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Chicago Cubs Rumors
There’s still a lot of uncertainty about where Cuban outfielder/second baseman Rusney Castillo will sign, even amongst Major League teams. An executive who has been scouting Castillo for the last month tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that “no one knows who’s getting him or which teams will jump in unexpectedly.” Following yesterday’s updates, here’s the latest on the Castillo sweepstakes…
- The Red Sox and Tigers are the front-runners to land Castillo, two sources have told ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes. A decision is expected “no later than the weekend,” according to Edes.
- Castillo privately worked out for the Reds and Mariners within the past week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. The late date of these workouts was due to scheduling, Rosenthal notes, and shouldn’t be thought of as a hint that Castillo is favoring either of these two clubs. Six other teams (the Cubs, Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees) have now had Castillo in for a private workout, Rosenthal lists.
- The Red Sox are one of the three teams “most actively involved” for Castillo’s services, Rosenthal reports. Presumably the other two teams are the Tigers and Giants, as Rosenthal cited two days ago.
- “There’s definitely a growing sense” the Cubs will be outbid for Castillo’s services, a source tells CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney. Another source predicts Castillo will receive a contract “much closer” to $68MM (what Jose Abreu received from the White Sox) than $42MM (what Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers).
- MLive.com’s Chris Iott warns that a number of hurdles will have to be jumped for Castillo to be able to contribute to a team in September. Fans also might want to temper their expectations for Castillo, as while he is expected to be ready for the majors immediately, Iott notes that it would be hard for a contender like the Tigers to just hand Castillo a starting job down the stretch in a pennant race.
Andrew Miller‘s transition from the Red Sox to the Orioles has gone smoothly, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. “There’s a ton of differences. Things in general match up,” says Miller, for whom the Orioles traded at last month’s deadline. “The winning teams I’ve been on have a nice, loose clubhouse that expects to win.” Miller has pitched brilliantly in his first 7 1/3 innings with the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking three while allowing just two hits and one run. Here’s more from around the AL East.
- Carlos Beltran will see a doctor after feeling something wrong with his elbow while swinging last night, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. The Yankees scratched Beltran from their lineup tonight. It’s been a rough season for Beltran, who’s hit .233/.291/.416 (weak numbers for a DH/OF with little defensive value) while battling injury in the first year of a $45MM deal.
- Jon Lester is not likely to return to the Red Sox this offseason, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Instead, the Yankees and Cubs could emerge as possible suitors. It is, perhaps, no surprise that the Red Sox aren’t considered the favorites to sign him — they just traded him, and reportedly weren’t close in extension negotiations before that. Lester should be able to get a six- or seven-year deal in free agency, Heyman writes, and the Red Sox are likely to consider that to be too risky. Heyman does note, however, that the Red Sox may have been prepared to offer Lester five years and $100MM last month.
- The Blue Jays have promoted top outfield prospect Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Pompey, 21, hit .295/.378/.473 in 127 plate appearances at Double-A New Hampshire. MLB.com ranks Pompey the No. 3 prospect in the Jays’ system (behind Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez), praising his plate discipline and speed.
Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks suffered yet another setback in his return from back surgery i a rehab game on Sunday, according to James Schmel of MLive.com. Dirks sustained the second hamstring injury of his rehab assignment, and while the results of a Tuesday MRI have yet to be disclosed, it’s looking unlikely that he will play for the Tigers at all this season, writes Schmel. There are just 13 games remaining in the minor league regular season, and Dirks may not have enough time to rehab and prepare himself to suit up for the reigning AL Central champs this year.
Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Much has been made of the Cubs‘ plan to pursue top-of-the-rotation arms this offseason, but GM Jed Hoyer said to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times this weekend that a veteran position player is a priority as well. “…[T]here’s a lot of positions on the field that we want to dedicate to the guys that are here or to young players,” said Hoyer. “But I do think it’s important to have some veteran guys with good approaches that these guys can lean on… … It’s certainly something we want to find.”
- Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton was originally placed on the disabled list for a hip issue, but he has now been diagnosed with a sports hernia, he told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Morton will try to return in 2014, but that doesn’t appear to be a certainty, and even if he does, offseason surgery remains a possibility.
- Twins top prospect Alex Meyer is right where he should be in regard to the team’s projected innings limit, GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ryan will watch Meyer’s final home start of the year next week but is not ready to concretely say that the flamethrower will receive a September call-up. The Twins would need to add Meyer to the 40-man roster to do so, but as Berardino notes, that would happen following the season in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyway. Meyer ranked on the midseason Top 50 prospect lists of ESPN’s Keith Law, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, placing as high as 12th overall (on B-Pro’s list).
- Following the Reds‘ recent four-game losing streak — each of which featured the bullpen blowing a lead — John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines that it’s time to shift the focus to 2015. Fay examines the club’s chances of contending and writes that they won’t be big players on the free agent market, as is typically the M.O. of owner Bob Castellini. Fay also notes that the Reds debated moving a starting pitcher at the non-waiver trade deadline, but Castellini wouldn’t sign off on a sale. Fay feels that a starter, such as Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos, could become trade bait in the offseason with the Reds in need of a bat.
There has been a lot of chatter regarding 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. (Read here for some reactions to his well-attended recent workout, which seems to have increased his standing quite a bit around the league.) We’ll keep tabs on the latest right here:
- The Tigers, Red Sox, and Giants are still in the mix for Castillo, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, the Cubs, Yankees, and Phillies are not expected to place high bids for him.
- Bidding is strong, and could well reach or even exceed the $55MM level, according to a tweet from Sahadev Sharma of Baseball Prospectus. The Cubs appear not to be interested at that level, he adds.
- The Braves are “not in the bidding right now” for Castillo, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Atlanta has been noted as a possible suitor in the past.
- Six clubs are seen as viable landing spots for Castillo at this time, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (echoing, in some cases, earlier reports): the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, and Mariners. Castillo could sign a deal as soon as the end of the week, Heyman adds. We’ve heard conflicting reports on Philadelphia’s interest, in particular, and one executive tells Heyman that he believes the team could be attempting to downplay its interest while working to ink Castillo.
Let’s take a look at a few notes from around the National League …
- Some in the game believing there is an obvious trade match between the Cubs, who are loaded with middle infield prospects, and a Mets club laden with young arms, says John Harper of the New York Daily News. New York is somewhat disinclined to move its better starting pitching prospects in exchange for Chicago’s current starting shortstop, Starlin Castro, and are more attracted to the younger Addison Russell and Javier Baez. The Mets don’t believe the latter player could be had, even if they were willing to part with top prospect Noah Syndergaard, leading Harper to indicate that a move for Russell appears the most realistic possibility.
- Whether or not it’s the case, it is time for the Mets to act like they are only a piece or two away from contention, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. With several young players generating excitement, Matt Harvey working back for the spring, and many of the team’s young hurlers in the bigs or the upper minors, another season of development at the big league level would be a huge disappointment, says Martino.
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony LaRussa is still keeping a poker face about where he intends to take the organization, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. He noted that the club’s course would begin to clarify soon, with the offseason fast approaching. One focal point that did emerge was the D’backs’ instructional league, where the longtime manager indicated he will be active and involved in imparting his playing philosophies on Arizona’s best young talent.
- Regarding the seemingly tenuous employment situations of Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, LaRussa seemed to indicate that clarity could be forthcoming once the offseason begins, though he declined to give any timetable. “I don’t think the timing for each of those has to coincide,” he said, referring to the GM and manager. “I just think that at this point, we’re at August 18. I’ve been around three months. I’ve observed a lot, talked to and met with a lot of people in the organization. I have a much better idea.”
After going through a number of difficult times with MLB, Rob Manfred is more than ready to take over as commissioner, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Manfred started working for MLB as an outside counsel in 1994, so he definitely knows what a crisis situation is all about. More from around baseball..
- In a radio interview last week, Matt Harvey reiterated that he is eager to get back to action for the Mets and said he is throwing in the mid-90s in his sessions. Later, manager Terry Collins got in touch with the star hurler. “And I explained to him, I understand that,” Collins said of Harvey’s desire to get back to pitching, according to Newsday’s Marc Carig. “But the process is right now, you’ve got to understand it’s the big picture, and the big picture is 2015. So back off.”
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post explores why the Mets and Cubs, who seem perfectly suited to swing a trade (pitching for a shortstop), have yet to take the leap. A NL executive tells Sherman the Mets “don’t make a lot of trades and that is because they really don’t like to give up what they perceive as their big talent, unless they can convince you to give them $2 for their 35 cents.“
- White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, he will consider promoting Carlos Rodon (the third overall selection in this year’s draft) when the rosters expand in September. “If he’s doing well enough to come up here, yeah,” Ventura said. “If he’s available and he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. I would like to see it but he’s got to be ready to go.” Rodon, who is not on the White Sox’s 40-man roster, was promoted to Triple-A yesterday.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) if the club can “find a reliever that can help us late in the games we will consider it.”
- The Astros have decisions to make on a pair of injured right-handed relievers, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Matt Albers (out since April with shoulder tendinitis) has a 2015 club option and Jesse Crain (who has been sidelined since undergoing surgery for biceps tendinitis last October) signed a one-year deal in January and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow would like to see them pitch this season before deciding their fates. “It would be nice to have those two guys in the bullpen in September to help us win some games.” said Luhnow. “I’m sure they want to do that as well so they can establish something going into next year.”
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Top White Sox prospect and 2014 No. 3 overall draft pick Carlos Rodon has been promoted to Triple-A Charlotte, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets. As anticipated, Rodon has moved quickly through the minors — he pitched 9 2/3 innings with Class A+ Winston-Salem, striking out 15 batters while walking five. The promotion to Charlotte (for whom he’ll start on Tuesday) means he’s skipping Double-A, which in turn likely means the White Sox think he’s close to being ready for the Majors. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant left Saturday’s Triple-A Iowa Cubs game with a foot injury, Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register writes (Twitter links). The injury was the result of a foul ball Bryant struck off his foot a few days ago. His foot is being X-rayed. The seriousness of the injury is unclear, but his coaches did seem to know about it before tonight. Bryant’s departure from the game set off speculation that he had been promoted to the big leagues, but it does not appear that he has been. He has a ridiculous .306/.415/.648 line in 234 plate appearances so far with Iowa.
- Two MLB insiders believe that Addison Russell will eventually become the Cubs’ starting shortstop despite the team’s surplus there, Jorge Arangure of the New York Times reports. “From what I’ve seen, [Starlin] Castro moves for sure,” says one. “Russell has the edge over [Javier] Baez.” Baez, for his part, says he enjoys playing second base.
- The Blue Jays have optioned reliever Chad Jenkins to the minors five times this season, and he’s just one of several Blue Jays who have been optioned four or more times this year, Brendan Kennedy of TheStar.com writes. Kennedy points out that the Jays have made more non-trade, non-injury roster moves than any team this season, about 40% more than the average team. GM Alex Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays option players in order to avoid having other players land on the disabled list. “We definitely haven’t used the waiver wire much this year, but we have consciously optioned players back and forth to avoid DL placements,” he says. For example, the Jays have had Liam Hendriks spot start three times in order to get their starting pitchers more rest. Of course, Kennedy writes, a limited number of players can be optioned, and so all the Jays’ roster moves can have the effect of moving one group of players up and down regardless of how they perform.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says the team is trying to improve its bullpen, making waiver claims for relievers as recently as today, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. The Brewers’ bullpen got off to an extremely hot start in April but has struggled a bit since.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi says reliever Andrew Bailey has had “setbacks” after his 2013 labrum injury and will not return this season, NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty tweets. The former Athletics closer and Red Sox reliever has not appeared in the big leagues since the middle of that 2013 season, and hasn’t pitched competitively for the Yankees since they signed him to a minor league deal in February. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Tsuyoshi Wada could be emerging as an option for the Cubs‘ 2015 rotation, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com writes. The 34-year-old has spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, but he’s performed well in six starts with the Cubs, with a 3.15 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 so far. After signing him to a minor league deal in the offseason, the Cubs released Wada in March and then signed him to another minor league deal that includes a 2015 option. The Cubs do have a variety of interesting rotation options for 2015 (particularly since adding Dan Straily and Jacob Turner), however, and they appear likely to hunt for a starter this offseason, so much remains to be determined.
- Astros owner Jim Crane is happy that there’s a new plan to remove Comcast SportsNet Houston from bankruptcy, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. Under the plan, the name of the channel would change to ROOT Sports Houston, and Comcast’s partnership with the Astros and Rockets would convert into a new entity owned by DirecTV Sports Networks and AT&T. The new deal will help the Astros financially, and will also enable their games to be broadcast. “[O]ur fans will get to see the games and we can move on with our lives,” says Crane. The new company could be in place by as soon as early October.
The Cubs have demoted outfielder Junior Lake to Triple-A Iowa, according to the MLB.com transactions page. After a good rookie season as a 23-year-old in 2013, Lake has struggled badly this season, hitting .216/.243/.364 in 305 plate appearances. None of the outfielders who started for the Cubs in their Opening Day loss to the Pirates this season are still on their active roster — the Cubs have optioned Lake, traded Emilio Bonifacio to the Braves, and released Nate Schierholtz, lately going with some combination of Chris Coghlan, Arismendy Alcantara, Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney in the outfield. Here’s more from Chicago.
- The Cubs are loaded with young shortstops, but GM Jed Hoyer says they don’t need to trade any of them, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun Times writes. Chicago has Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Alcantara, which means that the team could have to find new positions for as many as three of them if they want to keep them all. “I think we can be a better team for it in a lot of ways if we end up doing that,” says Hoyer. (Alcantara has already played shortstop only sparingly this season, spending time in second base and outfield instead.) The shortstop-starved Mets love the Cubs’ talent at that position, and Wittenmyer notes that they like Russell more than Castro.
- Nearly two years into a four-year, $52MM deal, Edwin Jackson has been a bust so far, Wittenmyer writes. This season, Jackson has a 5.74 ERA in 136 1/3 innings, although his reasonable 8.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 suggest he’s been at least somewhat better than his ERA indicates. Jackson is still just 30 and has good stuff, so his struggles in Chicago have been a disappointment. “I think it’s his location,” Hoyer says. “When he pitches up in the zone he gets hit, and the times he’s been able to stay down in the zone and locate his fastball away, he’s had some success.” Given that Jackson still throws hard and has two years left on his contract, the Cubs are likely to continue to give him chances to reemerge.
The Diamondbacks have acquired former first-round pick and top prospect Brett Jackson from the Cubs in exchange for minor league reliever Blake Cooper, the Cubs announced. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro tweets that Jackson will be assigned to Triple-A Reno in the D’Backs organization. Piecoro adds that Jackson had been claimed off waivers prior to the trade’s completion.
Jackson, 26, rated as one of the game’s top 100 prospects from 2010-12, according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus (he topped out at No. 32 on BA’s list and No. 44 on BP’s list). When his stock was at its highest, BA likened him to Jim Edmonds, noting that he had that type of ceiling at the plate, if not that type of Gold Glove caliber defense in center field. However, Jackson’s swing-and-miss tendencies caused his stock to plummet, as a problem he looked to have eliminated at the Double-A level resurfaced in Triple-A and still has yet to be corrected. Jackson was batting just .210/.298/.348 with a 37.3 percent strikeout rate for Triple-A Iowa this season and will look to deliver on some of his once sky-high potential in a new organization.
Cooper, also 26, was a 12th-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2010 and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2014. Though he’s struggled to a 6.00 ERA in 24 innings there, Cooper was excellent at Double-A this year, posting a 1.85 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 34 frames. His command has faltered since moving up to the top minor league level, as he’s walked 17 hitters in his 24 innings at Reno. The 5’11″, 190-pound righty has never ranked among Arizona’s top 30 prospects, according to BA, and he didn’t rank on MLB.com’s midseason list of the D’Backs’ top 20 prospects either. In parts of five minor league seasons, Cooper has a 3.27 ERA with a 217-to-98 K/BB ratio (seven of those free passes were intentional) in 236 2/3 innings.
Because Jackson was waived by an NL team, the D’Backs had the second-highest priority of any club in placing a claim (by virtue of the second-worst record in the NL). Only the Rockies had a higher priority, and it’s not a surprise to see a team with as many outfield options as Colorado pass on a contact-challenged outfielder such as Jackson.