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2:32pm: The Indians are paying the entirety of the $3.33MM remaining on Cabrera’s deal, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, who says that Cleveland is very high on Walters.
2:21pm: The Nationals have officially announced the acquisition of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians in exchange for infielder Zach Walters and cash considerations.
The 28-year-old Cabrera is hitting .246/.305/.386 with nine homers and seven steals on the season. While defensive metrics have never liked his glovework at shortstop, his bat is above average for the position, and he could fill in for the Nationals at second base, with Anthony Rendon sliding back over to third base on a full-time basis in the wake of Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury.
Cabrera grades out better in his career at second base than his career at shortstop, albeit in a much smaller sample size (1341 innings at second base). Cabrera has about $3.33MM of this season’s $10MM salary remaining, and he is a free agent at season’s end.
The 24-year-old Walters entered the season as Washington’s No. 14 prospect, per Baseball America. He received a brief promotion to the Majors but didn’t capitalize on his time there, hitting just .205/.279/.462 in 43 plate appearances. While he did belt three homers, he also whiffed 16 times in that small sample. BA praised his raw power but questioned his plate discipline and noted a high number of seemingly careless throwing errors. While he has a chance to stick at shortstop with some offensive upside, BA feels he likely profiles as a utility infielder that can fill in at various positions.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported that Cabrera had been traded (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian added that the Nats were his destination (Twitter link). Hoynes then tweeted Walters was going to Cleveland, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted details on the cash considerations.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
2:43pm: Nothing is close for the Rangers with Rios or anyone else, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
12:24pm: The Rangers and Giants are in “ongoing” trade discussions for Rios, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.
11:29am: The Mariners want Rios, tweets Rosenthal, but the Rangers are “closer elsewhere” in trade talks.
THURSDAY, 11:08am: The Royals, Giants and Mariners are all in the mix for Rios, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. To a lesser degree, he adds, the Reds and Indians are in the mix. The Yankees aren’t heavily involved at this time, says Heyman.
WEDNESDAY, 2:03pm: Trade talks for Rios are “gaining traction” in several places, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
8:04am: The Rangers are willing to eat some of the remaining salary on Alex Rios‘ deal, but talks could still go down to the wire, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal hears that interest from several Rios suitors — including the Indians, Giants, Reds and Royals — has waned of late.
At least four teams were said to be in on Rios over the weekend, but there’s been little chatter regarding the right fielder since that time. The 33-year-old is batting a strong .305/.334/.430 this season, but his power has declined in 2014. Rios has just four homers on the season after belting 18 last year and 25 in 2012. He’s owed roughly $4.23MM of his $12.5MM salary for the remainder of the 2014 season, plus a $1MM buyout on a $13.5MM option for the 2015 campaign.
The Rangers have already dealt Jason Frasor to the Royals and Joakim Soria to the Tigers, and given Rios’ contractual situation, he’s a logical trade chip as well. However, the Rangers seem unwilling to listen to offers on Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish — both of whom they’re hoping will contribute to a contending club in 2015 once their roster is back to full health.
With the trade deadline less than three hours away, here are some notes out of the Big Apple…
- The Yankees are still considering names like Josh Willingham, Chris Denorfia and Byrd, but their talks are currently at an impasse, tweets Rosenthal. The Yankees appear to be taking their decision down to the wire.
- The Yankees aren’t focusing on any major trades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They’re looking for an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki in right field — Marlon Byrd is still possible, he notes — as well as some help for the bullpen.
- The Nationals have called the Mets to express interest in Daniel Murphy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but a trade between the division rivals is unlikely. Rosenthal noted earlier today that Washington also has interest in Asdrubal Cabrera.
- The Orioles have checked in on Bartolo Colon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Mets aren’t sure whether or not they’ll trade him at this time yet. The Mets have signaled a definite willingness to move Colon, though GM Sandy Alderson isn’t one to simply dump salary in trades, so based on Heyman’s writing, it seems that the O’s probably haven’t made any form of significant offer.
- There’s no traction between the Royals and the Mets for Colon, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino adds that barring a change, the Mets don’t seem likely to be active today, but he’d be surprised if Colon were with the Mets in 2015.
- Sherman also hears that the Mets are likely to stand pat today (Twitter link). The Mets feel that a better market will develop for Colon in the offseason, when he’ll have just one year and $11MM remaining on his contract.
12:18pm: The Mariners are a sleeper team in the Cabrera market, Olney tweets.
11:23am: There’s a growing confidence that Cabrera will be traded today, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.
8:18am: Rosenthal tweets that the Jays, however, aren’t expected to add a hitter. Their talks with Cabrera were earlier this week.
7:43am: The Nationals, Blue Jays and two other clubs have been in contact with the Indians about switch-hitting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Despite the apparent interest, Cabrera isn’t a lock to be traded, they add.
Cabrera was linked to the Nats last night, and Morosi noted yesterday that the Jays and Giants had checked in as well. The Indians were said to be ready to move Cabrera and Justin Masterson as of yesterday afternoon, and they’ve since dealt Masterson to the Cardinals.
The 28-year-old Cabrera is hitting .246/.305/.386 with nine homers and seven steals on the season. While defensive metrics have never liked his glovework at shortstop, his bat is above average for the position, and some clubs could look at him as an option for second base, where he played a good amount earlier in his career.
Here are some notes out of the National League:
- The Phillies have yet to receive an offer that the club deems acceptable for any of its players, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Philadelphia is determined not to give players away for salary relief, and is willing to wait to deal until the offseason, Rosenthal adds. Rival executives counter that the Phils’ asking price is too high given the age and cost of the players it controls, Rosenthal adds in another tweet. (It is worth noting, of course, that several Phillies are very plausible August trade candidates.)
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti discussed his team’s situation heading to the deadline, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports (all links to Twitter). He made clear that he was not interested in moving any of the club’s three best prospects: “We’re not in the market to trade any of the three, period,” said Colletti. “There’s been no player discussed that warrants two of the three.” The GM also indicated that he does not expect to deal Matt Kemp, noting that “no one’s ever heard me say we’re shopping Matt Kemp … that’s all in another world.” Though the market was proving difficult to crack, Colletti said he has concentrated on adding arms.
- Looking for infield help in the wake of Ryan Zimmerman‘s hamstring injury, the Nationals have considered Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians and Daniel Murphy of the Mets, at least internally, tweets Rosenthal. That does not mean that a deal is close on either player (or, presumably, that discussions have even taken place).
Let’s catch up on some recent news and rumors as the trade deadline nears …
- The Dodgers have not declined to consider dealing top prospects Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias except in cases of pure rentals, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Things remain “very fluid,” says Shaikin.
- There has been no contact recently between the Red Sox and Phillies regarding either Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). Philadelphia is said to have had at least some discussions in the past with Boston regarding starting pitching.
- The Yankees still have “more work to do” in shaping the roster before the trade deadline, GM Brian Cashman tells MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Of course, New York seems to have a broad shopping list that could include additions to the rotation and several spots in the lineup card.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti says that dealing away Justin Masterson does not mean that the club is giving up on 2014, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. “We’re looking to add big league players if we can do it,” said Antonetti. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes on Twitter, the acquisition of James Ramsey provides the club with minor league depth that could facilitate another deal if the club is indeed interested in reshuffling its roster rather than selling, per se.
- The Cardinals were never close to dealing away top prospect Oscar Taveras, GM John Mozeliak tells Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Indeed, Mozeliak says that speculation of a deal involving Taveras was actually amusing to him. St. Louis is still open to another deal after adding Masterson, says MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (Twitter link), but Mozeliak left her with the impression that another move was not terribly likely.
With starter Justin Masterson being moved today, eyes have understandably shifted to another Indians veteran who is set to hit the open market after the season: shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. While it remains uncertain whether or not he will be moved, here’s the latest on possible suitors for him and other middle infielders:
- The Giants are still weighing second base options like Gordon Beckham, Emilio Bonifacio, and Cabrera, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Indians have discussed Cabrera with the Blue Jays and Giants “this week,” tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who hastens to add that he does not know whether talks are still alive with those clubs. Toronto has in fact “emerged as a possibility” on Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Blue Jays are expected to hold off on adding to their slate of position players, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Instead, Toronto will focus on pitching. (Then again, the club has reportedly shifted back and forth between those broad signposts for weeks, if not longer.)
3:00pm: The Indians are indeed interested in Lackey, tweets Rosenthal. Two teams that aren’t in play, he adds, are the Angels and Brewers.
12:01pm: There’s now a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade John Lackey as well as Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). Lackey has been known to be available for days, but there had also been speculation that Boston could work out some form of extension with the right-hander.
Lackey’s five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Red Sox contained a clause that gave Boston a 2015 club option at the league minimum in the event that he missed significant time with an elbow injury. A torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery triggered that clause, making Lackey a highly appealing trade chip even to teams with the most modest of payrolls.
Lackey will likely want an extension regardless of where he ends up, Rosenthal adds (Twitter links), but that’s not necessarily an unappealing concept for teams in search of a starter that can be controlled beyond 2014. Rosenthal lists the Indians and Marlins as two such clubs.
The Dodgers and Royals have shown interest in Lackey already, and reports yesterday indicated that the Marlins may prefer Lackey to Lester, as the asking price could be lesser. However, the asking price on Lackey isn’t exactly tame, as ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported yesterday that Boston wants an established big league starter in return (presumably, one with team control beyond 2015). Indeed, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets, the BoSox aren’t likely to move both Lackey and Lester without getting starting pitching in return.
In 326 2/3 innings dating back to last season, Lackey has reestablished himself as a solid big league starter. He’s posted a 3.55 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, averaging nearly 6 2/3 innings per outing.
The Cardinals have bolstered their starting rotation depth by acquiring Justin Masterson from the Indians in exchange for top outfield prospect James Ramsey. Both teams have officially announced the deal. Right-hander Michael Wacha has been moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster.
Masterson, 29, is currently on the disabled list (he’s set to be activated this weekend) and in the midst of a down season as he heads into free agency. He’s earning $9.7625MM this season, of which roughly $3.3MM remains.
Masterson looked the part of a top-of-the-rotation starter in 2013, posting a 3.45 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate in 193 innings. He’s battled a knee issue for most of this season, which could very likely have contributed to his 5.51 ERA and bloated walk rate (5.1 BB/9).
Masterson’s fastball velocity has declined significantly this season, falling from an average of 91.6 mph in 2013 to 89.1 in 2014. However, Masterson’s now former pitching coach Mickey Callaway said earlier in the month that he felt Masterson’s knee injury had altered his mechanics, which could explain the dip in velocity as well as the increase in walks.
The Cardinals have been on the lookout for rotation help for weeks now, having also been connected to Jake Peavy as well as aces David Price and Jon Lester. Masterson comes with upside, to be sure; FIP, xFIP and SIERA all feel his skill-set should have resulted in an ERA in the low 4.00s this season, and he’s had a good deal of past success. However, his injury and ineffective results will leave some Cardinals fans wondering if he’s truly an upgrade over internal options.
That remains to be seen, but the Cardinals felt that Masterson could bolster their starting pitching in light of Michael Wacha‘s injury and the struggles of Shelby Miller. While Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn are reliable arms atop the rotation, Joe Kelly has been injured for most of the season, and Carlos Martinez would shatter last season’s innings total were he to remain in the rotation over the final two months (to say nothing of the postseason).
As for the Indians, they’ll receive Ramsey, a 2012 first-round pick that ranked seventh among Cardinals prospects on Baseball America’s midseason list and ranked sixth according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. The 24-year-old is hitting .300/.389/.527 with 13 homers in 281 Double-A plate appearances this season. Callis and Mayo note that Ramsey has the speed to play center field (though he’s not a huge threat on the bases) and the arm to play right field if a change is needed. He draws a fair amount of walks and has shown more power than some anticipated coming out of college, the MLB.com duo adds.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Cardinals have been strongly linked to starting pitching, and the club is making its final assessments in advance of the trade deadline, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It appears that St. Louis is aiming for a fairly impactful arm to slot into its rotation.
In addition to Cole Hamels, the club is at least doing background work on Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett of the Phillies. (As Strauss’s colleague Derrick Goold recently reported, Philadelphia is watching the Cards’ Triple-A club.) Likewise, the Cards are performing diligence on Jon Lester of the Red Sox, Ian Kennedy of the Padres, Justin Masterson of the Indians, and David Price of the Rays — among others — according to Strauss. That does not necessarily mean that the club intends to make offers on any or all of these pitchers, of course, but at least seems to indicate the direction of GM John Mozeliak’s thinking.
Though the team’s offense has lagged at times, it seems likely at this point that the Cardinals will count on its in-house options to increase their output to put runs on the board. But with Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia out of action, and varying degrees of uncertainty surrounding Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, a rotation addition seems quite likely.