- Cubs Acquire Austin Jackson
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- Denard Span To Undergo Season-Ending Hip Surgery
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- MLB Wins Collusion Case Versus Barry Bonds
- Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney, Designate Brian Schlitter
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Brandon Moss Rumors
Marc Topkin runs through the Rays roster to identify six players who have made the most of opportunities to provide surprising value this year in Tampa Bay. Logan Forsythe, added via trade before the 2014 campaign, has arguably been the best of them, putting up a .279/.360/.434 slash with 14 home runs and nine steals while playing multiple infield positions. Forsythe has lined himself up for a nice raise on his $1.1MM arb salary from this season. And a player added just before this season, righty Erasmo Ramirez, has somewhat quietly compiled 123 innings of 3.66 ERA pitching on the year. Ramirez won’t even reach arb eligibility until 2017, making him a nice asset for the future.
Here are a few more notes from around the American League:
- When the Indians managed to pry young lefty Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals in the Brandon Moss deal, reactions were overwhelmingly positive for Cleveland. Indians GM Chris Antonetti tells Jim Ingraham of Baseball America that he likes Kaminsky’s fastball life, groundball tendencies, command of the zone, and overall pitch mix. Cleveland is not concerned about Kaminsky’s light frame, and intends to give him every chance to reach the big leagues as a starter. The 20-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 104 1/3 innings at the High-A level on the season.
- The Athletics have named Ron Washington as the team’s third base coach to replace Mike Gallego, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It was somewhat curious to see the move made now, but the team has struggled with baserunning issues of late and Washington will now have a chance to coach in uniform during games. (He had been prohibited from doing so because of rules limiting the number of uniformed staff.) Nothing more should be read into the decision, writes Slusser, as manager Bob Melvin is still expected to be locked up to a new deal after the season.
- The Twins have scouted Korean slugger Byung-ho Park “a lot” ever since he was a sixteen-year-old, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the increasingly interesting first baseman still seems likely to land elsewhere if he’s posted this winter, Wolfson adds.
Daniel Norris‘ career as a Tiger got off a fantastic start today as the newly-acquired left-hander held the Orioles to one run in 7 1/3 innings work. Norris allowed four hits and a walk while striking out five to earn the victory. Here’s more from around the AL Central…
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is confident that last week’s trades have replenished the club’s reserves of young talent, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. “We changed the outlook of our organization at the upper levels, which we needed to do,” Dombrowski said of the trades as a whole. “We have traded so many guys in the past. Ideally, you don’t want to be in this position. But based on where we were, we think this gives us an influx of guys who can help us going into next year. It puts us in a good spot going into next year.“
- The Indians‘ acquisition of pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals for Brandon Moss was the best trade deadline deal of any team over the last week, Fangraphs’ David Laurila opines. Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter) is similarly effusive about the deal for the Tribe, calling it “a flat out heist for” Cleveland.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer addresses some moves that the Indians made and didn’t make at the deadline as part of a reader mailbag. Of note, Hoynes says the Tribe didn’t plan to pick up David Murphy‘s contract option for 2016 and that the Carlos Carrasco trade talks “were window shopping for future reference” rather than a concerted effort to trade the right-hander.
- Jeff Samardzija remained focused on pitching while trade rumors swirled around him, so the righty said not much has changed for him in remaining with the White Sox, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes. Samardzija is excited about Chicago’s recent play and hopes they can keep building towards a late-season playoff push.
With the acquisition of Moss, the Cardinals will add a powerful left-handed bat to their lineup that will replace the injured Matt Adams, who is likely to miss the remainder of the season due to a torn quadriceps muscle. In Adams’ absence, Mark Reynolds has been seeing the lion’s share of playing time at first base, though one would imagine that Moss will now inherit those duties.
The Cardinals are also facing a potential loss of Matt Holliday, who last night injured the same quadriceps muscle that he tore earlier this season. There’s no definitive word on the severity of the injury just yet — he underwent an MRI last night — but an extended absence would be a blow to the Cardinals’ offense that could be partially offset by the addition of Moss. Should Holliday miss a prolonged stretch, Moss is capable of handling the corner outfield, but the Cardinals already have top prospect Stephen Piscotty on the big league roster, and he could slide into left field in that scenario.
Moss was acquired by Cleveland this past offseason in a one-for-one swap that sent second base prospect Joey Wendle to the Athletics. The lefty slugger, who averaged 25 homers per season from 2012-14 in Oakland, has again displayed power in his lone season with Cleveland (15 homers, .190 ISO). However, his walk and strikeout rates have trended in the wrong direction, leaving him with a sub-par .217/.288/.407 batting line on the season. That production is a far cry from the .254/.340/.504 output he showed in his three full seasons with Oakland, though it’s worth wondering if he’s still feeling any lingering effects from offseason hip surgery.
The 31-year-old Moss has typically struggled versus left-handed pitching, and while that should remain the expectation moving forward, the opposite has held true in 2015. Moss is hitting .265/.336/.453 in 131 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers but has just a .191/.262/.382 batting line against righties. Much of the struggles against righties is due to a .221 BABIP when holding the platoon advantage, so one would expect that his production may very well rise with some better fortune. He is, after all, still hitting line drives at a 20.5 percent clip and has actually lowered his infield fly rate.
Moss is earning $6.55MM in 2015 and is controllable through the 2016 season — the Cards will have to sort out the roster when he and Adams are both healthy — but it does seem as though St. Louis paid a steep price in this swap.
The 20-year-old Kaminsky was one of two Cardinals first-round picks in 2013 (Marco Gonzales was the other) and currently ranked as their No. 4 prospect on Baseball America’s midseason update of the team’s top prospects. MLB.com was even more bullish on their own midseason update, ranking him third in the Cardinals’ organization and 88th in all of baseball.
Kaminsky has spent the season pitching at the Class-A Advanced level, where he has a 2.09 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. In their scouting report, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com write that Kaminsky’s fastball sits in the 89-92 mph range and can touch 95 mph when he needs it, adding that he has the best curveball in the team’s minor league system. His changeup gives him a third pitch that can be solid-average or better. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel would seem to agree, as he pegs Kaminsky’s curveball as a potential 60-grade pitch (on the 20-80 scale), with his fastball, changeup and command all coming in at 50 (average) or better.
St. Louis reportedly discussed Adam Lind with the division-rival Brewers before agreeing to this swap, but it looks as though talks failed to progress, as I wouldn’t imagine they’ll acquire both Moss and Lind, who have somewhat redundant skill sets. Assuming no money changes hands, the Cardinals will be on the hook for about $2.47MM of Moss’ remaining salary.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the one-for-one deal was in place (Twitter link). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported late last night that the two sides were discussing a trade involving Moss and Kaminsky.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The 2015 Indians have not yet made good on their evident promise, in spite of quality performances from many of the team’s better long-term pieces. That frames them as a possible seller, though a late run is not out of the question. Reflecting recent comments from GM Chris Antonetti, however, the latest rumors suggest that a large-scale sell-off is unlikely, with the club perhaps looking instead to re-tool for 2016.
- Cleveland is “unlikely” to deal outfielder Brandon Moss, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The 31-year-old would undoubtedly draw interest, though he’s produced a somewhat tepid .220/.293/.424 batting line. Moss does have 15 home runs, has suffered from a .261 BABIP despite a ton of hard contact, and is earning only $6.5MM with one year of arbitration control remaining. He’s also looked better in the field in the eyes of advanced metrics. All of those factors leave the Indians motivated to keep him in the fold for next season.
- An entirely different set of considerations will likely keep Mike Aviles in Cleveland, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The veteran utilityman is dealing with a terribly unfortunate family situation, as his four-year-old daughter is being treated for leukemia at the Cleveland Clinic. Despite receiving some interest, the Indians have (admirably) determined not to trade Aviles in light of those circumstances.
- The Indians are, however, willing to move third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. He’s currently playing in Triple-A after scuffling to start the year and only comes with two more years of control (his salary this year is $2.25MM). But the 26-year-old has shown more in the past and is putting up solid, if unspectacular, numbers at Columbus. Olney suggests he could be a bench piece for a team like the Mets, and the former top-fifty prospect carries some upside down the line.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- The Athletics aren’t currently considering trading Scott Kazmir and aren’t yet letting go of their hopes of contending, Rosenthal says. The team was dealt another blow yesterday, however, in the form of setbacks to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, at least one of whom the A’s might have counted on later in the season to fill a spot in the rotation and bump Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen.
- An executive says the Indians could be sellers this summer if their 10-18 season doesn’t dramatically improve. Carlos Santana and Brandon Moss could be on the block if they do. Santana is signed through 2016 with a reasonable option for 2017, while Moss has one more year of arbitration eligibility beyond this one before he can become a free agent.
- Rosenthal wonders how it will be possible for the Reds to sign Todd Frazier long-term, given their already-heavy load of commitments to veterans. Rosenthal says Frazier is eligible for free agency after next season, although he actually isn’t eligible until after 2017 — his current contract carries through 2016, but the Reds can take him through arbitration once more after that. That one year makes a considerable difference, since it means the Reds already control Frazier through his age-31 season. As terrific a year as Frazier is having, trying to control him beyond 31 might be risky, and representative of the kinds of commitments that have caused the Reds’ current payroll headaches. Still, Rosenthal is probably right that Frazier could become a trade candidate at some point, given the Reds’ need to acquire young talent.
Indians outfielder Brandon Moss nearly retired from baseball in 2012, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Moss had nine days left before an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the A’s and planned on playing out the season in Japan — on a more lucrative deal. His plans were then to join a high school friend as a firefighter in his native Georgia. However, Moss was called up to the A’s on June 6 that year and, after initially struggling, proceeded to mash five homers in a four-game span. That burst of power set the tone for Moss, who stuck with the A’s through this offseason when he was traded to Cleveland. Over the past three seasons, the late-blooming Moss is a .254/.340/.504 hitter with 76 home runs. Bastian’s article has several interesting quotes from Moss, his former coaches/managers and his friends and is well worth the read.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Royals lefty Tim Collins had an MRI on his left elbow yesterday after experiencing tightness Wednesday of this week, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. The Royals and Collins remain hopeful that it’s just normal soreness that can often be expected of pitchers early in Spring Training. If not, the team does have other lefty options in camp, including Franklin Morales, Brian Flynn, Joe Paterson and top prospect Brandon Finnegan.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, that his club isn’t hindered by payroll or revenue. Ryan’s goal, he says, is to reach the postseason this year, though he admits that a lot will need to go right for that to happen. Namely, the Twins will need to stay healthy and see a number of their younger players take their game to a new level.
- Phil Coke, who agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs yesterday, told MLive.com’s Chris Iott that he’ll miss being a Tiger and enjoyed his time in the Motor City. Iott writes that while the Tigers never officially closed the door on re-signing Coke, his fate was more or less sealed once the team signed Tom Gorzelanny to his one-year, $1MM deal. Detroit didn’t want to carry a pair of veteran lefty relievers without options when it had a number of younger in-house options, such as Blaine Hardy, Ian Krol and Kyle Ryan, Iott explains. Iott adds that he, too, hears Coke rejected a Major League offer in favor of his minor league deal with the Cubs; it’s certainly possible that the relatively sizable $2.25MM salary Coke will be paid if he makes Chicago’s roster outweighs a more modest salary he received on a guaranteed deal.
Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.
A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…
- Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
- The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
- Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
- Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy. “All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
- Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.
Recently-retired veteran Kevin Youkilis will be joining the Cubs as a special assistant, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. The connection will be obvious for many: Youkilis rose to prominence and made most of his impact on the field playing for former Red Sox GM and current Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- Pirates starter Francisco Liriano held talks with the Red Sox, Twins, Astros, and Royals before re-signing with Pittsburgh, the lefty told Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan (Twitter links). Kansas City went as high as $36MM over three years, said Liriano, who ultimately took home $39MM from the Pirates. Interestingly, Liriano noted that he felt the qualifying offer did not significantly hinder his market.
- If Brandon Moss and Nick Swisher prove their health this spring, outfielder David Murphy (or another roster candidate) will likely need to be dealt before breaking camp, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. It may be hard to find a taker without eating a good bit of Murphy’s $6MM salary, should that come to pass. For now, this remains an interesting story to watch over the coming months.
- While the Tigers do have some worrying signs in their large contracts and low-rated farm, they are not yet facing the kind of difficulties that the Phillies have found, Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes. If nothing else, Detroit still looks to be legitimately competitive at present, and has time to prepare for a soft landing when its window does finally begin closing.
9:46pm: Tomlin’s deal is guaranteed, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets.
1:35pm: The Indians have agreed to one-year deals to avoid arbitration with first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss ($6.5MM), right-hander Josh Tomlin ($1.5MM) and right-hander Bryan Shaw ($1.55MM), reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (on Twitter). Moss’ salary comes in below MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s $7.1MM projection, while Tomlin and Shaw were closer to their respective projections of $1.7MM and $1.5MM.
Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija both helped their former Athletics teammate Jon Lester in his decision to sign with the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes. Of course, Lester was already familiar with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein from their time in Boston. “I think the Theo-Jon bromance was going to happen anyways,” says Hammel. “But [Lester] was definitely interested, and he was picking our brains all the time.” Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.
- The Reds didn’t attract much attention this week, but they quietly traded two starters (Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos) who didn’t project as well as one might think in 2015 for talent that could help them immediately, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes in a piece for FOX Sports. Shortstop Eugenio Suarez (acquired in the Simon deal) projects to be as good an offensive player as Didi Gregorius next year, and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (acquired in the Latos deal) might turn out to be almost as good next year as Latos anyway.
- Simon could move to the Tigers‘ bullpen if they re-sign Max Scherzer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press suggests. Publicly, the Tigers won’t say that, Fenech writes, because they would look like they lost if Scherzer signed elsewhere. But it seems possible that the Tigers could be thinking of Simon primarily as a backup plan for their rotation.
- The Indians‘ trade for Brandon Moss was a deal worth making, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Moss is expected to fully recover from offseason surgery, and the cost to get him (minor league second baseman Joey Wendle) wasn’t steep. With Moss in the fold, Pluto writes, the Indians will likely work to trade fellow lefty outfielder David Murphy, who has one year remaining before free agency.
- Pluto also writes that the Indians dodged a bullet when Justin Masterson didn’t accept their three-year, $45MM extension offer last offseason. Masterson, of course, suffered through a year of injury and poor mechanics, and with him under contract, the Indians would have had about half their payroll committed to three players: Masterson, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Masterson agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox this week.