Cincinnati Reds Rumors

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

NL Notes: Rizzo, Marshall, Hedges

On the Cubs‘ young roster, Anthony Rizzo has become a leader at the tender age of 25, Peter Gammons writes. Actually, because he’s close in age to many of the Cubs’ top young players, Rizzo is a more meaningful leader than a 30-something veteran might be. Cubs executives Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod (who praised Rizzo’s makeup after drafting him when Rizzo was just 17) have been by Rizzo’s side throughout much of his baseball life. McLeod drafted Rizzo with the Red Sox, and then Hoyer and McLeod acquired Rizzo in the first Adrian Gonzalez trade when the two executives were in the Padres front office. Then, when Hoyer and McLeod headed to the Cubs before the 2012 season, they traded for Rizzo again, this time in the Andrew Cashner trade. Here’s more from the National League.

  • The Reds have announced that reliever Sean Marshall will have surgery Wednesday to fix the torn anterior capsule in his oft-injured left (throwing) shoulder. The surgery will be performed by Mets doctor David Altcheck. It’s been a rough few years for the 32-year-old Marshall, who last pitched a full season in 2012, the same year the Reds signed him to a three-year, $16.5MM extension.
  • Top Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges is adjusting to being a bench player after being promoted to the big leagues two weeks ago, Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Hedges, who’s backing up Derek Norris, has collected just 11 plate appearances since his debut on May 4. “When I’m catching every day you don’t do as much because you’ve got to save your body to be able to catch,” Hedges says. “When I’m not playing, I’ve got to be doing things, game-like blocking drills, throwing to bases more, we just did popups today, working on things so that when I’m in there it’s not like I haven’t done anything for four or five days or however many days it is.”

AL East Notes: Kelly, Cueto, Whitley, Harvey

Red Sox righty Joe Kelly had the luxury of having Yadier Molina call his games with the Cardinals, yet Kelly is now having to manage his own games, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  Kelly has gotten off to a rough start in Boston, and he admits “my stats don’t show, but I feel like I’m better at” reading situations and recognizing what pitches to throw at the right times.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Twenty scouts were in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Cueto‘s start tonight, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reports.  The group included high-ranking evaluators from the Blue Jays and Padres.  Cueto delivered another impressive start (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K) for his audience in a no-decision in the Reds‘ 4-3 victory over the Giants.
  • Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s game after just 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury.  Whitley will undergo an MRI tomorrow and he told reporters (including Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog) that he has been coping with the injury for a while but hadn’t told the club about it until tonight.
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews next week in regards to his injured right elbow, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Harvey underwent an MRI yesterday and O’s executive VP Dan Duquette said the club believes the injury is a flexor mass strain in Harvey’s right forearm.  Duquette is hopeful the injury won’t require surgery and Harvey can return to action this season after a rest period, though these plans will likely change if Andrews disagrees with the initial diagnosis.  Harvey, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, drew high placements in preseason prospect rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law (16th), MLB.com (41st) and Baseball America (68th).
  • The Orioles have ten players scheduled for free agency this winter, and if MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko were to set an over/under of three players re-signed by the team, he would “take the under if pressed to wager today.”  The free agent trio represented by Scott Boras (Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters) may potentially be the likeliest to depart, and Kubatko says “you’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption.”  Kubatko does stress that it’s still far too early to guess with any certainty about who could be leaving or staying, however — in Wieters’ case, for instance, he has yet to even hit the field this season.

NL Central Notes: Brewers, Reds, Mesoraco, Jay, Segura

In his latest piece at FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal opines that the Reds and Brewers represent two of the teams that most desperately need to take a step back and sell some veteran pieces in order to improve for the future. However, Rosenthal notes that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Reds owner Bob Castellini are both exceptionally committed to winning, and either one could see enough misleading signs on the current roster to be persuaded into pushing for contention this season. The Brewers are 5-4 under Craig Counsell and have Jonathan Lucroy nearing a return from the DL, while the Reds have Michael Lorenzen now in the rotation, with Raisel Iglesias presenting a potential option to help a woeful bullpen. Despite that, Rosenthal feels the two NL Central clubs need to focus on the future — a sentiment with which I agree, as the other three teams within the division appear poised for long-term success, while the Brewers and Reds lack deep farm systems.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco‘s injury situation continues to take some twists and turns, but it seems he is on the mend somewhat. As C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, Mesoraco says he is increasingly optimistic that he will be able to stave off hip surgery, which once seemed likely. Now, the club is working him out in the outfield as it looks for a way to get his bat in the lineup while he tries to prepare again for catching duties.
  • The Cardinals have placed center fielder Jon Jay on the disabled list due to tendinitis in his left wrist. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted last night, the injury to Jay had the Cards pondering a roster move, but Randal Grichuk is recovering from a back injury, and Stephen Piscotty is not on the 40-man roster. Xavier Scruggs has been recalled from Triple-A, but if a long-term need arises, I don’t imagine that he’d be the preferred option. If there’s a silver lining for St. Louis, it’s that Peter Bourjos has hit quite well this season and presents an elite defensive option while Jay is on the shelf.
  • Jean Segura is the latest member of the Brewers to land on the disabled list, as the team announced that he will be sidelined with a broken pinkie finger in his right (throwing) hand. Prospect Luis Sardinas, acquired from the Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo trade, has been recalled to fill Segura’s spot, but the loss of Segura is another blow to a Brewers club that, as mentioned above, seems destined to end up trading veteran pieces this summer.
  • Of particular note on the Segura injury front is that Segura himself has seen his name floated, at least in speculative fashion, as a potential trade chip for the Brewers. While the missed time will do little to enhance his trade value, it does give Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin the opportunity to see what he has in Sardinas. The 21-year-old switch-hitter was ranked as a Top 100 prospect with the Rangers prior to both the 2013 and 2014 seasons (per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus), and he hit a solid .288/.324/.386 in 141 Triple-A plate appearances this season. If Sardinas looks capable of assuming a larger role with the Brewers, the concept of trading Segura would become less of a stretch. Segura is, after all, slated to become arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and would figure to return some nice talent, as he is controllable through 2018 and has looked better at the plate in 2015 than he did in 2014. (He is still, admittedly, quite a ways from his 2013 peak, however.)


Reds Claim Ryan Mattheus From Angels

The Reds have claimed righty Ryan Mattheus off waivers from the Angels, Cincinnati announced. Los Angeles had designated him for assignment yesterday.

Mattheus, 31, made a single appearance at the big league level for the Halos after joining the organization on a minor league deal. While it is hard to learn much from one appearance, Mattheus worked at or above his usual two-seam fastball velocity (between 93 and 94 mph). He had a nice run to start the year at Triple-A, tossing 12 2/3 frames over which he permitted just four earned runs and registered 12 outs on strikes while not issuing a single unintentional walk.

The Reds have, of course, had rather pronounced bullpen struggles, and will hope that Mattheus can add some quality innings of middle relief. He proved a useful arm for several seasons with the Nationals, working to a 2.84 ERA over 98 1/3 innings from 2011-12. Though his results have declined since, and he missed some time with injuries, metrics suggest that he was much the same pitcher.

Mattheus, known most for his sinker and strong groundball induction rates, will of course require a 40-man roster spot, though the Reds appear to have an opening already. Cincinnati recently designated veteran righty Kevin Gregg after his difficult start to the year


Reds Designate Kevin Gregg For Assignment

The Reds announced that they have designated right-hander Kevin Gregg for assignment. Right-hander Pedro Villarreal has been recalled from Triple-A Louisville to fill his spot in the bullpen.

The 36-year-old Gregg made Cincinnati’s bullpen out of Spring Training after signing a minor league deal this offseason, but he’s struggled all season long. Gregg has appeared in 11 contests for Cincinnati and allowed runs in eight of them, the end result of which is a grisly 10.13 ERA.

Gregg has missed plenty of bats with the Reds, whiffing 14 batters against five walks in his 10 2/3 frames, and he’s also averaged 91 mph on his heater — his best since 2012. His struggles have contributed to a team-wide problem for the Reds. Cincinnati has a collective 5.56 bullpen ERA that ranks dead last in the Majors, with the Rockies’ 5.20 mark representing a relatively distant second-worst.


Central Notes: Melvin, Larkin, Rodon

The Brewers‘ recent firing of Ron Roenicke raises questions about how long they will retain GM Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin is in the final year of his contract, and while there have been no specific indications that owner Mark Attanasio won’t retain him, not much has worked out right for Melvin in the past eight months or so. The team collapsed down the stretch last season, and then a roster that featured most of last year’s key players got off to a terrible start in 2015. One significant move (the addition of Adam Lind) has gone well, and as I wrote this spring, the Brewers’ offseason strategy was mostly defensible, although that was partially because the team’s lack of ready or near-ready young talent would make an aggressive rebuild long and painful. Haudricourt notes that fans are speculating about the possibility that Attanasio and Melvin have already agreed on a new deal for Melvin, but they don’t want to announce it because of how unpopular such a move would be among many fans right now. Here’s more from the Central divisions.

  • The Reds hired Hall of Famer and former superstar Barry Larkin as a roving minor-league infield instructor, but Larkin isn’t looking to get into managing quite yet, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes (with a transcript of a recent chat with the press in Florida courtesy of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ Hook, Line and Sinker blog). “I interviewed for the Tampa Bay job. I talked to [general manager Dave] Dombrowski about the Tigers job last year,” says Larkin. “But I just don’t feel like I’m ready for that type of commitment. If I’m going to dive in, I need to be all in, and I’m just not quite at that point yet.” Larkin cites family commitments as a key reason for his reluctance.
  • Third overall 2014 draft pick Carlos Rodon made his first big-league start Saturday night in the night game of a doubleheader for the White Sox against the Reds. Rodon was a bit wild, walking four in six innings, but he struck out eight and allowed just two earned runs while making a surprising 108 pitches. The White Sox plan to move Rodon back to the bullpen after tonight’s start in order to keep his innings count low, but tonight’s performance could be a promising indication of what’s to come.

Minor Moves: Beck, Constanza, Pineiro, Nelson

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The White Sox have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chris Beck to be the 26th man for the second game of their doubleheader today. Beck, 24, has made his way through the minors with few strikeouts but strong control, posting 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 since the White Sox drafted him in the second round in 2012. This season, he had a 4.78 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 26 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.
  • The Reds have signed outfielder Jose Constanza to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The 31-year-old Constanza collected 240 plate appearances with the Braves from 2011 through 2014, batting .273/.316/.323. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves released him last month.
  • The Blue Jays have signed veteran starter Joel Pineiro to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Double-A New Hampshire, Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner tweets. Pineiro, 36, last pitched in the big leagues with the Angels in 2011. He pitched briefly in the Cubs and Angels systems in a comeback bid last season, then pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico.
  • The Brewers will sign infielder Chris Nelson to a minor-league deal, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). The Phillies recently released Nelson from their minor-league deal with him. The five-year veteran played briefly with the Padres in 2014. The former first-round pick has a career line of .265/.311/.388, with many of his at-bats coming in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
  • The Padres have outrighted catcher Wil Nieves to Triple-A El Paso, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Padres designated Nieves for assignment earlier this week to make room for top prospect Austin Hedges. It’s unclear whether Nieves will accept his outright assignment or opt for free agency. Nieves appeared in just six games for the Padres this year.
  • The Cubs have outrighted righty Anthony Varvaro, also according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Cubs recently claimed Varvaro from the Red Sox and then designated him for assignment on Wednesday. He did not appear in a game for them. He pitched in nine games for Boston earlier this season.
  • The Athletics have released outfielder Alex Hassan, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. That news might actually come as a relief to Hassan, who had been claimed five times in the past seven months. The A’s designated Hassan for assignment yesterday.
  • The Angels have released corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, via the Pacific Coast League transactions page. They had claimed the 26-year-old from the Rockies last August. Wheeler, who played briefly in the big leagues in 2012, 2013 and 2014, was hitting .291/.304/.418 for Triple-A Salt Lake, although he has a track record of hitting for better power at the Triple-A level.
  • The Rays have announced that they’ve placed Alex Cobb, who’s having Tommy John surgery, on the 60-day DL and selected the contract of 23-year-old righty Andrew Bellatti. Bellatti had struck out 20 batters in 21 1/3 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, posting a 2.11 ERA, pitching as a starter even though he had spent most of the previous three seasons working in relief. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explains, it’s been a strange path to the Majors for Bellatti, a 2009 draft pick who spent a few months in jail for vehicular manslaughter following a 2010 car accident.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Athletics, Indians, Frazier

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • The Athletics aren’t currently considering trading Scott Kazmir and aren’t yet letting go of their hopes of contending, Rosenthal says. The team was dealt another blow yesterday, however, in the form of setbacks to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, at least one of whom the A’s might have counted on later in the season to fill a spot in the rotation and bump Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen.
  • An executive says the Indians could be sellers this summer if their 10-18 season doesn’t dramatically improve. Carlos Santana and Brandon Moss could be on the block if they do. Santana is signed through 2016 with a reasonable option for 2017, while Moss has one more year of arbitration eligibility beyond this one before he can become a free agent.
  • Rosenthal wonders how it will be possible for the Reds to sign Todd Frazier long-term, given their already-heavy load of commitments to veterans. Rosenthal says Frazier is eligible for free agency after next season, although he actually isn’t eligible until after 2017 — his current contract carries through 2016, but the Reds can take him through arbitration once more after that. That one year makes a considerable difference, since it means the Reds already control Frazier through his age-31 season. As terrific a year as Frazier is having, trying to control him beyond 31 might be risky, and representative of the kinds of commitments that have caused the Reds’ current payroll headaches. Still, Rosenthal is probably right that Frazier could become a trade candidate at some point, given the Reds’ need to acquire young talent.

Injury Notes: Bailey, Cobb, Moore, Holland, Wieters, Iwakuma, Hanley

As expected, Reds starter Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery today, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Though his previously-repaired flexor mass tendon apepared in good shape, Bailey’s UCL was determined to be completely torn, leaving little in the way of options to avoid surgery.

  • Likewise, Rays righty Alex Cobb was found to have a fully torn UCL, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, meaning he too was virtually assured to require a TJ procedure. Cobb says the best-case scenario would have him return late in 2016. Fellow Tampa hurler Matt Moore has continued to build his way back from his own UCL replacement, with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reporting that Moore was able to throw all of his pitches in a live BP session. Moore says he is targeting a mid-June return to the big league bump.
  • Though his shoulder has shown some evidence of progress, Rangers lefty Derek Holland will wait an additional two weeks before he begins throwing, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Though Texas has enjoyed a somewhat surprising contribution from its starting staff (3.71 ERA, 9th in baseball), peripherals suggest that some regression is forthcoming. Regardless, Holland’s health is critical to the club, both this year and — perhaps even more so — in the future.
  • Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is set to catch seven innings tomorrow as he continues to work fully back from Tommy John surgery, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Wieters’ ability to return to health and productivity will go a long way toward determining his free agent earning power next winter, of course. It will also tell on Baltimore’s ability to compete for a postseason slot, though replacement Caleb Joseph has been a revelation.
  • The Mariners appear unlikely to see righty Hisashi Iwakuma return until early June, at the soonest, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Manager Lloyd McClendon says that Iwakuma is “probably still two to three weeks from going out [on a rehab assignment]” and will then need to throw a few outings before making it back to the big leagues. As with Wieters, Iwakuma needs to get healthy and show that he can continue to be effective in order to bolster his open market case. The scuffling Mariners, meanwhile, are not only firmly in need of his services, but also must assess whether they will be in the market for rotation help over the summer.
  • Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is not likely to need a DL stint for his left shoulder sprain, manager John Farrell tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston seems to have dodged a bullet with the injury situation, as the club can ill afford an extended absence from the player who has paced the club in hitting thus far.

Quick Hits: A-Rod, Gutierrez, Butera, Manfred

With a solo shot off of Chris Tillman during tonight’s 4-3 Yankees win over the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez officially passed Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.  Rodriguez’s 661 career homers put him behind only Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in the record books.  While A-Rod’s feat is certainly noteworthy in its own right, his homers have drawn even more attention due to the controversy around the so-called “milestone” bonuses in his contract that the Yankees are refusing to pay.  Here’s some more news from around the league…

  • Cuban right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez is now eligible to sign with teams during the 2015-16 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  Gutierrez has received residency in Mexico and registered with MLB, though since he still needs to be officially declared a free agent by the league, he may not be able to sign immediately when the signing period opens on July 2.  Gutierrez will be subject to the international bonus pool limits, so teams that are facing $300K signing caps in the upcoming signing period (the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) won’t be able to afford the promising youngster.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was hoping to keep Drew Butera after the catcher was designated for assignment, but as Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez), “it became fairly clear that he was going to get claimed on waivers, so putting together a trade made the most sense.”  Butera was dealt to the Royals for infielder Ryan Jackson earlier today.
  • On the Royals side of that trade, GM Dayton Moore told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan) that Butera won’t supplant Erik Kratz as the primary backup catcher.  “We’re just trying to get through this period of time,” Moore said, in reference to Kratz’s stint on the DL with an injured foot.  Since Butera is out of options, I’d guess he could be on the move again once Kratz is healthy.
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters before a recent Rangers/Astros game about a number of baseball topics, including the possibility of a shorter schedule.  The Associated Press has a partial recap of Manfred’s comments.
  • One topic that isn’t a major priority for the league office is adjusting the designated-for-assignment period.  As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets, Manfred said “that rule actually has functioned fairly effectively over a period of time.”  Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal and MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth both recently explored how some players, like Alex Hassan, can have their careers essentially put on hold due to constantly being in “DFA limbo.”
  • In his latest Insider-only post, ESPN’s Buster Olney cites the AthleticsScott Kazmir and the RedsMike Leake as potential trade candidates if their teams continue to struggle.  Both hurlers are scheduled for free agency this winter.  Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be interested in either pitcher to bolster their rotation, while Kazmir could also be a fit with the Red Sox or Astros.
  • While the Marlins bullpen hasn’t pitched very well this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro doesn’t think the club needs to turn to Edward Mujica, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier today.  Mujica pitched well for the Marlins in 2011-12 but as Frisaro notes, he’s struggled this year and Miami doesn’t really have any roster space for him.