Baltimore Orioles Rumors

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

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Orioles Sign First-Rounder DJ Stewart

JUNE 27: Stewart himself announced today (via Instagram) that he has officially signed with the Orioles.

JUNE 26: The Orioles are nearing an at-slot deal with first-round selection DJ Stewart, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). Stewart is in Baltimore for his physical, so it appears that the finishing touches will be in place shortly.

Stewart, an outfielder from Florida State, was taken 25th overall. That slot came with a $2,064,500 allocation, and Melewski says that he’s expected to receive that amount for signing.

The industry consensus had Stewart as a first-round talent, with Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs rating him the 26th-best available prospect. Baseball America (30th) and MLB.com (36th) also placed him in that range, while ESPN.com’s Keith Law valued the overall package somewhat lower, rating Stewart 70th on his board.

Stewart’s best attributes are featured at the plate, where he presents strong hit and power tools, as evidenced by a lengthy track record of major college success. Though Stewart has yet to tap into his full power potential, he is said to deliver an advanced approach that made him a reliable on-base threat at FSU.

In spite of his stocky build, Stewart is considered a good athlete with average speed. Scouts say he possesses below-average arm strength, but he figures to be a reasonable option in left.

Baltimore is still juggling its draft spending after handing seventh-rounder Gray Fenter a well-above-slot $1MM bonus that will require the club to come up with over $800K in extra pool space. However, in addition to some other savings from later selections, the O’s freed $411,900 in capacity in agreeing to terms with 36th-overall selection Ryan Mountcastle. The club has agreed to terms with all of the selections from the top ten rounds except for second-round pick Jonathan Hughes, a high school righty.


Minor Moves: Noesi, Dykstra, Velez, De La Rosa

We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

  • White Sox righty Hector Noesi has accepted an outright assignment with the club, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old was designated for assignment recently after posting a 6.89 ERA over 32 2/3 frames to start the year. Working both as a starter and from the pen, Noesi has struck out 6.1 and walked 4.7 batters per nine on the season. He has permitted 5.30 earned runs per nine in his 395 1/3 career MLB innings.
  • The Rays have released first baseman Allan Dykstra and utilityman Eugenio Velez, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Dykstra, 28, saw his first big league action this year, but has spent most of his time in recent seasons in the upper minors. Though he carries a strong .261/.411/.457 line in his 606 total plate appearances at Triple-A, with similar numbers over exactly twice as many career turns at bat at Double-A, Dykstra has scuffled to a .705 OPS this year at Durham. The 33-year-old Velez has not seen big league action since 2011. He has generally hit well at Triple-A in the years since, but slipped to a .272/.336/.371 slash in 236 plate appearances this season at that level.
  • Orioles righty Dane De La Rosa has retired, David Hall of the Virginia Pilot reports on Twitter. The big, 32-year-old reliever had worked to a 4.35 ERA in 10 1/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, striking out 6.1 but walking 7.0 batters per nine innings. De La Rosa had seen big league time in each of the last four years, and was quite a productive pen option for the Angels in 2013, when he delivered 72 1/3 innings of 2.86 ERA ball. But he’s struggled badly with command since that time while dealing with shoulder, forearm, and knee issues.


Orioles Acquire Richard Rodriguez From Astros

The Orioles have acquired minor league righty Richard Rodriguez from the Astros, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. Cash considerations will head back to Houston, Baltimore stated in announcing the agreement.

Rodriguez, 25, has worked almost exclusively as a reliever in the minor leagues. He’s spent his entire career in the Astros farm system, reaching Triple-A last year. Over 70 1/3 frames at the highest level of the minors over 2014-15, Rodriguez owns a 2.94 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.

As Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports, Baltimore has fairly high regard for both Rodriguez’s fastball and curve. The Orioles see Rodriguez as pen depth for the club’s top affiliate as well as a potential call-up option down the line. Because he has a full slate of options remaining and is not yet on the 40-man roster — he was left off despite being Rule 5-eligible — Rodriguez does come with plenty of flexibility.


Draft Signings: Hale, Red Sox, Cleavinger

Here are some of the latest notable signings from the amateur draft.  All slot value information is courtesy of Baseball America…

  • Mariners ninth-rounder Conner Hale has announced he has signed with the club via his Twitter page.  The M’s have their other nine picks from the first 10 rounds of the draft already signed at a total cost of just over $4.113MM according to MLB.com’s draft bonus tracker.  This leaves $73.8K remaining in their draft bonus pool (which was slightly less than $4.187MM) and Hale’s 275th overall draft placement carries a slot value of $158.3K.  Since he’s a senior, it’s perhaps unlikely he signed for full slot, giving Seattle a bit of breathing room should they spend extra on any of their post-10th round draftees.
  • The Red Sox announced the signings of Ben Taylor (7th round), Tucker Tubbs (9th) and Mitchell Gunsolus (10th) last week, and according to the MLB.com bonus tracker, all three college seniors signed for well below their assigned slot values.  Taylor signed for $10K despite a $212.5K slot value for the 201st overall pick, Tubbs for $5K ($163.5K as 261st overall) and Gunsolus for $10K ($152.7K as 291st overall).
  • This combined $503.7K in savings helped the Red Sox ink eighth-rounder Logan Allen, whose signing was officially announced today by the club.  Allen said last week that he had verbally agreed to a bonus worth over four times more than his $175.1K slot value as the 231st overall pick, and MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Allen received $725K.
  • The Red Sox also announced the signings of three other draft picks today, including outfielders Tate Matheny (4th round) and Jagger Rusconi (5th).  Callis reports that Rusconi signed for a full-slot value of $384K.  It isn’t yet known what Matheny (son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny) signed for, though his draft placement carries a $512.7K slot value.
  • The Orioles announced that they have signed third-round pick Garrett Cleavinger.  MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Cleavinger will receive a $500K bonus, less than the $559.3K slot value assigned to the 102nd overall pick.  The Oregon left-hander was ranked as the No. 185 prospect in the country by Baseball America prior to the draft.  If Cleavinger continues to strike out batters as he has in college, BA says that he might need much minor league time.
  • The O’s also confirmed the signing of seventh-rounder Gray Fenter, and surely Cleavinger’s below-slot deal helped Baltimore to sign Fenter to an above-slot $1MM deal while remaining within the limits of its bonus pool.

AL Notes: Martinez, Luhnow, Chen, Schafer

The Mariners have named former franchise star Edgar Martinez their new hitting coach, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Martinez will replace Howard Johnson who has been reassigned elsewhere in the organization. Seattle’s offense has struggled despite the notable additions of Nelson Cruz over the offseason and Mark Trumbo earlier this month. The team has the lowest batting average in the league. Only the Phillies, Brewers, and White Sox are worse by on base percentage. The Mariners will hope Martinez can teach some of the skills that helped him to a .312/.418/.515 line over 7,213 plate appearances.

  • While Astros GM Jeff Luhnow claims to be on good terms with his former St. Louis co-workers, a top player agent tells MLBTR’s Zach Links that it’s not entirely true (via Twitter). No elaboration was provided, but Links did mention (tweet) that the agent called Luhnow “very smart.” While it may seem like little more than gossip, there could be an undercurrent of motive if Luhnow had made some enemies in his former organization.
  • Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was understandably unhappy about being optioned to Class-A despite good numbers. However, he isn’t worried about the incident affecting his relationship with the Orioles, reports Steve Melewski of MASN.com. Baltimore’s decision to option Chen will have no obvious financial implications for the lefty since he’ll return to the rotation next week. The club was simply looking to activate Chris Parmelee, and Chen had options.
  • The Twins released Jordan Schafer on Thursday in part because he would have declined an attempt to reassign him to the minors, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. As a player with more than five years of service time, Schafer could refuse reassignment without forfeiting pay. Wolfson adds that Schafer is healthy.

Minor Moves: Marcum, Givens, Loe

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

  • The Indians have announced that righty Shaun Marcum has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Columbus. The 33-year-old Marcum has pitched 35 innings for the Indians this season, posting a 5.40 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The team designated him for assignment earlier this week.
  • The Orioles have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Mychal Givens. In addition, the Orioles activated Kevin Gausman (shoulder tendinitis from the 15-day DL, optioned righties Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright to Triple-A Norfolk, and transferred righty Jason Garcia (also with shoulder tendinitis) to the 60-day DL. The Orioles drafted Givens in the second round in 2009 as an infielder, but he transitioned to pitching for the 2013 season. He struggled with control during his first two seasons on the mound (perhaps understandably, given his background), but he’s blossomed in the Double-A Bowie bullpen this season, posting a 1.60 ERA, 12.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings there.
  • The Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League have announced that they’ve signed righty Kameron Loe. The 33-year-old pitched for three Triple-A teams in 2014, posting a 7.51 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 38 1/3 innings of relief. He has a 4.49 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in parts of nine big-league seasons with the Rangers, Brewers, Mariners, Cubs and Braves, last appearing in the Majors in 2013.

Orioles Sign Gray Fenter For $1MM

The Orioles have signed seventh-round pick Gray Fenter for $1MM, well above the $178,300 allotted pool value of his pick, Baseball Essential tweets. Fenter, a high school pitcher from Arkansas, was committed to Mississippi State.

Via MLB.com’s Signing and Bonus Tracker, the Orioles signed No. 36 overall pick Ryan Mountcastle for $1.3MM, about $410K less than his pool allotment, and sixth rounder Jay Flaa and tenth-rounder Reid Love for just $10K each, saving a total of about $350K. That combined $760K in savings should help them stay near their $6,850,400 pool limit despite their heavy spending on Fenter.

MLB.com ranked Fenter the No. 133 overall prospect in the draft, noting his ability to throw 96 MPH, the sinking action he gets when he throws in the 88-93 MPH range, and his good curveball. Baseball America ranked Fenter the No. 135 prospect in the draft, arguing that he will most likely be a reliever due to his size (5-foot-11), his delivery and his reliance on two pitches.


AL East Notes: A-Rod, Red Sox, Chen

The filing deadline for Alex Rodriguez‘s potential grievance against the Yankees has been put on hold by agreement between MLB and the player’s union, the Associated Press reports (via the New York Times). Presumably, the deal was struck to avoid a major sideshow and to allow the sides more time to work out an agreement regarding the disputed milestone marketing bonuses contemplated in A-Rod’s contract. One of those bonuses was triggered recently when Rodriguez tied Willie Mays on the all-time home run list with his 660th long ball. The team has offered to settle the issue by making a charitable payment (of less than the $6MM provided in the deal) in Rodriguez’s name, per the report.

  • The Red Sox bet on bats, says WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, and they haven’t come through to the extent necessary to overcome the team’s other deficiencies. Bradford argues that is is due not only to the talent on the current roster, but the club’s need for “a flat-out bigger dose of player-driven accountability.” In an appearance on WEEI radio today (via Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, on Twitter), manager John Farrell said that effort is not a problem, at least currently, though he acknowledged that “there have been times where we’ve had incidents with [effort] that had to be addressed.”
  • Looking forward, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that the Red Sox may need to figure out a way to move forward with only one of David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez on next year’s roster. That could be a tall order (and a potentially painful one) given Ortiz’s rather iconic standing and apparent intention to play next year, combined with HanRam’s big contract and current lack of productivity on defense.
  • Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen was recently optioned despite his excellent results this year, with the team citing fatigue, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun explains. Of course, moving Chen down for ten days also allows the club to skip his upcoming start against the lefty-mashing Blue Jays while freeing a roster spot that the club used to add Chris Parmelee (and prevent him from exercising his opt-out clause). Chen’s agent, Scott Boras, called it a “grossly irregular” move that disrupted the starter’s routine. Ultimately, Baltimore had the right to utilize one of Chen’s options, of course, and service time does not appear to be an issue. But it is a rather interesting and unusual move to demote an established starter, even for an organization that has taken full advantage of the chance to shuttle players between the minors and active roster in recent years.

Orioles To Sign Ryan Mountcastle

The Orioles have reached agreement on a deal with first-round choice Ryan Mountcastle, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Mountcastle’s deal is slightly below slot as he’ll make $1.3MM versus the suggested ~$1.71MM.  He was advised and is now represented by agent Tripper Johnson of Sosnick Cobbe & Karon.

Mountcastle, a Florida native, played shortstop in high school but projects as a third baseman, according to Callis.  The youngster boasts solid bat speed to go with the strong arm necessary for playing the third base position.  The Orioles received the pick with which they selected Mountcastle as compensation for the loss of Nelson Cruz to free agency.

Mountcastle ranked as the draft’s No. 108 prospect in the eyes of Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 110th on the Top 200 compiled by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, and 122nd on Baseball America’s Top 500.

Baseball America’s scouting report of Mountcastle credited him for having above-average power and speculated that his defensive shortcomings could result in him playing left field.  McDaniel feels he’ll end up in left as well, giving him at least average tools across the board with the exception of in-game power, where he’ll be more fringe-average.  Mayo and Callis note that the aforementioned bat speed yields “elite” exit velocity when Mountcastle squares up on a ball.