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The balance of power in the AL West has swung heavily in the Angels’ direction after the Halos completed a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Sunday. Los Angeles now own both baseball’s best record (83-53) and a five-game lead over the struggling A’s, who are looking for answers after an 12-17 August. Oakland is still on track to reach the postseason, as they hold a four-game lead in the AL wild card race.
Here’s the latest from around the AL West…
- The A’s will cover $1MM of the roughly $2.3MM remaining on Adam Dunn‘s 2014 salary, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Oakland’s willingness to take on this much of Dunn’s salary was part of the reason why the A’s were able to acquire the slugger. The Giants, Dodgers and at least one other team were also reportedly talking to the White Sox about a Dunn trade.
- Astros manager Bo Porter tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila that his relationship with Houston’s front office “is what he expected coming in,” which seems to counter recent rumors of tension between Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow. “My staff and I take all the information from our baseball ops and use it to the best of our ability. Every last component of that is needed to be successful,” Porter said.
- Also from Laurila’s piece, 37-year-old lefty Joe Beimel not only has no plans to retire, his 12-year career might only be half-over. “I plan on pitching until I’m at least 50….I don’t see any reason I can’t do what Jamie Moyer did,” Beimel said. “He was starting games at 49 years old and getting guys out with 80 mph. I’m not down that low yet and I figure if he could go six, seven innings, I could at least come in and get one or two guys out.” After missing 2012 and 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, Beimel is enjoying a nice comeback year out of the Mariners‘ bullpen. The veteran southpaw has a 2.03 ERA, 5.2 K/9 and 1.92 K/BB ratio in 40 innings, and he’s held left-handed batters to only a .480 OPS.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The White Sox purchased the contracts of first baseman Andy Wilkins and left-handed pitcher Scott Snodgress prior to today’s game, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Wilkins, 25, takes the place of Adam Dunn, who was traded earlier today. Wilkins hit 30 home runs at Triple-A with a .293/.338/.558 line. Snodgress, 24, made 21 starts at the Double-A level before appearing eight times as a reliever in Triple-A. He has a 4.01 ERA on the season with 6.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Giants have purchased the contracts of Chris Dominguez and Guillermo Quiroz, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Dominguez is a 27-year-old third baseman. He hit .274/.307/.460 for the Giants Triple-A affiliate with 21 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Quiroz, 32, is a long time back up catcher. He’s appeared with six different clubs and 2014 will mark his tenth season with major league action – assuming he gets into a game. Quiroz also 95 plate appearances for the Giants last season.
- The Royals selected the contract of outfielder Terrance Gore and optioned him from Triple-A to Double-A, the team announced via press release. Gore isn’t on any prospect lists, but he has been useful as a base running threat. In the minors, he has 47 steals on the season despite only 313 plate appearances. Ostensibly, he’ll be summoned to Kansas City to serve as a pinch runner.
- In the same press release, the Royals indicated they will select the contract of left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan. He will be the first 2014 draft pick to reach the majors. Since signing, Finnegan has thrown 27 innings with strong peripherals. The club had him tabbed for about 45 to 50 innings, tweets Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.
- The Tigers have selected the contract of catcher James McCann, MLive.com’s Chris Iott tweets. The 24-year-old McCann will be among the Tigers’ September call-ups after hitting .295/.343/.427 in 460 plate appearances for Triple-A Toledo this season.
- The Twins have outrighted pitcher Edgar Ibarra and assigned him to Double-A New Britain, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. Ibarra, 25, has pitched 61 innings of relief in a season split between New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, posting a 4.13 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
- The Mets have announced that they’ve selected the contract of lefty Dario Alvarez. They’ll also promote catcher Juan Centeno, who will join Alvarez as a September call-up. Alvarez, 25, hasn’t played above the Double-A level, but he’s had a dominating season with three Mets affiliates, with a 1.10 ERA, 14.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 73 innings, mostly in relief.
- The Tigers have announced that they’ve outrighted pitcher Justin Miller, who they designated for assignment earlier this week. Miller has pitched 12 1/3 innings in relief for the Tigers this season and has had a good season in the bullpen at Triple-A Toledo, posting a 1.81 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 there.
- The Tigers have also outrighted reliever Jose Ortega, according to the International League transactions page. They designated him for assignment on Friday. The righty has spent most of the season with Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.70 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9.
Molina, 25, was a top prospect in the Blue Jays system before they traded him to the White Sox for Sergio Santos (who, coincidentally, was designated for assignment earlier this week) following the 2011 season. Since then, Molina has struggled — his numbers took a big step backward in 2012 at Double-A, and he’s had injury troubles with his elbow and shoulder. This season, he’s posted a 4.65 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 60 innings of relief at Birmingham.
3:08pm: The Athletics will pay just $1MM of the $2.3MM remaining on Dunn’s contract, Slusser tweets.
10:45am: Dunn will join the A’s tomorrow, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.
10:38am: The A’s have acquired Adam Dunn from the White Sox in exchange for minor league pitcher Nolan Sanburn, the team announced. Though the A’s were on his limited no-trade clause, word broke this morning that Dunn, who has never played in the postseason, was willing to waive that clause in order for a chance to win.
Dunn, 34, is hitting .220/.340/.433 with 20 homers on the season, and his numbers against right-handed pitchers are even better: .232/.357/.457 with 18 homers. The hope for the A’s is that adding some left-handed pop can help to spark an offense that has gone dormant in the month of August. Though the A’s still lead the Majors in total runs scored, they’re hitting just .248/.324/.394 this month and they’re tied with the Phillies for 20th in runs scored this month at 102. Many fans attribute those struggles to the decision to trade Yoenis Cespedes, and in Dunn, Oakland will receive a hitter whose wRC+ of 114 is similar to the 113 mark posted by Cespedes.
Those offensive struggles for the A’s have been a significant factor in the team’s fall from atop the American League West. They’ve had a particularly difficult time scoring runs against the now-division-leading Angels, as Anaheim has outscored the A’s by a score of 10 to three thus far in their four-game series. Oakland has been shut out in each of the past two contests against the Halos and has fallen to four games back in the division. They are still, however, in position to finish as one of the Wild Card winners.
John Jaso has served as Oakland’s left-handed DH quite a bit this season, but the A’s recently placed Jaso on the seven-day disabled list due to concussion-like symptoms, and they’ve been mixing and matching with Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp, Derek Norris and Gomes of late. Crisp, however, has recently re-strained his neck, which could lead to more outfield time for Moss, especially if Crisp is out for a significant amount of time.
Dunn is earning $15MM in the final season of a four-year, $56MM pact with the White Sox, meaning he is owed about $2.54MM for the month of September. Presumably, that salary commitment and Dunn’s well-documented defensive limitations allowed him to clear waivers. This marks the fourth significant trade of the summer for the A’s, who have acquired Sam Fuld, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes in other deals.
In Sanburn, the Sox will acquire a right-hander that ranked 12th on MLB.com’s midseason list of top 20 Athletics prospects. The 23-year-old was Oakland’s second-round pick back in 2012 and has pitched to a 3.28 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 71 1/3 relief innings at Class-A Advanced this season. He’s finished 23 games and picked up six saves in his time at Stockton.
Sanburn has been plagued by some shoulder issues, but he also has less mileage on his arm than many pitching prospects due to the fact that he was an outfielder in college and for part of his time in college at Arkansas. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note in their free scouting report that Sanburn touched 99 mph in college and offers a curveball with good depth as well. The MLB.com duo notes that Sanburn has a promising slider and changeup as well, but concerns over his durability have led to a bullpen role this season in Oakland.
Tom Verducci of SI.com first reported that the A’s were pursuing Dunn. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the A’s were the front-runners to land him and that Dunn would waive his no-trade clause. ESPN’s Buster Olney first tweeted that the A’s were closing in on a deal for Dunn.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
9:30am: The A’s are closing in on a trade for Dunn, Olney tweets.
9:00am: The Giants are no longer a potential landing spot for Dunn, according to Olney (Twitter link).
8:45am: Rosenthal tweets that the A’s are the front-runners to acquire Dunn, who is willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a trade to Oakland.
8:34am: The Giants, A’s and one other club are pursuing Dunn, Rosenthal further reports (Twitter links). Oakland is indeed on Dunn’s no-trade list, but Dunn will consider allowing a trade for a chance to win in the postseason, he adds. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that the Dodgers are still in discussion with the White Sox on Dunn (Twitter link).
8:31am: The Giants and A’s are both looking to make a late trade for White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, reports Tom Verducci of SI.com. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that there was a lot of chatter yesterday that Dunn could be moved in advance of the Sept. 1 deadline for postseason eligibility. Rosenthal also notes that Dunn has a limited no-trade clause, and while the teams on that list aren’t known, Oakland frequently finds itself listed on players’ no-trade clauses.
However, as Verducci notes, Dunn leads all active players in games played without a postseason appearance, and he’s also discussed the possibility of retiring after the season. With those factors in mind, it’s hard to imagine Dunn blocking a trade to a team with a good chance of providing him with the first playoff experience of his 14-year career.
Players acquired via trade after Aug. 31 are not eligible for their new team’s postseason roster, making today somewhat of a soft trade deadline (we of course have seen trades take place after Sept. 1). As such, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Dunn (and/or others) on the move, and the White Sox certainly aren’t averse to trading veterans, having just dealt Alejandro De Aza to the Orioles last night.
While there haven’t been reports on Dunn clearing revocable trade waivers, his $15MM salary and defensive limitations both make him a candidate to clear waivers. If that has happened, he’s free to be dealt to any team, and that would certainly seem to be the implication in Verducci’s article, as he notes that the Dodgers also inquired on Dunn but aren’t considered a fit. The “Big Donkey” is owed about $2.54MM in September, so Chicago GM Rick Hahn could sweeten a potential trade by offering to pay some or all of Dunn’s remaining salary.
Dunn hit his 20th homer of the season yesterday and has posted a .220/.340/.433 batting line on the season as a whole. His platoon issues have been building for years, and they’re very apparent in 2014, as he’s hitting just .154/.274/.288 with two homers against southpaws and .232/.351/.457 against righties. Dunn could be used as a bench bat for the Giants and perhaps a platoon option at DH for the A’s. Clearly, he could play a bigger role in Oakland than in San Francisco, and for what it’s worth, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that A’s GM Billy Beane has told him that he “loves” Dunn in the past.
The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired left-handed outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar. Orioles executive Dan Duquette says (via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko on Twitter) that De Aza had been available for a few weeks, which suggests he cleared waivers.
De Aza, 30, has hit .246/.312/.358 this season, with his power, in particular, taking a step backward — he hit a career-high 17 homers last year, but only has five this season, and his slugging percentage is off by about 50 points as compared to the last two years. He remains, however, a solid defender who can play all three outfield spots. He’s making $4.25MM this season in his second year of arbitration, and he can become eligible for free agency after 2015, although at least one executive has opined that De Aza could be a non-tender candidate after the season.
The Orioles already have a strong starting outfield of Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, but they can surely use De Aza as a backup. With Manny Machado‘s recent injury, sometime-outfielder Steve Pearce is needed more frequently in the infield, meaning the Orioles have playing time available for a fourth outfielder type. De Aza’s addition will probably also mean even less playing time for fellow lefty outfielder David Lough, who has struggled at the plate this season.
Even with the Orioles’ need to play Pearce more in the infield, they were fairly well stocked with outfielders, so De Aza represents more of a luxury than a need. It’s no surprise, then, that they do not appear to have paid a high price to get him. Chalas, 22, has pitched most of the season with Class A+ Frederick, where he posted a 4.80 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings of relief. He has also appeared in two games for Triple-A Norfolk. Blackmar, also 22, has pitched 130 1/3 innings for Frederick, with a 3.18 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, pitching mostly has a starter. MLB.com does not rank either of them in its list of the top 20 Orioles prospects.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The Twins have selected the contract of lefty Aaron Thompson, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Thompson will take the roster spot vacated when the Twins lost Sam Deduno to the Astros’ waiver claim. Thompson, 27, posted a 3.98 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 52 innings this season at Triple-A Rochester. The former Marlins first-round draft pick appeared briefly in the big leagues with the Pirates in 2011.
- The White Sox have selected the contract of pitcher Chris Bassitt from Double-A Birmingham, Fred B. Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The White Sox also optioned Scott Carroll to Triple-A Charlotte and recalled pitcher Eric Surkamp. Bassitt will start the second game of Chicago’s doubleheader against the Tigers tonight (against another pitcher making his big-league debut, Kyle Ryan). The 25-year-old Bassitt has pitched well in 34 2/3 innings at Birmingham this year, posting a 1.56 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
The White Sox are preparing to make a run at Tigers DH Victor Martinez in free agency, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com reports on Twitter. Martinez, 35, is playing out the final year of the four-year, $50MM pact he signed to join Detroit before the 2011 season.
Chicago will have an opening for a veteran slugger with both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko playing on expiring contracts. The pair has split duties at the DH position this year, but the switch-hitting Martinez would presumably occupy the role with just one roster spot. Of course, Dunn also provides something of a cautionary tale. He posted a .731 OPS over four years with the White Sox, which actually fell slightly below league average, making his $56MM deal a devastatingly poor investment given his lack of defensive flexibility.
Martinez, of course, proved a better investment than did Dunn, even though he no longer spends time behind the dish. Over three seasons in Detroit (he missed all of 2012), Martinez has put up a .318/.375/.479 slash with 52 home runs. He’s been even more impressive this year, bumping his line up to .327/.395/.555 and swatting a career-best 26 long balls.
In spite of his age, Martinez’s bat will obviously be enticing to many American League clubs. One major wild card remains whether or not he receives a qualifying offer from the Tigers, which could prove a particularly strong disincentive to teams that are not all-in on the immediate future. In that respect, of course, the White Sox represent an interesting suitor, as a move for Martinez would represent a signal that the team believes its contention window was opened.
Right-hander Matt Lindstrom is a free agent at season’s end, but he told Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com that his preference is to return to the White Sox, with whom he spent the past two seasons. Said Lindstrom: “I’d like to be a part of something special. We’ve definitely seen the offense pick up here and I think we’re seeing some guys in the starting rotation learning on the job. I’d like to be a part of it here in Chicago.”
The 34-year-old opened the season as Chicago’s closer, but he’s spent much of the 2014 campaign on the disabled list following surgery to repair a subluxed tendon in his left ankle. Lindstrom had a 3.32 ERA in 19 innings when he initially hit the disabled list, though he had posted a fairly worrisome 11-to-9 K/BB ratio in that time. Since returning from the disabled list, he’s struggled through a pair of three-run outings, causing his ERA to soar to 5.09.
However, Lindstrom had a quietly strong season for the Sox in 2013, turning in a 3.12 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a very strong 55.6 percent ground-ball rate in 60 2/3 innings — the second-highest innings total of his eight-year career. Lindstrom is earning $4MM this season after the ChiSox exercised a club option on his deal following the 2013 season.
It sounds like there’s at least some interest on behalf of the Sox as well, or at least some interest from manager Robin Ventura. “You’re always hoping you have someone in each area of your team that guys can draw from who has experience,” Ventura explained to Hayes. “Matty has that.”
The Pirates will send top prospect Gregory Polanco back to the minor leagues today, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). However, Polanco’s demotion is likely to be relatively short-lived, as the 22-year-old could rejoin the team as soon as next Monday, when rosters expand. Polanco got off to a blazing start to his MLB career, but he’s cooled significantly since that time. He’s hitting .241/.308/.349 on the season as a whole, but he batted just .219/.276/.337 from July 1 through present day. Rosenthal tweets that Jose Tabata is expected to get the call to replace Polanco for the time being.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Though the Cubs have been making headlines by stockpiling high-upside young talent, the success of 33-year-old left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada is making the organization consider him as an option beyond the 2014 season, writes the Chicago Tribune’s Fred Mitchell. “He is pitching very, very well. There are decisions that have to be made. He certainly has put himself in a good position,” manager Rick Renteria tells Mitchell. Wada, who signed a minor league deal this offseason, pitched to a 2.77 ERA in 113 2/3 Triple-A innings this season, and he’s continued his success in the Majors. Since being promoted, Wada has turned in an outstanding 2.56 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 37.8 percent ground-ball rate in 45 2/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators FIP (3.55), xFIP (3.61) and SIERA (3.50) all feel that while he’s been a bit fortunate, he’s still been highly effective.
- Speaking with Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Twins GM Terry Ryan clarified a comment that he made last week in which he suggested that manager Ron Gardenhire would return in 2015. Ryan explained that his comment was made off the cuff, without any consultation, and that no one’s job — including his own — was guaranteed in 2015. Twins owner Jim Pohlad did state last fall that Ryan’s job as GM was his for as long as he wanted to remain GM, but “everybody’s got a breaking point,” Ryan said to Miller. “I would never hold Jim Pohlad to that statement, because it wouldn’t be fair to him. We’re losing way too many games here for anybody to put that kind of faith in anyone.”
- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn appeared on the Mully and Hanley show last Friday and said that his staff is pleased with the results of the 2013-14 offseason, and he expects to be active in free agency this offseason. Hahn also sang the praises of top pick Carlos Rodon, saying that he’s even more advanced than the team had anticipated, and his transition to pro ball has been nearly seamless. Hahn did downplay, to an extent, the rumors surrounding a potential September callup for Rodon: “…ultimately the decision to bring him up or not bring him up is going to be about what’s best for his long-term development. We’re going to have to be real cautious before we decide just to bring him up and run him out there in big league games this year.”