Cincinnati Reds Rumors

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

Red Sox, Tigers Are Front-Runners For Castillo

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about where Cuban outfielder/second baseman Rusney Castillo will sign, even amongst Major League teams.  An executive who has been scouting Castillo for the last month tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that “no one knows who’s getting him or which teams will jump in unexpectedly.”  Following yesterday’s updates, here’s the latest on the Castillo sweepstakes…

Earlier Updates

  • Castillo privately worked out for the Reds and Mariners within the past week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  The late date of these workouts was due to scheduling, Rosenthal notes, and shouldn’t be thought of as a hint that Castillo is favoring either of these two clubs.  Six other teams (the Cubs, Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees) have now had Castillo in for a private workout, Rosenthal lists.
  • The Red Sox are one of the three teams “most actively involved” for Castillo’s services, Rosenthal reports.  Presumably the other two teams are the Tigers and Giants, as Rosenthal cited two days ago.
  • “There’s definitely a growing sense” the Cubs will be outbid for Castillo’s services, a source tells CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.  Another source predicts Castillo will receive a contract “much closer” to $68MM (what Jose Abreu received from the White Sox) than $42MM (what Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers).
  • MLive.com’s Chris Iott warns that a number of hurdles will have to be jumped for Castillo to be able to contribute to a team in September.  Fans also might want to temper their expectations for Castillo, as while he is expected to be ready for the majors immediately, Iott notes that it would be hard for a contender like the Tigers to just hand Castillo a starting job down the stretch in a pennant race.

Central Links: Dirks, Cubs, Morton, Meyer, Reds

Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks suffered yet another setback in his return from back surgery i a rehab game on Sunday, according to James Schmel of MLive.com. Dirks sustained the second hamstring injury of his rehab assignment, and while the results of a Tuesday MRI have yet to be disclosed, it’s looking unlikely that he will play for the Tigers at all this season, writes Schmel. There are just 13 games remaining in the minor league regular season, and Dirks may not have enough time to rehab and prepare himself to suit up for the reigning AL Central champs this year.

Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…

  • Much has been made of the Cubs‘ plan to pursue top-of-the-rotation arms this offseason, but GM Jed Hoyer said to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times this weekend that a veteran position player is a priority as well. “…[T]here’s a lot of positions on the field that we want to dedicate to the guys that are here or to young players,” said Hoyer. “But I do think it’s important to have some veteran guys with good approaches that these guys can lean on… … It’s certainly something we want to find.”
  • Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton was originally placed on the disabled list for a hip issue, but he has now been diagnosed with a sports hernia, he told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Morton will try to return in 2014, but that doesn’t appear to be a certainty, and even if he does, offseason surgery remains a possibility.
  • Twins top prospect Alex Meyer is right where he should be in regard to the team’s projected innings limit, GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ryan will watch Meyer’s final home start of the year next week but is not ready to concretely say that the flamethrower will receive a September call-up. The Twins would need to add Meyer to the 40-man roster to do so, but as Berardino notes, that would happen following the season in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyway. Meyer ranked on the midseason Top 50 prospect lists of ESPN’s Keith Law, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, placing as high as 12th overall (on B-Pro’s list).
  • Following the Reds‘ recent four-game losing streak — each of which featured the bullpen blowing a lead — John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines that it’s time to shift the focus to 2015. Fay examines the club’s chances of contending and writes that they won’t be big players on the free agent market, as is typically the M.O. of owner Bob Castellini. Fay also notes that the Reds debated moving a starting pitcher at the non-waiver trade deadline, but Castellini wouldn’t sign off on a sale. Fay feels that a starter, such as Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos, could become trade bait in the offseason with the Reds in need of a bat.

Reds Outright Chad Rogers

Here are the minor moves from the day …

  • The Reds have outrighted right-hander Chad Rogers off the club’s 40-man roster, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Rogers, 25, has yet to see MLB action. He moved to a relief role this year after spending much of his career as a starter, but has struggled thus far in 2014. Over 45 2/3 innings, Rogers owns a 4.53 ERA but has walked as many batters (5.7 per nine) as he has struck out. All of those marks are career-worsts.


Minor Moves: Johnson, Leroux, Murphy, Axelrod

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.

  • The Tigers will select the contract of reliever Jim Johnson on Sunday, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. To make room on the 40-man roster, they’ll option fellow reliever Melvin Mercedes to Triple-A Toledo. Johnson, of course, struggled with Oakland after two strong years as the Orioles’ closer and ultimately got released before signing a minor league deal with Detroit. He has since pitched 4 2/3 innings for Toledo, allowing three runs, two earned.
  • The Yankees have outrighted pitcher Chris Leroux, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Earlier this week, the team designated Leroux for the third time this year, and he’s only made two appearances this season in pinstripes, the last coming in early May. He has a 4.37 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings so far this season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
  • The Braves have signed infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. As MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets, that likely means Murphy opted out of the minor league deal he signed with the Reds last month. Murphy, 31, hit .196/.268/.330 in 128 plate appearances with the Rangers earlier this year, mostly playing second base.
  • The Reds announce that they have selected the contract of righty Dylan Axelrod. They’ve also moved Homer Bailey (neck) to the 15-day DL and Joey Votto (quadriceps) to the 60-day DL. Axelrod will start tonight’s game against the Rockies. The Reds acquired Axelrod from the White Sox in a minor trade in July, and since then he’s posted a 3.06 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 35 1/3 innings at Triple-A Louisville.
  • The Diamondbacks have released outfielder Blake Tekotte, according to MiLB.com. Arizona acquired Tekotte from the White Sox in a minor deal less than two weeks ago. This season, the 27-year-old has hit .249/.320/.439 in 340 plate appearances. From 2011 through 2013, he made brief big-league appearances with the Padres and then the White Sox.
  • The Phillies have released lefty Jo-Jo Reyes, according to the International League transactions page. The 29-year-old pitched for the Braves, Blue Jays and Orioles from 2007 through 2011. He spent 2012 in the Pirates’ farm system, then headed to Korea in 2013. He made 13 starts in Korea in 2014 and struggled there, then headed to Lehigh Valley, where he pitched 20 2/3 innings, striking out nine batters and walking eight en route to a 10.45 ERA.

Minor Moves: Young, Slama, LaMarre, Wort, Mills

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

  • Outfielder Chris Young has been given his released by the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The 30-year-old was recently designated for assignment after struggling for much of the season,. New York will remain on the hook for the rest of his $7.25MM salary this year (less any meager savings that might be achieved if he hooks on with another club at the league minimum rate).
  • The Dodgers have inked righty Anthony Slama to a minor league deal, per the MLB transactions page. Slama, 30, saw brief action with the Twins in 2010-11, and has never played in another MLB organization. The reliever had a great 2012 Triple-A campaign, but struggled at the level last year and ended up with the indy league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for 2014. Having allowed just two earned runs over 16 1/3 frames, he was picked up by a Los Angeles organization that has been looking for pitching depth.
  • Designated for assignment by the Reds on Tuesday, outfielder Ryan LaMarre cleared release waivers and is now a free agent, tweets Cotillo. Cincinnati is talking with the 25-year-old about a new minor league deal, Cotillo adds.
  • The Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Rob Wort to a minor league deal and assigned him to short-season Class-A, according to the team’s transactions page. Wort, a former Nationals farmhand, had been pitching for the independent American Association’s Sioux City Explorers. The 25-year-old posted a sparkling 0.97 ERA with a 58-to-14 K/BB ratio in 37 innings with Sioux City this season. The relief prospect has never had much of an issue striking hitters out, as he averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine in five seasons in the Nationals organization, though he never progressed beyond Double-A.
  • Left-hander Brad Mills has accepted his outright assignment from the Blue Jays and will report to Triple-A Buffalo, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The 29-year-old southpaw, who is no stranger to being designated for assignment this season, was most recently DFA’ed by the Jays on Tuesday this week. He will look to continue his excellent Triple-A work in hopes of receiving another crack at the MLB roster.

Minor Moves: Hill, O’Sullivan, Sale, Daley, Gimenez, Thomas

Here are today’s minor moves …

  • The Tigers inked right-hander Shawn Hill to a minor league deal today, as James Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports on Twitter. Hill, 33, has seen mostly scattered MLB action since taking 28 starts for the Nationals over the 2007-08 seasons. He has a 4.87 ERA through 105 1/3 innings (4.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9) in the upper minors this year with the White Sox and Blue Jays organizations.
  • The Phillies have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. The righty accepted a previous outright assignment earlier this year, but will once again have the right to elect free agency instead.
  • Rays prospect Josh Sale has been hit with a 50-game suspension for recreational drug use, MLB announced today. This is hardly the first brush with trouble for the 23-year-old former first-round pick, who came into the 2013 season rated Tampa’s 24th-best prospect by Baseball America. After a previous drug-related suspension, Sale missed all of last year when the team banned him for inappropriate conduct. He had slashed .238/.313/.344 over 361 plate appearances on the year at the High-A level.
  • After reporting earlier today that Matt Daley has accepted an outright assignment from the Yankees, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Daley has actually been optioned by the club. The righty still occupies a 40-man spot.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez has accepted an outright assignment from the Rangers rather than electing free agency, tweets John Blake, the club’s executive VP of communications. The 31-year-old was designated for assignment five days ago, and apparently has not found a better opportunity with another organization.
  • The Phillies have released outfielder Clete Thomas, Cotillo tweets. The 30-year-old has seen 794 MLB plate appearances in parts of four seasons, but had not been elevated by Philadelphia this season. Over 226 minor league plate appearances, he carries a .247/.345/.335 slash.

Earlier Updates

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has posted his weekly look at minor league transactions from around the league from the past seven days. We’ll highlight a couple of the (relatively) notable names that were missed in the past week:

  • Eddy reports that the Cardinals have released southpaw Pedro Feliciano from his minor league deal. The 37-year-old, once an excellent setup man with the Mets, pitched to a 5.57 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 21 frames with Triple-A Memphis this season.
  • The Reds have released left-hander Scott Maine, Eddy reports. The former Cub was inked to a minor league deal in June after pitching well for the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, but he posted a 6.10 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with the Reds organization.
  • The Athletics have released first baseman/third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, tweets Eddy. Vollmuth, a third-rounder as recently as 2011, batted just .207/.278/.341 this season at Class A Beloit. The 24-year-old has yet to move above the Class-A Advanced level and a has a .702 OPS in his pro career.

Reds Designate Ryan LaMarre To Clear Space For Raisel Iglesias

The Reds have designated outfielder Ryan LaMarre for assignment, according to a tweet from assistant director of media relations Jamie Ramsey. With the move, Cincinnati has cleared a 40-man spot for recently-signed Cuban hurler Raisel Iglesias, who will be introduced today after receiving his visa over the weekend, as C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Twitter links).

LaMarre, 25, has missed much of the year due to injury after starting the year at Triple-A. Last year, over 529 plate appearances, mostly at the Double-A level, he put up a .245/.327/.368 slash with 10 home runs and 23 stolen bases (against 13 times caught stealing). The center fielder, a second round pick in 2010, was not ranked among the Reds’ top thirty prospects entering the year by Baseball America.

Meanwhile, Iglesias — who signed a seven-year, $27MM pact in late June — seems close to officially being added to the team’s 40-man roster. The righty is said to be capable of moving quickly to a big league bullpen, though the Reds reportedly intend to develop him as a starter. It remains to be seen at what level and in what role the club will initially deploy the 24-year-old.


Alfredo Simon Joins MVP Sports Group

Reds right-hander Alfredo Simon has changed agencies and is now represented by MVP Sports Group, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (Twitter links). Simon, who had previously been with the Wasserman Media Group, interviewed four or five agents before deciding on MVP’s Dan Lozano, according to Sheldon.

The 33-year-old Simon, who is in the midst of his most successful season as a Major Leaguer, will be eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this offseason before being eligible for free agency the following winter. Simon wasn’t expected to be a long-term rotation piece this season, but injuries to Mat Latos and the struggles of Tony Cingrani opened a door, and he’s capitalized on the opportunity with 143 innings of 3.08 ERA ball to go along with 5.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 48.5 percent ground-ball rate. Needless to say, he will be due a sizable raise on his relatively modest $1.5MM salary in his final trip through arbitration.

By joining MVP Sports Group, Simon will be enlisting the services of an agency that represents some of the game’s most notable players, including Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Carlos Beltran, Manny Machado and Jimmy Rollins. For more info on 2,000+ Major League and Minor League players, check out MLBTR’s Agency Database. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Tigers, Lester, Front Offices

The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video.  Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade.  Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…

  • Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason.  Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
  • Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.”  (The two worked together in New York.)  Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee.  As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
  • Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change.  Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
  • While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.”  Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
  • Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air.  The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster.  Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
  • Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy?  Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston.  The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
  • Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.

Minor Moves: Poulson, Norwood, Christiani, Carnevale

Though the 2014 draft is long in the rear view mirror, there have still been a couple notable signings of undrafted players of late. Lost in last week’s trade deadline shuffle was the Twins‘ signing of right-hander Brandon Poulson for a $250K bonus. Minnesota scout Elliott Strankman told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger about Poulson’s discovery, noting that the former art school student and independent league right-hander needed to throw just 18 pitches in order to convince Strankman to sign him. The 24-year-old Poulson reached a blistering 100 mph with Strankman in attendance, and of the 37 outs he recorded this summer prior to signing (12 1/3 innings pitched), an incredible 31 came via strikeout.

More on another undrafted free agent receiving a significant bonus and some minor moves from around the league…

  • The Marlins have signed Vanderbilt outfielder and College World Series hero John Norwood for a $275K bonus, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link). Norwood slashed .298/.368/.404 with three homers for the Commodores this season, and he blasted a game-winning homer off of first-rounder off Reds first-rounder Nick Howard. A good showing in this summer’s Cape Cod League helped Norwood go from undrafted talent to a six-figure signing, Callis notes in a second tweet. Norwood, who didn’t place on Baseball America’s Top 500 prospect list heading into the draft, hit .324 (23-for-71) with three homers and three doubles for the Cotuit Kettleers this summer.
  • The Reds have outrighted right-hander Nick Christiani to Triple-A Louisville, according to the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old allowed eight runs in 13 innings with the Reds this season and has struggled in Triple-A as well, posting a 7.71 ERA with 10 strikeouts against an unsightly 15 walks in 18 2/3 innings for Louisville.
  • The Blue Jays have acquired minor league righty Hunter Carnevale from the Mets in exchange for cash considerations, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The 25-year-old was New York’s 33rd-round pick in 2010 and has struggled to a 5.59 ERA between Class A and Class-A Advanced in 2014. He has a career 4.17 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 138 minor league innings, but he’s never progressed past Class-A Advanced.