Cincinnati Reds Rumors

Cincinnati Reds trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL Central Notes: Chapman, Reds, Brewers

A glance at the NL Central..

  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters that there was a lot of interest in Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce, but the Reds were more focused on the free-agents-to-be, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.
  • Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter) hears that the Brewers and Cardinals were never close on Adam Lind.  It would have taken a big haul for Milwaukee to trade Lind within the division since he also has a 2016 option.
  • Jocketty referred to what the Reds are doing as a “reboot,” but not a full rebuild, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com tweets.
  • Jocketty told reporters, including Fay (on Twitter), that the Reds will try infielder Adam Duvall in leftfield at Triple-A Louisville.

Latest On Aroldis Chapman

The Reds are listening on flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman, an All-Star in each of the last four seasons.  The 27-year-old is under team control through 2016.  The latest:

  • A source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that the Astros are more likely to make a deal with the Reds than the Yankees (Twitter link).
  • The Diamondbacks say their talks with the Reds for Chapman are now completely dead, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
  • It looks like the Diamondbacks are no longer in on Chapman, tweets MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.

Earlier Updates

  • Arizona’s offer for Chapman includes pitching prospect Braden Shipley and one or two more of their top ten, tweets Nightengale.
  • Nightengale says the Reds’ price tag on Chapman is high, but five teams are involved, three seriously.  He feels someone will meet the Reds’ demands.
  • The Reds now have stronger offers for Chapman than the one made by the Diamondbacks, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and Arizona is considered a long shot to acquire him.  Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes that while the Yankees have checked in, that’s not likely to happen either.  The Astros are another club that has been linked to Chapman, tweets Heyman.   Their interest goes to the ownership level, he adds.

Mets May Have Concerns With Cuddyer; Have Interest In Tigers’ Yoenis Cespedes, Rajai Davis

12:08pm: New York is talking with Detroit about Cespedes, Rosenthal tweets. At this point, he’s one of many options, per the report.

12:05pm: As previously reported, the Mets are open to numerous outfield possibilities as the trade deadline approaches. The club has some concern that outfielder Michael Cuddyer “may not be back,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), which certainly would appear to add a new component to the decisionmaking process.

The veteran had been expected to experience only a relatively short DL stint. It’s not entirely clear, though, what the new issues are that are referenced by the report, or what kind of absence might be expected.

Per Rosenthal, the names currently being considered by New York include not only the oft-discussed Jay Bruce (Reds), Yoenis Cespedes (Tigers), Justin Upton (Padres), and Will Venable (Padres), but also Rajai Davis of the Tigers. Davis is a speedy right-handed hitter who is capable of playing center field, where Rosenthal says the team has real concerns about incumbent Juan Lagares (who fits a similar general profile).



Mets “May Have Lost Momentum” On Jay Bruce Deal With Reds; Could Add Two Bats

11:44am: The talks between the Mets and Reds regarding Bruce “may have lost momentum,” ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Cincinnati is “having second thoughts” about the package being proposed by New York, per the report. Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that New York has concerns both with Bruce’s salary and his inconsistencies at the plate.

11:36am: It’s possible that the Mets could add two hitters today, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. In addition to Bruce, the club is pursuing other options. We’ve heard discussion that the team could look at rental players like Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, and Will Venable, and Martino notes all three as hypothetical possibilities.

9:48am: Rental outfielders are still in play for the Reds, but they won’t move Wheeler for a rental, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). One specific rental that’s still in play for New York is Justin Upton, but Bruce remains their primary focus at this time.

9:22am: The Mets are still working on other outfield options, David Lennon of Newsday tweets.

8:38am: The clubs are reviewing medicals on Bruce and Wheeler, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (Twitter links). He adds that it remains unclear whether other players are involved.

8:11am: The divide between the clubs as of last night was whether or not Wheeler alone was sufficient to get a deal done, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.

7:44am: The Mets and Reds continued to work towards a deal that would send outfielder Jay Bruce from Cincinnati to New York, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Reports emerged yesterday indicating that the Mets were indeed pursuing the left-handed-hitting slugger.

There is a growing sense in the industry that something will get done, Rosenthal adds. Though he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, Mets righty Zack Wheeler is said to feature prominently in discussions.

Bruce, 28, is back to posting his typically excellent production at the plate. He’s slashing .257/.341/.486 on the year and also fits the Mets’ desire for future control over a significant outfield addition. While he isn’t really an option in center, as New York is said to prefer, the club could consider utilizing Curtis Granderson as at least a part-time option up the middle while shifting the recently-extended Juan Lagares into a less regular role.


Latest On Yankees’ Pursuit Of Elite Relief Arms

The Yankees have already been connected to Craig Kimbrel this morning, and it’s becoming apparent that they’re in the mix for most of the top relief arms on the market at this point. We’ll keep track of that pursuit in this post…

  • The Yankees are waiting on the Padres in regards to Kimbrel but could turn to the MarlinsCarter Capps, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Jayson Stark of ESPN takes it a step further, saying that the Yankees are tiring of waiting on San Diego and are already talking to Miami (Twitter link).

Earlier Updates

  • The Yankees are one of five teams that are “aggressively pursuing” a trade for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Adding Chapman to the back of a bullpen that already includes Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances would give the Yankees perhaps the best late-inning relief trio in all of baseball. Adding a premium bullpen arm appears to be the focus for the Yankees now that a number of starting pitchers have already landed with other teams. New York, though, has been said to be unwilling to part with top prospects Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Jorge Mateo in talks for Kimbrel, so it would stand to reason that they’re reluctant to do with Chapman as well, who comes with far less control. He can be a free agent after the 2016 season.

Relief Market Notes: Astros Working Hard, Twins, Lowe

The Astros are “pushing hard” to find an upgrade in the bullpen and have several irons in the fire, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Given the players under consideration, it looks like Houston is aiming high. We just heard of talks with the Padres that may include Craig Kimbrel, and Bowden says they’ve also discussed Joaquin Benoit. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted earlier, the Rays have spoken with the Astros about pen arms, though he adds nothing seems likely there, and Bowden lists Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee as names that have come up. And Houston has even made inquiries on outstanding Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, he adds.

Here’s more on the relief market, which should be among the most active areas of discussion leading up to tomorrow’s deadline.

  • Though the Twins are in the market for relief help, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that they’re not interested in either Junichi Tazawa or Craig Breslow of the Red Sox. Berardino hears that the Twins are turned off by Tazawa’s five-plus years of service (he’ll be a free agent after 2016) and Breslow’s impending free agency.
  • Mariners right-hander Mark Lowe is drawing quite a bit of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The journeyman reliever is in the midst of a breakout season, having pitched to an incredible 1.00 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 36 innings this season. Lowe’s average fastball velocity of 95 mph is his best since 2011, and because he took a minor league deal in an attempt to revitalize his career (so far, so good), any team could afford him from a financial standpoint.

Giants Acquire Mike Leake

The Giants and Reds have announced a trade that will send right-hander Mike Leake to San Francisco in exchange for 21-year-old Class-A Advanced right-hander Keury Mella and corner infielder Adam Duvall.

"<strong

Leake, 27, is in the midst of his third straight season of solid run prevention in one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly atmospheres. The free-agent-to-be currently sports a 3.56 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 51.5 percent ground-ball rate in 136 2/3 innings. Dating back to 2013, Leake has cemented himself as a durable source of quality innings. He made 64 starts from 2013-14, totaling 406 2/3 innings in that time, and he’s made 21 starts this year, averaging 6.5 innings per appearance.

The Giants have cycled through eight different starting pitchers this season and received an ERA south of 4.00 from only two of them, creating a good deal of uncertainty in the rotation, particularly in light of injury struggles for Matt Cain, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. The emergence of Chris Heston has been a boon to the San Francisco pitching staff, but the club has reportedly been on the hunt for arms to shore up the staff, and Leake will certainly help.

In Leake, the Giants have picked up an asset whose limitations — specifically a below-average strikeout/swinging-strike rate in Leake’s case — are minimized by their home park and provided the team some much-needed stability in the rotation. While Leake isn’t on the same level of other rumored Giants target such as David Price and Cole Hamels, he’s an upgrade to the team and, perhaps most importantly, could factor into a potential postseason rotation for the reigning champs. Leake will also improve the Giants’ chances of keeping up with the Dodgers in the division and thereby avoiding a one-game playoff. A half-game currently separates the two clubs.

The move to San Francisco will be advantageous for Leake in multiple ways. First and foremost, Leake will move into a much better pitching environment for the final push toward his first bout with free agency, which should lead to improvements in his overall run prevention numbers. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is that the trade makes him ineligible to receive a qualifying offer. Set to reach free agency after this season, before his age-28 season, Leake would’ve been a lock to receive a QO despite his status as more of a mid-rotation arm than a front-of-the-rotation piece. Now, however, he’ll hit the open market as one of the youngest players available and without the burden of draft pick compensation, which figures to work quite nicely in his favor.

The move to the rotation for Leake means that one of Hudson, Peavy or Cain will be demoted from their spot, and Giants GM Bobby Evans tells reporters, including Andrew Baggarly, that it will be Hudson who will be departing from the starting five (Twitter link). While Hudson has a 4.80 ERA in 101 innings this season and has not pitched near the level he did in a brilliant debut campaign with the Giants in 2014, it’s nevertheless unusual to see him heading for a bullpen. Hudson has appeared in 475 games over the course of his Major League career, and 474 of those contests have been starts. The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea tweets that (per Evans) Hudson “ultimately wants to see this club excel, have success and win and told me he’d do whatever it takes for that to happen.”

Turning to the Reds’ side of the deal, Mella ranks first on MLB.com’s midseason list of Giants top prospects and second on Baseball America’s version of the same list. ESPN’s Keith Law tweets that he considered Mella the best arm in San Francisco’s system as well. MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo write that Mella has the best combo of stuff and pitchability of any arm in San Francisco’s system, making him a candidate to rise quickly through the minors. He’s 93-95 mph with his fastball regularly, touching 97 when needed, per their report, and has the potential for three average-or-better pitches. BA notes that a scout has likened his sinking fastball to a bowling ball, and that movement helps him limit homers. Still, some see the bullpen in Mella’s future, BA adds.

The 26-year-old Duvall doesn’t rate as highly on San Francisco prospect lists, but MLB.com still pegged him 25th. Duvall made his big league debut with the Giants in 2014 and has already blasted 26 homers at the Triple-A level in 2015, albeit in the extremely hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Callis and Mayo feel that power is Duvall’s lone tool, making him best suited for a utility role or first base duty. Given his strong Triple-A numbers and the fact that he’s already appeared in the bigs, I’d think Duvall could emerge as a bench option for Cincinnati in short order. (For those that enjoy a good anecdote, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer points out that Duvall homered in his first career game … a solo shot off of Leake.)

The rebuilding Reds have now moved two of their most desirable assets — Leake and Johnny Cueto — and netted a quartet of promising arms in addition to a potential big league bench piece. Mella and Duvall are joined by lefties Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed in an improving Reds farm system.

FOX’s Jon Morosi first reported that the two sides were in discussions. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Leake would go to the Reds, adding that Cincinnati would net two minor leaguers. Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area reported Mella’s inclusion (on Twitter), and Morosi reported that Duvall was in the deal, too (on Twitter).


Diamondbacks Have Made Offer To Reds For Aroldis Chapman

11:17pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the D-Backs’ interest in Chapman stems from the fact that they would like to acquire him and extend him beyond the 2016 season, when he’s currently slated to hit free agency. The Diamondbacks, as Rosenthal points out, signed a new TV deal worth more than $1.5 billion in February, and the extra revenue once that deal takes effect next season would be highly beneficial in their efforts to sign Chapman.

JULY 30, 8:25pm: The Diamondbacks have made an offer to the Reds for Chapman and are awaiting word on their proposal, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

JULY 28, 6:26pm: General manager Dave Stewart candidly acknowledged that he has indeed contacted the Reds regarding Chapman, according to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (All Twitter links). Said Stewart: “I’m going to go down that path and see where it takes us.” The GM didn’t characterize a deal as likely or unlikely, saying he didn’t know how things would play out, but he was clear that he didn’t want to do anything to hurt his team in the future, Gilbert adds.

2:32pm: The Diamondbacks have engaged in discussions with the Reds regarding ace closer Aroldis Chapman, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Cincinnati has a “huge” asking price and the chats could just be “due diligence,” per the report.

Regardless of how serious the interest is between the two sides, it’s notable that Arizona is looking into a deal. We heard yesterday that the team inquired on Cole Hamels of the Phillies, another notably available trade piece who comes with future control.

Arizona has control over current closer Brad Ziegler through a 2016 club option, but it would not be the only team that would love to add Chapman regardless of the team’s present 9th-inning situation. He’s arguably established himself as the best closer in baseball, and with another year of arbitration to go he’s a valuable commodity.

Considering Arizona’s interest in both Hamels and Chapman, it seems that the club is at least entertaining the idea of putting some impact pieces in place that would give it an outside shot at contention this year while also providing future value. We’ve heard of similar approaches being weighed by other clubs, and the D’Backs certainly do appear to have some future salary capacity to make that kind of move work.

That being said, investing in a relief piece is always a risky proposition, and Chapman will certainly not come cheap. Spending big on a closer (in both prospects and dollars) has already arguably cost the D’backs once in recent memory. Addison Reed, who was a major trade acquisition of the prior front office, has been playing at Triple-A as he tries to work out his struggles.


Giants, Reds Discussing Mike Leake

The Giants and Reds are in “active discussions” regarding right-hander Mike Leake, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Earlier tonight, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said that a Leake/Giants connection was one of the most commonly heard scenarios he heard speculated upon among rival executives (Twitter link).

The 27-year-old Leake has spent his entire career pitching in one of baseball’s best hitting environments but has rattled off two and a half seasons of solid run prevention in spite of that fact. Dating back to Opening Day 2013, Leake has a 3.54 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Leake’s never been one to miss many bats, but he’s posted a ground-ball rate of 50.1 percent in his career and paired that ability with solid control to overcome his hitter-friendly home park. A free agent at season’s end, Leake is earning $9.75MM this year and is owed about $3.6MM over the final two months.

One would imagine that a move to the spacious AT&T Park would do wonders for Leake, who could see a nice boost to his ERA by making a drastic shift to one of the game’s more pitcher-friendly environments. Certainly, he’d provide the Giants with a regular does of quality innings; he made 64 starts in 2013-14 and totaled 406 2/3 innings in that time. He’s yet to miss a start in 2015 and is averaging 6.5 innings per game this year — an appealing benefit to a Giants rotation that has cycled through eight starting pitchers this season, only two of whom have an ERA south of 4.00. The Giants do have internal options for the rotation should injuries arise, as both Yusmeiro Petit and Ryan Vogelsong are currently in the bullpen.

From a financial standpoint, a trade to the Giants would hold extra benefit for Leake. Not only would his numbers tick upward — he’d also be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer at the end of the year, thereby increasing his appeal to interested parties in free agency.


Pitching Market Notes: Ross, Gallardo, Iwakuma, Indians, Chapman, Pirates

The Padres are “progressing” on multiple deals, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and Tyson Ross is a key piece among their trade chips. Rosenthal adds that trading him would be considered a concession on the 2015 season, and while that’s likely, it’s certainly possible that the Padres could acquire some MLB-ready talent to make it more even for 2015 purposes than if they went with an all-prospects package. The Padres could add some pieces as well, he notes.

Meanwhile Bob Nightengale of USA Today chimes in on Ross as well, tweeting that executives from other teams are “convinced” that Ross will be dealt. Nightengale says the Cubs continue to push for Ross. (Earlier today, ESPN’s Jayson Stark heard that Ross is Chicago’s top pitching target.)

Here’s more on the trade market for pitching help — starters and relievers alike:

  • The Cubs, Blue Jays and Dodgers are the most aggressive teams pursuing Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers at this time, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Yankees and Giants also have some level of interest, he adds. Gallardo started tonight, and things went poorly; the Yankees knocked him around for five runs in six innings, and he struck out just one hitter.
  • Despite a record that is well below the .500 mark, the Mariners aren’t planning to make right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma available, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. While other teams have apparently inquired, they’ve been informed that Mariners ownership prefers to keep him. Iwakuma’s value is down after a shaky, injury-filled season, though given his reasonable $7MM salary and track record, I’d imagine he’d draw no shortage of interest if put on the block.
  • Teams are still in touch with the Indians regarding their crop of young pitching talent, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. There’s nothing close at this time, but the Indians remain willing to engage in conversations. To this point, they’ve reportedly discussed Carlos Carrasco with other clubs, and one can imagine that Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer are of interest to other teams as well. Cleveland did bolster its impressive stockpile of young pitching today — albeit with a future-oriented move — acquiring Class-A lefty and former first-round pick Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals for Brandon Moss.
  • The D-Backs reportedly have an offer on the table to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to a pair of executives (Twitter link) about the asking price on Chapman, with one calling it “high” and the other using the term “ridiculous.”
  • Following today’s acquisition of Joakim Soria to strengthen his bullpen, Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he doesn’t plan to acquire an additional starting pitcher prior to tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline (Twitter link).