Cincinnati Reds Rumors

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

NL International Signings: Rockies, Mets, Braves, Nats, Reds

Here are the day’s notable international signings from the National League. Rankings courtesy of Ben Badler of Baseball AmericaKiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

  • The Rockies have a $2MM deal in place with outfielder Daniel Montano after he signed today, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Montano rated 12th on the MLB.com board, based upon his good instincts in center, smooth left-handed stroke, and decent power potential. There are some questions, including inconsistent performances at times, which led BA to slot him 16th and Fangraphs to rank him just outside the top twenty.

Earlier Updates

  • The Mets have landed two top international shortstops, according to Badler. Venezuelan product Andres Gimenez, the second overall prospect on Badler’s list, is headed to New York. The bonus will be for $1.2MM, per Sanchez (via Twitter), for a player that Badler called the second-best available prospect based upon his excellent batting skills from the left side of the plate, decent power potential, and strong overall defensive profile. And Dominican shortstop Gregory Guerrero will also join the club after agreeing to a $1.5MM bonus, per Badler. Guerrero, cousin of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and nephew of Vlad Sr., rated 9th among July 2 prospects in McDaniel’s estimation. Per McDaniel, the Mets signee has a more advanced hit than power tool, but could increase his pop over time. He is ultimately expected to move off of short to the hot corner. Having entered the day with $2,531,300 in spending capacity, these two deals put New York at just over 6.6% above their pool. That would line the team up to face a one-year ban on signings of over $500K, making a deal for another bonus slot appear likely.
  • The Braves have a deal in place with shortstop Derian Cruz for $2MM, Badler reports. McDaniel was high on Cruz, rating him the 8th-best player available, citing his outstanding speed, good hitting tools, and potential ability to stay at the shortstop position or otherwise play up the middle defensively. Atlanta also agreed to a $1.4MM bonus with outfielder Christian Pache, per Sanchez (via Twitter), the tenth-rated player on MLB.com’s top-thirty list. While these signings will put pressure on the team’s total spending allotment of $2,458,400, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the club will attempt to trade for about $1MM in extra capacity to steer clear of future signing restrictions.
  • Dominican outfielder Juan Soto will join the Nationals after agreeing to a $1.5MM deal, Sanchez tweets. That’s the team’s largest-ever bonus for a young international signing, James Wagner of the Washington Post notes on Twitter. Soto’s appeal lies more in his feel and approach at the plate than in pure bat speed, Baseball America writes in rating him 13th in the class. Though he does not offer much on defense and looks to be a corner outfielder in the future, Soto is said to have the potential to be an above-average offensive producer both in terms of pure hitting and power.
  • The Reds have agreed to a $1MM bonus with outfielder Christian Olivo, according to Sanchez (via Twitter). MLB.com was highest on Olivo, rating him 23rd on the international market and noting that he has a fairly high power ceiling that he has yet to fully tap into. The left-handed hitter has drawn mixed reviews in the baserunning and defensive departments.

Astros Targeting Cueto Over Hamels

In recent weeks, the Astros have been connected to Phillies ace Cole Hamels, but it doesn’t sound as though he’s their top pitching target.  Instead, it’s Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto that is atop Houston’s wish list, according to sources who spoke with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

One of the main reasons for their preference of Cueto over Hamels is that the Astros are seeking out a 2015 rental or possibly someone whose contract runs for one more year.  With a hefty contract that runs through 2018, Hamels simply doesn’t fit the bill.  Cueto, meanwhile, is only owed the prorated portion of his 2015 salary of $10MM, which is a little over $5MM the rest of the way.  Hamels, meanwhile, is set to earn the balance of his $22.5MM salary for the remainder of this season, $22.5MM in the next three seasons, and a $20MM option/$6MM buyout that can vest with good health and a certain number of innings pitched.

For his part, Hamels recently indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Astros.  Instead, it sounds like Houston has their attention focused on the Reds’ pitching, where other suitors include the Dodgers, Yankees, and Blue Jays, a source tells Drellich.  All in all, Drellich hears that the Phillies have been pumping up the perception of the Astros’ interest as negotiating leverage in talks about Hamels.

The Astros are casting a wide net in their effort to add a solid starter to their rotation to go with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Vincent Velasquez, and Lance McCullers.  In addition to Cueto and Mike Leake, the Astros are doing their homework on A’s lefty Scott Kazmir, Brewers right-handers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.


Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Market, Phillies, Byrd, Toussaint

As we continue to read the tea leaves on the coming trade market, here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

  • With the Reds and Athletics playing winning baseball of late, the trade market is “tightening,” Rosenthal tweets. “No one is available, really,” a GM tells him. That jives with comments earlier today from Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who noted that very few clubs are truly out of the race at this juncture. Of course, much can change in a matter of weeks.
  • Nobody would suggest that the Phillies are anything but sellers, but the club seems to be in something of a “holding pattern” in discussing transactions while it waits to finalize its reported front office moves, Rosenthal further reports on Twitter. That is understandable, given that Andy MacPhail is expected to be installed in a critical oversight role in short order. He’ll presumably desire a chance to evaluate the situation and have a role in any significant decisions.
  • Some in the game aren’t sure whether MacPhail is the right executive to bring the Phillies up to speed with the analytical developments in the game, Rosenthal writes. But Rosenthal says that he believes that the organization and MacPhail are well aware of the need to modernize and will make that a priority.
  • Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd may now be a more valuable trade piece because of his recent DL stint, Rosenthal notes. Byrd’s $8MM option would vest next year if he makes it to 550 plate appearances, but he’s racked up only 205 thus far. Of course, he’d still reach the mark if he stays in a lineup on an everyday basis.
  • Rosenthal adds one interesting note on the Braves‘ recent acquisition of Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks. Atlanta’s current director of baseball operations, Billy Ryan, was Arizona’s assistant GM at draft time last year, and actually was heavily involved in getting Toussaint to sign.

Pitching Market Notes: Wilson, Bucs, Yankees, Dodgers

The starting pitching market is beginning to take shape around the league. Let’s have a look at the latest reports:

  • As the Angels try to remain patient with their lack of production from many lineup spots, they remain in the market for bats and “have dangled” starter C.J. Wilson, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos would also consider moving prospect arms, per the report, though the team is not interested in parting with the best of the bunch: Andrew Heaney, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis. Wilson, who is playing on a $18MM salary this year and is owed $20MM for next season, has worked to a 3.92 ERA with 7.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 96 1/3 innings.
  • The Pirates are looking at both the Red Sox and Phillies as they consider adding a starter, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Pittsburgh is also interested in a first base upgrade, per the report. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported recently on the Bucs’ interest in Clay Buchholz, though he noted that it seems unlikely that Boston will deal away the righty with two reasonably-priced option years still left on his deal. Philadelphia is sending a scout to take a look at the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, says Biertempful, who suggests that Aaron Harang could conceivably make sense to add rotation depth.
  • At least as of yesterday afternoon, the Yankees “were not on [Cole] Hamels,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Nevertheless, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, New York could ultimately feel it necessary to add a high-quality arm. Sherman ticks through some options, noting that there is “nothing active ongoing with the Reds” and suggesting that Jeff Samardzija could be a prime target if the Yankees decide to pursue a starter.
  • The Dodgers had a top scout (Galen Carr, per Sherman) on hand to watch Hamels pitch at Yankee Stadium yesterday, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported. That outing likely did not do much to commend the lefty, but obviously the club will be looking at a much broader body of work in assessing whether to move on Hamels.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Desmond, Toussaint, D-Backs, Samardzija, Cotts

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)

Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
  • A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
  • Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
  • The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
  • The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
  • The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.

Royals Showing Interest In Cueto, Leake, Zobrist

The Royals are casting a wide net in their search for upgrades on the trade market and have shown signs of interest in Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

The Reds have, in fact, received inquiries from multiple clubs on Cueto, Leake and Aroldis Chapman, Morosi continues, but Cincinnati is still reluctant to engage in serious trade discussions despite sitting 12.5 games back in the NL Central. Likewise, Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, hears that the A’s are in no rush to move Zobrist, as the team is still trying to get back into the race (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that it’s not entirely clear if the Royals have inquired on Zobrist specifically, but they’ve discussed upgrading at second base, making Zobrist a logical target.

Many pundits feel that while a sale of veteran pieces is only a matter of time for the Reds, they’ll wait until after hosting next month’s All-Star Game before doing so. It would, after all, be a bitter pill to swallow for Cincinnati natives to watch Cueto and Chapman pitch in the All-Star Game while wearing another club’s jersey.

On last week’s MLBTR Podcast, Jeff Todd and I discussed the Reds’ trade possibilities at length. I posited that given the sheer volume of appealing pieces the team could trade, it’s possible that Cincinnati could enjoy a Braves-esque turnaround by willingly listening to offers on not only Cueto, Chapman and Leake, but also Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.

As for the Athletics, their reluctance to throw in the towel has been noted before, but the team remains 10 games under .500 and 10 games out of first in the AL West even after going 17-11 over the past month. They’re a slightly more manageable eight games back from a second consecutive Wild Card playoff berth, but there’s a clear uphill battle for the A’s to become serious contenders again.

From the Royals’ standpoint, it’s not hard to see why they’d be interested in an upgrade at second base. Setting aside the avalanche of Omar Infante/All-Star jokes already pouring in on Twitter, Kansas City second basemen have combined to hit a woeful .230/.248/.307 this season. Of course, Infante is owed a significant $22.01MM through the end of the 2017 season. (That number will rise by $500K if he does indeed start the All-Star game.)

A rotation upgrade would seem sensible for Royals GM Dayton Moore as well; the Kansas City rotation has produced just a 4.37 ERA this season (21st in the league), and metrics such as FIP and xFIP feel that’s a pretty fair indicator of what to expect based on the talent the Royals are working with. Just three pitchers have made 10 or more starts for the Royals this year, and two of them are Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie, who have posted respective ERAs of 4.68 and 5.55. Both Cueto and Leake, then, stand out as logical trade targets for the first-place Royals, while on the Oakland side of the equation, names like Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez could come into play. Cueto, Leake and Kazmir are all free agents at season’s end, where the late-blooming and somewhat unheralded Chavez is controllable through the 2016 season.


Reds To Sign Second-Rounder Antonio Santillan

The Reds have agreed to a slightly-above-slot $1.35MM bonus with second-round pick Antonio Santillan, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports on Twitter. He was taken 49th overall, which came with a $1,227,800 pool allocation.

Santillan rated as high as 63rd on pre-draft boards, with MLB.com giving him that slot. His fastball can reach the upper nineties at times and he possesses a big breaking ball, giving the high school righty plenty of upside. But MLB.com says Santillan has a long way to go in smoothing and repeating his delivery, as well as adding a legitimate third pitch.

The big hurler ranked somewhere within the top 100 on all major draft pundits’ lists, but only barely: Baseball America pegged him right at the century mark. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had Santillan at 69th overall while ESPN.com’s Keith Law rated him 84th, noting the high ceiling but adding that Santillan is most likely to end up a reliever.

Santillan was committed to Texas Tech, but Cincinnati reached a bit over $100K over slot to nab him. The Reds had racked up some savings with lower-round choices, and still appears to have some additional space to work after signing its first four picks. Fifth-rounder Miles Gordon and sixth-rounder Ian Kahaloa — both high schoolers — are the highest Cinci picks whose bonus agreements remain unreported.


Minor Moves: Solano, Parrino, Magill, Ka’aihue

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Marlins announced that recently designated catcher Jhonatan Solano has been outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans after clearing waivers. The 29-year-old catcher was designated on Saturday to clear room for starter Justin Nicolino. Solano has been designated and outrighted twice in 2015 alone, and as a player who’s previously been outrighted, he’ll have the option of rejecting the assignment in favor of free agency.
  • Similarly, the Athletics announced today that Andy Parrino, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A. The 29-year-old infielder has a .524 OPS in 131 games spent in very pitcher-friendly home environments (San Diego, Oakland). He has a solid .745 OPS in parts of five seasons at the Triple-A level. He, like Solano, has been previously outrighted and has the option to elect free agency.
  • In his latest Minor League Transactions roundup, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy runs down a significant amount of undrafted free agents that have signed with teams this week. He also, as usual, has several previously unreported minor league signings and releases. Among the notable names in this week’s roundup are right-hander Matt Magill and first baseman Kila Ka’aihue. Magill, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year, re-signed on a minor league deal with the Reds to continue his rehab. He’d been released to clear a 40-man spot. Ka’aihue, who was released by the Nationals, signed a minor league pact with the Marlins. The Hawaiian slugger hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2012 and struggled through 140 PAs with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate. He hit .258/.358/.443 over the past two seasons in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp and has a strong minor league track record.

Quick Hits: Castellini, Aiken, Rays, Brewers

Unless someone blows the Reds away with an offer, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer could see them rolling the dice, effectively staying pat, and hoping for a second-half turnaround.  There are people in the organization willing to blow it all up, but Fay writes that owner Bob Castellini is an optimist.  Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Aroldis Chapman could yield great returns for the Reds, but their owner might not be ready to call it quits on 2015.  The Reds are 32-36 following today’s 5-2 win over the Marlins.

  • Since signing Brady Aiken, the Indians have kept the size of his bonus “on top-secret lockdown for some reason,” MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes (all Twitter links).  Callis predicts that Aiken will receive the “max of what [the] Indians can pay without crossing 105% pool threshold,” so roughly a bonus of $2.7 to $2.75MM, which would top his slot value as the 17th overall pick by over $300K.  Aiken’s bonus has been the source of speculation given how he was both the first player taken in 2014 and a recent Tommy John patient.  As Jason Lukehart of the Let’s Go Tribe blog recently noted, Cleveland has saved a lot of money in their draft pool to go significantly over slot to sign Aiken and 42nd overall pick Triston McKenzie.
  • The Rays have long been able to deliver winning teams on small payrolls, yet Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times observes that the 2015 season may be the club’s most impressive feat yet.  The Rays are in first place in the AL East despite paying almost $36MM of their $72MM Opening Day payroll to players who are either on the DL, in the minors or no longer with the organization.
  • It will be tough for the Brewers to receive good prospect value back on the trade market since so many of their high-priced veterans are struggling, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.  Dealing controllable pieces like Jonathan Lucroy, Wily Peralta or Jimmy Nelson wouldn’t make sense, so Haudricourt thinks Carlos Gomez or Jean Segura would have to be the ones to go in order for Milwaukee to get some quality minor league talent.
  • Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson have become big parts of the Yankees bullpen, though Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that the Bombers paid a surprisingly hefty price.  Ex-top prospect Manny Banuelos (dealt for Shreve and the released David Carpenter) is pitching well for the Braves’ Triple-A team while Francisco Cervelli (traded for Wilson) has emerged as a huge help behind the plate for the Pirates.
  • While the chances of the White Sox trading Chris Sale are remote, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider-only piece) opines that the Sox should at least consider dealing Sale since the return would be so enormous for a 26-year-old ace who is controllable through 2019 on a team-friendly contract.  White Sox sources told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the club isn’t making Sale available, which is understandable, though Olney is right in noting that Sale would instantly become the biggest trade chip on the market.