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ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks that extension talks between the Red Sox and Jon Lester are “all but over” and the left-hander will hit free agency, he said Wednesday on the WEEI radio. Olney states that if the Sox had approached Lester and offered something like $100MM over five years in Spring Training, a deal may have been reached, but that didn’t happen. The only way for a long-term deal to be reached now, in Olney’s opinion, may be to go the route the Phillies went to extend Cole Hamels in 2012 — offer top-of-the-market value ($140-150MM) on a final midseason offer.
Here’s more on Lester and the AL East…
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal spoke with Red Sox skipper John Farrell, who said that Lester has been a model example for how to handle a contract year. Lester has kept his contract discussions private and hasn’t created any sort of distraction or tension in the clubhouse, choosing instead to focus on the season at hand, according to Farrell.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons are noncommittal when asked what areas the Jays might seek to upgrade via trade this summer, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Anthopoulos noted that it would be very difficult for a club to acquire anyone from the Jays’ current 25-man roster unless they were acquiring an upgrade at that same position, and he also discussed Brett Lawrie‘s role with the team when he returns from the DL.
- In the video at the top of the previous link, Anthopoulos discussed the signings of top picks Jeff Hoffman and Max Pentecost. Anthopoulos touched on the team’s previous inability to sign first-rounders Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford, but noted that he wouldn’t draft a player he didn’t think he could sign. He added that Hoffman will head to Florida to continue his rehab from Tommy John, while Pentecost will eventually head to short-season Class A Vancouver (once he gets a passport). Anthopoulos also said that the team agreed to the full-slot value with Hoffman because they felt the “discount” on signing him was already built in to the fact that he fell to the No. 9 pick. He and his staff thought Hoffman had a chance to go in the Top 3 or even Top 2 picks before tearing his UCL.
- The Yankees have garnered a lot of attention with their international spending spree today, and Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com tweets that the team could spend as much as $30MM on international free agents, once the 100 percent overage tax is accounted for. That figure assumes that the team eventually agrees to terms with Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, as many expect them to.
2:30pm: Espinoza will receive a $200K scholarship in addition to his bonus, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (via Twitter).
2:00pm: Boston has agreed to sign top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to a $1.8MM bonus, tweets Ben Badler of Baseball America. Espinoza was rated the best available arm by both BA and MLB.com. As expected, the Red Sox will be hit with the maximum penalty.
11:00am: The Red Sox have agreed to a $1.5MM deal with international prospect Chris Acosta, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports on Twitter. Acosta is a right-hander out of the Dominican Republic.
Baseball America rates him the 11th-best available prospect, while MLB.com had him sitting just one spot outside of the top five. Acosta is said to be advanced for his young age, with room to grow into his frame and increase his velocity. He is already sitting in the upper 80s to low 90s, with a good change and promising curve also in his arsenal.
Entering the signing period, Boston was tied to both Acosta and fellow top righty Anderson Espinoza. With just a shade over $1.88MM available in pool money, Boston is expected to incur the maximum penalties for blowing its budget by at least 15%. Should that occur, the club would pay a 100% tax and receive a two-year ban on July 2 signing bonuses of greater than $300K.
Here are today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league…
- UPDATE: Maikel Cleto has not, in fact, been released by the White Sox, according to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (via Twitter). The International League transactions page indicates that the righty has been released, apparently erroneously. Cleto, 25, has seen his most extended MLB time this year after enjoying cups of coffee in each of the last three seasons. But he has not taken advantage, and owns a 5.14 ERA through 14 frames with an ugly 6.4 K/9 against 9.6 BB/9. Cleto’s 20 2/3 innings in Triple-A have not been much better, as he has worked to a 6.53 mark, though he has managed 12.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9.
- Righty Joel Pineiro, recently released by the Angels, has been hit with a 50-game PED suspension, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter). The prohibited substance at issue was heptaminol, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (tweet in Spanish). The 35-year-old, who had been attempting a comeback, owns a 5.93 ERA through 44 innings in the upper minors on the year.
- Shortstop Paul Janish has been released by the Rockies, according to the PCL transactions page. Janish opted out of his minor league pact, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). The 31-year-old has spent the entire year at Triple-A, putting up a .234/.284/.301 slash in 226 plate appearances.
- Righty Chris Resop has opted out of his contract with the Red Sox, tweets Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. The 31-year-old owns a 4.42 ERA through 38 2/3 frames at Triple-A. He has made MLB appearances in eight of the last nine seasons.
- The Dodgers have acquired first baseman Brock Peterson from the Nationals in exchange for cash considerations, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Peterson, 30, owns a .250/.332/.367 line through 301 plate appearances at Triple-A this year. He has, however, shown much more power in recent seasons in the high minors with the Cardinals.
- The White Sox have released righty Mitchell Boggs from Triple-A, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter). The move will clear space for the addition of fellow reliever Henry Rodriguez, who signed a minor league deal recently, as Scott Merkin of MLB.com reported on Twitter. Boggs struggled to a 9.50 ERA in 36 innings with the Sox’ top affiliate this year, while Rodriguez was utterly unable to throw strikes consistently during his tenure with the Marlins.
- The Phillies announced that right-hander Sean O’Sullivan has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 26-year-old allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone start of the year with the Phillies and has a career 5.90 ERA with 4.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 224 1/3 innings of work. O’Sullivan has been outrighted in the past and has the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency.
1:37pm: The Red Sox announced that they have received cash considerations from the Angels in exchange for Hill.
1:29pm: The Angels announced that they have acquired southpaw Rich Hill from the Red Sox and selected his contract (Twitter link). Michael Kohn has been optioned to Triple-A to create room for Hill on the Major League roster. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish noted earlier today (on Twitter) that Hill had a July 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with Boston.
The 34-year-old Hill, signed by Boston to a minor league deal this offseason, has pitched well in his time with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014. In 39 innings for Pawtucket, Hill has posted a 3.23 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. He’s dominated opposing left-handers, holding them to a .196/.302/.196 batting line, and he’s been tough on righties as well. Opposing right-handers are batting just .211/.296/.274 against Hill this year.
Of course, Hill does come with a spotty track record, as he posted a 6.28 ERA in 38 2/3 innings with the Indians last season and has a lengthy injury history. Since a strong showing with the 2007 Cubs, Hill has had difficulty sticking in the Majors as he’s battled shoulder and elbow problems, including surgery to repair a torn labrum and Tommy John surgery.
JULY 1: The Red Sox announced that Capuano has cleared waivers and been released. Boston is on the hook for the remainder of Capuano’s contract (roughly $1.18MM), and he is free to sign with any team.
JUNE 25: The Red Sox have designated left-hander Chris Capuano for assignment, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). The move makes room for right-hander Clay Buchholz to be activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Capuano, 35, signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Red Sox this offseason that included up to $2.75MM worth of incentives. The veteran southpaw pitched 31 2/3 innings for the BoSox and posted a 4.55 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 36.2 percent ground-ball rate. Capuano posted a bizarre reverse-platoon split in Boston, holding right-handed hitters to a .217/.337/.348 batting line but struggling against lefties to the tune of a .333/.367/.509 triple-slash.
Capuano started the year well, pitching to a 1.95 ERA through the first two months, but he’s fallen on hard times in June. He’s appeared in five games this month, totaling just four innings while serving up a total of 10 runs on 14 hits and four walks.
TUESDAY: The Red Sox have announced that Baltimore has returned the former Rule 5 pick Almanzar to Boston.
MONDAY: The Orioles announced that they have reinstated Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar from the 60-day disabled list and designated him for assignment. The corner infielder was plucked from the Red Sox back in December.
Almanzar, 23, saw just nine games of action in 2014 in the O’s farm system. In the year prior for the Red Sox’s Double-A club, the 6’3″, 190 pound athlete slashed .268/.328/.432.
Almanzar is now one of six players in DFA limbo as shown in MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.
4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:
“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.
“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”
2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs. The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year. The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.
A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken. At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control. The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world. The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes. It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution. Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.
The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.
- On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton. From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.” It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston. That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining. UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
- Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors. The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams. Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
- Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013. The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline. The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon. For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates. The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down. In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
- When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
- “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives. White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits. Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal. In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
- More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Carlos Correa | Chicago White Sox | Daniel Murphy | Delino DeShields Jr. | Deven Marrero | Dustin Ackley | Dylan Bundy | Garin Cecchini | George Springer | Giancarlo Stanton | Houston Astros | Jackie Bradley Jr. | Jarred Cosart | Jason Castro | Jonathan Villar | Jose Altuve | Kevin Gausman | Lucas Giolito | Lucas Harrell | Luis Heredia | Marcus Stroman | Matt Dominguez | Miami Marlins | New York Mets | Nick Kingham | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ryan Lavarnway | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals | Xander Bogaerts
Manny Machado‘s five-game suspension has been upheld by the league, the Orioles announced today, and the third baseman will begin serving his suspension tonight. Machado had been appealing the ruling, which stemmed from a June 8th incident that saw him throw his bat towards third base in a game against the Athletics.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are thought to be looking at trade options for Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. The O’s must decide by today what they will do with Reimold, as they would otherwise have to designate the outfielder for assignment unless he is placed on the Major League roster. Reimold has been hampered by multiple neck surgeries over the last few seasons but has posted a .902 OPS over 17 games on a Double-A rehab assignment.
- Jon Lester told reporters (including WEEI.com’s Alex Speier) that there haven’t been any new negotiations between his representatives and the Red Sox, and there won’t be any extension talks during the season since Lester considers them a distraction. “Like I said from the beginning of the season, everything is amicable. Conversations continue. But nothing as far as contract or numbers or anything like that,” Lester said. The southpaw also noted that his preference to wait until after the season to negotiate doesn’t mean he is any less set on remaining in Boston.
- Also from Speier, Mookie Betts and Brock Holt are both similar to Dustin Pedroia in both makeup and physical stature, a sign of how the Red Sox are focusing more on ability than body type in developing their prospects.
- One AL scout would “without hesitation” trade the prospect package of Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey for David Price if the Blue Jays received such a demand from the Rays, the scout tells Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun. This may not be enough for the Jays to outbid others for Price, however, given the number of teams interested and how Tampa is rumored to want a premium if they were to trade Price within the division. Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is said to be refusing to move all of Norris/Sanchez/Pompey in a deal for anyone, including Price, Jeff Samardzjia or another pitcher.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman is “looking to make some additions if I can,” he told reporters, including Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times. “I’d like to try to do a few things before those guys [C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda] get back, if possible. But I’ve already been trying. There’s a reason we haven’t done anything; it’s not because of a lack of phone calls. We’ll see.” The Yankees are known to be looking for starting pitching to help their rotation depth.
The results of today’s Giants-Reds and Dodgers-Cardinals games look like the crest of a sea change that has reshaped the NL playoff race. Homer Bailey took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Giants, and the Reds emerged with a 4-0 win. Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw struck out 13 Cardinals in seven innings as the Dodgers cruised to a 6-0 victory. The Dodgers, 9 1/2 games out of first in the NL West three weeks ago, are now even with the Giants, and the Reds are now tied with St. Louis for second place in the Central. With two teams near the top in the NL East as well, and a wide-open Wild Card picture, there could be plenty of competition for veteran talent at the trade deadline. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Third baseman Chase Headley says he doesn’t feel the Padres are the reason he’s inconsistent, and doesn’t think a change of scenery will help him, Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “Even when things are going full-on crappy, like now, I’m confident that sometime in the near future, I’m going to get healthy, stay healthy and start playing the way I know I’m capable of,” says Headley. “I don’t look at it like, ‘Man, I gotta get out of here to be me again.’ I’m going to be me again, whether it’s here or somewhere else.” Headley is currently hitting .207/.294/.332 while dealing with a herniated disk in his back, but his banner 2012 season likely ensures there will be plenty of interest in him, both at the trade deadline and when he becomes a free agent this offseason.
- The Braves‘ constant stream of young talent helps keep them consistently competitive and prevents them from having to rebuild, Marc Narducci of Philly.com writes. “What they have done in our organization is pretty special,” says Freddie Freeman. “They have great development people and it seems like when a guy is ready, they don’t let him sit there and they give him at-bats – and that is what they did with me.” Narducci contrasts the Braves’ approach with that of the Phillies, who seem to keep older players longer and often lack interesting young players to plug into their lineup when playing time finally becomes available.
- The Red Sox should consider trading Koji Uehara, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Tomase points to the Rangers’ 2003 trade of Ugueth Urbina to the Marlins for Adrian Gonzalez and two other players as evidence of the good things that can happen when a team deals an experienced closer. As Tomase himself notes, of course, it’s very rare to receive a player of Gonzalez’s caliber in return for a reliever. And of course, first the Red Sox need to figure out if they’re buyers or sellers. “Here’s how I view it from the outside. The first thing you have to do is cross that bridge and say, ‘Is it even worth it for us to go out and try to fill two or three holes?‘” says John Hart, the former Rangers GM who pulled off the Gonzalez deal.
- Sox starter Jake Peavy will be a free agent this winter, and the emergence of Rubby De La Rosa has led to speculation about the possibility Peavy could be traded. But Peavy says he’s not concerned about trade rumors, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “I have a great relationship with my pitching coach (Juan Nieves), my manager (John Farrell) and my general manager (Ben Cherington). We’re all very open with each other. I don’t need any clarity on any situation involving anything,” says Peavy. “If you start worrying about stuff like that, your focus is off where it needs to be and it’s going to affect things.”
9:37pm: The Red Sox do want to reignite extension talks with Lester, but there has been no progress toward an extension, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes.
9:02pm: The Red Sox are making what could be a final attempt to extend starting pitcher Jon Lester before he reaches free agency this winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports. Olney says the Red Sox have improved upon their previous offer to Lester. It’s unclear, however, whether Lester is even receptive to extension talks at this point, preferring to concentrate on pitching during the season. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday that Lester and the Red Sox were very far apart on the terms of a potential deal.
Olney writes that Lester and the Red Sox had not negotiated since the spring, when the Red Sox reportedly made a four-year, $70MM offer. (Since then, even the Red Sox have characterized the $70MM figure as something less than a final offer.) Lester has pitched brilliantly so far this season, posting a 2.92 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 114 innings, and with the recent escalation in salaries for starting pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Homer Bailey, one would think that Lester would have little trouble topping $70MM on the open market.