The Angels have claimed minor league second baseman Sean Coyle off waivers from the Red Sox, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). The 24-year-old was designated for assignment by Boston last week.
The latest 10 Degrees column from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is rife with trade talks as the non-waiver deadline now sits just two weeks away. Passan begins by dedicating further ink to the oft-discussed Kyle Schwarber, writing that no player in baseball is more appealing to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, but the Cubs remain steadfast in their desire to hold onto him. Passan writes that perhaps if the Yankees were willing to part with both Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs could waver, but the commonly repeated refrain at this point seems to be that Chicago simply isn’t interested in moving Schwarber.
More highlights from Passan’s column, which is well worth a full look-through…
- The Yankees “are going to trade Chapman” within the next two weeks, Passan definitively notes on more than one occasion. While New York won’t fully tear down the roster, rental players like Chapman and Carlos Beltran figure to draw plenty of attention. Beltran’s poor defense makes him a tough sell to an NL club, but an AL club with a need at DH and some occasional outfield at-bats would significantly boost its lineup by adding Beltran to the mix.
- The Red Sox, Rangers, Orioles, Blue Jays and Dodgers are all expected to be in the bidding for Athletics ace Rich Hill, as are the Tigers, who have been calling around and asking about rotation upgrades, per Passan. The A’s, however, haven’t been willing to hold any meaningful talks about Sonny Gray, whose stock is at a low point right now in the wake of some highly uncharacteristic struggles. Passan also notes that Josh Reddick is “very unlikely” to reach an extension with Oakland at this juncture, though if the A’s were really only open to a three-year deal even as recently as July 9, I’d contend that it was never really a possibility in the first place.
- A match between the Rangers and Rays centering around controllable pitching is readily apparent, and some sources have expressed to Passan that they believe the Rangers are willing to part with prized slugger Joey Gallo in order to land a long-term rotation piece. Gallo, of course, is arguably the most powerful prospect in all of Minor League Baseball but doesn’t have a clear long-term fit on the Rangers’ roster now that Adrian Beltre has been extended. He could theoretically be shifted across the diamond to first base or transition to the outfield, though, if the Rangers do hold onto him, so it’s not as though he has nowhere to play on the club in the near future.
- Clubs that were pursuing Brad Ziegler were stunned by what the D-backs accepted in exchange for him, according to both Passan and Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (links to Twitter). Passan writes that the Indians, Blue Jays and Cubs all expressed interest in Ziegler and were all met with asking prices of Top 100-type or even Top 50-type prospects in return. Arizona, however, acquired a pair of prospects that weren’t nearly that well regarded in return. One NL GM who spoke to Gammons wondered if Dave Dombrowski’s close relationship with Tony La Russa impacted the negotiations.
- Scouts have raved about Matt Shoemaker since his return from the minors, with one telling Passan that his splitter is the best he’s seen this season. The Angels don’t want to go into a full rebuild and are loath to move controllable pitching, but Shoemaker would draw strong interest.
- The Reds don’t want to trade Anthony DeSclafani, but the dearth of quality arms on this summer’s trade market and on the upcoming free agent market gives Cincinnati a chance to cash in on what could potentially be a big chip. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted as much when examining the trade market for starting pitchers last week.
- The Indians, Rangers, Nationals, Orioles, Giants and Dodgers have all at least checked in on Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. Passan writes that Cleveland could be the favorite, which seems curious in light of Tyler Naquin’s recent breakout and reports that Michael Brantley is making better progress than expected. If such reports about Brantley are more of a smokescreen from the Cleveland front office than a genuine representation of the star outfielder’s progress, the interest in Bruce would make more sense. If not, it’s tough to see where Bruce would fit in with Naquin, Brantley, Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez all representing outfield options (to say nothing of Lonnie Chisenhall, who is hitting well but not exactly replicating last season’s eye-popping defensive metrics). Cleveland has been more heavily tied to bullpen help of late, and, from my vantage point, had a greater need behind the plate than in the outfield even before the weekend injury to Yan Gomes.
- Matt Moore, another of the Rays’ coveted starters, drew scouts from the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, Pirates and Nationals for his Saturday start, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times. As is the case with Odorizzi, the Rangers are also engaging with the Rays about Moore, so Texas’ interest isn’t a revelation. Moore spun 7 1/3 two-run innings in a 2-1 loss and dropped his ERA to 4.33. The 27-year-old has also put up 7.58 K/9 against 2.63 BB/9 this season.
- Red Sox GM Mike Hazen discussed his team’s recent flurry of moves with CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam in a video interview. Because the Sox had “a fairly clear need on our end…it allowed us to be focused on what we wanted to be aggressive on,” and thus Hazen said the team could act quickly to address those needs before the trade market began to thin out. Getting a controllable pitcher like Drew Pomeranz was in part a priority since there aren’t many quality starting arms available in free agency this winter. The full interview is well worth watching, as Hazen covers multiple topics about the Red Sox as they head into the second half.
- Before the Padres finally landed pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza from the Red Sox in the Pomeranz trade, San Diego team president Mike Dee tells Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune that his club made two earlier attempts at landing Espinoza’s services. The Padres also asked about the 18-year-old righty at last year’s trade deadline, and again last offseason when the Friars and Sox were negotiating the Craig Kimbrel deal. In the same interview, Dee also discusses how the organization will be more entirely focused on improving the on-field product in the coming years.
- The Athletics asked the Red Sox for Anderson Espinoza in exchange for Rich Hill, according to Olney (Twitter links). When the Sox rejected that proposal, the A’s countered with another offer that didn’t involve Espinoza. Of course, Boston ended up dealing Espinoza to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz. Boston had scouts watching Hill’s start today, though we heard yesterday that the Sox weren’t keen on meeting Oakland’s obviously high asking price for the veteran southpaw. Hill is almost nine years older than Pomeranz and a free agent after the season, so it isn’t a surprise that the Sox were more willing to surrender their top pitching prospect for the controllable younger arm.
- If Eduardo Rodriguez is able to re-emerge as a legitimate rotation piece, it will impact not just the Red Sox pitching search but also possibly Clay Buchholz’s immediate future, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Cafardo believes the Sox could trade or even designate Buchholz for assignment, though that would leave Boston with one fewer starting option (despite Buchholz’s struggles) for the questionable back of its staff.
Standout Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion is a pending free agent, and the division-rival Red Sox will have a designated hitter opening at season’s end if David Ortiz goes through with his retirement. The idea of the Red Sox signing Encarnacion in the offseason as Ortiz’s replacement has come up as a result, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the 33-year-old has some important fans in Boston. Manager John Farrell, bench coach Torey Lovullo and third base coach Brian Butterfield – all of whom were previously in Toronto – are Encarnacion supporters, which could factor into whether the BoSox pursue him. In regards to his future, Encarnacion offered, “We’ll see what’s going to happen. For now I’m with the Blue Jays and I’m just trying to contribute to us winning.”
- Left-hander Matt Moore is the likeliest Rays starter to end up on the move, team executives believe. Having posted a 4.33 ERA, 7.58 K/9 and 2.63 BB/9 through 116 1/3 innings, the 27-year-old is drawing interest from the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Royals, Red Sox, Orioles, Marlins and Rangers (notably, Rob Bradford of WEEI reported Saturday that the Rays aren’t open to dealing with division-rival Boston; the same might hold true with Baltimore and Toronto). Moore is reasonably priced via club options through 2019.
Plenty of eyes will be on left-hander Rich Hill on Sunday as he makes what could be his final start with the Athletics, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Scouts from a handful of playoff-contending clubs – the Red Sox, Rangers, Orioles, Marlins and Tigers – will be in attendance to observe Hill’s home outing against the Blue Jays.
Hill, 36, has unexpectedly established himself as a hot commodity leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline since his torrid stretch as a member of the aforementioned BoSox last September. Dating back to that four-start run, the journeyman has performed like an ace over a 105-inning sample, having recorded a 2.06 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, 49.6 percent ground-ball percentage and 17.9 percent infield fly rate. As a result, the A’s are hoping to land a haul similar to the one they received from Houston for southpaw Scott Kazmir last year (two prospects, right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham), according to Slusser, who notes that a Hill trade isn’t necessarily a sure bet.
If the A’s can’t find a deal to their liking for Hill, they could retain him through the season and then tender the free agent-to-be a qualifying offer, which will be worth in the $17MM neighborhood. Should Hill accept, that would give him roughly $23MM over two years with the A’s (including $6MM this season), which, considering his performance, wouldn’t be an unreasonable cost for his services. However, the A’s are much less likely to keep Hill and qualify him than they are right fielder Josh Reddick, per Slusser. Reddick – another pending free agent – is drawing pre-deadline interest around the league, as Slusser reported last weekend, and he and the A’s are far apart on contract extension talks.
In the event Oakland does shop one or both of Hill or Reddick, it won’t try to attach designated hitter Billy Butler and his contract to either, adds Slusser. The A’s are more worried about maximizing the return for their best trade assets than taking less just to throw Butler’s $15MM overboard. Since signing a three-year, $30MM deal with the A’s in November 2014, the ex-Royal has become an afterthought. In 163 plate appearances this season, the 30-year-old Butler has hit .253/.307/.380 with two home runs. His poor output could lead Oakland to eventually designate him for assignment, Slusser writes.
Interestingly, third baseman Danny Valencia is another designation candidate, reports Slusser, even though he has batted a fantastic .295/.348/.507 with 30 home runs in 659 PAs going back to last year. Despite that production and his cheap team control through next season, Valencia is not garnering interest, relays Slusser. With the out-of-contention A’s looking to evaluate their younger talent, the 31-year-old Valencia could end up designated – as he was with the Royals last season – if Oakland can’t find a taker for him. Whether Valencia is open to positions other than third and how he handles a decrease in playing time might keep the A’s from giving him his walking papers, however, according to Slusser.
Given that they’re in the same division as the Red Sox, the Rays wanted no part of trading any of their controllable arms to Boston before the latter picked up Drew Pomeranz from San Diego earlier this week, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI. The Red Sox might have had interest in Tampa Bay’s young starters had it been open to a deal, Bradford writes. Meanwhile, both the Athletics’ asking price for 36-year-old southpaw Rich Hill and his status as a pending free agent prevented Boston from trying to reacquire him, according to Bradford.
- Thanks to his season-long struggles and the Pomeranz trade, Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is now in the bullpen and he realizes his lengthy tenure in Boston might end by the deadline. “They’re going to do everything they can if it’s going to make them better, and if that involves moving me somewhere, that’s what it is. I don’t have any control over that,” he told Ian Browne of MLB.com. “I think of myself as a starting pitcher, and that’s a crowded bunch right now,” continued Buchholz, who acknowledged that he has put himself in this situation by performing poorly. The 31-year-old, whom the Red Sox drafted in 2005, has logged a 5.91 ERA, 5.91 K/9 and 4.13 BB/9 through 80 2/3 innings this season. Buchholz is playing on a $13MM club option this year and has another, for $13.5MM, in 2017.
The Red Sox and Padres have begun the second half of the season with some fireworks, announcing on Thursday night that Boston has acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz in exchange for top right-handed pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, who is widely considered to be one of the 20 best prospects in all of Major League Baseball. Infielder Josh Rutledge moves to the 60-day DL for Boston in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for its new starter.
The Padres acquired Pomeranz, 27, from the A’s this winter for the now-bargain price of Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski. After talking his way into the rotation mix in Spring Training, Pomeranz has broken out as the ace of the San Diego staff and fulfilled a good deal of the potential that pundits believed him to possess when he was selected fifth overall by the Indians back in 2010. In 102 innings this season, the first-time All-Star has posted a 2.47 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 47.8 percent ground-ball rate. He’ll immediately slot into the middle of the Boston rotation and can be controlled for another two seasons beyond the 2016 campaign via the arbitration process. Not only does he have two years of club control left, he’s earning just $1.35MM in 2016, which will help to suppress his future arbitration salaries despite this season’s breakout.
While Pomeranz has been dominant in 2016, he doesn’t come without his risks, and chief among them is the limited workload he’s had in recent seasons. Pomeranz spent his early years in Colorado after being included in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with Cleveland, and his innings totals were suppressed as he pitched poorly much of the time at Coors Field. Oakland deployed Pomeranz in a swingman capacity and utilized him more out of the bullpen than the rotation. Since being drafted, Pomeranz has never thrown more than 146 2/3 innings in a single season between the Majors and Minors combined. That total came all the way back in 2012 and has been followed by single-season innings totals of 112 2/3 (2013), 115 1/3 (2014) and 88 (2015). The Red Sox, however, appear undeterred by the fact that Pomeranz will be approaching uncharted waters in terms of workload as the season progresses into its final months.
The Red Sox have been tied to rotation help for more than a month, as the club’s Opening Day mix of starters has largely underwhelmed. MLBTR’s Jason Martinez noted earlier today in examining the top need of each American League contender that the rotation was far and away the Red Sox’ primary deficiency. Boston starting pitchers rank 19th in Major League Baseball with a 4.72 ERA this season, and only Steven Wright and Rick Porcello have posted earned run averages south of 4.00. David Price has righted the ship after a rocky start to the season but still is sporting a 4.34 mark on the year, while Eduardo Rodriguez has been slowed by injuries and pitched poorly even upon activation from the disabled list. Joe Kelly has been relegated to the Triple-A bullpen, and spot starts from Henry Owens and Sean O’Sullivan have been sub-par, to say the least. Excluding the work of Wright, Price and Porcello, the Red Sox have received a combined 7.22 ERA from the rest of their rotation.
From the Padres’ vantage point, the decision to move Pomeranz wasn’t a clear-cut one. We at MLBTR weighed the pros and cons of dealing Pomeranz and wound up with a split camp among our staff when debating whether the Padres should trade him (a topic that I first examined at length before polling the MLBTR staff for their individual opinions). Pomeranz is both controllable and affordable but also comes with limited innings and a pair of DL stints for shoulder and biceps issues.
While it’s possible that Pomeranz’s value will be even higher come the offseason, the Padres elected to move him now, and in doing so continued down a clear path to an extensive rebuild. Not only that, but the fact that the club focused in on the 18-year-old Espinoza when dealing a pitcher that could’ve provided significant value in both 2017 and 2018 indicates that the Padres may feel that a fairly lengthy rebuild is in order. Espinoza, who rated 14th on today’s midseason top 100 prospect update from ESPN’s Keith Law (ESPN Insider required/recommended), is currently the youngest player in the Class-A South Atlantic League but has held his own in spite of that fact. He’s totaled 76 innings and delivered a 4.38 ERA with a 72-to-27 K/BB ratio and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate against much older competition.
Law notes in his scouting report that Espinoza sits comfortably at 94-95 mph with his heater and can touch 99, and he also features a plus changeup and curveball (with the former representing the better of the two secondary offerings). Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com note that Espinoza repeats his delivery well, which allows him to locate the ball effectively. The MLB.com duo notes that his secondary offerings are much more advanced than those of a typical teenager. Baseball America, who rated him 15th in MLB on their midseason Top 100 list, wrote in the offseason that Espinoza possesses “obvious front-of-the-rotation talent, and makeup and intelligence to maximize his ability.”
The swap represents the second significant trade completed between the Red Sox and Padres over the past nine months, as Boston also acquired Craig Kimbrel from the Friars in exchange for Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Logan Allen in the offseason. While San Diego GM A.J. Preller has taken his share of flak for the Padres’ ill-fated attempt at an accelerated path back to contention in the NL West, he’s now flipped a pair of assets (Kimbrel, Pomeranz) within a year of acquiring them and received significantly more in exchange than he initially surrendered.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, meanwhile, has come to Boston as advertised: unafraid to utilize a deep farm system to acquire immediate impact talent at the Major League level in the name of winning now. While the losses of players like Margot and Espinoza sting, the Red Sox likely feel compelled to capitalize on the fact that young stars such as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley are emerging (or have emerged) as front-line talents, while aging veterans (most notably David Ortiz) are still productive and able to help the club push for a return to the postseason.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that Pomeranz was going to the Red Sox. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported (via Twitter) that Espinoza was part of the return. Lin (Twitter link) and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports/MLB.com indicated that it was a straight-up swap of those two players.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Red Sox and first-round pick Jason Groome have agreed to terms on a $3.65MM signing bonus, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). The agreement, which is pending a physical, comes less than 24 hours before the deadline to sign 2016 draft picks.
Groome, selected at with the No. 12 overall pick, will receive $457K above his $3.192MM slot value. However, there was some trepidation as to whether he’d sign (or at least as to how much he’d sign for), as the high school lefty was reported to have an agreement in place to go to the Padres at No. 24 for a $5MM bonus. That caused teams to pass on him early in the draft — he was once looked at as a potential first overall pick and later a potential top five selection — but the Sox snagged him at No. 12 anyway despite likely knowing they would be unable to meet that price.
Adding Groome to the system gives Boston a top-end talent to add to its minor league ranks. He rated as the top prospect in this year’s draft class in the estimation of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, while ESPN’s Keith Law rated him second overall and Baseball America ranked him as the draft’s No. 3 prospect. While there have been some negative reports on Groome’s makeup, the scouting reports on him are excellent. Law writes that Groome has the best high school curveball he’s seen since Lucas Giolito, while Callis and Mayo write that the 6’6″, 220-pounder “has everything to be a top-of-the-rotation left-handed starting pitcher,” with a 92-93 mph heater, the aforementioned curveball and a sparsely used changeup for which he shows good feel. BA agreed and praised his “sound delivery” and the necessary strength to repeat his mechanics well.
Beyond Groome, Callis reports (via Twitter) that the Sox have also reached an over-slot agreement with fifth-rounder Mike Shawaryn. The right-hander from Maryland will receive a $637,500 bonus that significantly outpaces his $375,500 slot. Shawaryn rated 77th on BA’s Top 500, 91st on Law’s Top 100 and 139th on MLB.com’s Top 200, with the various scouting reports on the Terrapin righty noting that a down season caused his stock to tumble from a potential first- or second-round pick to the middle rounds. However, the over-slot deal will convince the college junior from taking his chance at a stronger senior season that could’ve rebuilt some of his draft value.
Callis also reports (via Twitter) that Boston also inked fourth-rounder Bobby Dalbec — a third baseman out of Arizona — for a $650K bonus that tops his $501,300 slot. Dalbec came in at No. 88 on MLB.com’s Top 200 and No. 118 on BA’s Top 500.