Bud Norris Rumors
After a look at the AL East earlier this morning, let's turn our attention out west ...
- While the Athletics are looking to buttress their 4-game division lead by buying at the deadline, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that the club is finding supply to be limited. "Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year," says GM Billy Beane. Second base and starting pitching are the needs atop Oakland's wish list, team sources tell Hickey. In spite of the rotation's solid performance to date, Hickey says a trade could allow the team to utilize Brett Anderson in a bullpen role when he returns from injury. Citing Beane's apparent willingness to take on some relatively significant salary obligations, Hickey lists Jake Peavy (White Sox), Edinson Volquez (Padres), Bud Norris (Astros), and Kyle Lohse (Brewers) as potential targets.
- After adding starter Matt Garza, the Rangers are looking at dealing for an outfielder, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Currently, says Heyman, Alex Rios of the White Sox is the most likely candidate for Texas. Heyman further notes, however, that the club could look to wait out the market in the hopes that players like Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, or the Giants' Hunter Pence become available, with Pence being the most likely among those to change hands. Texas has also considered Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Marlon Byrd of the Mets, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, though Heyman notes that those options would rank below Rios in terms of impact.
- The Astros' Mark Appel is the highest-rated player from the recent amateur draft on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's updated Top 100 prospects list. As Mayo explains in his overview of the changes to the list, the top overall choice leads a group of eight recently-drafted players to crack the top 100. Houston is tied with the Red Sox with the most total players to make Mayo's list, with eight apiece. In terms of a simple weighting metric that Mayo calls "Prospect Points," the 'Stros have the most overall prospect value in baseball in high-end prospects, followed closely by the Twins. Though the Astros passed on top overall prospect Byron Buxton in last year's draft, its strategy enabled it to land the players currently checking in at number nine (Carlos Correa) and number sixty-five (Lance McCullers) instead.
3:02pm: Clubs that have spoken with the Braves get the sense that they won't trade for a starter, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Braves are adamant in their stance on not trading top prospects and are more focused on the bullpen. Stark adds that the Braves also aren't "roaring down the Bud Norris trail," as he lacks the big game experience that the Braves prefer when acquiring a pitcher.
FRIDAY, 12:15pm: The Braves are more focused on front-line starting pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana than they are on Norris, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Peavy's 118-pitch outing yesterday, which was scouted by the Braves, helped to quell some of the hesitation surrounding his health, Bowman adds. The Braves aren't interested in Yovani Gallardo, according to Bowman, but they may contact the Brewers regarding Kyle Lohse's availability.
Norris, 28, has a 3.93 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 126 1/3 innings for the Astros this season. He carries a significant platoon split, as lefties have rocked him at a .306/.365/.494 clip. Despite his struggles against lefties, Norris has drawn interest from multiple teams, including the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants and Dodgers throughout the summer.
2:37pm: In the wake of Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury last night, the Braves will consider making a trade to upgrade their rotation, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journa-Constitution. O'Brien was among the reporters who spoke with general manager Frank Wren today, who told the media:
“A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind since last night. It’s created a lot more (trade) discussions, there’s no question.”
It wasn't long ago that the Braves looked to have an enviable surplus of starting pitching with Hudson, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen in the rotation and a returning Brandon Beachy on the horizon. However, the team has seen Maholm and Medlen struggle tremendously lately, and Maholm is slated to miss his next three starts with a sprained left wrist. The Braves feel that Beachy is ready to return, and rookie Alex Wood presents another option, but he didn't escape the fifth inning today. Wood lasted just three frames in his only other start for the Braves this season.
Wren and his top assistants will convene over the weekend to discuss their options, O'Brien writes. That group will try to determine if there's a starting option on the market who can improve the team significantly without costing too much in terms of young talent. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wren, like most general managers, is waiting to see if the asking prices on available starters drops as the deadline nears. O'Brien adds that the Braves are not in the mix for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Earlier today it was reported that the Braves will be one of the many teams scouting Jake Peavy's start against the Tigers in Chicago. The team also remains in the market for a left-handed reliever to fortify its bullpen after losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery.
In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke with Skip Schumaker, who wants to see MLB really amp up the penalties for PED use. "The players are in favor of stricter penalties. No doubt," Schumaker said. "And they're also in favor of voiding contracts. Not that I can speak for everybody. I can't. But let's just say that a few of my good friends are high-profile players, and they're in favor of cleaning up the game." Here's more from Stark's column..
- An exec who speaks frequently with the Phillies says they have talked a lot with the Padres about a deal that could send Luke Gregerson and an outfielder to Philadelphia for a package of young players. However, the Phillies appear to be looking for deals that wouldn't require parting with their most advanced prospects. Earlier today, we heard that Gregerson is drawing significant interest.
- Gregerson also appears to be at the top of the list for the Tigers. However, it's going to take at least one big league-ready young player who projects as an immediate contributor for the Padres, in part because Gregerson is under club control for next season.
- While the discussion around the Phillies is framed as a black-and-white decision between buying and selling, execs of two clubs say they're mostly trying to position themselves for the future without giving up on 2013.
- The Braves are more interested in the starting pitcher market than they were before Tim Hudson's injury, but they're no more likely to pay the price for a Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana, Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse. An official of one team who spoke with the Braves said they'd be open to a modest deal similar to their deal for Paul Maholm last year, but they're "not going to trade Alex Wood for any of the guys on this market." Earlier today, MLB.com's Mark Bowman offered a different take, reporting that the Braves are looking at front-line hurlers.
- Three clubs with interest in the Astros' Bud Norris tell Stark that they have a feeling that Houston may just be gauging the hurler's trade value and could be waiting to move him this winter. Those execs said it reminds them of how the Rays used to gauge interest in pitchers like Matt Garza and James Shields in July so they could focus on those teams' systems before dealing them the following offseason.
- Clubs that have checked in with the Royals say Santana is only available for a huge payout. The Royals have openly told the shoppers they've talked to that the only way they'll move Santana is if they "win the deal," and that means they want a second baseman and/or right fielder who can start for them in 2014. Despite their situation, the Royals are telling everyone their priority is to win as many games as possible this season, not cut payroll.
- Clubs that are in on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez seem to think that the Red Sox are the favorite because they like the idea of spending money on a big-league-ready guy more than overpaying in prospects for a strong pitcher on the trade market. One exec says that he should be in the big leagues by September and be a rotation regular next year.
- The Pirates might not be as focused on Alex Rios as they've been portrayed. Rios' contract, which would increase his base salary to $13MM next season if he's traded, doesn't fit into their payroll. On top of that, other scouts say Bucs scouts have questioned Rios' effort. Stark says Justin Morneau, who they've inquired on, is a name to file away. Even though they'd prefer a right-handed bat who could play right field, they could move Garrett Jones back to right if they deal for a first baseman.
Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report that Corey Black would he headed from the Yankees to the Cubs in this morning's Alfonso Soriano trade. Here's more from Sherman (all Twitter links) on a plethora of topics as the trade deadline continues to draw nearer...
- The Braves were already interested in Bud Norris prior to Tim Hudson's season-ending injury, and that loss has only intensified their pursuit, Sherman reports. Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Braves were in active pursuit of Norris.
- The Nationals are focusing their efforts on starting pitching with Taylor Jordan on an innings limit and concerns surrounding Ross Detwiler's injuries, according to Sherman.
- Sherman tweets that the Rangers and Pirates regularly check in with the Marlins in regard to Giancarlo Stanton but are turned away each time. The decision comes straight from ownership, as Jeffrey Loria does not want to see Stanton traded.
- The Cubs' plan this summer was to jump the starting pitching market early, before Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana were ready to be traded. Following their early trades of Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, the focus shifted to moving as much of Alfonso Soriano's contract as possible. With those goals accomplished, the Cubs will move bullpen pieces and are "definitely" listening to offers for right fielder Nate Schierholtz, Sherman reports.
The Red Sox are searching for pitching in advance of Wednesday's trade deadline. The latest:
- The Sox have scouts most everywhere, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network. They have a scout watching the Astros' Bud Norris last night, and will have scouts in attendance for starts by Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers, Edinson Volquez of the Padres, and Jake Peavy of the White Sox today.
- Earlier today, we learned that the Red Sox may stand pat with their bullpen, and are in "pretty hard" on free agent Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Ken Rosenthal's latest column for FOX Sports begins with a look at the Braves' rotation without veteran Tim Hudson, who sustained a season-ending ankle fracture last night. Rosenthal notes it's a very young group without Hudson, and seems to be lacking a true number one starter. Such a pitcher is probably not available on the trade market, which I imagine the Braves will be eyeing more keenly. Elsewhere from Rosenthal's column:
- The Cardinals are not actively pursuing the Astros' Bud Norris or the Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle. The Cards didn't push for Matt Garza, but did scout Jake Peavy's last start. Ervin Santana is available as well, but Rosenthal wonders if "a trade might not be worth the trouble," given the Cardinals' current group of talented young pitchers.
- The Red Sox never got serious on Garza due to concerns with his injury history. The Red Sox and Tigers were the other AL clubs in on reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who was recently traded to the Orioles.
- After making a late run at Garza, the Athletics are interested in Peavy and Santana. Sometimes it helps to add to a strength, explains Rosenthal.
- The Rangers ask the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton "every week," a Major League source tells Rosenthal, and keep hearing "no." In addition to Alex Rios of the White Sox, the Rangers are considering Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins and Chris Denorfia of the Padres. However, they have "not mounted a serious push" for Ruggiano, while the Padres don't plan to trade Denorfia or teammate Carlos Quentin.
- "Some with the Brewers" wonder if the presence of Ryan Braun might make it more difficult to attract free agents.
- The Phillies are "narrowing their search for a backup center fielder," writes Rosenthal, and the recently-designated Chris Dickerson could be one option.
Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris and reliever Jose Veras are drawing considerable interest and it's likely that both players will be traded, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Astros have said that they don't need to move Norris as his $3MM salary is affordable, but that also increases his value on the market.
The Orioles are one of the clubs that realize the value of Norris and other Astros hurlers. Even though they've already been aggressive on the trade market by acquiring Scott Feldman from the Cubs and Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that they're likely not done and are speaking with Houston about acquiring more arms. Baltimore likely would balk at the trade price for Norris - one report earlier this month said they're seeking two top prospects - but they could zero in on former O's lefty Erik Bedard or right-hander Lucas Harrell, sources told Rosenthal.
Meanwhile, one might guess that the Tigers would be among the leading suitors for Veras, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) hears that the Detroit front office is split on him. Knobler's best guess is that the Tigers don't make a play for the reliever, but there are some within the organization that are fans.
Heyman notes that the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants, and Dodgers have also shown interest in Norris at some point, which should make for some competitive bidding. Meanwhile, just about every contending team is considering relief help and the Pirates could be in that group after Jason Grilli was put on the shelf with a forearm issue.
Veras has a 3.12 ERA on the season with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 on the season. Norris is also enjoying a solid campaign, posting a 3.91 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 through 20 starts.
The Twins look like sellers again this year, as they're on pace for their third straight 90-loss campaign. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports looked at the team's trade chips last week, noting that a market for first baseman Justin Morneau hasn't really materialized as of yet. Here's more on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twins news comes about halfway into the article)...
- Even though they're sellers, vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff tells Wolfson that the Twins could still add a player that is controlled beyond 2013. Radcliff wouldn't comment on specific names, but a league source informed Wolfson that the Twins are interested in Bud Norris. The Twins would have plenty of competition were they to make a play for Norris, as he's been connected to the Rangers, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Red Sox in the past week alone.
- The Red Sox, Braves, and Phillies all had scouts at Target Field over the weekend. All three teams have been connected to bullpen help of late, and the Twins have trade candidates such as Jared Burton and Brian Duensing in their 'pen. Glen Perkins, of course, has drawn quite a bit of interest, but the Twins have turned interested parties away thus far. Casey Fien also drew some interest from the Giants earlier this summer.
- No international signings are imminent, but Radcliff described the process as "fluid," noting that the Twins still have money to spend. However, the team has no plans to trade any of its remaining bonus slots.
- The Twins are still interested in 18-year-old Taiwanese righty Jen-Ho Tseng, who is reportedly close to a deal with the Cubs. The team will remain in contact with his camp until they receive official word.
- Radcliff said Byron Buxton, who was recently named the No. 1 prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN Insider required), could ascend to Double-A New Britain before the season is over. That would be a quick rise for the 19-year-old, who began the season with Class A Cedar Rapids and has moved up to High-A Fort Myers recently.
- The Twins were interested in Jake Arrieta before he was acquired by the Cubs in the Scott Feldman deal earlier this month.
Earlier this afternoon, the Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs in exchange for Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and at least one player to be named later (the Cubs could also receive two PTBNLs, depending on who they select as the first from a list of pitchers). Here are some quotes from both general managers, reactions from scouts and media members, as well as some more details surrounding the initial trade that fell apart last Friday...
- The Athletics made a late push for Garza, which is what caused the Rangers to up their offer at the last minute, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).
- For Cubs fans who would like more info on what they received for Garza, Baseball America's Matt Eddy provides scouting info on Olt, Edwards and Grimm.
- The Cubs had to accept Grimm instead of second baseman Rougned Odor when the Rangers raised questions about Garza's elbow, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- The Cubs tried to acquire Olt at the deadline last year, GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles).
- The Rangers felt that Garza was the best pitcher available on the market, GM Jon Daniels told reporters, including Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Miller's piece is loaded with quotes from Daniels, who feels that the addition of Garza may give the Rangers as strong of a pitching staff they've ever had.
- The Rangers overpaid to get Garza, but all teams do so in order to acquire the top rental on the market, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Durrett adds that the Rangers needed to make this move and it's a worthwhile gamble given their minor league depth.
- In an Insider-only piece, ESPN's Keith Law writes that both sides did well in the trade, as Garza could represent a two WAR upgrade over Grimm through the end of the season, and the Cubs received a nice package of players in return. Olt and Edwards alone would've been a good return, in Law's opinion, making the addition of Grimm and at least one PTBNL even better.
- Garza never should have been a Cub, opines Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com. He writes that the acquisition of Garza was a poorly timed win-now move by former GM Jim Hendry that was made when the team wasn't in a position to win. Dealing Garza for a strong package from Texas was the right move, adds Greenberg, who notes that better days are ahead for Cubs fans.
- With Garza off the market, trade talks for Bud Norris will likely now heat up, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told McTaggart that the Garza trade may "start a series of different types of talks."
Angels star outfielder Mike Trout has the most trade value of any player in Major League Baseball, according to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That opinion is certainly hard to dispute given Trout's incredible performance level and team control, even though we are unlikely to see Trout's trade value tested on the market any time soon. The more interesting question with respect to Trout is what it might cost the Angels should they approach his agent, LSW Baseball, in a bid to lock up the 21-year-old to a long-term deal. Certainly, you should read the entirety of Cameron's trade value series if you have not already. (Links to to the full series are found at the above link.) Trout may be an easy call at the pole position, but the list is (as it should be) ripe for debate. I'd venture that Yadier Molina (#11) and Yasiel Puig (#24) are among the two biggest surprises on the high side, though Cameron certainly has insightful and interesting reasons for their placement.
In honor of the young Mr. Trout, let's take a look around the AL West:
- In case you were wondering, there were no substantial developments overnight on the prospective deal that would have delivered Matt Garza to the Rangers. Click here to get up to speed on where things ended last night. As we wait to see what direction that situation is headed, it is worth your time to take a look at this piece from Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs discussing why, exactly, the Rangers are pursuing Garza in the first place.
- The Mariners continue to be a fascinating team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. While Seattle has no realistic postseason prospects at this point, the club has performed well of late and appears to be loath to part with its more obvious trade assets. The team has several attractive veterans on short-term contracts that could be exchanged for minor league depth. On the other hand, a push for a .500 record could energize the fan base and help spur the development of its young core players, making the second half more important than one might expect for a club in this position. This piece from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times breaks down the decisions facing the club.
- For instance, GM Jack Zduriencik might prefer to make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer next year rather than trade him now. Likewise, the M's could hang onto Raul Ibanez given his high standing in Seattle. Indeed, that would be Ibanez's apparent preference. He told reporters, including Stone, that while he does want to play for a contender, he doesn't see why that can't happen in Seattle. In fact, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Mariners have shown "zero indication" that key veterans like Morales and Ibanez will be made available.
- Trade talks on Astros starter Bud Norris -- the consensus choice for top controllable starter available -- are heating up, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Though he does not offer details on actual trade talks, Crasnick says (on Twitter) that several teams could make sense as destinations for Norris, including the Giants, Indians, Nationals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Pirates, and Rangers.