Boston Red Sox Rumors
With today's news that MLB could be looking to fast-track suspensions relating to the Biogenesis PED scandal, it is worth reading USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale's look ahead at the arbitration process that will have a major role in how things play out. As previous arbitrator Shyam Das explained to Nightengale, newly-minted arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will be entering "somewhat uncharted waters" as he assesses whether the evidence warrants whatever suspensions are ultimately leveled. You may also be interested in reading this interesting account (from Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times) of how whistleblower Porter Fischer blew the lid on the Biogenesis clinic.
In more pleasant news, here is a look at some goings-on around baseball:
- While the Red Sox' below-slot signing of first-rounder Trey Ball freed up some cash, Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the team is still unlikely to ink 22nd-round choice Ryan Boldt. Boldt, a highly-regarded high school outfielder who was rated as high as 39th overall (by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo), reportedly intends to attend the University of Nebraska. According to Callis, he is looking for a $2.5MM bonus to forego college.
- On the other hand, with the Astros locking up first overall choice Mark Appel to a bonus that fell about $1.5MM below his slot value, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says that the club is looking to spend some of that cash on later-round high schoolers. Houston could send some of its free money to tenth-rounder Austin Nicely (a left-handed University of Virginia commit) or eleventh-rounder Devonte German (a righty who will otherwise head to Nevada).
- The inimitable Manny Ramirez has opted out of his contract with the Taiwanese EDR Rhinos and has his eyes set on a return to Major League Baseball, writes FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. After mashing eight home runs and posting a .352 batting average in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, Ramirez's representatives Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro say that the slugger is "interested in returning to the majors in any role, including that of a pinch hitter." Now 41 years of age, the all-time great slugger last appeared in the bigs in 2011 with the Rays.
If you are looking for a unique way to occupy your evening, be sure to follow (or re-read) the Dodgers' Twitter feed as unparalleled announcer Vin Scully chats about his incredible memories and observations on today's game. (A sample: Scully says he had to be on his feet watching for foul balls at old Briggs Stadium -- better known as Tiger Stadium -- because "the booth was so close to home you could hear the hitter grunt.") Also worth reading are the following links looking ahead to the coming trade deadline period:
- The market for closers could focus on Glen Perkins and Steve Cishek if Jonathan Papelbon and Rafael Betancourt are unavailable, tweets MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons. Teams like the Tigers and Red Sox are potentially on the hunt for late-inning help, but Gammons says to expect a high price on Perkins and Cishek.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com took a look at Boston's closer situation today. GM Ben Cherington did not rule out the possibility of dealing for late-inning help, but also said that the club had internal options.
- Buyers should not expect Papelbon to be available, Gammons further tweets. He cites an unnamed GM as saying that the Phillies are unlikely to deal their closer or star pitcher Cliff Lee given "their pending TV deal."
- Potential buyers include the Giants, Orioles, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Reds, according to Baseball Prospectus. While the O's may join the Giants on the market for starting pitching, BP's Bret Sayre says the club should also be in on a second baseman to address its glaring issues there. Likewise, Cincinnati's shopping list is relatively clear: an outfielder to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey. BP further suggests that the Padres have many areas that could warrant an upgrade, while the Dbacks ought to look to add a "star" to compliment the emerging Paul Goldschmidt.
- While the Nationals were quiet at last year's deadline, ultimately acquiring backstop Kurt Suzuki in a post-deadline deal, MLB.com's Bill Ladson suggests that the team could be more active this season. Getting the injured Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper back is the first order of business, but the Nats could look to add a veteran right-handed bench bat given the struggles of the demoted Tyler Moore. Ladson also wonders whether Washington could look to pick up a fifth starter to replace the inconsistent Dan Haren. But with Haren's salary and track record, Ladson says, the team is unlikely at this point to make such a move. (It is worth noting, too, that the Nats still have Chris Young working at Triple-A on an incentive-laden deal, though Young has struggled to a 7.88 ERA in seven starts.)
- Although the Rangers have struggled at the plate, ESPN.com's Richard Durrett says the team's first order of business should be to shop for starters at the deadline. With the young back of the rotation still looking for consistency, and Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison still major injury question marks, Durrett says the club could look at high-end arms like Cliff Lee. Durrett's colleague Todd Wills, on the other hand, writes (same link) that Texas should focus on finding a left fielder. He suggests that Andre Ethier, Josh Willingham, and Carlos Quentin are viable possibilities. With Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry failing to nail down their roles and Nelson Cruz still potentially a suspension target, says Wills, outfield depth could the the key down the stretch.
- The Padres' recent hot streak has made the team a bubble buyer, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Sanders suggests that starting pitching is the most likely target, as GM Josh Byrnes has said. He says that arms like Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are potentially available could be a nice fit in the NL West's larger ballparks. Alternatively, if the Pads turn into sellers, the team may be able to find takers for pitchers Eric Stults, Jason Marquis, Edinson Volquez, and Huston Street.
- Other bubble teams include the Dodgers, Giants, and Indians, writes ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required). Still in contention and with solid enough cores to remain there, Bowden says these clubs are in "reload" mode and gives an in-depth analysis of their trade deadline approach. Los Angeles could use improvements on the left side of the infield and back of the bullpen, and might also look to add rotation or pen depth. San Francisco, meanwhile, could (as noted above) look for rotation help or shop for an outfielder given Angel Pagan's injury. For Cleveland, Bowden says that the team should look to add "at least two more quality arms" while not selling away the team's future. Be sure to check out the link for further analysis and potential trade scenarios.
3:48pm: Speier adds that Ball signed for $2.75MM, which represents a savings of nearly $500K for the Red Sox (Twitter link).
2:20pm: The Red Sox have officially announced the signing of Ball.
12:02pm: The Red Sox and Ball have agreed to terms, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). His bonus is still unknown at this time.
8:51am: The Red Sox are in the final stages of negotiations with No. 7 overall pick Trey Ball, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, and the deal is expected to be completed today. Ball has passed his physical, and his signing bonus is expected to be slightly below the assigned pick value of $3.246MM. Ball is advised by Frontline Athlete Management.
A high school left-handed pitcher/outfielder out of Indiana, Ball was a consensus Top 10 talent among ESPN's Keith Law (No. 8), MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (No. 8) and Baseball America (No. 9). Law wrote that Ball could be a first-round talent whether drafted as a pitcher or an outfielder but was currently better suited for pitching: "On the mound, his talent is easier to spot -- a 6-foot-6 left-hander with a loose arm, a fastball up to 94, and feel for a breaking ball already." Mayo adds that Ball's changeup is his best secondary offering, but he struggles to repeat his delivery at times.
The Red Sox view Ball as a pitcher, with director of player personnel Dave Finley telling Speier, “Trey’s velocity was pretty remarkable throughout the year. Being in a cold-weather state and having that velocity was pretty promising." Finley likens Ball to 2011 supplemental-rounder Henry Owens as well as a young Jon Lester. All three lefties were selected out of high school by the Red Sox.
It is believed, according to Speier, that the savings on second-rounder Teddy Stankiewicz's signing bonus and Ball's signing bonus will be enough to offset the over-slot deal given to third-round catcher Jon Denney.
Manny Ramirez is batting .352 for the Taiwanese EDR Rhinos and ranks second in the league with eight home runs. While that might not be enough for MLB teams to show interest in the controversial slugger, he's drawing interest from Japan's Chiba Lotte Marines, according to a Sponichi report (Japanese link). Marines Manager Tsutomu Ito said he'd like to "make an acquisition when the team is strong, as MLB teams do," and that he's looking to give the DH spot to a power hitter. While it seems that Manny will continue to "be Manny" overseas for the time being, here's more from around Major League Baseball...
- Joel Hanrahan regrets how his brief Red Sox tenure played out and wishes he could've shown more to the fans, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford notes that it's impossible to predict where Hanrahan will end up in free agency this winter, but the two-time All-Star isn't ruling out a return to Boston. Hanrahan told Bradford he "has a lot of things left to prove in Boston."
- ESPN's Keith Law examines the recent rash of top prospect promotions, offering his expectations for recent call-ups Wil Myers, Gerrit Cole, Mike Zunino and Zack Wheeler (ESPN Insider required).
- In light of Mark Teixeira re-injuring his wrist, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post questions the Yankees' decision to activate him from the disabled list in the first place. Davidoff points out that the World Baseball Classic paid for the $7.38MM that Teixeira earned while on the DL because he was injured preparing for the tournament. Now that he's been with the Yankees, the team will be on the hook for his remaining $15.12MM of salary even if he misses the remainder of the season.
With the Dodgers beginning a history-rich interleague series with the Yankees tomorrow in the Bronx, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal looks back at how Vin Scully was offered a chance to be the voice of the Yankees in 1964. Here are some more items revolving around the AL East...
- Brian Cashman expects to continue to be busy leading up to the trade deadline, the Yankees GM told reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch) today. "I’m always open for business, if it feels like they’re incremental upgrades or significant ones," Cashman said. "Listen, because of the injuries that have hit us from the winter and March, we’ve been active and open to try to do something that would make sense for us. I think we’ve done a lot and we’re going to continue to try to do a lot."
- MLB.com's Ian Browne addresses a number of Red Sox trade deadline possibilities in a reader mailbag. Browne "highly doubts" that Jon Lester would be moved despite his current struggles, Stephen Drew could be brought back for next season depending on Will Middlebrooks' development and the Sox wouldn't have to give up much in a potential trade for Jonathan Papelbon though they would have to take on most of the remaining $33.6MM on Papelbon's contract.
- In another MLB.com fan mailbag piece, Bill Chastain looks at Wil Myers' callup to the Rays and how the heavily-touted prospect could fare in the Major Leagues.
- Orioles first round pick Hunter Harvey could come to terms with the club before their remaining two unsigned draftees from the first 10 rounds, a team source tells Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. It could take the O's right up until near the July 12 deadline to sign supplemental first-rounder Josh Hart.
Now that the draft is over, teams are focusing more on bolstering their rotations with one more piece, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. No one more aggressive in the pursuit of pitching than Orioles GM Dan Duquette who knows that one veteran starter could make all the difference. While they're anxious to improve their starting five, it doesn't sound as if the O's will be in the mix for someone like Cliff Lee. “We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Astros will craft a game plan early this week for how to approach their veteran assets. Teams are already calling about Bud Norris, who has a cheap $3MM salary, but won't be cheap to acquire. The Orioles, Giants, and Pirates have kicked around the idea of acquiring Norris, but one National League exec says there will be about a dozen teams interested before all is said and done.
- It seems like a no-brainer for the A’s to pick up Coco Crisp's 2014 option for $7.5MM, but he'll be in demand if they don’t. Even though he's 33-years-old, there aren’t many top center fielder/leadoff hitter types out there. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the No. 1 guy in that department, but , one American League special assignment scout said Crisp might be a better low-cost option because “he can do everything Ellsbury can do. Neither of them have an arm, but Coco is still fast, a very good outfielder, and can still be a game-changer.”
- The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline and the Phillies are scouting those teams with a potential deal in mind. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies, but a Papelbon trade could help retool the club.
- Teams continue to nudge Javier Vazquez into coming back to pitch, but the right-hander seems to be content with staying with his family, according to a source familiar with Vazquez’s thinking.
- The Red Sox can trade Stephen Drew now that June 15th has come and gone, and they would have no problem finding a taker given the lack of shortstops around baseball. However, Boston firmly believes that Drew is their guy. One National League GM doesn't quite understand their infatuation with the shortstop. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5MM they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”
- If the White Sox decide to finally bolster their farm system, they could get some helpful prospects back by moving right-hander Jesse Crain. The reliever is becoming a top name on wish lists around baseball.
- While many baseball people remain focused on Giancarlo Stanton’s availability in a deal, 25-year-old Logan Morrison is now healthy and has returned to the lineup. The Marlins first baseman/outfielder is a big lefthanded hitter who will be monitored closely by scouts over the next month.
The Red Sox have agreed to terms with third-round draft pick Jonathan Denney, Baseball America's Jim Callis reports (Twitter links). Denney signed for a $875K bonus, well above the $671.2K assigned slot value (courtesy of Baseball America) of the 81st overall pick. Denney is advised by the BBI Sports Group.
Denney was something of a steal for Boston in the third round given that the high school catcher was a consensus late-first round pick (20th overall by MLB.com, 22nd by ESPN's Keith Law and 25th by Baseball America) by most major draft analysts. Law mentioned that Denney "struggled receiving this spring and is no longer seen as a lock to catch," which may have accounted for his fall in the draft. Still, Law feels that Denney can still grow into the position and he has a good arm, plus Baseball America thinks Denney has a strong enough right-handed bat to stick at first base if necessary.
The latest out of baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee was noncommittal when asked by reporters (including CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury) if he'd like to stay in Philadelphia even if things don't turn around: "I definitely want to win. There’s no doubt about that. I want to win. I don’t know how to say it besides that. I want to win." Lee did go on to say he preferred to win in Philadelphia, but avoided discussing the possibility of pitching for another team.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com reported yesterday that Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sox deliberated on the decision, but with Jose Iglesias sticking on the roster, the decision was made to move Baseball America's No. 8 prospect up a level. The shortstop hit .311/.407/.502 in 56 games at Double-A Portland.
- The Red Sox and Phillies are both interested in Dominican prospects Rafael Devers and Luis Encarnacion, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required). Devers and Encarnacion are thought to be two of the best hitters on this year's July 2 market, and Badler expects both to sign for over $1MM. Badler says that early reports on Devers liken him to Hank Blalock as a teenager.
- Evan Drellich of MassLive.com adds that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is placing a large emphasis on this year's international market, and confirms with team sources that there is heavy interest in Devers.
The Padres have acquired Pedro Ciriaco from the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later, tweets Peter Gammons of the MLB Network. The 27-year-old infielder was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Monday. Because he is out of options, Ciriaco will need to be placed on San Diego's 25-man roster.
Ciriaco hit .293/.315/.390 in 272 plate appearances for the BoSox last season, but batted just .216/.293/.353 in limited playing time this year. The signing of Stephen Drew and the emergence of Jose Iglesias made Ciriaco expendable to the Red Sox.
San Diego recently lost Jedd Gyorko to the disabled list, so it makes sense that the Friars were on the lookout for infield help. In 370 Major League plate appearances, Ciriaco is a .287/.315/.398 hitter. He has extensive experience at third base, shortstop and second base, but Ciriaco also played all three outfield positions and first base as well during his Red Sox tenure.
It's been a busy time for the minds at Baseball America recently with the MLB Draft taking place last week, but BA's Ben Badler has a different focus in his most recent piece, profiling more of the top names available in this year's class of July 2 international prospects. Here's a look at some of the highlights, though Badler's actual piece offers far more depth and information, as well as scouting videos...
- The Red Sox have shown heavy interest in left-handed hitting Venezuelan outfielder Freddy Rodriguez, who is training at Carlos Guillen's baseball academy. Rodriguez runs the 60-yard dash in 6.8 seconds and some scouts think he projects well enough to play center field.
- The Nationals have shown strong interest in Dominican third baseman Anderson Franco, although he will have to wait until Aug. 15 to sign due to the fact that he's not yet 16 years of age. The switch-hitter has big raw power and a strong throwing arm.
- Dominican shortstop Lucas Tirado has become one of the Dodgers' main targets. The 16-year-old played in the Under Armour All-American game at Wrigley Field last season and figures to be in line one of the summer's biggest bonuses. Badler notes that he has a nice left-handed swing, but his other tools are questionable.
- The Brewers are very intrigued by Dominican outfielder Nicolas Pierre, who many project to be able to stay in center field. Badler notes that he doesn't have one standout tool but is solid across the board.
- Badler also profiles shortstop Carlos Hiciano and right-hander Mayky Perez, though he doesn't list specific suitors for any of those highly regarded talents.