C.J. Wilson Rumors

AL Notes: McCullers, Red Sox Front Office, Wilson

The Astros will option righty Lance McCullers Jr. to Triple-A after his rough outing last night, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reported on Twitter and the team later announced. Manager A.J. Hinch says that the team is hoping to provide a break to the rookie, who may not even take the hill while he’s down, as Ortiz adds (Twitter links). McCullers has been outstanding since receiving an aggressive promotion to the big leagues at age 21, putting up 76 2/3 innings of 3.17 ERA pitching with 9.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9, but that line looked even better prior to yesterday’s dud, in which McCullers allowed seven hits and six earned runs while recording only one out. That’s just one game, of course, and McCullers still surely features in the team’s plans the rest of the way. But Houston does need to manage his innings, as he’s already exceeded his prior career high for a single campaign, so it could be that the club will use this as an opportunity to save some bullets. There could be down-the-line implications as well, though it’s not likely a driving consideration since the team needs a fully available staff. McCullers has only picked up 78 days of service on the year thus far, and will be held under 130 total days even if he comes back right after the minimum ten day stay on optional assignment. That makes him a somewhat marginal future Super Two candidate, with any further time away from the big leagues decreasing his odds.

  • It was time for the Red Sox to nudge departing President and CEO Larry Lucchino out the door, writes Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, who says that undertones in the recent announcement suggest that ownership decided upon a change in direction. Buckley does credit Lucchino with a huge amount of credit for Boston’s successes (on and off the field) over his tenure.
  • With Lucchino heading out, there could be more changes in store for the Red Sox front office, the Herald’s Michael Silverman writes. The baseball operations department is unlikely to carry forward without at least some modifications, says Silverman, who reports that a new executive could well be placed on top of or alongside GM Ben Cherington.
  • While Angels lefty C.J. Wilson will seek a second opinion on his left elbow, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports, but it seems unlikely at this point that he’ll decide against season-ending surgery. Though the team has floated the idea of a rehab plan that could get him back in action late in the year, says Gonzalez, Wilson does not seem favorably disposed toward that option after battling with bone chips all year. “In the meantime, I’m working out and staying in shape, just in case they come up with some other magical course of action,” Wilson said. “But it seems more like a Hail Mary at this point. I want to pitch — that’s why I’ve pitched this whole time.”

C.J. Wilson Likely Out For Season

Angels starter C.J. Wilson believes he might be out for the season, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links). The Angels had previously announced that the results of a recent MRI showed left elbow impingement secondary to arthritis. Wilson says he has bone spurs in his elbow that have expanded. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets, the bone spurs have been an issue for several months, but Wilson is now opting for surgery because of a decreased range of motion and an increased risk of injury to his shoulder.

Wilson had similar surgery following the 2012 season and returned to pitch 212 1/3 good innings in 2013. (He also had surgery for the issue late in 2008.) Still, the news is unfortunate for the Angels. Shaikin tweets that Wilson informed the Angels before the trade deadline that he would likely need surgery, so they had enough time to make a deal if they wanted to. They did not, however, perhaps figuring that they already had enough depth — they currently have Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and Andrew Heaney in their rotation, with Jered Weaver set to return soon from a hip injury.

The 34-year-old Wilson has had an effective season with the Angels, with a 3.89 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 132 innings. He’s making $18MM in 2015 and will make $20MM next year before the expiration of the five-year, $77MM deal he signed prior to the 2012 season.


Quick Hits: Dodgers, Angels, Reds, Mets

The Dodgers might be able to take advantage of a productive season from Andre Ethier to clear a logjam in their outfield and add pitching, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests. Ethier is in the midst of a resurgent .276/.361/.459 season, so now might be a good time to deal him and move Carl Crawford back into a starting role. The approximately $46MM remaining on Ethier’s contract would likely still be an obstacle. But Sherman suggests there might be a match with the Angels. In one scenario, the Angels could send the Dodgers C.J. Wilson, who has about $28MM remaining on his own deal. There aren’t any specific rumors connecting the Angels and Dodgers, and a deal involving Wilson and Ethier would surely be complex, due to the contracts involved. The Angels have, however, reportedly recently shown interest in another lefty hitter, David Murphy, and they’re about to get Jered Weaver back from the DL. So perhaps Sherman’s idea isn’t that far-fetched. Here are more quick notes from around the big leagues.

  • Reds players knew to expect the team to trade Johnny Cueto, but the team’s trade of Cueto to the Royals for three left-handed pitchers still stung, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. “Shocking is not the word, but it’s kind of a blah feeling,” says Jay Bruce. “Because everybody anticipated it happening, but for it to actually happen and someone I’ve personally known for 11 years now, just poof, gone.” Bruce, of course, is himself a candidate to be traded this week, along with Mike Leake and perhaps others. It can be easy to forget that the trades we outsiders discuss so matter-of-factly do affect the players on a personal level.
  • In contrast, the Mets are excited to have the newly acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson on their side, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “That versatility is enormous, to keep key, quality players on the field,” says Mets manager Terry Collins. “It’s hugely enormous.” As Kepner points out, that might be an overstatement, but the Mets are getting help, or are on the verge of getting it, from Uribe, Johnson, returning players Jenrry Mejia (suspension) and Travis d’Arnaud (elbow), and newly promoted top prospect Michael Conforto. The Mets do have reasons to be hopeful. “I’ve been in Chicago, and nobody’s thinking like Chicago’s winning. I’ve been in San Fran, and nobody’s thinking like San Fran’s winning. And they win,” says Uribe. “In baseball, you never know what could happen.”


Heyman On Cueto, Uribe, Wilson, Brewers, Niese, Pirates, Gallardo

In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”

Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):

  • The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
  • While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
  • Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
  • The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
  • The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
  • While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
  • Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.

Angels Prioritizing Control In Search For Bat

The AL West-leading Angels have long been said to be searching for a bat, and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez provides additional details on the club’s thinking. Though the deadline is less than two weeks away, the team is still “casting a wide net.”

Los Angeles does prefer a left-handed bat that can slot in left field, but is even more concerned with obtaining a player that can be controlled past this season. With numerous big league positions set to open up in 2016, it seems that the team is interested in utilizing the deadline as an opportunity to find some answers for the present and the near future.

While the Angels will consider a rental acquisition, says Gonzalez, Justin Upton of the Padres is not among the players being considered. He could be the biggest bat dealt, and the Angels feel that San Diego has placed too high a price tag on the soon-to-be free agent.

The club’s preferred angle, per the report, would be to move starter C.J. Wilson as part of a deal. Though Wilson has been a fairly steady presence in the rotation, the organization would like to move some of his big salary in order to free space under the luxury tax line for the coming offseason.

With the club playing quite well of late, assistant GM Matt Klentak said that it will not be pressed into a move it doesn’t believe in just to get something done. We will continue to survey the trade market for possible upgrades that we feel make sense, but we don’t feel pressure to make a move just for the sake of making a move,” said Klentak. “We believe in the group we have.”


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.

Quick Hits: Rays, Valentin, Hamilton

The Rays tied a franchise record by using 21 players against the Marlins in a 10-inning, 10-9 loss on Friday, writes MLB.com’s Bill Chastain. That included two players making their big-league debut, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and righty Matt Andriese, as Chastain notes. Mahtook, a first-round pick in 2011, is perhaps the more likely of the two to make a long-term impact. He hit .292/.362/.458 for Triple-A Durham last season. “I think everything happened so fast yesterday, you don’t realize what was going on,” says Mahtook. “So in the moment, I wouldn’t even say I was super nervous. I was just kind of going with it.”

  • Phillies prospect Jesmuel Valentin has been arrested and suspended indefinitely for his role in a domestic violence incident, writes Jim Salisbury of of CSNPhilly. GM Ruben Amaro said the team was “getting the young man some help, but we take this very seriously as does the Commissioner’s office.” Valentin, the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin, was acquired by the Phillies last August as part of the return for Roberto Hernandez.
  • Angels pitcher and union player rep C.J. Wilson commented on the ongoing Josh Hamilton saga, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (two tweets). Wilson said, “it doesn’t seem like any bridges are being built. It’s a fairly contentious situation.” Wilson added, “Josh went through the whole process. It should be about him rehabbing and playing baseball again.” Per Pedro Moura of the Orange Country Register (also Twitter), Wilson also suggested that performance is driving owner Arte Moreno’s plans to take action against Hamilton. In case you missed the latest kerfuffle involving Hamilton, here’s a detailed summary from MLBTR’s Jeff Todd.

West Links: Luhnow, Reimold, Angels, Dodgers

In an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said his club had looked at signing Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick.  Houston’s interest in Correia was reported earlier this week, while Kendrick has been linked to the ‘Stros as another potential fit to fill out the back of their rotation.  Luhnow also stated that the Astros had been looking at other similar starters with Major League experience.  Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Athletics have checked in on free agent outfielder Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets.  The Indians and Orioles are also known to be interested in Reimold, and Dan Duquette said earlier today that the O’s have extended an offer for Reimold to return to Baltimore.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was non-committal about the idea of his team pursuing any of the top arms available in next year’s free agent market, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes.  Payroll space could be an issue given how (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts) the Halos have over $128MM committed to only seven players for the 2016 season.
  • With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson both set for free agency after 2016, Gonzalez wonders if the Angels could sign a major starter and then use Weaver or Wilson as trade bait, similar to how the Nationals signed Max Scherzer and now have the depth to explore trading Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister.  There were rumors earlier this winter that the Angels were already shopping Wilson, though Dipoto issued a denial.
  • Sergio Santos will earn $1MM if he makes the Dodgers‘ Major League roster, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter), plus another $3.05MM is available in incentives.  Santos signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month.
  • The Dodgers are committed to rebuilding their minor league system and thus are wary about exceeding their international bonus pool to sign Yoan Moncada, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes.  While L.A. is very interested in Moncada, any team that wants to sign the Cuban phenom would have to greatly exceed their bonus pool to do so, and thus be limited to international signings of $300K or less for the next two international signing periods, or until July 2017.  Of course, several teams have employed the strategy of exceeding the pool limit to load up on premium international talent during one signing period — the Red Sox, Angels, Rays, Yankees and Diamondbacks already face that $300K limit during the 2015-17 international signing market.
  • The Diamondbacks hired former slugger Joe Carter as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced.  Carter and Stewart were teammates in Toronto in 1993-94, both playing major roles in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series title.

Angels Notes: Wilson, Beckham, Backup Infielder

Here’s the latest on the Halos:

  • It was reported over the weekend that the Angels have C.J. Wilson on the trade block, but GM Jerry Dipoto denies that’s the case, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter).  Dipoto said that he has not made a call nor has he received a call on the pitcher.
  • Dipoto added that he has not engaged any free agents, aside from Gordon Beckham, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
  • Dipoto indicated that a trade for a backup infielder is also a possibility, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
  • It sounds like the Angels will be signing a left-handed reliever to a minor league deal this week, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).

AL West Notes: Gregerson, Astros, Beckham, Wilson

Luke Gregerson could be a sensible addition to the Astros‘ bullpen, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. The former Athletics reliever doesn’t have a significant track record as a closer, but he worked with new Astros manager A.J. Hinch when both were with the Padres, and he might only require a three-year deal, as opposed to four for David Robertson. While Andrew Miller‘s new deal with the Yankees took deals for non-closer relievers, Drellich expects that Gregerson’s contract will be much more manageable. Here’s more on the AL West.

  • The Angels would like for recently non-tendered infielder Gordon Beckham to return next season, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Beckham, however, would like to see if he can find a starting job elsewhere before taking a backup infield job with the Angels.
  • The Angels are expecting a quiet Winter Meetings, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Their $8MM deal for infielder Roberto Baldoquin figures to be their largest expenditure this offseason. They also traded catcher Hank Conger to the Astros for pitcher Nick Tropeano and catcher Carlos Perez in another low-profile move. “I understand the fan base isn’t thrilled because they never heard of Nick Tropeano, but this time last year, they weren’t thrilled with what we did to shuffle the roster either,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
  • The Angels do reportedly have C.J. Wilson on the trading block, but don’t expect the Rangers to bring him back, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. C.J. Wilson was a fixture in the Rangers’ bullpen for parts of five seasons before emerging as a top starting pitcher there in 2010 and 2011.