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Rafael Soriano needs 32 more games finished to cause his $14MM club option to vest, but the Nationals closer says that vesting option or not, he wants to return to Washington in 2015, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. Soriano would need to get up to the 62-finish mark (a career high) to make it, though with the Nats in a tight pennant race, they’ll undoubtedly need their closer as much as possible down the stretch.
Here’s some more news and notes from around baseball…
- Scouts for the Indians have been told to focus their attention on Rays minor leaguers, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports, and Cotillo wonders if this could suggest that Cleveland is revisiting talks for David Price. Cleveland and Tampa discussed a Price trade during the offseason, as Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, that involved Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar going to the Rays. (Tampa Bay also had interest in Francisco Lindor but the Indians consider Lindor virtually untouchable in any trade.) A new trade package, Cotillo speculates, could be Santana/Salazar for Price and a couple of Rays prospects, hence the Tribe’s interest in scouting Tampa’s farm system.
- Also from Cotillo, the Angels made the same three-year, $15.75MM offer to both Joe Smith and Edward Mujica this past offseason and told both pitchers that the contract would go to whichever accepted first. Smith took the deal first and is enjoying a strong season, even moving into the Halos’ closing job. Mujica, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $9.5MM deal with the Red Sox and has struggled to a 5.45 ERA in 34 2/3 IP.
- The Giants are still without agreements for five of their top 10 draft picks, a situation Cotillo believes could be due to the club devoting their time and draft pool resources to signing first-rounder Tyler Beede, who couldn’t negotiate until after the College World Series.
- Despite the number of recent stars to come out of Cuba, teams are still relying on very little or no scouting information when signing these players, Danny Knobler writes for Bleacher Report. Knobler’s piece explores the future of the Cuban talent pipeline while also delving into the limited data the White Sox and Dodgers, respectively, had when signing Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig to major contracts.
- While the Royals‘ farm system is still considered strong, it is short on prospects ready to help at the Major League level, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Thanks to a few thin drafts, the prospect package sent to Tampa Bay in the James Shields trade and the fact that many of their top prospects of recent years are already in the bigs, “between Omaha and their [Double-A] club, there’s nobody that looks like they’re going to jump up soon as a significant piece,” an AL executive said.
Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…
- The Orioles have released pitcher Tim Alderson, David Hall of the Virginian Pilot tweets. The Giants traded Alderson, a 2007 first-round pick and former top prospect, to the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez in 2009, and the Bucs traded him to the Orioles for Russ Canzler last year. In 50 innings for Triple-A Norfolk this season, Alderson had a 6.12 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
- The Cardinals have outrighted outfielder Mike O’Neill after designating him for assignment Friday, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. O’Neill, 26, has hit .258/.343/.341 in 320 plate appearances this season for Double-A Springfield.
- Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has opted out of his deal with the Reds, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay tweets. Wang pitched 119 1/3 innings for Triple-A Louisville, posting a 3.70 ERA with 3.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. He last appeared in the big leagues last season with the Blue Jays.
- The Yankees have announced they have outrighted right-hander Jim Miller to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Miller was designated for assignment Friday.
- Randy Wolf has cleared out his locker and has left the Orioles‘ Triple-A team, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweeted Wolf opted out of his contract. The 37-year-old appeared in six games for Norfolk, including one start, and posted a 4.20 ERA with a 12-to-5 K-BB ratio in 15 innings.
- Blue Jays right-hander Bobby Korecky has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo, the club announced (hat tip to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). Korecky was designated for assignment on Friday. The righty posted an 8.10 ERA over 3 1/3 relief innings for Toronto this season in his first taste of Major League action since a one-game cup of coffee in 2012.
- The White Sox have released right-hander Henry Rodriguez, the team announced. Rodriguez just recently signed a minor league deal with the Sox but posted a 21.60 ERA, three strikeouts and a whopping eight walks over 1 2/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte. That lack of control has been the story of Rodriguez’s career, as the righty has recorded a 6.4 BB/9 over 150 1/3 Major League innings with the Marlins, Cubs, Nationals and A’s over six seasons in the Show, though his high-90′s fastball has helped him record 151 strikeouts. This is the second time Rodriguez has been released this season, as the Marlins already cut ties with him in June.
Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
The Twins have released pitcher Scott Diamond from Triple-A Rochester, reports Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. The former Rule 5 pick last pitched well in 2012 when he made 27 starts with a 3.54 ERA and 3.94 FIP. Minor leaguers hit well against Diamond this season, which led to a 6.53 ERA through 17 appearances and 15 starts. The command and control specialist is liable to latch onto a new club soon.
- White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is used to trade rumors, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “Trade rumors don’t affect how I prepare and how I go about the game,” said Beckham. With a number of middle infield prospects waiting in the wings, the White Sox may be inclined to finally pull the trigger on a trade.
- The Dodgers are unlikely to acquire David Price or Cole Hamels, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. GM Ned Colletti confirmed the team is interested in both starters and relievers, but said “I don’t see us doing anything that’s going to tear apart the farm system.” Both Price and Hamels are expected to cost at least one top prospect along with other useful pieces.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com discusses the Phillies case as July deadline sellers. The team could shop two of the top starting pitchers in baseball, a closer, an entire outfield, and more in their bid to improve down the line. GM Ruben Amaro is “still assessing” the options, but it looks increasingly likely that some sort of sell off will occur. The club isn’t shying from dealing its big guns, though they will want multiple, controllable pieces in return. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins – both of whom have no-trade rights – are the least likely to be dealt.
FRIDAY: The White Sox have officially announced the signing of Rodon for a $6.582MM bonus (Twitter link).
THURSDAY: Rodon will receive a $6.582MM bonus, reports John Manuel of Baseball America. That figure represents the largest bonus in the draft, as even the previously agreed upon $6.5MM bonus between the Astros and Aiken would fall shy (of course, the two sides in those negotiations have hit a snag due to a rumored injury, and Houston is now seeking a discounted bonus).
WEDNESDAY: The White Sox have agreed to terms with No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon on a bonus north of $6.45MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The slot value of the No. 3 overall pick is $5.7215MM, so his bonus will be more than $700K over slot. Jeff Gravley of WRAL-TV tweeted earlier today that Rodon is traveling to Chicago today for a physical, which will take place tomorrow. He is expected to join the Class-A Advanced Winton-Salem Dash, according to Gravley. Rodon is advised by Scott Boras.
Rodon, a left-hander out of N.C. State, was long considered a possibility to go first overall, but he slipped to the No. 3 pick behind prep lefty Brady Aiken and prep righty Tyler Kolek. Rodon ranked third on Baseball America’s list of Top 500 draft prospects, while MLB.com and Keith Law of ESPN both ranked him second.
Rodon’s fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s and touches 96-97 mph when he’s at his best, writes Law in his scouting report. Law called Rodon’s slider the best breaking pitch in this year’s draft class due to “ridiculous movement that will give both left and right-handed hitters fits.” Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com call Rodon the best college lefty since David Price, noting that his changeup can become an average third pitch. All three publications feel that Rodon can become a true No. 1 starter, though he showed some command issues this spring that will need to be ironed out for him to reach that potential.
Rodon posted a 2.01 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 31 walks in 98 2/3 innings this season with N.C. State. In addition to those 31 walks, he threw five wild pitches and hit 15 batters. Rodon’s teammate, shortstop Trea Turner, went with the 13th overall pick to the Padres, and the White Sox took his catcher, Brett Austin, in the fourth round.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Originally recalled for a two-day period with Darwin Barney on paternity leave, Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara has been informed that he will be with the team at least through the All-Star break, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Alcantara, who ranked 33rd on Baseball America’s midseason list of the game’s Top 50 prospects, says he was surprised by the news. Manager Rick Renteria offered praise for the 22-year-old, who collected his first four Major League hits in today’s contest.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Reds right-hander Homer Bailey left today’s game after five innings due to a slight strain in his right knee, but he won’t see his name added to the list of significant injuries that have stricken contending teams today. The Reds have announced that he is expected to make his next start.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’s glad to see Vance Worley performing well with the Pirates, though he did imply that it’s too early to say that the Twins gave up on Worley too soon: “Give him a little time to see what he does over the course of starts. We’ll talk about that in October. See how it goes. I know he’s done well.”
- The Indians are hopeful that Justin Masterson‘s two weeks on the disabled list will not only give him a chance to heal, but to help him get his mechanics back in line, reports MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway feels that Masterson’s knee has affected the way he’s been able to land during his delivery, which would explain the sharp decrease in velocity Masterson has seen this year.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn would need to receive an offer that knocks his cell phone out of his hands in order to trade Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Avisail Garcia or Jose Abreu, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. However, Hahn notes that oftentimes, a trade will come together when a rival club’s initial inquiry is on a player that is unavailable, as it leads to the suggestion of alternative options.
Here are today’s minor moves:
- The White Sox have acquired righty Bobby Doran from the Astros, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (via Twitter). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that shortstop Jeffry Santos is headed to Houston (Twitter links). Doran, 25, has pitched in the upper minors since 2012, working as a starter and out of the pen while compiling a 3.83 ERA at the Double-A level and 4.90 mark at Triple-A. He was taken in the fourth round out of Texas Tech back in 2010. The 21-year-old Santos is old for his current Arizona Rookie League club, where he’s posted a .295/.483/.386 batting line in 60 PA.
- The Phillies have released outfielder Steve Susdorf, tweets the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. The 29-year-old outfielder is a veteran of seven minor league seasons (all with the Phils) and was very well-liked by his teammates, Gelb adds. He’s a career .291/.360/.379 hitter in 964 PA in Triple-A.
- Justin Maxwell has accepted an outright assignment with the Royals rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. This is the second time this year that the veteran outfielder has taken a demotion from Kansas City.
- Ramon Ramirez has signed a new deal to remain with the Orioles after being outrighted, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday (via Twitter). The right-handed reliever could have sought a new home through free agency, but will instead return to Triple-A Norfolk.
- The Angels have released southpaw Rich Hill, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Hill was designated for assignment on Saturday just four days after being acquired via trade from the Red Sox. The veteran had three very rough outings with the Halos, and has a roller coaster history in the majors, but had been quite effective at Triple-A this year.
The White Sox are willing to move second baseman Gordon Beckham, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but Jose Quintana isn’t available (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Beckham opened the season on the disabled list and had a strong month of May after being activated, but he’s cooled since that time and is hitting .248/.302/.395. He’s under team control through 2015 and is earning $4.18MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this season. It’s not entirely surprising that the team wouldn’t move Quintana, as he just inked a five-year, $21MM contract extension in Spring Training. He’s in the midst of his finest season in the Majors to this point, having posted a 3.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate.
Here are a few more items pertaining to the Sox and their north-side counterparts…
- Left-handers James Russell and Wesley Wright are both drawing trade interest, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Each southpaw is under team control through the 2015 season, and each has a 2.22 ERA through 24 1/3 innings this season. Wright, who is earning $1.43MM is slightly more affordable than Russell and his $1.78MM salary.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters today that injured outfielder Avisail Garcia has been cleared to resume baseball activities (via CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes). While he has a long way to go and it’s a long shot, Hahn wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Garcia could play in the Majors again this season.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Cubs talked with the Blue Jays regarding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel before trading the pair to the A’s on Independence Day. The Cubs were asking for Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison in addition to “at least” one of Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey. That’s a steep price to pay, to be sure, though none of those prospects are as highly regarded as the centerpiece Chicago did acquire in the deal — shortstop Addison Russell.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports heard the same five names, though he hears that they were discussed in various combinations, and the Blue Jays didn’t discuss packages to acquire both pitchers (Twitter links). One scout tells Rosenthal that Norris and Stroman could both be No. 1 or No. 2 types of starters, and the Jays would be “crazy” to deal them.
- Speaking to WFAN’s Mike Francesca on Monday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he had extensive negotiations with the Cubs to acquire both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he doesn’t think the Cubs could have landed a better package than they one they wound up taking from Oakland, regardless of who they were dealing with. CBS New York has highlights and audio from the conversation.
Jeff Samardzija couldn’t be happier to be joining the A’s, writes MLB.com’s Jane Lee. “Billy asked me how I felt,” said Samardzija. “I was supposed to pitch today, so I’m a day past my due date to pitch. I’m chomping at the bit. I don’t think there’s any better way to get acclimated than to do it on the mound. It was a no-brainer for me, and I look forward to it.” Here’s more from around baseball.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req’d) looks at what it would take for the Marlins, Giants, and Cardinals to land Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist.
- David Golebiewski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review looks at the advanced stats and says that the Pirates came away as the winners in the Ernesto Frieri-Jason Grilli swap.
- White Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo says that he’s not fazed by the trade rumors surrounding him, writes Daniel Kramer of MLB.com. In last night’s MLBTR poll asking which position player will be dealt first, Viciedo finished third behind Martin Prado and Chase Headley.
- Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon would like to see his club get an offensive upgrade, but he also doesn’t want to see them sell off top prospects for rental players, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
- The Padres are seeing immediate returns on Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, writes Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego.
- The Diamondbacks probably aren’t done trading after sending Joe Thatcher and Tony Campana to the Angels, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “We plan on being active,” Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers said. “This is the start.“
- Troy Tulowitzki‘s trade value may never be higher for the Rockies, argues Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Tulo is saying the right things and hasn’t asked for a trade but a change makes sense for both sides at this time.
- Tulowitzki deserves better that what he’s getting with the Rockies, writes Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. “I want to be somewhere there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year,” Tulowitzki said.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the club sees the cost of trading as high.
- Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd was dealt Aug. 27 last year from the Mets to the Pirates and he could be traded again this summer. However, the veteran says he’s not thinking about that, as Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.
- Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com looks at how the Cubs-A’s blockbuster deal helps the Phillies.
- The Indians talked to the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and it would have cost them Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, and Danny Salazar to make the same kind of deal that the A’s did, writes Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer.
The Mariners and Giants are among the teams who have talked to the White Sox about acquiring outfielder Dayan Viciedo, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports. The Mariners have considered sending righty Brandon Maurer and another player to Chicago in exchange for Viciedo, while the extent of the Giants’ interest in the Cuban slugger isn’t known.
Viciedo has struggled to a .242/.294/.404 slash line over 326 PA this season, hitting nine homers and producing only an 89 wRC+. He has roughly $1.4MM remaining on his contract for this season, and he is controlled through 2017 as a Super Two player. Viciedo is still just 25 years old and posted some big power numbers in the minors, so a change of scenery could help, though moving from hitter-friendly US Cellular Field to pitcher-friendly parks in Seattle and San Francisco doesn’t seem ideal for a batter looking to realize his potential.
This isn’t the first time Seattle has been linked to Viciedo, as the M’s and Sox explored a swap during Spring Training. The Mariners are still looking for some outfield power, as while Michael Saunders (RF) and James Jones (CF) have mostly locked down everyday roles, former top prospect Dustin Ackley has contributed only a .640 OPS while getting the bulk of playing time in left field. Since all three of these players are left-handed batters, Viciedo would add some balance from the right side.
Maurer, who just turned 24 yesterday, has a 6.51 ERA in 37 1/3 IP (seven starts and three relief outings) for Seattle this season. A 23rd-round draft pick in 2008, Maurer has recorded a 3.79 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 2.7 K/BB rate over 389 minor league innings.
Brandon Belt returns from the DL today, leaving the Giants with an ideal regular lineup of Belt at first base, Michael Morse in left and Hunter Pence in right. If Viciedo were to go to San Francisco, then, it would be as a bench bat and DH option for interleague games in AL stadiums. Viciedo has graded out as a below-average outfielder over his career, so it’s hard to see him getting much playing time in the spacious AT&T Park outfield.
The White Sox have requested waivers on left-hander Scott Downs for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. The White Sox designated Downs for assignment late last month.
Over 23 2/3 innings for the White Sox, Downs recorded a 6.08 ERA with a better-than-usual 8.4 K/9 clip but an alarmingly high 5.7 BB/9 mark. Still, ERA estimators are kinder to Downs, as he owns a 3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, and 3.96 SIERA.
While his 58.5% strand rate is one mark that looks prime for regression, that is also perhaps a reflection of the fact that he has been less than successful in his LOOGY role. On the other hand, Downs has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .225/.309/.367 mark; his real issue has been with righties, who own a .296/.415/.364 triple-slash against him.