Baltimore Orioles Rumors

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

Latest On Rusney Castillo

AUG. 9: The Yankees are ready to begin negotiating with Castillo, who worked out at their minor league complex Friday, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The Yankees would want to use Castillo as a second baseman, with the outfield as a backup plan, King writes.

AUG. 6: While touring Wrigley Field on vacation, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that the Cubs held a private workout for Castillo today (Twitter link).

AUG. 3: Castillo’s workout for the Mariners has been postponed and is expected to be rescheduled, tweets Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN.

JULY 29: Castillo, who worked out for the Phillies today, has set up a private workout with the Mariners on Sunday as well, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His one-on-one workout with the Red Sox is still set for Friday.

JULY 28, 8:29pm: Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that the Yankees indeed have a private workout scheduled with Castillo.

7:33pm: General Manager Jeff Luhnow says the Astros may schedule a one-on-one workout with Castillo, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

7:24pm: A source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that only the Phillies (on Tuesday) and the Red Sox (Friday) have private workouts set up with Castillo.  However, private workouts are in the works for the Yankees and other clubs.

Unsurprisingly, the Twins are not among the teams looking to line up a workout with Castillo, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.  Minnesota likes Castillo, but the expected asking price is too rich for their blood.

3:11pm: Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.

Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.

Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.

Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.

While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.

Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Orioles, Lindgren, Eppler

After rebuilding the Red Sox in time for their 2013 championship season, GM Ben Cherington has to remake the team yet again, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. One item on Cherington’s plate as the Red Sox finish their season is sorting through a number of young players, particularly in the rotation. “Right now we’re going to use the next several weeks to find out about the guys we have,” says Cherington. “We have 8-10 young starting pitchers who are here, at Triple A, and Double A. … In the offseason I’m sure we’ll look at starting pitching alternatives, whether it’s free agents or trades, and see what’s available to us. But we need guys in the organization to step up.” With the trades of Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy, the Red Sox’ rotation now includes less experienced players in Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa and Joe Kelly. The Red Sox also have a high waiver priority due to their record, which makes them a team to watch as August progresses. Here are more notes from around the AL East.

  • Allen Craig, who was acquired in the Lackey deal, has already landed on the disabled list with an ankle injury, but the Red Sox are not worried about him in the long term, Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes. “There’s no concern about whether he’s going to be OK to play and feel good and be completely healthy,” says Cherington. “It’s just a question of making sure that we’re not putting him in a position where he’s compromised and maybe is at risk of doing something else by making up for what’s going on in his foot.”
  • The Orioles will not pursue Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. They’ve scouted him and they like his talent, but they think he’ll be too expensive to sign.
  • The list of potential Yankees September call-ups includes 2014 second-round pick Jacob Lindgren, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes. The reliever dominated the low minors, striking out 17 batters in 7 1/3 innings at Class A+ Tampa, and he’s currently with Double-A Trenton.
  • Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler isn’t bitter about missing out on the Padres GM job, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. The job ultimately went to A.J. Preller of the Rangers. “Oddly, I’m not upset,” says Eppler. “Maybe if I did something and had a misstep, I would be disappointed in myself. I think the baseball gods didn’t feel like it was my time to leave the Yankees.”

AL East Notes: Victorino, Price, Lester, Yanks, Johnson

The Red Sox announced tonight that outfielder Shane Victorino underwent a season-ending lumbar disectomy surgery. The 33-year-old appeared in just 30 games for the BoSox this season, slashing .268/.303/.382 with two homers and two steals. Clearly, the second year of his three-year, $39MM contract with the Red Sox didn’t pan out as well as the first — which was arguably the finest season of his entire career. Though his contract was widely panned at the time of the signing, Victorino silenced critics by batting .294/.351/.451 with 15 homers, 21 steals and elite outfield defense — all of which combined to total more than 5.5 wins above replacement.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • David Lennon of Newsday tweets that the Red Sox and Rays both received permission from their owners to trade their left-handed aces to any team in baseball, with one exception: the Yankees.
  • The injury to David Phelps should push the Yankees back into the starting pitching market, writes Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues. As he notes, the case can be made that the Yankees’ five best starting options — Phelps, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda — are all on the disabled list at this time.
  • Allowing Matt Thornton to be claimed by the Nationals saved the Yankees about $1MM in 2014 salary and $3.5MM in 2015 salary, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Yankees could redirect some of those savings to add some pieces this month. New York is working on some potential additions already, says Rosenthal. GM Brian Cashman is “open to anything that makes [the Yankees] better,” he tells MLB.com’s Jake Kring-Schreifels.
  • The Orioles had interest in adding former closer Jim Johnson on a minor league deal, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but they felt they didn’t have room to add him to the big league squad until rosters expand in September. Manager Buck Showalter tells Kubatko that he expressed that point to Johnson in multiple phone conversations
  • Former Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tells Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com that while he assumes that many people will expect him to be bitter toward Boston, he has no hard feelings toward the organization or his former teammates (even those who have spoken against him since his departure). Pierzynski said he didn’t ask for a reason when he was DFAed, although he wasn’t exactly expecting the move. He also offers high praise for his brief time with the Cardinals and briefly discusses the difficulty of a catcher transitioning pitching staffs midseason.


Minor Moves: Carpenter, Wall, Rapada

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Angels have outrighted right-hander David Carpenter to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to the team’s transactions page. The 26-year-old Carpenter, not to be confused with the Atlanta setup man of the same name, fired three scoreless innings this season in his lone appearance with the Halos. He’s struggled in a pair of prior stints — including a 39 2/3 inning tryout in 2012 — and owns a 5.23 career ERA in 43 frames. Carpenter was designated for assignment over the weekend.
  • Right-hander Josh Wall has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Pirates, according to Pittsburgh’s transactions page. The 27-year-old Wall was designated for assignment on July 31 and has appeared in one big league game this season, though it came with the Angels, not the Pirates. Wall yielded six runs in one inning with Anaheim and was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Bucs. He’s been very good in 22 1/3 Triple-A innings with Pittsburgh this season, notching a 3.22 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just nine walks.
  • The Orioles have released southpaw Clay Rapada to create roster space at Triple-A Norfolk for the newly-signed Joe Saunders, the club’s top affiliate announced on Twitter. Rapada has yet to earn a substantial stretch of time on a big league roster since his excellent 2012 season, when he posted a 2.82 ERA over 38 1/3 innings for the Yankees (8.9 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9). This year, over 38 1/3 frames (that’s a coincidence, not a typo) at the Triple-A level, Rapada has allowed 5.63 earned per nine.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Price, Prado, Smyly, Johnson

Joe Kelly first found out that John Lackey was traded to the Cardinals on Twitter and, 15 minutes later, learned he was part of the package heading to the Red Sox in return, writes Rob Harms of the Boston Globe.  “Hectic,” Kelly said of the deadline’s personal impact on him. “It’s something that happens in baseball, and, like I said, it could happen to anyone. When I got the news I was definitely shocked and surprised, but I found out it was Boston, and I figured it was one great baseball town to another. So definitely looking forward to it.”  More out of the AL East..

  • Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman says that if he waited until the winter to deal David Price, the return would have been somewhere between “a good bit less to dramatically less,” writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  While some see their haul for the ace pitcher as light, Topkin says that in reality, they were pleased to get as much as they did.
  • There’s no reason for Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to stop wheeling and dealing now, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox already have shipped out 11 of the 25 players who were on their World Series roster only nine months ago, but Lauber is dreaming big and thinking of names like Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Sale.
  • Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal breaks down the questions the Red Sox still need to answer in the aftermath of their recent roster maneuvers.
  • The Yankees are helping Martin Prado through his “strange” transition to a new team and new position, writes Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger.  Prado hadn’t taken a single practice fly ball in right field this season even though that’s his new spot. The veteran mostly played third base and left field while with the Braves and Diamondbacks.
  • While he knows that he has “very big” shoes to fill, Drew Smyly is excited to be a member of the Rays, Topkin writes.
  • Jim Johnson is now free to sign with any club after his release by the A’s Friday. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes the Orioles maintain a high level of interest in signing their former closer to a minor league deal, but are not the only team pursuing the right-hander.
  • Johnson will throw a side session for the Orioles tomorrow in Sarasota in front of rehab pitching coordinator Scott McGregor, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Orioles Designate Ryan Webb; Optioned To Triple-A

SUNDAY: Webb has cleared waivers and has been officially optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, tweets CSNBaltimore.com’s Rich Dubroff. To make room for Webb on the Norfolk roster, the Tides released outfielder Xavier Paul (Twitter link).

FRIDAY: The Orioles have designated right-hander Ryan Webb for assignment, the team announced.  The newly-acquired Andrew Miller has taken Webb’s spot on the 25-man roster.

While technically a DFA, Webb has only been designated off Baltimore’s 25-man roster.  The Orioles needed to make this procedural move in order to assign Webb to Triple-A since over three years had passed since his first Major League appearance — the O’s performed a similar transaction earlier this season with Evan Meek.  Webb is still on the Orioles’ 40-man roster but is currently on optional assignment waivers.

Webb signed a two-year, $4.5MM deal with the Orioles last winter after the Marlins (surprisingly) didn’t tender him a contract for 2014.  The righty has been shaky in recent weeks but has been a solid contributor overall to Baltimore’s pen, posting a 3.80 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 3.4 K/BB rate over 42 2/3 innings.  Webb has held opposing batters to a .255/.301/.315 slash line and has actually performed better against left-handed batters (.555 OPS) than righty bats (.649 OPS) this year.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Waiver Trade Notes: Hosmer, Maholm, Skaggs, O’s, A’s, D’backs, Castillo

As we explained yesterday, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline does not spell the end of wheeling and dealing. Several teams are expected to continue shopping over the coming month as well. Here are some notes that relate to the upcoming August trade period:

  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer could miss much of the rest of the regular season with a stress fracture of his right hand, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Though he is expected to avoid surgery, Hosmer could be out for up to six weeks. It would not be surprising to see the club look to add a first baseman to hold down the fort in his absence.
  • Paul Maholm of the Dodgers has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports ( Twitter links). That only serves to increase the team’s need for rotation depth; though Maholm was operating out of the pen, he had been perhaps the likeliest option to step into a starting role if the struggling Dan Haren was demoted.
  • Angels hurler Tyler Skaggs left in the middle of a no-hit bid Thursday with a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times explains. Skaggs has already been placed on the 15-day DL, and the team will surely exercise caution with the young starter, as forearm strains have been linked to more significant elbow injuries. Though the Halos can fill his spot in the immediate term by keeping Hector Santiago in the rotation, the injury leaves even more questions about the team’s overall starting pitching depth. With a two-month pennant race still to come, Los Angeles will likely take a hard look at the market for arms.
  • Before he was dealt to the Nationals, the Orioles made an effort to acquire Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com. Presumably, Baltimore would have utilized him as the Nationals will, at second base, which indicates some likelihood of the club exploring an alternative over the coming month.
  • Similarly, the Athletics opened pre-deadline conversations with the Phillies regarding Jimmy Rollins, but talks did not progress, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Like the O’s, the A’s could still be looking for a middle-infield addition.
  • After making several deadline deals, the Diamondbacks expect to have more work to do in the coming month, reports Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. While he is not sure if any deals will be consummated, GM Kevin Towers says he anticipates that claims will be made on several players. Among the possible chips left in Arizona are second baseman Aaron Hill and several relievers, though Towers says it will take an “overpay” to pry loose any of the club’s pen arms, as Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports.
  • The Red Sox remain interested in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo despite adding Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig at the trade deadline, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. While the club is expected to face stiff competition in the bidding, it just held a private workout for Castillo. If he goes to the non-contending Red Sox, it would certainly increase market demand for some of the pricey outfielders who stayed put at the deadline (such as Alex Rios of the Rangers and Marlon Byrd of the Phillies).

AL East Notes: Shields, Cespedes, Johnson, Price

In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Buster Olney reports that he’s spoken to executives around the league who assume that the Red Sox will target James Shields in free agency this offseason.  Shields would be a good fit for a Boston team that is suddenly light on veteran pitching after Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy were all traded within the last week.  I wonder how high the Sox would be willing to bid on Shields, however, since the team’s concerns about paying big money to a pitcher throughout his 30′s kept them from working out an extension with Lester.  While Shields would come at a lower price and probably a shorter-term deal, Shields will also be 33 on Opening Day.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • A clause in Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract will allow him to become a free agent after the 2015 season, and according to Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (Twitter link), it means the Red Sox would have to non-tender their newly-acquired outfielder.  This would make Cespedes ineligible to receive a qualifying offer, and thus Boston wouldn’t get any draft pick compensation if Cespedes signed elsewhere.
  • The Athletics released Jim Johnson today, and there has been speculation that the Orioles will offer their former closer a minor league contract, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.  Manager Buck Showalter spoke highly of Johnson to reporters today, though he was careful with his words due to uncertainty about whether Johnson was free of any ties to Oakland.
  • The Rays plan to contend in 2015, which is why Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan (writing for FOXSports.com) feels the team felt comfortable trading David Price for a package highlighted by players — Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin — with Major League experience.  It’s unclear if any of the blue-chip prospects often cited in trade rumors were actually available for Price and such prospects might not pan out anyway, whereas Smyly and Franklin have already shown they can contribute at the big-league level.
  • Had the Rays waited until the offseason to trade Price, they might’ve had trouble finding a better return.  As one executive noted to ESPN’s Jayson Stark (Twitter link), Tampa would’ve been shopping Price in a crowded marketplace for ace pitchers given that Lester, Shields and Max Scherzer are all slated to be available in free agency.

Orioles Sign Joe Saunders To Minors Deal

The Orioles have signed veteran left-hander Joe Saunders to a minor league contract, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter link).

Saunders joins his third organization of the season after being released by the Royals and Rangers within the last month.  The southpaw posted a 6.13 ERA in 39 2/3 innings with Texas earlier this year and also struggled in four starts with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate.

This is Saunders’ second stint in Baltimore, as he was first acquired by the O’s in late August 2012.  He was a key part of the Orioles’ playoff push that year, posting a 3.63 ERA over seven regular season starts and then a 1.59 ERA over two postseason starts, earning the win in the Orioles’ wild card game victory over the Rangers.  Baltimore had some interest in Saunders during the offseason and, according to Connolly, are looking at Saunders as a possible long relief option out of the bullpen.


July Trade Recap: AL East

We’ll take a look at every division in baseball, but it’s hard not to start here. The division is always fun to watch, and it was full of intrigue in 2014. Here’s what took place over the last month or so, culminating in a whirlwind today:

Blue Jays

Orioles

Rays

Red Sox

Yankees

Synopsis

The Yankees were somewhat quiet buyers, the Red Sox were incredibly loud sellers, and there were multiple inter-division deals. It was decidedly not business as usual in the AL East, but plenty of business was done … except, that is, in Toronto.

Despite long being rumored to be looking for additions to the rotation, bullpen, and/or infield, the Blue Jays (as they did in free agency) largely stayed quiet. Several players actually expressed frustration with the inactivity, but GM Alex Anthopoulos said that clubs were asking for big league players in return and that nothing ended up making baseball sense. He indicated that the August market could hold some possibilities, but at this point, it seems likely that the Jays will sink or swim with their current alignment.

The Orioles, likewise, were known to have a rather similar list of possible needs, and were expected mostly to pursue new arms. Baltimore ultimately did just that, steering clear of a starting pitching market filled with big swaps but ultimately landing the most sought-after reliever who remained available. It cost the club one of its better prospects — Rodriguez, probably the best pre-MLB player to change hands today — but will give the team a high-leverage weapon as it tries to hold onto precious wins. But as with Toronto, if the team comes up just short in a year in which the division seems so tantalizingly open, it will be fair to ask whether one more piece would have made the difference.

The Yankees took something of a different approach, adding a bevy of potentially useful veterans who struggled in the season’s first half and were playing on fairly sizable contracts. Among them, only the most recent addition — Prado — comes with team control beyond the present season. Buried by by other,  larger deals, the Prado swap not only completes an infield makeover for this year but also gives the team plenty of flexibility moving forward.

Reaching the bottom of the division, one finds some fairly atypical selling clubs. The Rays, of course, have been roaring back on the field, even if the playoff picture largely remains the same. Perhaps the failure to climb the ladder drove the club’s decision to move this year’s biggest trade chip in Price. While the return does not feature the kinds of prospects that one might have expected, it delivered plenty of long-term value back to Tampa. And it left the club, notably, with plenty of talent still in the fold for 2014. A nice run from Smyly, and perhaps even a late-season boost from Franklin, could play a role in continuing the Rays’ rise in the standings. None of the teams ahead of them appears poised to run away with things, but it will be interesting to see how the clubhouse responds to the trade.

In a series of moves that were every bit as bold as Tampa’s big stroke, the Red Sox parted with the club’s two best pitchers, two other members of the World Series-defending, Opening Day rotation, a dominant set-up man, and a just-signed veteran shortstop (and what a journey it’s been for Drew). But this was no traditional roster blow-up; instead, Boston returned mostly big league pieces that changed the team’s makeup dramatically but gave notice that it intends to contend next year. Adding power bats to the corner outfield and young arms to the current and near-future rotation — the team now has an impressive array of young arms and other prospects — the Red Sox look primed to add yet more more pieces in free agency and aim for another title run. GM Ben Cherington said that the team will be a player for veteran pitching in free agency, and reports even indicated that the team could have its sights set on a reunion with Lester. It remains to be seen whether Boston would have been better served by pushing its clock further back and perhaps bringing in more upside, but if Cespedes and Craig can return to their 2012 levels of production, Boston will be right back in the thick of things in 2015.