Baltimore Orioles Rumors

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

Dodgers Acquire Ryan Webb

The Orioles and Dodgers announced that Baltimore has traded right-hander Ryan Webb, Minor League catcher Brian Ward and a Competitive Balance (Round B) draft pick to Los Angeles in exchange for right-hander Ben Rowen and Minor League catcher Chris O’Brien.

Ryan Webb

Webb, 29, was removed from the Orioles’ 40-man roster this week and is slated to earn $2.75MM in the second season of a two-year, $4.5MM contract this year. The former Marlin was solid, if unspectacular in his lone year with Baltimore, working to a 3.83 ERA (101 ERA+) with 6.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 48.7 percent ground-ball rate. The ground-ball rate is above the league average but checks in well below Webb’s career mark of 56.1 percent.

The Dodgers will hope for a return to form not only in terms of ground-ball rate, but also in ERA. The durable Webb notched a 2.91 mark in 2013 but struggled to repeat that mark in 2014. Webb gives the Dodgers another relief arm to step into an injury-plagued bullpen that has seen both Kenley Jansen and Brandon League sidelined by early-season injuries. Webb’s ground-ball skill set would seem highly similar to that of League, who rebounded from a dreadful 2013 season to serve as a very useful reliever in L.A. last year during the regular season.

The Dodgers will also take on Webb’s entire salary, which was likely a condition required in order to coerce the Orioles to part with the Competitive Balance pick. Baltimore will send the No. 74 pick in the 2015 draft to the Dodgers to help facilitate the deal. That pick comes with a slot value of $827K, which the Orioles will lose from their pool and the Dodgers will add to their pool. The Orioles’ draft pool will drop from $7,677,400 to $6,850,400, while the Dodgers’ pool will rise from $6,954,700 to $7,781,700.

Ward, also 29, has never cracked the Major Leagues. Signed as a 23-year-old undrafted free agent in 2009, he’s worked his way to Triple-A and batted .227/.330/.286 at that level in parts of the past two seasons. While he clearly doesn’t offer much in the way of upside with the bat, Baseball America did rank Ward as the best defensive catcher in Baltimore’s Minor League system heading into the 2013 season.

The 26-year-old Rowen is an extreme side-arm pitcher that generates a huge amount of ground-balls and has been tough to hit for opposing batters throughout his Minor League career. Rowen has held opponents to just 6.9 hits per nine innings in the Minors and worked to a 3.45 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 47 Triple-A innings last year. In 2013, Rowen posted a ridiculous 0.69 ERA in 65 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, averaging 7.9 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings.

O’Brien, 25, ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 26 prospect and profiles as a backup catcher, per Baseball America’s Ben Badler (on Twitter). The former 18th-round draft pick (2011) spent the 2014 season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, slashing .266/.341/.438 in 407 plate appearances.

Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reported that Webb and Ward were headed to the Dodgers (Twitter links). FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Rowen and O’Brien were on their way to the Orioles, and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweeted that the Comp Pick was going to the Dodgers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Release J.P. Arencibia

The Orioles have released catcher J.P. Arencibia, reports MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (on Twitter). The former Blue Jays/Rangers backstop was reassigned to Minor League camp at the end of Spring Training and was expected to head to Norfolk but will now be a free agent.

Arencibia, 29, spent 2011-13 seasons as the Blue Jays’ primary catcher, surviving early in his career on plus power in spite of low averages and on-base percentages. However, his .194/.227/.365 line wasn’t enough to outweigh his 21 homers in 2013, and the Orioles cut him loose following the season. Arencibia spent time at catcher and first base for the Rangers last season but didn’t see his overall production improve much.


AL East Notes: Clevenger, Masterson, Sox, Hoffman, Jays

Agent Josh Kusnick, who represents Orioles backstop Steve Clevenger, tells Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that he’s unsure why the team elected to select Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract and option Clevenger to Triple-A. The sequence has Kusnick questioning Clevenger’s future in Baltimore, and he went so far as to say, “If Steve is going to lose his job to someone with no options remaining, the same age and same position, then it would be great if he could find a major league opportunity somewhere else if it’s not going to work out in Baltimore.” Kusnick says that he and Clevenger haven’t been told of a specific area that Clevenger needs to improve, and he feels that Clevenger has proven himself at the Triple-A level to the point where he should have a chance to stick in the Majors. The 28-year-old Clevenger has a strong .311/.371/.420 batting line at Triple-A (760 plate appearances) and has nearly identical numbers over the life of his Minor League career as a whole. Both the Diamondbacks and Padres have been linked to catchers in the media of late, though the D-Backs have stated that they’re not interested in adding a catcher at this time.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • With Rick Porcello now signed to a four-year extension, Justin Masterson is the only Red Sox starter not signed beyond 2015. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford spoke to Masterson about that reality, but the 30-year-old didn’t seem fazed by pitching in a contract year for the second straight season. Masterson spoke about his decision not to take an extension with Cleveland last spring, noting that he disagreed with naysayers stating that he should’ve taken the two-year offer that was on the table. “No,” said Masterson. “I would have actually felt worse if I had taken it because I knew I wasn’t feeling good. I just think it’s based off the person. But for some people it can make it hard to play.” Masterson had physical issues from the onset of Spring Training in 2014, writes Bradford, but he’s feeling healthier this year and more focused on the season than a contract.
  • Fangraphs’ David Laurila looks at the parallels between Hanley Ramirez as a 22-year-old and Xander Bogaerts, who is entering his age-22 season. Laurila interviewed Ramirez as a 22-year-old back in 2004 and sees similarities in Ramirez’s approach as an inexperienced hitter and the one presently utilized by Bogaerts. One key difference, Laurila notes, is that while Bogaerts’ .240/.297/.362 line from last year was disappointing, Ramirez batted just .271/.335/.385 at the Double-A level when he was 21 years of age. Laurila opines that we shouldn’t be surprised to see a Bogaerts breakout this summer.
  • Blue Jays prospect Jeff Hoffman spoke with Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel (audio link) about his return from Tommy John surgery and the progress he’s made since college and pitching in the Cape Cod League. Hoffman, the ninth pick in the 2014 draft, feels that his command is all the way back and is looking forward to getting his Minor League career underway. McDaniel also asked Hoffman about whether or not he followed trade talks in the offseason — Hoffman was prominently mentioned in the Orioles-Blue Jays Dan Duquette talks — to which Hoffman replied that he’s aware of trade discussions but tries not to focus on them. “My agent does a good job of making me aware of what can and can’t happen, and what will happen, because a lot of the stuff out there is kind of crazy,” said Hoffman. (McDaniel also spoke to Twins prospect Nick Gordon — another 2014 draftee — about his transition to pro ball, making for a pair of interesting interviews.)
  • The myriad transactions of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos will be put to the test this year in a season that could very well determine his future with the team, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. Davidi tracks much of Anthopoulos’ more notable moves, including how he masterfully manipulated the CBA’s former draft pick compensation system. Anthopoulos turned Marco Scutaro, Rod Barajas, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs, Frank Francisco, Kevin Gregg, John Buck, Jon Rauch and Jose Molina into Aaron Sanchez, Justin Nicolino, Daniel Norris, Asher Wojciechowski, Jacob Anderson, Dwight Smith, Kevin Comer, Joe Musgrove, Matt Smoral, Mitch Nay and Tyler Gonzales — often by acquiring marginal free-agents-to-be and offering them arbitration in order to stockpile draft picks when they rejected. This year is a blend of both trades and scouting/development, and if the team fails to make the playoffs, “someone else may very well get a chance to push this team over the finish line,” Davidi writes.


Orioles In Ongoing Trade Discussions Regarding Matusz, Webb

The Orioles are having ongoing trade discussions pertaining to relief pitchers Brian Matusz and Ryan Webb, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Both names have been mentioned as candidates to land with another team for some time now, with Matusz at one point being connected to the Mets midway through Spring Training (New York, of course, opted instead to acquire Alex Torres and Jerry Blevins). Though that door may be shut, Matusz likely holds appeal to clubs in need of left-handed relief. The Rangers currently don’t have a lefty in their bullpen, for example, while teams like the Cubs (Phil Coke) and Rays (Jeff Beliveau) have just one southpaw in the bullpen. I can envision the Tigers as a fit also, given Ian Krol‘s struggles in 2014.

Part of the reason that Matusz is considered expendable for the Orioles is his $3.2MM salary for the 2015 season, so moving him would require an acquiring club to expand its payroll, although Baltimore could theoretically be willing to include some cash to help facilitate the deal. Over the past two seasons, Matusz has been exceptional against 224 same-handed hitters, holding them to a .192/.251/.314 batting line.

As for Webb, the 29-year-old has reportedly already cleared outright waivers and, as a player with five-plus years of Major League service, can reject an outright assignment and force the team to either trade or release him (while still paying his salary). Webb’s $2.75MM salary undoubtedly played a role in his clearing waivers, though a team may be interested in bringing him on board if Baltimore is willing to pick up a portion of his contract. Of course, interested teams may be reluctant to give up much for a player that they know could soon be a free agent. Webb worked to a respectable 3.83 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 48.7 percent ground-ball rate last year in Baltimore.


Orioles Designate Ryan Webb, Select Ryan Lavarnway

The Orioles have designated righty Ryan Webb for assignment, the club announced. His roster spot will go to catcher Ryan Lavarnway, whose contract was selected by Baltimore.

Webb, 29, had already been passed through outright waivers, so the move was more a formality than anything. He is owed $2.75MM this year under the two-year deal he signed last offseason. Baltimore will remain on the hook for that, less whatever league minimum salary Webb is able to collect if and when he hits an active roster. In 49 1/3 innings last year, the reliever threw to a 3.83 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 48.7 percent ground-ball rate.

As for Lavarnway, the move had likewise been expected. He lost his 40-man status earlier in the offseason but nevertheless proved worthy of an Opening Day roster spot. The former Red Sox prospect may or may not figure in the club’s plans for the course of the year depending upon his performance, that of Caleb Joseph, and the timeline for Matt Wieters to return.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day have been officially submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today’s additions:

  • The Orioles will purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. The 25-man roster that the Orioles announced today included Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher, but not Lavarnway, who they had reassigned to the minors.
  • The Padres have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Wil Nieves. With Tim Federowicz out with a knee injury, Nieves will back up Derek Norris. As we noted when Nieves signed, his big-league salary will be $850K.
  • Ryan Madson has made the Royals‘ Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Madson caps his comeback from multiple elbow injuries and his first appearance for Kansas City will be his first in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Nationals have announced on Twitter that second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Reed Johnson have made their Opening Day roster.
  • The Braves announced they have officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eric Young, Jr. and Kelly Johnson, left-hander Eric Stults, and right-hander Cody Martin. The Braves cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and outfielder Dian Toscano on the restricted list.
  • One name missing from the Braves‘ roster is Pedro Ciriaco, who was reported yesterday to have made the club. This is likely a procedural move, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links), because the Braves placed Josh Outman on the 25-man roster instead of releasing him after the left-hander complained of shoulder tenderness. The move will also buy the Braves some time to look for an upgrade over Ciriaco, tweets Bowman.
  • The Phillies have announced outfielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Andres Blanco have made the team. Francoeur is just one of four outfielders on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so he could see time as Grady Sizemore‘s platoon partner in right field. The Phillies are now at their 40-man limit.
  • The Marlins have selected the contract of utility player Don Kelly, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Kelly earned his spot with solid Spring Training line of .270/.357/.324 in 42 plate appearances. Frisaro reports the 35-year-old will backup both the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as serving as the team’s emergency third catcher.

Extension Notes: Kluber, Tillman, Reds, Porcello

In negotiations for his recent extension, Corey Kluber was forthright about wanting to continue to pitch for the Indians, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes (on Twitter). “Corey was really upfront,” says GM Chris Antonetti. “He said, ‘This is where I want to be. I want to be in Cleveland for a long time. Ideally, I’d like it to be a lifetime contract.‘” Here are more notes on extensions.

  • The Orioles will not extend Chris Tillman before Opening Day despite recent discussions between the two sides, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. As of late last week, it did not appear that the two sides were close, and Tillman does not want to continue extension discussions once the season begins. He has three more years before he’s eligible for free agency, however, so it’s not impossible the two sides could negotiate again next offseason.
  • The Reds have discussed a new contract with Johnny Cueto recently, but the two sides are unlikely to strike a deal before the season begins, Heyman writes. It’s looking extremely likely that Cueto will hit the free agent market next winter. Heyman also notes that the Reds have not pursued extension talks with Mike Leake.
  • Another free-agent-to-be, Rick Porcello of the Red Sox, reiterates that he will not discuss an extension during the season, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. “I don’€™t want any distractions when we start the season,” says Porcello. The two sides did have at least some dialogue in March regarding a possible deal, Bradford writes.
  • A Mets representative says Lucas Duda and the team have not discontinued their contract talks, Matt Ehalt of the Record tweets. A previous report had indicated that the two sides had stopped talking as Opening Day approached. The two sides have reportedly discussed an extension in recent weeks.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Swihart, Rays, Yankees

After covering five postseason games in St. Petersburg, Florida and two exhibition games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com is convinced there is a greater passion for the game in Montreal than in Tampa Bay. The Rays aren’t heading north of the border anytime soon; but, in Morosi’s view, this weekend’s big turnout in the Expos’ former home showed that Montrealers feel a greater connection to the team they lost than Tampa Bay fans do for the team they still have.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • The Orioles are still trying to make a trade to give them some flexibility, writes Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette confirmed to reporters, including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (via Twitter), submitting the Opening Day roster does not prevent him from making moves. “Once you submit your roster it’s like the regular season,” said Duquette. “You can make moves anytime after you get your roster submitted.” Baltimore will need to make a roster move after its first contest, as Chris Davis will have completed his 25-game suspension for Adderall use.
  • The Red Sox didn’t trade Lars Anderson or Ryan Lavarnway at the peak of their value and they have rebuffed whatever advances the Phillies have made toward Blake Swihart in a Cole Hamels deal. Despite outside pressure from some fans, GM Ben Cherington has always erred on the side of patience, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. “The reason that you fight back against trading a young player you believe in,” Cherington said, “is that, when it does happen, when it works the way you hope it works and the way you think it might work at the major-league level, it’s really impactful. If we think a guy has a good shot to be successful in Boston, we are going to have a presumption to try to keep them.”
  • The Rays appeared to be in learn-now, win-later mode early in the offseason, but they also made several present-day improvements to put themselves in position to win in 2014, opines Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays now believe they have put together a team that is deeper offensively, more athletic, and improved defensively. The pitching situation also appeared to be improved, though the Rays currently have three starters on the shelf.
  • The New York Post’s Joel Sherman posits the Yankees coud miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season and finish with a losing record for the first time since 1992, but their long-term future looks more encouraging that it has in a decade.

Roster Moves: Hernandez, Enright, Robinson, Uggla, Ciriaco, Stults, Petit

Here’s a roundup of some 40-man roster news as teams decide who will break camp for Opening Day….

  • The Diamondbacks have announced (via Twitter) that Archie Bradley, Gerald Laird, and Jordan Pacheco have made the roster. Bradley, a top prospect, will join the rotation. Laird will serve as the backup catcher while Pacheco will probably take on a super utility role that includes some catching.
  • The Astros have selected the contract of Roberto Hernandez, per the MLB transactions page. The right-handed sinker specialist has a 4.60 ERA in 1,264 innings. He split the 2014 season between the Phillies and Dodgers.
  • The Dodgers have released right-handed pitcher Barry Enright, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Enright is a veteran of four major league seasons, although he struggled at the top level. He owns a 5.57 ERA, 4.60 K/9, and 3.15 BB/9 in 148 innings.
  • The Nationals will select the contract of outfielder Clint Robinson, reports Chelsea Janes of the Washington Times. Robinson, 30, is a career minor leaguer with just 14 major league plate appearances. In 1,771 Triple-A plate appearances, he’s hit .303/.392/.494. Janes also notes that the club is almost certain to retain second baseman Dan Uggla. He’s one of just five healthy infielders with the club.
  • The Blue Jays have opted to roster eight relievers for the start of the season with Liam Hendriks making the cut, writes Sean Farrell of MLB.com. The righty appeared for the Jays and Royals last season. He has a career 5.92 ERA in 188 innings. Second baseman Ryan Goins was optioned in a corresponding move.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that utility man Pedro Ciriaco and pitcher Cody Martin will probably make the team. Ciriaco is a career .270/.299/.372 hitter over 498 plate appearances split over five seasons. The pair were added at the expense of outfielder Todd Cunningham and pitcher Michael Foltynewicz.
  • Also making the Atlanta roster is pitcher Eric Stults, writes Bowman. The soft-tossing lefty has a solid big league career with a 4.12 ERA, 5.69 K/9, and 2.53 BB/9. His best season came with the Padres in 2013 when he pitched 203 innings with a 3.93 ERA.
  • The Yankees have selected the contract of infielder Gregorio Petit, reports Chad Jennings of LoHud. Petit, 30, is a career .278/.301/.391 hitter in 156 plate appearances.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels says Anthony Bass will travel with the club to Oakland, reports Stefan Stevenson (via Twitter). He’ll make the team barring a last minute acquisition. The 27-year-old reliever struggled with the Astros last season. In 27 innings, he allowed a 6.33 ERA with 2.33 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9.
  • The Phillies have selected the contracts of right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez and left-handed reliever Cesar Jimenez, the team announced on Twitter. Gomez owns a career 4.41 ERA with 5.23 K/9 and 3.14 BB/9. He pitched well this spring in 12 and two-thirds innings, allowing a 0.71 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk. Jimenez is familiar with the Phillies as he’s bounced between Philadelphia and Triple-A over the past two seasons. In 81 innings, he has a career 4.32 ERA with 6.09 K/9 and 3.09 BB/9.

(more…)


AL East Notes: Tanaka, Orioles, Reimold, Maddon

Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka told reporters (including the New York Post’s Dan Martin) that he expects his velocity to drop a bit this season, though this may have as much to do with pitch selection as it does with concerns about his slightly torn UCL.  “Because of the fact I’m throwing more two-seamers, that would obviously make the velocity go down a bit,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.  “As for my pitching style and my mechanics, I’m trying to relax a little bit more when I’m throwing, so that might have something to do with it.”  Tanaka averaged 91.2 mph on his fastball last season, as well as 88.9 mph on his cutter and 86.5 mph on his split-fingered fastball.

Here’s some more from the AL East…

  • The Orioles are hoping to make at least one trade before Opening Day to move some of their roster excess, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports.  Kubatko feels Steve Clevenger has the advantage over T.J. McFarland for the final spot on the Orioles’ roster, though the O’s could also deal Clevenger given their depth at catcher.  Nolan Reimold will probably be assigned to Baltimore’s minor league camp to avoid putting the out-of-options outfielder through waivers, as the O’s are worried Reimold would be claimed by another team.
  • Speaking of Reimold, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun shares the somewhat unique details of the opt-out clause in Reimold’s minor league deal with the Orioles.  If Reimold isn’t on the Orioles’ 25-man roster by July 11, the O’s must send an e-mail to all 29 other teams asking if they’re interested in Reimold.  If a team responds in the affirmative, the O’s must either “assign” him to that club in a cash transaction or put him on their 25-man roster themselves.  If no team shows interest, Reimold stays with the Orioles.
  • Major League Baseball’s investigation of the Rays‘ tampering charge against the Cubs will continue past Opening Day, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports.  The Rays accused the Cubs of tampering with Joe Maddon when he was still under contract as Tampa Bay’s manager, and the matter is still unresolved after over five months of investigating.