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After Braves CEO Terry McGuirk told Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “everyone is accountable” in Atlanta, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders if General Manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez could be in trouble. Gonzalez oversees an offense that often looks lost and is next-to-last in the National League in runs per game. Wren, meanwhile, gave contracts to second baseman Dan Uggla (who has since been released) and center fielder B.J. Upton that didn’t pan out.
While anything is possible given their recent struggles, people in the industry would be surprised if the Braves made major changes, unless tension is building underneath the surface that people aren’t aware of. Wren is close with McGuirk, major league sources say, and Gonzalez was Wren’s hand-picked choice to replace Bobby Cox. Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Pirates want to keep Russell Martin, but the veteran’s price in free agency could be too rich for their blood. The 31-year-old will be the best and youngest catcher on the market by far and even though catchers historically don’t cash in in free agency, he won’t be had for another two-year, $17MM bargain. He won’t garner something like Miguel Montero‘s five-year, $60MM extension but he should at least beat the three-year, $26MM free-agent deal that the Carlos Ruiz signed last winter entering his age 35 season. Pittsburgh could try to keep Martin with a one-year, ~$15MM qualifying offer, but as Rosenthal notes, they didn’t do that with A.J. Burnett last winter. Martin ranked ninth in Tim Dierkes’ most recent Free Agent Power Rankings for MLBTR. Dierkes suggested Martin could receive a four-year deal north of $50MM.
- Rosenthal wouldn’t be surprised if Joe McEwing winds up as the next manager of the Diamondbacks. Even if he doesn’t land with Arizona, White Sox officials say McEwing’s intelligence and energy will make him a strong candidate for other jobs.
- Drew Smyly is benefiting from the Rays‘ focus on analytics. Upon joining the team, the Rays gave the 25-year-old some keen instruction and asked him elevate his fastball more. Those tips have led to some great work by Smyly in Tampa Bay and Rosenthal wonders why the Tigers didn’t pick up on some of the same things.
- The Orioles lost catcher Matt Wieters, but the makeshift combination of rookie Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley, acquired from the Padres in May, has proven quite adequate. The two have combined for an OPS right around the American League average at catcher.
- While the Mets like second baseman Dilson Herrera, Rosenthal says that doesn’t mean they should trade Daniel Murphy. No team will give the Mets comparable offensive talent for Murphy and the smart move would be to instead sign him to an extension.
Miguel Gonzalez‘s name was mentioned in trade rumors this summer (most notably as part of a possible Jon Lester package) and yet as MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko points out, Gonzalez’s recent success could be another example of “how sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.” The Orioles right-hander has a 2.00 ERA over his last nine starts, including a complete game shutout of the Reds last Wednesday. Gonzalez has been a solid piece of the O’s rotation for the last three years and has a 3.38 ERA over 136 IP this season, which I suspect will earn him a nice salary bump this winter when he is arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Kubatko, the Orioles are “hesitant” about making a long-term commitment to Nelson Cruz. Though the O’s have recently had some light negotiations with Cruz’s representation about a new contract, it isn’t hard to see why the club would be wary of guaranteeing multiple years to a 34-year-old who is a defensive liability and has a PED history. Of course, Cruz’s bat looks as potent as ever, given his .862 OPS and a league-high 39 homers this season. As you would expect, a one-year “qualifying offer appeals to the Orioles,” Kubatko writes, though surely Cruz feels his production merits a longer deal.
- Melky Cabrera has been scouted by at least one NL team for the last three weeks, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reports. One of those scouts tells Blair that his team could be willing to offer Cabrera something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $53MM contract in free agency this winter, a deal akin to what Jhonny Peralta received from the Cardinals last offseason. Peralta’s deal was front-loaded, and Blair opines that a similarly-structured deal could await Cabrera given that both players have a PED suspension on their records.
- Blair also can’t figure out why the Blue Jays haven’t already re-signed Cabrera for 2015 and beyond, given how well the outfielder has hit this year. Cabrera, who is done for the season after fracturing his pinky finger on Friday night, has expressed an interest in staying in Toronto.
- It’s been a tiring season for David Ortiz, as the Red Sox slugger tells ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald that “it wears you out more than when you know you’re going to the playoffs — believe it or not. It wears you out more than when you know you have more games to play.” Ortiz isn’t sure how much longer he’ll play beyond 2015 (the end of his current contract), though when he does he hang it up, he said he’ll do it in the offseason rather than announce his retirement a year in advance like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera.
- Red Sox righty Joe Kelly and the Orioles‘ Andrew Miller were two trade deadline acquisitions that have worked out very well for their teams, Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for Gammons Daily. Boston hopes Kelly can be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in their 2015 rotation while Miller has continued his superb season since joining Baltimore’s pen.
- Also from Gammons, if the Orioles don’t bring back Nick Markakis, one possible replacement could be prospect Mike Yastrzemski. A 14th-round draft pick in 2013, Yastrzemski (Carl’s grandson) hit .288/.346/.490 with 14 homers, 34 doubles and 16 triples in 594 PA over three minor league levels this season, though he has yet to reach Triple-A.
- The Mets are divided on whether Terry Collins should manage the team in 2015, Rosenthal writes. One sticking point is that Collins has young pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom throw too many pitches. Since there isn’t agreement on Collins among Mets officials, one compromise might be to keep him but to dismiss some of his coaches.
- The Orioles could decline their $17.5MM option on Nick Markakis, pay him a $2MM buyout, and extend him a qualifying offer. If he were to accept it, there wouldn’t be much of a difference financially — the total cost would be about the same as his option. But if he were to decline the qualifying offer, he would be an intriguing addition to a free agent market that doesn’t have much position player talent.
- The Rockies need more starting pitching, and impending free agent Justin Masterson, a ground ball pitcher, could be a good fit at Coors Field.
- Rangers coaches Tim Bogar and Mike Maddux are both logical candidates to replace Ron Washington, but much remains to be determined — both coaches could also be candidates to replace Bo Porter with the Astros, and there could soon be other open managerial jobs, likely including that of the Diamondbacks.
Here’s some news from the international player market…
- The Orioles have signed Cuban right-hander Lazaro Leyva to a contract with a $725K bonus, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Leyva didn’t rate a mention in the top-30 international prospect lists released by Baseball America or MLB.com prior to July 2, and there’s little information publicly known about Leyva, both scouting-wise and even in regards to his basic biography. It’s no surprise that MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets the deal will be official once Levya passes a physical and has his age confirmed.
- Right-hander David Mena has left Cuba and is looking to establish residency in a South American country, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (via Twitter). Mena, 21, would be subject to international signing pool guidelines if and when he becomes eligible to join an MLB team.
While there have been indications that the Marlins won’t trade Giancarlo Stanton, many writers continue to speculate and discuss the possibility with league sources, and ESPN’s Buster Olney is the latest to talk Stanton with executives from around baseball (ESPN Insider required). Olney spoke to many executives about the potential NL MVP, with one telling him, “No team is going to give up the kind of prospects that is going to be required without knowing they’re going to be able to keep him.” The “kind of prospects” to which that official refers, according to Olney, is a Top 5 type of prospect that can serve as the anchor for the deal in front of many other well-regarded prospects. One executive half-joked that the Dodgers, for example, should open negotiations by simply offering all three of Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias, as the price will be astronomical. (Olney notes that Miami would ask for two of the three at the very least.) Olney names several teams that have the necessary prospects, including the Cubs (Kris Bryant), Cardinals (Oscar Taveras, presumably, as he doesn’t specify) and Astros (Carlos Correa, presumably) among others. And Stanton’s price tag on Stanton’s next major contract? Execs polled by Olney pegged him for a deal in the $250-300MM range, though it seems possible for that expectation to rise if he hits free agency after two more elite and healthy seasons.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Stanton is the focus of the latest from Grantland’s Jonah Keri, who looks at the historic company with which Stanton has aligned himself early in his career. Keri’s excellent piece points out that Stanton is just the 11th player in history to have 150+ homers through his age-24 season. Additionally, when looking at players who have signed contracts for $180MM+, only two had amassed a higher WAR total than Stanton’s 20.9 (Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols). Keri and researcher Michael Bonzagni “scoured” history books to find a player with the same level of skill, youth and success that was traded at this juncture of his career, and the only comparison they could find came back in 1919 — a man by the name of George Herman Ruth.
- Rehabbing Mets starter Matt Harvey will throw a few more bullpen sessions and then be shut down until the spring, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. He will reach the point of using all his pitches and throwing in a simulated inning setting, but will not face batters until ramping back up. Needless to say, Harvey’s recovery is a critical piece of the club’s plans both in the immediate and long term.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the legal battle between the Orioles and Nationals over the latter’s television rights with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) will drag on for at least three more months. The O’s have until Sept. 23 to file an amended petition to the New York Supreme Court, and the Nationals and MLB have until Oct. 20 to file a cross petition to dispute the other side’s claims. All parties involved will meet before a judge for a Dec. 15 hearing, Wagner adds.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the most recent moves at the top of the post…
- Lefty Rich Hill has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankees, according to the International League transactions page. Hill was designated to make room for fellow southpaw Josh Outman. Though he has seen little time at the MLB level this year and posted an unsightly 6.28 ERA last year, the 34-year-old has historically been quite tough on same-handed hitters and could make sense as an extra lefty specialist on an expanded roster. Having previously been outrighted, Hill will have the right to elect free agency.
- The Phillies announce that they have selected the contract of outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. To make room on their 40-man roster, they transferred Cliff Lee to the 60-day DL. The Phillies outrighted and then released Gwynn earlier this summer, only to re-sign him to a minor league deal. He’s a career .239/.310/.311 hitter in parts of eight big-league seasons.
- The Orioles will select the contract of outfielder Quintin Berry, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com tweets. Berry had a good season for Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .285/.382/.367 in 432 plate appearances, and did his usual good job on the bases, stealing 25 of them while being caught six times. In his brief big-league career with the Tigers and Red Sox, Berry has stolen 24 bases without being caught, making him an ideal September promotion candidate for a team seeking speed.
- The Rangers have announced that they will select the contract of lefty Michael Kirkman as a September call-up tomorrow. Also, they will select the contract of fellow pitcher Spencer Patton on Thursday. Kirkman has posted a 4.47 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 while pitching 54 1/3 innings of relief this season at Triple-A Round Rock. The Royals outrighted him in April. Patton has posted a combined 3.90 ERA with 12.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings with Round Rock and the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in Omaha. The Rangers acquired him for reliever Jason Frasor in July.
- The Reds have selected the contracts of outfielder Jason Bourgeois and lefty Ryan Dennick, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. They have also cleared one spot on their roster by transferring Homer Bailey to the 60-day DL. The veteran Bourgeois hit .278/.329/.364 in 595 plate appearances this season for Triple-A Louisville. Also at Louisville, the 27-year-old Dennick posted a 2.36 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 49 2/3 innings of relief.
- The Giants will select the contract of pitcher Brett Bochy, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Bochy, the son of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, has had a solid season in the bullpen at Triple-A Fresno, posting a 3.57 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 53 innings. The 27-year-old was a 20th-round draft pick out of the University of Kansas in 2010.
- The Rockies have selected the contract of infielder Rafael Ynoa, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Ynoa, 27, played for eight years in the Dodgers organization before signing with the Rockies last winter. This season, he posted a .297/.356/.419 line in 473 plate appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs, playing shortstop, second base and third base.
- The Athletics have selected the contract of catcher Bryan Anderson, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. The A’s acquired Anderson in a minor trade with the Reds late last month, apparently in a bid to acquire more catching depth due to John Jaso‘s injury. The 27-year-old Anderson hit .320/.397/.538 in 293 plate appearances in the minors in 2014. He’s played briefly at the big-league level with the Cardinals and White Sox.
- The Blue Jays have outrighted reliever Sergio Santos to Double-A New Hampshire, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Last week, the Jays designated Santos for assignment for the second time this year. He’s posted an 8.57 ERA in 21 innings with the big club, striking out 29 batters but walking 18.
- The Padres have selected the contracts of pitcher Leonel Campos and 2B/3B/OF Cory Spangenberg and moved Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso to the 60-day DL, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Campos has posted a 6.34 ERA with 5.6 BB/9 in a season split between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso, but with 11.8 K/9. He can start or relieve. We noted earlier this week that the Padres appeared likely to promote Spangenberg, a former first-round draft pick.
- The Orioles purchased the contract of left-hander Joe Saunders, the team announced. Saunders signed a minor league deal with the O’s last month and posted a 1.50 ERA in 12 relief innings for Triple-A Norfolk. The veteran southpaw has never pitched out of the bullpen in the majors but the Orioles intend to use him as a reliever down the stretch. Buck Showalter told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli) that Saunders could also make a spot start when the O’s face the Yankees in a double-header on September 12.
- The Twins will purchase the contracts of utilityman Doug Bernier and right-handers Lester Oliveros and A.J. Achter prior to Tuesday’s game, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The trio are three of eight players Minnesota is adding to its expanded September roster.
- Rays catcher Ali Solis has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter). Solis was outrighted yesterday to create a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster for right-hander Steve Geltz, who will be promoted today.
- The Brewers purchased the contract of catcher Matt Pagnozzi, the team announced. Jeff Bianchi was shifted to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move. Pagnozzi has 105 career PA since 2009 with the Cardinals, Rockies, Pirates and Astros and he’s also spent time with the Braves’ and Indians’ Triple-A affiliates over the last two seasons. Pagnozzi has a career .219/.297/.318 slash line over 3026 career PA in the minors.
- The Angels selected the contract of shortstop Shawn O’Malley, according to Tim Mead, the team’s VP of communications (Twitter link). O’Malley will join the Halos on Tuesday and add some versatility to the bench; he has mostly played short over his pro career but has played all over the diamond this season. Originally a fifth-round pick of the Rays in the 2006 draft, O’Malley is looking to make his Major League debut after nine years in the minors, hitting .258/.351/.338 over 2982 PA.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Bryan Anderson | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Cory Spangenberg | Joe Saunders | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Quintin Berry | Rich Hill | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Sergio Santos | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tony Gwynn Jr. | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions
The Orioles made two trades last night, adding infielder Kelly Johnson and outfielder Alejandro De Aza, and any trade involving big-leaguers has an effect on not only a team’s 25-man roster, but its clubhouse. Via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, manager Buck Showalter provides an interesting look into how trades affect players who aren’t being dealt. Showalter says, for example, that following the acquisition of De Aza, he spoke to Delmon Young and other players about what the trade meant for them. “It’s unknown that drives players crazy and you want them to understand things,” says Showalter. “I had a real good idea what they were going to say. They’re usually pretty short conversations, but you have them nonetheless.” Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The Athletics‘ trade for Adam Dunn might not have been needed had they not traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox in the Jon Lester deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines. Oakland’s offense has struggled since the trade, and while Cespedes’ departure isn’t entirely to blame (there have been slumps and injuries throughout the Athletics lineup), it hasn’t helped.
- In the wake of the Brewers‘ acquisition of Jonathan Broxton today, Rosenthal notes (via Twitter) that Milwaukee also went after David Price last month. Talks with the Rays did not progress very far, however, because the Brewers were unwilling to give up top young pitcher Jimmy Nelson.
- The Pirates appear unlikely to make any trades today, David Manel of Bucs Dugout writes. “It’s been a lower percentage of successful claims than ever before,” says GM Neal Huntington. “You expect the American League guys not to make it through the American League. But there have been some guys in the National League that have been claimed before they’ve gotten to us, which has been a bit of a surprise.”
In his Sunday column, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that “the key to [the Rays'] offseason flexibility might be trades” before noting that Tampa would be eager to deal either Grant Balfour or Jose Molina if they opportunity presented itself. He also speculates that names such as Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Jeremy Hellickson are names to watch, and he wonders whether or not Desmond Jennings and even Wil Myers will be discussed in trades this winter as well.
Here’s more from Topkin’s piece and the rest of the AL East…
- While trading Yunel Escobar to the A’s or letting him go on waivers might’ve been popular with Rays fans (and even some in the clubhouse, Topkin notes), the team held onto him for multiple reasons. Firstly, the Rays are confident that Escobar will rebound from a tough 2014 season next year. They also don’t trust Ben Zobrist at shortstop next year in his age-34 season and aren’t sold on Nick Franklin‘s defense at short. Nor are they certain whether or not Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham will be ready in 2015. Beyond that, the Rays don’t feel they can replace Escobar for as cheap little as he stands to earn in 2015 ($5MM).
- Kelly Johnson, who went to the Orioles as the key to a four-player deal Saturday night, is now headed to his fifth straight AL East team. He’s happy to be headed to a likely playoff team in Baltimore, he tells the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “It’s crazy,” says Johnson. “Obviously I’ll be familiar with the surroundings. … I’m obviously excited to be in a situation where you’re on a first-place team.”
- In a second piece, Britton also looked at the struggles of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, and he spoke with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen about whether or not the hardships experienced by that duo has led the Sox to reevaluate their evaluation process for young players. Hazen speaks at length about the league-wide decline of offense, the increase in defensive shifts and the progress made in scouting reports, noting that it’s tougher now for young players to break through.
The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar from the Red Sox for infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus. This is the Orioles’ second significant trade of the evening, having also recently acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox. The Johnson deal gives the Orioles a bit of low-cost infield depth.
Johnson, 32, began the season with the Yankees, then headed to Boston in a trade for Stephen Drew. (He also played for the Rays in 2013 and the Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, meaning that he’s now been or will be on the roster of all five AL East teams, with no non-AL East teams in between.) He’s played mostly third base and first base since 2012, and he’s hit .212/.290/.354 for the season. With the Orioles, he’ll likely play mostly at third base in the wake of the team’s loss of Manny Machado for the rest of the year.
The Orioles selected Almanzar from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but returned him in early July. Since then, he’s hit .280/.360/.427 in 186 plate appearances for Double-A Portland, mostly playing third base. At 23, he’s the youngest player in the deal.
Weeks was a first-round draft pick by the Athletics in 2008, and they sent him to Baltimore in 2013 in the Jim Johnson trade. The 27-year-old Weeks played in 215 games with the A’s in 2011 and 2012 but has spent most of the past two seasons in the minors. This season, he’s hit .278/.391/.385 in 254 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. Despite the high on-base percentage, the second baseman probably profiles mostly as depth at this point, although CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam tweets that Weeks will join the Red Sox’ big-league team. (Dustin Pedroia may have suffered a concussion in Saturday’s game, but the timing of Weeks’ acquisition appears to be a coincidence.)
De Jesus, who heads back to the Red Sox after spending a few months in the organization in 2012, also appears to be mostly a depth player. De Jesus came to Boston from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez / Carl Crawford / Josh Beckett blockbuster, then headed to Pittsburgh almost immediately as the Red Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt. The Pirates showed little interest in him despite a strong offensive season in Triple-A in 2013, and he signed with the Orioles after the season. The 27-year-old hit .282/.358/.389 in 469 plate appearances for Norfolk this year, mostly playing shortstop.
The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired left-handed outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar. Orioles executive Dan Duquette says (via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko on Twitter) that De Aza had been available for a few weeks, which suggests he cleared waivers.
De Aza, 30, has hit .246/.312/.358 this season, with his power, in particular, taking a step backward — he hit a career-high 17 homers last year, but only has five this season, and his slugging percentage is off by about 50 points as compared to the last two years. He remains, however, a solid defender who can play all three outfield spots. He’s making $4.25MM this season in his second year of arbitration, and he can become eligible for free agency after 2015, although at least one executive has opined that De Aza could be a non-tender candidate after the season.
The Orioles already have a strong starting outfield of Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, but they can surely use De Aza as a backup. With Manny Machado‘s recent injury, sometime-outfielder Steve Pearce is needed more frequently in the infield, meaning the Orioles have playing time available for a fourth outfielder type. De Aza’s addition will probably also mean even less playing time for fellow lefty outfielder David Lough, who has struggled at the plate this season.
Even with the Orioles’ need to play Pearce more in the infield, they were fairly well stocked with outfielders, so De Aza represents more of a luxury than a need. It’s no surprise, then, that they do not appear to have paid a high price to get him. Chalas, 22, has pitched most of the season with Class A+ Frederick, where he posted a 4.80 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings of relief. He has also appeared in two games for Triple-A Norfolk. Blackmar, also 22, has pitched 130 1/3 innings for Frederick, with a 3.18 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, pitching mostly has a starter. MLB.com does not rank either of them in its list of the top 20 Orioles prospects.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.