly available via trade (Garrett Jones) seeming like potential options. Both McGehee and Ishikawa will, presumably, ultimately be exposed to waivers, though both come with significant salary commitments ($4.8MM and $1.1MM, respectively). The Giants could be motivated to strike a deal involving one of those players if Tampa is willing to take on some cash.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Blue Jays star Jose Bautista is still struggling to deal with painful shoulder inflammation, as Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Bautista says he appreciates the difficulties in lineup construction that the injury has caused, but made clear that he is doing all he can by taking on DH duties. The team’s upcoming interleague stretch and Bautista’s own pain levels were factors in the decision to treat him with a cortisone shot, per the report. It’s an interesting piece that delves into many of the day-to-day matters that have a significant impact on a player over the course of a season, but which often go underappreciated.
  • Struggling badly hitting from the right side, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is seriously considering facing opposing southpaws from the left side of the box, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports“There’s conversation at various points about that. He’s even initiated it at times,” said manager John Farrell. “But until that change is made, that’s something that certainly will include him in that process.” Certainly, it’s interesting to see player and club contemplating such a move just a few months into a five-year, $95MM contract.
  • Joe Kelly and the rest of the Red Sox rotation have all been consistently inconsistent, as Britton writes. The up-and-down performances across the staff have put the club in a tough position, making it difficult to pull the trigger on a move to try another option. “There’s no decision here in this moment,” Farrell said of Kelly’s rotation status. “He’s shown us the ability to go out and work deep in a ballgame. There’s no denying the stuff. It’s a matter of consistent location with his fastball.”
  • Top Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been scratched from his start today after experiencing stiffness in his right shoulder, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports. While it’s far from clear that there is cause for alarm — the team says it hopes Bundy is simply suffering from tendinitis — Bundy has already been forced to rehab back from Tommy John surgery. Another highly-rated young arm, Hunter Harvey, has dealt with more obviously concerning injury issues. The club’s future hinges in no small part on the health and development of those two players, along with the equally-hyped Kevin Gausman.

AL East Links: Matusz, Tanaka, Arencibia

Though the Rays are just 24-21 for the season and 5-5 over their last 10 games, they’ve vaulted into first place in the AL East as the division’s only winning team.  The Yankees have lost 10 of their last 11 games to drop to an even 22-22 while the Red Sox (21-23), Orioles (19-22) and Blue Jays (20-26) are just struggling to get back to the .500 mark.  Here’s the latest from the struggling division…

  • Orioles reliever Brian Matusz was ejected from Saturday’s game with the Marlins for having a foreign substance on his arm, and now the southpaw has been suspended for eight games, Major League Baseball announced today.  Matusz is appealing the suspension.  As Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun notes, the suspension comes at an inopportune time for the O’s, as their pitching depth will already be tested due to a stretch of 14 games in 13 days (thanks to a double-header).  Left-handed batters have only hit .185/.214/.296 this season against Matusz, who has a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings.  The eight games matches the length of the suspension handed out to Brewers lefty Will Smith for a similar offense last week.
  • Masahiro Tanaka told reporters (including Dan Martin of the New York Post) that he is “not gonna make a change” to his pitching style in the wake of forearm and wrist injuries, but admits that he is “going to have to oversee my body a little bit better.”  Tanaka’s health has been of great concern since it was revealed that he had a partially-torn UCL last summer, and despite a couple of DL stints since, the Yankees still hope their ace can avoid a longer-term stay on the injured reserve.  Tanaka will make his second minor league rehab start on Wednesday.
  • J.P. Arencibia is trying to stay optimistic as the catcher continues his pro career for the Rays‘ Triple-A team, he tells Sportsnet’s Greg Mercer.  Arencibia goes into detail about how he felt he didn’t deal with the pressure of being an everyday player with the Blue Jays, and also about his surprise at being released by the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season.


Minor Moves: Ka’aihue, Roe, Bianchi

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

  • The Nationals have released first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, according to the International League transactions page. The former Royal and Athletic was hitting .194/.314/.328 with Triple-A Syracuse after playing in Japan in 2014 and part of 2013. Ka’aihue has hit .221/.305/.382 in parts of four big-league seasons, the last of which came last year.
  • The Orioles have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chaz Roe and optioned lefty T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. To clear space for Roe on their 40-man roster, they moved lefty Wesley Wright to the 60-day DL. The Orioles played 13 innings against the Marlins yesterday, so Roe gave them a fresh arm. He pitched two scoreless innings today. The 28-year-old had a 2.19 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 24 2/3 innings for Norfolk.
  • The Red Sox have placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL with a calf strain and selected the contract of utilityman Jeff Bianchi. Bianchi played parts of three seasons with the Brewers from 2012 through 2014, playing second, third, shortstop and both outfield corners. He had been hitting .302/.373/.340 in 61 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Orioles Agree To Deal With Ariel Miranda

The Orioles have agreed to a deal with Cuban lefty Ariel Miranda, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. It will be a minor-league contract, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (also on Twitter). The deal will is contingent upon a physical.

The 25-year-old Miranda pitched for seven seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, most recently posting a 3.24 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 13 starts with Mayabeque and Isla de la Juventud in 2013. Due to Miranda’s age and experience, his signing will not be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 168 pounds. Beyond that, there isn’t much information available in English about Miranda, although Sanchez listed him as a free agent to watch in February. Miranda had reportedly established residency in Haiti and was training in the Dominican Republic, according to Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald. Ebro also notes that Miranda is represented by Praver Shapiro.


NL East Notes: Revere, MASN, Espinosa

The Phillies have indeed been talking about a deal involving outfielder Ben Revere with the Angels, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. With Philadelphia moving Cody Asche to a corner role and presumably prepared to give Domonic Brown another shot at the big league level, Revere figures to find himself without a role. Revere is earning a relatively steep $4.1MM salary in 2014 and will be eligible to be tendered arbitration contracts each of the next two seasons.

A bit more from the NL East…

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred left little doubt where he stands on the still-pending legal dispute between the Nationals and Orioles regarding television fees, as Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports (Twitter links). “Sooner or later MASN is going to be required to pay those rights fees,” said Manfred of the increased payouts awarded to the Nationals by the league’s Revenue Sharing Decisions Committee. Technically, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is the plaintiff in the lawsuit; it is jointly owned by both clubs but controlled by Baltimore, which holds a majority share. That validity of that panel’s decision is the immediate matter at issue in the suit.
  • Danny Espinosa has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals, but his turnaround is due more to a lack of trying too hard than to any intentional adjustments, as James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. While Espinosa spent the spring hitting exclusively from the right side of the plate, he returned to a switch-hitting approach during the season and has suddenly thrived from the left side. The 28-year-old middle infielder is playing on a $1.8MM contract this year, and can be controlled for two more years via arbitration. Washington gained an extra season of arb control when it demoted him early in 2013. Espinosa has long been talked about as a trade candidate, but with Anthony Rendon injured and Ian Desmond struggling in his final contract year, that increasingly seems unlikely — despite the fact that Espinosa’s value is higher now than it has been in some time.

Podcast: Bruce Chen Talks Retirement; Patrick Mooney On Cubs

Longtime MLB veteran Bruce Chen joins the show to talk about his decision to bring an end to a distinguished career after throwing more than 1,500 big league innings over 17 seasons. Though he ended his career with the Indians, Chen saw action with eleven big league teams — most prominently, the RoyalsOrioles, and Braves. The consummate crafty lefty, Chen has a fascinating story both personally and as a ballplayer.

Jul 22, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Bruce  Chen (52) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY SportsAlso hopping on with MLBTR is Cubs beat writer Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, who stops by to discuss the team’s most recent moves and to break down how things are shaping up for the trade deadline.

This episode comes to you courtesy of DraftKings.com, who invite you to use promo code “MLBTR” for a free shot at playing fantasy baseball for cash prizes!

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 Thursdays.


Astros Acquire Int’l Bonus Slots From Orioles For Chris Lee

The Orioles have announced a deal that will send a pair of 2014-15 international bonus slots to the Astros. Baltimore will pick up left-hander Chris Lee in return.

Houston will pick up the 46th and 76th overall slots, per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). That delivers an additional $391.5K and $264.3K, respectively, to the Astros’ international coffers for the current July 2 signing season, which is obviously nearing a close.

The addition boosts an already league-leading $5MM+ total allocation. Baltimore had a total of about $2.25MM to work with in the present signing period before today’s move.

The Astros have reportedly signed several seven-figure players, including Ronny RafaelFranklin Perez, and Miguel Sierra. Presumably, the extra space will allow the team to add a few extra players or to avoid some penalties for any overages already incurred.

Lee, 22, has yet to move past the low-A level in the Astros organization, though Baseball America rated him Houston’s 24th-best prospect before the 2014 season. He worked to a 3.66 ERA over 113 innings last year, but posted just 6.0 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. In Lee’s 30 2/3 frames this time around, he has a more promising 7.0 K/9 versus 2.9 BB/9, though he is running a slightly higher earned run average (4.11).


AL East Notes: Tanaka, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, Everth

The Yankees announced today that injured ace Masahiro Tanaka threw a 29-pitch bullpen session at Nationals Park. The bullpen session was the third for Tanaka, who has been on the disabled list for about three weeks with a forearm strain. The Yankees continue to be hopeful that Tanaka, who suffered a small tear in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament last year, will be able to avoid Tommy John surgery (or any other serious operation). Tanaka made two starts at the end of the 2014 season after coming back from the injury and pitched well in four starts prior to his injury in 2015.

Elsewhere in the AL East…

  • Rays manager Kevin Cash won’t name a closer now that Jake McGee is back from the disabled list, writes Troy Provost-Heron of MLB.com. Cash maintains that he’ll use Brad Boxberger (who has closed in McGee’s absence) and McGee in save situations, depending on matchups. Boxberger tells Provost-Heron that he’s ok with not being the team’s sole closer, as McGee helps deepen the bullpen and take pressure of the rotation. However, I’ll note that given Boxberger’s early dominance in the ninth inning, being downgraded to a timeshare or even back to a setup role could have significant impact on his arbitration earnings following the 2016 season. Were Boxberger to have amassed a pair of dominant seasons at the back end of the game, he’d have been in line for a hefty payday. Greg Holland, for instance, landed a $4.65MM payday in his first trip through the arb process. The usage of both McGee and Boxberger will have a strong bearing on how affordable they are for the cost-conscious Rays in the years to come, making their closer situation of particular interest. (As a side note to fantasy players, remember that you can follow MLBTR’s @closernews account on Twitter for consistent updates on closer/setup situations throughout the season.)
  • Just as the Red Sox‘ rotation has begun to show signs of improvement, the team’s offense has gone into the tank, observes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber feels that the team needs to drop Mookie Betts from the leadoff spot as the 22-year-old sorts out his struggles and, perhaps more importantly, call up the hot-hitting Rusney Castillo from Triple-A. Lauber opines that Castillo could deliver more consistently competitive at-bats against right-handed pitching than Shane Victorino, adding that additional rest for Victorino is the best way to keep him healthy at this point. The Red Sox, who lost 5-0 to James Paxton and the Mariners yesterday, have been particularly feeble against left-handed pitching.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com looks at a number of Orioles-related topics in his latest notebook. Kubatko notes that GM Dan Duquette told his colleague, MASN’s Steve Melewski, that there’s a “distinct possibility” that the team will select Chris Parmelee‘s contract from Triple-A, though as Kubatko notes, there’s no clear spot for the corner outfielder/first baseman on the roster. He also notes that catcher Steve Clevenger‘s defense has drawn rave reviews from Triple-A manager Ron Johnson. Baltimore optioned Clevenger to Triple-A, citing a need to improve his defense, and Clevenger has caught 12 of 34 base stealers (35%) this season.
  • Lastly, Kubatko wonders what will come of Everth Cabrera when he’s eligible to be activated from the disabled list. The team can clear a roster spot by optioning Rey Navarro, but they’ll also need a spot in the infield for Ryan Flaherty. Cabrera is out of options and can refuse his outright assignment but still collect his $2.4MM salary if the Orioles pass him through waivers, lending the possibility that a situation similar to that of Ryan Webb could come up in the near future.

AL East Notes: Ortiz, Porcello, Orioles

After a slow start to the season, many have wondered if it’s about time for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz to retire.  Boston hitting coach Chili Davis doesn’t think that’s necessarily the case, however, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes.  “Throughout my career, there were too many people that were ready to write me off way before I got to 39. And every time they did, I came back with a strong year, and they were like, ‘Well, this may be his last year.’ Nobody tells you when you’re done. You know when you’re done,” Davis said. “If you’re that kind of player — and David is that kind of player — he’ll know when he’s done.” Here’s more from the AL East..

  • Red Sox offseason acquisition Rick Porcello is looking more like a complete pitcher and an ace with every start, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. So far, Porcello is looking like the kind of pitcher Boston was hoping for when they inked him to a four-year, $82.5MM extension in April.  Through eight starts this season, the 26-year-old has pitched to a 4.26 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.
  • The Orioles‘ farm system used to be pretty barren when it came to quality pitching choices.  Now, there are multiple quality starting pitchers waiting in the wings for 2016, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes.  Kubatko identifies Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, and Zach Davies as rotation possibilities and adds that Steve Johnson could be a bullpen option down the road, provided that the O’s are alright with him being out of options.
  • Catcher Stephen Vogt never got the chance to break out with the Rays but he’s doing it now as he’s behind the plate for the A’s, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.  Vogt was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay two years ago and traded to Oakland for cash considerations.