Brandon League Rumors

Dodgers Notes: Kershaw, League, Ramirez, Cruz

Good news for Dodgers fans as General Manager Ned Colletti confirmed that Clayton Kershaw will not require surgery on his right hip, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  Here's more on what Colletti had to say to reporters with all links going to Hernandez's Twitter..

  • The Dodgers will make a strong effort to re-sign their relievers, including free agent Brandon League (Twitter link).  The former Mariner told reporters yesterday that he has informed the Dodgers that he hopes to return.
  • At this point in time, Colletti is leaning towards Hanley Ramirez playing shortstop in 2013, Hernandez tweets.
  • Meanwhile, the club is heading into the offseason with the idea that Luis Cruz can be the Dodgers' third baseman in 2013 (Twitter link).  Cruz, 28, hit .297/.322/.431 with six homers in 78 games for the Dodgers in 2012.  It would make sense for the Dodgers to look in-house for an answer at third with limited options at the position on the open market this winter.
  • Colletti was asked if Juan Uribe has a place on the team in 2013 and the GM responded "We'll have to see," (Twitter link).  To part ways with Uribe, the Dodgers will have to eat the $10.3MM remaining on his deal.

Quick Hits: League, Tracy, Upton, Blue Jays

Brandon League told reporters that he has informed the Dodgers that he would like to re-sign this winter, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  After a rough handful of games to kick off his Dodger career, League settled down to finish with a 2.30 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in Los Angeles.  Here’s more from around baseball as Miguel Cabrera celebrates his Triple Crown season..

  • With his status uncertain for 2013, Rockies skipper Jim Tracy is set to meet with front office management on Friday, writes Troy Renck of The Denver Post.  Tracy was said to have a handshake agreement for next season but there has been heavy speculation that the club could let him go this offseason.
  • From talking to people around the Rays, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) can’t find anyone who thinks that Tampa Bay will come up with the money to retain B.J. Upton.  Recently, more than 61% of MLBTR readers polled said that the Rays should extend Upton a qualifying offer this winter.
  • Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos says that he is comfortable with John Farrell returning to manage the club with just one year left on his contract, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.  The GM went on to say that the club’s payroll will go up for next season, though there will not be a “bottomless pit” to work from (Twitter link).
  • Dodgers outfielder Shane Victorino will be parting ways with his representation at ACES and is interviewing other agents, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  The veteran is set to hit the open market this winter.  Earlier tonight, we learned that Nyjer Morgan has also dropped ACES.
  • If the Rangers are bounced early from the postseason, Josh Hamilton‘s dropped pop-up against the A’s earlier today will have an impact on Texas’ willingness to bid on him, opines Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter).

Quick Hits: Kurt Suzuki, Scott Hairston, Nate McLouth

After an arduous start with the Dodgers, Brandon League has settled in nicely as the team's closer, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. The right-hander turned his season around thanks to 18 scoreless appearances out of his last 19, giving him a 0.44 ERA during that stretch. Here's a look at the news and stories making headlines on the final Sunday of the regular season…

  • Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki has exceeded all expectations for Washington after the team acquired him from the A's at the non-waiver trade deadline, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. The 28-year-old's strong performance has come on both sides of the ball, especially with his bat. "He's gotten clutch hits," Ryan Zimmerman said. "I think we all knew he was a better hitter and his track record shows he was a better hitter than what he was doing this year.
  • Thanks to a strong campaign replete with increased playing time, Mets outfielder Scott Hairston heads into the offseason looking for a deal that will allow him to continue to expand his role in 2013, says Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Hairston will be able to use his 1.9 Wins Above Replacement as a negotiating chip as he looks to become an everyday player for the entirety of the season. "I pretty much played in every role possible, and the last few weeks or so I've been playing every day," Hairston said. "It's just one of those things where I really don't know what's going to happen. I'm just going to prepare myself this offseason as if I'll be playing every day."
  • The resurgence of Nate McLouth hasn't been an easy endeavor for the former All-Star, but the hard work has the scrappy outfielder playing a major role in the Orioles' success, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun"It's part of the path that God has laid out for my life. And I don't question it. Were the last couple years tough? Heck yeah they were. But I know I am stronger and better because of it," McLouth said.


Dodgers Acquire Brandon League

The Mariners have traded Brandon League to the Dodgers for prospects Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom, the team announced. Earlier today we heard that a number of contenders had interest in Seattle's former closer as they looked to bolster their bullpens.

League, 29, is owed approximately $1.8MM for the rest of the season before becoming a free agent this winter. He's pitched to a 3.63 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 44 2/3 innings this year, plus his usual sky-high ground ball rate is down to just 46.9%. The Dodgers have lost Matt Guerrier and Todd Coffey to injury this season, so League will add some late-inning depth.

Landry, 22, is hitting .328/.358/.559 with eight homers and 15 triples in 376 plate appearances for Los Angeles' High Class-A affiliate this season while spending most of his time in center field. Bawcom, a 23-year-old right-hander, owns a 2.03 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 48 2/3 relief innings split between Single-A and Double-A this year. Neither player ranked among the team's top 30 prospects in Baseball America's Prospect Handbook before the season.


Latest On Brandon League

2:02pm: The White Sox, Rangers, Giants, Dodgers, and other clubs are in on League, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports.

11:19am: The Giants are still involved on Mariners reliever Brandon League, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, adding along with colleague Ken Rosenthal that the Dodgers inquired.  Yesterday afternoon, Morosi tweeted that the Mariners were discussing League with multiple teams.

League, 29, has a 3.63 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.20 HR/9, and 46.9% groundball rate in 44 2/3 innings this year.  He's allowed just one home run despite the lowest groundball rate of his career.  League has $1.71MM remaining on his contract and will be eligible for free agency after the season.  His earning power was hurt a bit by the loss of the Mariners' closing job in late May.


Mariners Close To Trading Brandon League

5:15pm: The Giants and Mariners have definitely discussed League, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It's still not clear where League will be traded, though, according to Morosi.

4:06pm: The Mariners were discussing League with multiple teams as of this afternoon, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).

3:03pm: There's some scuttlebutt in high circles that the Giants are the team getting League, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). But it's not a sure thing.

2:52pm: The Braves and Rangers aren't in the mix for League, Crasnick tweets.

2:46pm: The Angels and Mariners are in talks for League, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports. The Mariners could be close to trading League to the Giants or the Angels, Gonzalez writes.

2:24pm: The White Sox have been talking to the Mariners about League and the Angels continue seeking relief help, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).

2:05pm: The Mariners are close to trading Brandon League to an unknown team, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). The Giants, Angels and Mets are known to have some interest in the right-hander.

League is earning $5MM this year and will hit free agency this offseason. The 29-year-old has a 3.05 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 46.4% ground ball rate in 42 1/3 innings for Seattle. He lost the closer's job in May, but has pitched to a 1.96 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks since the beginning of June. His fastball averages 95.2 mph, according to FanGraphs.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


New York Notes: Headley, Mets, League, Yankees

A look at the latest out of Queens and the Bronx..

  • A source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) that Padres third baseman Chase Headley is not out of question for the Yankees.  Headley could play at third until Alex Rodriguez and could replace Nick Swisher if he leaves via free agency next year, Rosenthal tweets
  • The Yankees and Padres haven't exchanged names in Headley talks, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • Although Mets GM Sandy Alderson is fielding calls for Tim Byrdak and Scott Hairston, he is more likely to retain the pair, a person familiar with the club's thinking told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News
  • Martino adds that the Mets have inquired on Mariners righthander Brandon League, according to a baseball source, but their interest in him and other high-profile relievers has fizzled.  That source expects a quiet few days from the Mets as the deadline approaches.
  • Before the Mariners traded Ichiro to the Yankees, they were deep in talks with the Giants and White Sox, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • The outfielder liked the idea of playing for the Giants, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle adds (via Twitter).

Giants, Angels Interested In Brandon League

The Giants and Angels are among the teams that have shown interest in Mariners right-hander Brandon League, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Giants are seeking relievers more aggressively than any team, Morosi reported earlier today. The Angels and Braves are also actively seeking bullpen help (Twitter links).

League is earning $5MM this year and will hit free agency this offseason. The 29-year-old has a 2.98 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 45.1% ground ball rate in 42 1/3 innings for Seattle. He lost the closer's job in May, but has pitched to a 1.71 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks since the beginning of June. His fastball averages 95.2 mph, according to FanGraphs.


Cafardo On Upton, Phillies, Red Sox, Mariners

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top ten managers in baseball.  Don Mattingly of the Dodgers tops the list as he has the club off to a surprising 38-22 record, putting them four games above the Giants in the NL West.  Robin Ventura (White Sox), Terry Collins (Mets), Bobby Valentine (Red Sox), and Buck Showalter (Orioles) round out the top five.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • Only Kevin Towers knows for sure if the inconsistent Justin Upton could ever be available in a deal.  However, a few baseball evaluators wouldn’t mind tempting the Diamondbacks with a package.  Arizona doesn't need pitching, so the Red Sox can't use someone like Clay Buchholz to get him.
  • The Phillies may be more interested in Will Middlebrooks than Kevin Youkilis, a major league source told Cafardo.  However, it doesn't look like the Red Sox would have interest in dealing Middlebrooks.
  • The Orioles' new six-year, $85MM deal with Adam Jones has led to speculation on how the Red Sox will approach Jacoby Ellsbury, who can be a free agent after the 2013 season.  However, there's reason for both sides to wait.  As an Oregon native who shuns the spotlight, Ellsbury may want a quieter market.  The Sox, meanwhile, would want to see Ellsbury stay healthy for a while before committing 6-8 years to him.
  • While the Mariners haven’t given indications that they will sell off veteran pieces, teams are targeting them as a seller.  The M's have already received some inquiries for Brandon League.
  • The Rays have to be looking for a middle infielder, which are extremely hard to come by.  Tampa Bay is anxious to upgrade from the defensive play of Sean Rodriguez.
  • The Red Sox really like Jorge Soler, but they don’t appear to be the front-runners for him.

Two Walk-Year Closers With Declining Trade Value

Uspw_6259562The new playoff system may or may not impact the number of buyers and sellers this summer, but there's one thing about the trade deadline that won't change: pitching will be in demand. It is every year and in all forms — starters and relievers, right-handers and left-handers, aces and innings-eaters — there's a market for all of them.

A popular target for clubs looking to add bullpen help is the proverbial "closer on a bad team." The Rangers were 14.5 games out when they traded Eric Gagne to the Red Sox in 2007 and the Nationals were 13.5 games out when they traded Matt Capps to the Twins in 2010, just for example. The upcoming free agent class is littered with closers, but two of them have seen their trade value drop because of poor performance in recent weeks.

Brandon League, Mariners
League saved 37 games and was an All-Star a year ago, but this season he's pitched to a 4.43 ERA with a 44.4% ground ball rate that is well below his career norm (60.3%). Manager Eric Wedge removed the 29-year-old right-hander from the closer's role following last night's blown save, already his fourth of the season. He told reporters (including Larry Larue of The News Tribune) they'll instead "match up with what we think works" in the ninth inning.

Grant Balfour, Athletics
Three poor performances (two blown saves) in late-April and early-May cost Balfour his job as closer, and now he's working the seventh inning in Oakland thanks to Ryan Cook's emergence. The 34-year-old veteran has a 4.09 ERA in 22 innings, though his strikeout (7.0 K/9) and walk (3.3 BB/9) rates are both trending in the wrong direction for the second straight season.

Both League and Balfour are scheduled to become free agents after this season, though Balfour's contract includes a $4.5MM club option ($350K buyout) for 2013. With pitchers like Jonathan Broxton, Huston Street, and Francisco Rodriguez providing quality rental bullpen help alternatives on the trade market, the Mariners and A's could be left with nothing to show for their free agent-to-be relievers.

Photo via US Presswire.