Cincinnati Reds Rumors

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

Minor MLB Transactions: 9/4/15

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

  • Two Angels ballplayers — righty Drew Rucinski and outfielder Alfredo Marte — have cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The pair was designated on September 1st as Los Angeles cleared out 40-man space for its September call-ups.
  • Righty Dylan Axelrod was outrighted by the Reds, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Twitter. The 30-year-old, a former starter with the White Sox, has worked 30 2/3 innings of 4.70 ERA pitching out of the Cincinnati pen over the last two seasons.
  • The Phillies announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Brian Bogusevic and transferred left-hander Elvis Araujo to the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster. Bogusevic, 31, has had a nice season at the Triple-A level with Philadelphia, hitting .296/.359/.424 with 12 homers and 24 steals. He has a fair amount of MLB experience under his belt — most recently with the Cubs in 2013, when he slashed .273/.323/.462 in 155 plate appearances. Araujo strained his groin and landed on the 15-day DL late last month, so by transferring him to the 60-day DL, the Phils have effectively ended his season.

Reds Designate Dylan Axelrod For Assignment

The Reds have designated right-hander Dylan Axelrod for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for catcher Ramon Cabrera, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon.

Axelrod, 30, has been up and down with the Reds over the past two seasons, notching a combined 4.70 ERA with a 32-to-12 K/BB ratio in 30 2/3 innings (with three of those walks being of the intentional variety). Prior to that, he spent much of the 2013 season in the White Sox’ rotation. All told, Axelrod has thrown 228 2/3 innings in the Majors, resulting in a 5.27 ERA. He does have a nice Triple-A track record, having compiled a 3.46 ERA with nearly three times as many walks as strikeouts in 421 1/3 frames.

The 25-year-old Cabrera has a .290/.343/.353 batting line in 351 plate appearances at Triple-A this season — numbers that are very similar to his career rates at that level. He’ll be making his Major League debut the first time he gets into a game for the Reds.


Cafardo On Rangers, Jackson, Brewers, Yankees

The Red Sox didn’t go by MLB’s minority hiring rules when they interviewed only Dave Dombrowski for the president of baseball ops role but they have been instructed to do so for the GM job, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  If the Red Sox take the step of hiring a minority GM candidate, Cafardo suggests that Ken Williams would be a strong choice if he chooses to leave Chicago.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Rangers were very interested in acquiring Austin Jackson “a few days ago,” but nothing came of those talks, Cafardo writes.  Jackson, 28, cleared waivers last week and was said to be generating interest, though it appears that no one wanted to take the remaining ~$1.7MM salary off the Mariners‘ hands.
  • Former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is in play for the Brewers job, a major league source tells Cafardo.  “Despite his last-place finishes he’s seen as a team builder, especially when it comes to farm systems,” said the source.   The Angels, Mariners, and Phillies are also thought to be possibilities for Cherington.
  • The Yankees have been blocked in every attempt to add to their pitching, both out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation. Baseball sources tell Cafardo that GM Brian Cashman doesn’t seem optimistic about his odds of pulling anything off.  The Mets have been blocked from adding a reliever as well.
  • The Royals want a backup catcher for the playoffs just in case something happens to Salvador Perez.  KC turned down the opportunity to land A.J. Pierzynski from the Braves, Cafardo writes, but they’re still looking for an affordable left-handed hitting backstop. Some KC scouts like the Red Sox’s Ryan Hanigan, but he hits right-handed and has a $3.7MM salary next year with an option for 2017.
  • Unsurprisingly, Cafardo hears that the Rangers are looking for offense, the Twins are looking for relief help, and the Blue Jays want to add to their bullpen.  However, a deal for Toronto doesn’t seem likely at this time.
  • Cafardo writes that the Nationals, Padres, Red Sox, Mariners, Reds, Orioles, Indians, and Tigers are expected to be quite active this winter.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Farrell, GM Changes, Wright, Dodgers

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a trio of videos on FOX Sports:

  • Red Sox manager John Farrell, who is battling lymphoma, has completed the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. He’s visiting the Sox each day they’re at Fenway and holding video chats with interim manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff when the team is away. New Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has not said whether Farrell will return next season, however, regardless of his health.
  • Following what’s been a tumultuous month in many team front offices, the Phillies and Reds could be among the next teams to make GM changes, Rosenthal says. There could be up to ten manager changes as well.
  • Rosenthal also interviews Mets third baseman David Wright, who recently returned to the lineup after missing almost four months due to a hamstring injury and an ongoing back issue. Wright discusses what it’s like to deal with a lingering condition. Some days are better than others, he says, and a player needs to be honest, because if he tries to play on a bad day, he’ll be hurting his team.
  • The Dodgers‘ massive $300MM payroll may be a one shot deal. They’re paying a large chunk of change for players who aren’t even on the roster like Matt Kemp, but they were able to acquire additional talent by doing so. This year, they’re paying a 40 percent tax on overages beyond the roughly $189MM soft cap. Next season, the penalty will increase to 50 percent. However, prospects like Corey Seager and Julio Urias are expected to be on hand to reduce the luxury burden.
  • Marlins manager Dan Jennings is a potential candidate for the Mariners open GM job. He has past experience working for Seattle as a scout and crosschecker. Most teams allow their employees to interview for promotions with other clubs, but the situation is tricky with Jennings. He’s the Miami manager, but he’s also currently under contract as a GM. As such, it’s not clear if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would allow Jennings to interview.
  • Sources have told Rosenthal that Padres ownership is “frustrated” with GM A.J. Preller. However, chairman Ron Fowler insists the only frustration is related to the club’s 2015 performance. He believes Preller will be the GM for a long time to come. Preller was originally hired to improve the farm system via the draft and international scouting. Obviously, the club used most of their minor league ammunition in a bold bid for contention this year, but the original plan remains intact.
  • Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi hears that the Reds may wish to replace GM Walt Jocketty. His contract expires after the 2016 season. It’s Rosenthal’s opinion that owner Bob Castellini is unlikely to fire Jocketty outright. Instead, they may move him into a consultative role like the Brewers did with Doug Melvin. That would allow the club to then hire a new GM in time for 2016.

Front Office Notes: Brewers, Reds, Levine, Mariners

Here are the latest notes involving front office (and managerial) matters around the league:

  • The Brewers are “finalizing” a list of candidates to interview for their open GM position, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. It seems that Milwaukee is preparing to take a close look at a variety of possibilities in finding a successor for Doug Melvin, though, so it’s likely that the process is still a long ways from completion.
  • Reds owner Bob Castellini said yesterday that the club will not make any moves regarding manager Bryan Price during the season, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. But Castellini did say that the organization will “look at everything after the season,” and declined to give any assurances as to how the team will handle Price and GM Walt Jocketty, each of whom remains under contract for one more year. Despite a tough year and questionable outlook, Castellini indicated that he still has hopes of contending in 2016. “We’re down but not out,” he said. “I don’t think next year will be a waste. We don’t have the mindset that we’re not going to contend. We’re not giving up on the year.”
  • Thad Levine has been an integral part of the Rangers front office, explains Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, who suggests the time may be right for the club to make him its general manager while moving Jon Daniels into the role of team president. Otherwise, warns Grant, Levine could be a prime candidate for the GM jobs opening elsewhere in the league.
  • Mariners president Kevin Mather clarified his comments from earlier today regarding manager Lloyd McClendon, as Larry Stone of the Seattle Times tweets. Mather said that the organization’s new GM will have final say as to the field staff, though he plans to recommend that McClendon be retained. Meanwhile, it would appear that Seattle is preparing to keep attempting to put a contending club on the field in the near future. Mather said that he’s not concerned that ownership will look to trim payroll for 2016, as the Times’ Ryan Divish notes on Twitter.
  • Mather also indicated that the Mariners will consider their internal options in the general manager hunt, including acting GM Jeff Kingston, as the AP’s Tim Booth tweets. But the organization’s preference is to find a candidate with more experience, Mather added.

NL Central Notes: Baez, Tucker, Marshall, Santana

Javier Baez is “definitely on the radar screen” for a September call-up with the Cubs, manager Joe Maddon tells Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN. Van Valkenburg chronicles the lengthy and difficult season for Baez, who dealt with the painful loss of his sister, Noely, early in the year and later broke his finger sliding into second base at Triple-A. The injury “might have been the best thing that ever happened” to Baez, Triple-A manager Marty Pevey tells Van Valkenburg, as his approach was much improved after taking some time away from the game, and he looked to have made some “veteran adjustments.” Van Valkenburg’s column provides readers with an excellent, in-depth look at Baez’s journey from childhood in Bayamon, Puerto Rico to his high school days in Jacksonville, Fla., to his 2014 debut and 2015 season, all while giving a look at the personal and family struggles he’s dealt with along the way. It’s well worth a full read.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Pirates top shortstop prospect Cole Tucker will miss the remainder of the season, and possibly most of next season, the Pirates told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Tucker, the 24th overall pick in the 2014 draft, underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and will be sidelined for 10 to 12 months. Tucker batted .293/.322/.377 with a pair of homers and 25 steals in 73 games at Class A.
  • Reds left-hander Sean Marshall has been throwing off a mound every three days throughout the month of August and hopes to pitch again before season’s end, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Marshall had his second shoulder surgery on May 20 this year and has not taken a big league mound all season. He has, in fact, only thrown 24 1/3 innings over the entire life of the three-year, $16.5MM extension he signed prior to the 2013 campaign. Marshall tells Sheldon he’s been throwing 35 to 40 pitches per session, including curveballs, in addition to playing long toss. Marshall, a free agent at season’s end, would benefit from getting into games and displaying some form of health in the final month of the season.
  • The Brewers have already gotten a look at Domingo Santana in all three outfield positions, and manager Craig Counsell said for the time being, that’s the best way to get him regular at-bats, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak. Moving forward, the Brewers have three corner outfielders for two spots — an issue I touched on in yesterday’s MLBTR Mailbag — but Counsell isn’t worried about a potential logjam at this time. “I don’t think we need to figure that out right now,” said Counsell of determining Santana’s long-term position. “I think what’s important is that he starts getting experience just facing big-league pitching and being in big-league games.”

Blue Jays Claim Donn Roach From Reds

The Blue Jays announced today that they have claimed right-hander Donn Roach off waivers from the Reds. Michael Saunders has been transferred to the 60-day DL to create room on the 40-man roster for Roach, who was designated for assignment by Cincinnati over the weekend. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that Roach will head to Triple-A for the time being, though he could obviously be a candidate for a call-up when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

Roach, 25, has appeared in the Majors with the Padres and Cubs over the past two seasons, totaling 33 2/3 innings of 5.35 ERA ball with 18 strikeouts against 16 walks. Those numbers aren’t particularly impressive, of course, but Roach’s extreme ground-ball nature — he has a 65 percent ground-ball rate in those 33 2/3 innings — probably appealed to the Blue Jays, who play in a very homer-friendly park. Roach has allowed just two homers in the Majors, and in 580 minor league frames, he’s averaged 0.4 homers per nine innings.


Quick Hits: Marlins, Parra, Pederson

Ichiro Suzuki earned $400K in bonus money for reaching the 300-plate appearance threshold last week. As per the terms of Suzuki’s one-year, $2MM deal with the Marlins, Suzuki will earn an additional $400K for every 50 PA past 300, up to 600 plate appearances. Between Marcell Ozuna‘s demotion and injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, Suzuki has seen quite a bit more playing time than expected this season. With 332 PA after today’s action, Ichiro looks well on his way to adding at least another $800K to his 2015 salary, though he could lose some at-bats to younger outfielders once the rosters expand. Here’s more from around the league as we wrap up the weekend…

  • The Marlins are considering lowering the walls and bringing in the fences at Marlins Park, team president David Samson tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.  The stadium has finished at or near the bottom of the Park Factor home run rankings since opening in 2012.
  • The Reds placed Manny Parra on the DL today with bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder, the third time the southpaw has hit the DL this season.  John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) thought that Parra would be a good trade candidate for the Reds, but that’s now an impossibility with him on the DL until at least September 4th.  Parra has been solid when healthy, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3-to-1 K/BB rate over 25 innings and pitching well against both left-handed and right-handed batters.  He drew some trade interest prior to the July 31 deadline though that buzz was scuttled by an earlier DL stint.
  • Joc Pederson has lost his job as the Dodgers‘ everyday center fielder, manager Don Mattingly told reporters (including ESPN’s Mark Saxon).  Enrique Hernandez will take over in center for the time being.  Pederson enjoyed a huge start to his rookie season but has been in a protracted slump since early June, hitting just .168/.328/.298 with six homers over his last 259 PA.
  • In July of this year, Mike Morse went from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates.  Morse admits that he was hoping for a return to the Giants, but he’s happy with how everything turned out, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  “If there was one place at the time I would have wanted to go, it was the Giants, not knowing that I’d get an opportunity here in Pittsburgh,” said Morse, who entered today with an .821 OPS over 25 PA as a Pirate. “Now that I see everything here, it’s awesome.”
  • Ian Kinsler wasn’t thrilled at the time of the deal that sent him from the Rangers to the Tigers, but he now tells Katie Strang of ESPN.com that the change of scenery worked out for the best.  “It’s a good place to be. There’s no hidden agenda,” Kinsler said. “The owner is all in, the [former] general manager, Dave Dombrowski, was all in. [Current] general manager Al [Avila] is the same way. There’s no difference between behind the scenes and in your face.”

Reds Designate Donn Roach For Assignment

The Reds have designated Donn Roach for assignment, according to Robert Bondy of MLB.com (on Twitter).  The move will help create room for Collin Balester on the 40-man roster.

The Reds claimed Roach off waivers from the Cubs just a little over a month ago. The 25-year-old has made seven starts for Triple-A Louisville and hasn’t fared all that well.  In that small sample size, Roach has a 6.00 ERA with 3.9 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.  Prior to that, Roach made 15 starts for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate and posted a 2.33 ERA with 3.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.  Roach also has 17 big league appearances to his credit the last two years.

To keep track of Roach and everyone else in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Giants Acquire Marlon Byrd

3:40pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Byrd had cleared waivers as opposed to being claimed by the Giants (Twitter link).

3:25pm: The Giants announced that they have acquired veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash considerations from the Reds in exchange for Double-A right-hander Stephen Johnson.

Marlon Byrd

The addition of Byrd will provide the Giants with some desperately needed outfield depth, as their starting outfield has been ravaged by injuries his year. While Nori Aoki is slated to return from a concussion today, starting center fielder Angel Pagan and starting right fielder Hunter Pence are both on the disabled list. Byrd, presumably, will see time in one of the outfield corners (he’s played left field this year but has recent experience in right field as well), with Aoki manning the other spot.

Byrd, 37, suffered a small fracture in his wrist in early June but made a somewhat surprisingly quick return from the disabled list, returning to action less than three weeks later. Even more surprising than his quick return is the absence of ill effects that he’s shown from a wrist injury; Byrd homered in his first game back from the DL and is slashing .258/.286/.454 with nine homers in 203 plate appearances since being activated. While that OBP obviously leaves something to be desired, he’s shown plenty of pop and managed to hit for a respectable average. He should serve as a relatively productive piece in the middle of the Giants’ ailing lineup, and he could either slide down the order or serve as a nice bench piece down the line once everyone is healthy.

Byrd is earning $8MM this season as part of a two-year, $16MM contract originally signed with the Phillies. Philadelphia picked up $4MM of the tab when he was traded to the Reds in the first place, so there’s only about $1MM remaining for the Giants and Reds to worry about. Byrd is 172 plate appearances shy of triggering an $8MM vesting option for the 2016 season. He’d need to average 3.85 plate appearances per game over the Giants’ remaining 42 contests to reach the 550 plate appearances he needs, which is an attainable rate if he plays every day. Of course, he won’t be with the team for tonight’s game (he’ll join them Friday), and the Giants, though certainly justify benching Byrd against right-handed pitching once everyone is healthy. He’s slashed just .224/.268/.433 against righties this year compared to .280/.344/.500 versus left-handed pitching.

San Francisco selected Johnson, now 24 years old, in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Baseball America ranked him as the Giants’ No. 21 and 28 prospect following the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but he’s dropped off their Top 30 since and didn’t make MLB.com’s midseason Top 30 for the Giants, either. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs mentioned him in his preseason look at the Giants’ prospects, noting that he hit 100 mph with Division-II St. Edwards College (TX) but has settled into the mid-90s. He’ll flash an above-average curve at times, but he has some command and delivery issues. McDaniel (Twitter link) and BA’s John Manuel (Twitter link) both offered similar takes to that report in the minutes following the trade. Reds GM Walt Jocketty said (via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay, on Twitter) that Johnson has a “big arm” and the organization projects him as a reliever. He’ll go  Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliate. Johnson had a 3.41 ERA with 10.6 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 in 58 innings for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate his year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.