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Cleveland Indians Rumors
Indians scouting director Brad Grant says he had indications on the first day of the draft that University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer would be available when Cleveland picked at No. 21, Fangraphs’ David Laurila reports. “There are a lot of sources who provide information on who is going to go where,” Grant says. “You talk to different sources in order to kind of put that together. … You usually get a pretty good feel from that and can normally narrow it down to one or two players for your first pick.” Grant adds that the Indians became especially interested in No. 31 overall pick Justus Sheffield because they scouted his older brother Jordan, a 2013 Red Sox 13th-round pick who is now at Vanderbilt. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Astros top prospect Domingo Santana isn’t likely to be promoted this summer, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. “Domingo still has some developing in Triple A, from our perspective,” says GM Jeff Luhnow. “We’re really excited about what he’s done, and I think the higher average at a higher level has been clearly a sign of better development and of him becoming a more complete player. But, the profile of the feast or famine is not something that we want to continue to have.” Santana has hit .305/.383/.508 so far this season for Oklahoma City, but with 94 strikeouts in 350 plate appearances. He’s already on the Astros’ 40-man roster, however, which makes him a good candidate for a September callup.
- The Red Sox‘ options this summer remain wide open, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. The Red Sox, in the midst of a disappointing season but still only 6 1/2 games back in the AL East, could become buyers with a good month, and the recent addition of top prospect Mookie Betts could spark the Red Sox to add talent this July. If they don’t play well, they could sell. They could also pursue a multifaceted strategy in which they move players who are eligible for free agency after the season in exchange for players who might be around for the longer term but still could help this season.
Newly-signed Royals first round draft pick Brandon Finnegan will start his pro career at Class A+ Wilmington, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. The Royals project Finnegan will only pitch about 45 or 50 pro innings after pitching for TCU this season, but the start at Class A+ could indicate that the Royals hope Finnegan will be in the big leagues in a relatively short period of time. “I just have confidence in myself,” says Finnegan. “Now, I’m not 6-4. I’m only 5-11. But I feel like I’ve got the stuff that’s good enough to pitch in the pros right now.” Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Indians need to add a good starting pitcher more than they need a good hitter, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Corey Kluber has excelled, but the rest of Cleveland’s rotation hasn’t been nearly so helpful — three pitchers who started the year in the rotation are now either in the bullpen or Triple-A.
- New Pirates pitcher Ernesto Frieri looks forward to playing in a new league and division, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “Maybe this is going to be good for me because it was a little bit of a struggle for me in the American League West,” Frieri said. “When you’re in one league for a while, hitters get to know you, and they make adjustments. I’m pretty confident everything is going to change over here.” The Pirates acquired Frieri on Friday for another struggling reliever, Jason Grilli.
- Bucs GM Neal Huntington tells SiriusXM’s Jim Bowden (via Twitter) that the Pirates don’t have “glaring holes” but will still try to upgrade where possible. The Pirates’ offense has been about average and just added Gregory Polanco to fix its hole in right field. The Bucs’ pitching is perhaps questionable, but the Pirates have had a recent series of strong performances from starters like Jeff Locke and Vance Worley to aid what had been a weak rotation.
Indians starter Justin Masterson has been dealing with a “nagging” knee issue since early in the season, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Soreness in his right knee has lingered since his second start of the year, says Masterson, and now will cause him to miss at least one outing. It remains to be seen what this could mean for Masterson’s status as a pending free agent (and possible qualifying offer recipient or even trade candidate). The righty has seen his ERA jump from a 3.45 mark over 193 innings last year to the 5.03 level in his 93 frames in 2014, though his peripherals and ERA estimators show less cause for concern. The larger issue, perhaps, is the fact that his average fastball velocity has dropped from 93.1 mph last year down to 90.5 mph this season.
Here’s more on Masterson and the rest of the AL Central…
- Meanwhile, in response to a reader question, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes that Masterson’s diminished velocity may have played a role in the club’s decision not to come up to the righty’s asking price for an extension. The hurler’s historical inconsistency may have been the greater factor, says Bastian.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn says that recent draftee Carlos Rodon (who went third overall) could be in the club’s rotation as early as next year, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. “Based on our scouting evaluation that’s certainly a possibility,” said Hahn. “But until you get a guy in and get to know him and spend day in and day out with him, I think it’s a little risky to put time frames on guys.” Of course, the first step will be to complete a deal with the lefty, who must sign by July 18.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski acknowledged his team’s need for bullpen help to hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on the Inside Pitch show on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (via MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Dombrowski did note, however, that the team would be looking for more of a middle-relief type of arm than a late-inning option, as they’re comfortable with Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan in the eighth and ninth innings. Nathan has struggled to a 6.28 ERA this season and briefly looked to have turned a corner, fanning five in a pair of scoreless innings, but he’s allowed two runs in two innings since.
- In a mailbag piece with readers, James Schmel of MLive.com writes that he expects the Tigers to acquire some bullpen help this July and suggests Chad Qualls as an ideal candidate. He also opines that if the Rays end up designating Erik Bedard for assignment, the veteran lefty would make a logical addition to Detroit’s pitching staff. He also feels that Don Kelly is the most likely roster casualty when Andy Dirks is activated from the disabled list, as that would allow Detroit to keep both Dirks and the surprising J.D Martinez on the roster.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
We’ll keep track of today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league right here…
- The Nationals announced today that they have released right-hander Christian Garcia (hat tip: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post). Garcia battled back from Tommy John surgery to throw 12 2/3 excellent innings for the Nats in 2012, but he missed 2013 with a partially torn flexor tendon and was once again on the shelf with right shoulder issues. He had posted a 2.75 ERA with a 17-to-4 K/BB ratio in 14 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Casper Wells, Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register tweets. Not long ago, Wells was considered by many to be a valuable platoon bat capable of handling all three outfield spots, but he struggled greatly between three teams last season and was hitting just .197/.290/.230 through 69 plate appearances with Triple-A Iowa this year.
- Southpaw Josh Outman has cleared waivers and accepted the Indians‘ outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Acquired this offseason in exchange for Drew Stubbs, Outman posted a strong 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. While that ERA may have caused some to question the move, he walked 16 hitters in that time as well.
- MLBTR’s DFA Tracker reveals a slew of players in DFA limbo, including: Greg Dobbs (Nationals), Jonathan Diaz (Blue Jays), Jamie Romak (Dodgers), Chris Capuano (Red Sox), Brad Snyder (Rangers), Donnie Joseph (Royals), Roger Bernadina (Reds), Jake Dunning (Giants), J.J. Putz (D’Backs) and Evan Reed (Tigers).
A new or upgraded stadium just represents a new revenue stream for a franchise, not a surefire promise of a winning team, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes. Sullivan focuses his piece on the Cubs‘ planned renovations to Wrigley Field, though he uses the Twins and Target Field as an example of a team whose move into a new ballpark was undermined by moves that currently look like expensive mistakes (i.e. the Ricky Nolasco contract, Joe Mauer‘s extension).
Here’s some more from around the AL Central…
- Jim Souhan of the Star-Tribune presents a different view of the Twins‘ future, listing four reasons why he feels the team is turning the corner back to respectability.
- The Indians are trying to make a minor trade to send southpaw Josh Outman elsewhere, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Tribe designated Outman for assignment on Wednesday. Outman’s strong numbers against left-handed batters should generate some interest, though as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted, Outman’s peripherals suggest his performance this season isn’t as solid as his 3.28 ERA would suggest.
- Carlos Rodon was seen as perhaps the most Major League-ready pitcher of any 2014 draft pick, which is why White Sox assistant GM Buddy Bell feels Rodon would best be served by signing soon. “You want to get started sooner than later….But I just think the sooner you sign and with his ability and how I see him, this kid is going to be in the big leagues soon,” Bell told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes. “It just seems to me if money is the issue, he’s going to make a helluva lot more getting it started than not.” The Sox have until July 18 to sign Rodon, who is rumored to be looking for a bonus above the $5.72MM slot value for the No. 3 overall pick.
Early this morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wondered if the Padres might contemplate trading right-handed starter Andrew Cashner. Such a trade could help the club quickly rebuild. In his latest video, a rival executive rebuts Rosenthal’s theory. The executive believes the Padres are much more likely to move expensive veterans like Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, Ian Kennedy, Huston Street, and Joaquin Benoit, citing impatience from the ownership group and an over budget roster. It’s also widely thought that Padres GM Josh Byrnes is on the hot seat, which could affect trade talks. Here is more from Rosenthal’s latest:
- Speaking of GM’s on the hot seat, Jack Zduriencik is on a mission to win games and save his administration, according to rival executives. The Mariners have been branded as one of the most active teams on the trade market, with Nick Franklin as the most obvious trade asset. Rosenthal notes that the team lacks financial flexibility, which may make it hard to acquire high impact talent.
- Rival executives believe the Indians would like to add “Miami Marlins type pitching,” leading several clubs to scout Cleveland’s farm system. While the Indians may want a front line starter, Rosenthal suggests they may be forced in another direction.
- The Braves bullpen could potentially benefit from experience. Closer Craig Kimbrel has the most service time with four years. The ‘pen currently includes four rookies – two of whom made their big league debut on Friday. The Braves could use a starter, but they may lack the assets necessary to acquire a top hurler like Jeff Samardzija.
We’ll keep track of the day’s minor moves here:
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports that the Red Sox have released right-hander Kyle Stroup (Twitter links). As Speier explains, the former 50th-round pick was considered a steal as an up-and-coming prospect, but he blew out both ACLs in a span of three seasons and was never able to rediscover the promise he showed prior to his injuries.
- The Indians announced (on Twitter) that Double-A southpaw Matt Packer has been released. A 32nd-round pick in 2009, Packer reached Triple-A as a 24-year-old in 2012 but struggled to a 5.50 ERA. He went back to Double-A and enjoyed a strong campaign in 2013, pitching to a 3.27 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 154 innings. However, he faltered in his only two appearances of the season earlier this month. Packer has dealt with shoulder injuries throughout his minor league career but has been effective when healthy.
- The Pirates have released righty Cody Eppley, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). The 28-year-old had been working as a reliever at Triple-A Indianapolis, and carried a 6.43 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9 through 14 innings. Eppley had a strong 2012 season with the Yankees but has not returned to that form since.
- MLBTR’s DFA Tracker shows three names still in limbo: Evan Reed (Tigers), Josh Outman (Indians), and Josh Stinson (Orioles).
Somehow, someway, Athletics GM Billy Beane is going to pull something off between now and the deadline, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Between the inexperience of Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez, Scott Kazmir‘s past health troubles, and other question marks, the A’s could use some rotation reinforcements. Oakland isn’t deep enough in minor league talent to land the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija or Rays’ David Price, but Rosenthal is certain that Beane will find something out there. Here’s more from his always informative column..
- The Angels don’t necessarily need rotation help, but they’d like to add a starter nonetheless. They are currently without a lefty reliever, and another rotation piece would allow them to move left-hander Hector Santiago to the bullpen. Rosenthal speculates that Padres righty Ian Kennedy and Mets righty Dillon Gee could be fits.
- The qualifying offer reduces the desire of some teams to trade QO candidates before they hit the open market. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus and Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa are examples of potential free agents who are unlikely to be moved since their clubs would like the option of making an offer and an acquiring team would not be able to extend one. If not for the QO possibility, Toronto might opt to move Rasmus for a pitcher and re-install a platoon of Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar in center.
- The Indians are in difficult spots with potential free agents shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and right-hander Justin Masterson. Cabrera isn’t a strong QO candidate thanks to his so-so defense, so one option would be to trade him for another infielder to alternate with Mike Aviles. The same goes for Masterson, though he probably doesn’t have much trade value with an ERA of 5.05 with 8.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.
Outman, 29, carries a 3.28 ERA through 24 2/3 innings, but that mark may not tell the whole story. He has struck out 8.8 per nine, in line with his career averages, but has also walked a personal-worst 5.8 batters for every nine innings. Indeed, FIP (5.20), xFIP (4.36), and SIERA (4.16) all cast a shadow on his work this year — quite the opposite of the situation last year, when his 4.33 ERA appeared somewhat unlucky. He suffered perhaps his roughest outing of the year yesterday, giving up two earned on two hits and two walks.
Nevertheless, as teams look to shore up their relief corps over the summer, Outman could receive a good bit of attention. He certainly has done a solid enough job against same-handed hitters, holding opposing southpaws to a .180/.293/.380 line in 58 total plate appearances. Most of the damage has come from right-handed batters, who have touched Outman for a .296/.404/.523 line in the 52 times he has taken the hill against them.
Here are Tuesday’s notable mid- to late-round draft signings, with all slot information coming courtesy of Baseball America…
- The Indians have signed fourth-round pick Sam Hentges to a $700K deal, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). That is nearly $300K higher than the 128th selection’s $400.2K slot allocation; he’ll also get a $160K scholarship. As noted below, Cleveland had already spent much of its existing padding on third-rounder Bobby Bradley. The high school lefty out of Minnesota was rated the 213th available player by Baseball America.
- Rockies fifth-rounder Kevin Padlo has signed for $650K, tweets Callis. Padlo was taken with the 143rd overall choice, which came with a $346.3K allocation. The high school third baseman, who was rated the 129th-best player available by Callis and fellow MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo, was said to be a late mover up draft boards.
- The Athletics have gone above-slot for two choices, sixth-rounder Trace Loehr and eighth-rounder Branden Kelliher, reports Callis (Twitter link). Loehr will get a $600K bonus (against a $215.9K slot allocation), while Kelliher will get $450K ($215.9K slot). Those overages will take a decent chunk out of the savings that Oakland secured by agreeing with five other top-ten-round choices last Thursday.
- Yankees fourth-round choice Jordan Montgomery has signed for the slot value of $424K, tweets Callis. Montgomery, a junior lefty for the University of South Carolina, was the 120th-best player in the draft, according to Baseball America.
- The Indians have inked third-round selection Bobby Bradley, a high school first baseman, the club announced today. Bradley lands an above-slot $912.5K bonus, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Bradley was taken with the 97th overall selection, which comes with a $539.6K slot allocation. Running the math on MLB.com’s draft bonus tracker, Cleveland had a cumulative under-slot tally of $501.3K prior to inking Bradley. The team has yet to sign two other high school draftees from its first ten rounds: Simeon Lucas (seventh round) and Micah Miniard (eighth). MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, who rated Bradley the 68th-best available player, said that Bradley offers an unusually advanced left-handed bat with good power. He had been committed to LSU.
- Jim Callis of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that the Rays have agreed to terms with fourth-rounder Blake Bivens on an over-slot, $465K bonus. Bivens, a high school right-hander out of Virginia, was slotted to receive $404K. Callis notes that he has a chance for a plus fastball and curveball. BA ranked Bivens 124th among draft prospects.
- Marlins fourth-round pick Brian Schales agreed to the full slot value of $490K for the 107th overall selection, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter). A shortstop out of Edison High School in California, Schales didn’t rank on Keith Law’s Top 100, MLB.com’s Top 200 or BA’s Top 500 prior to the draft.
- Cotillo tweets that the Marlins also agreed with their fifth-round selection, Casey Soltis, on an over-slot $450K bonus (slot was $366,900). Soltis was a consensus top draft prospect among major media outlets, placing 97th on Law’s list, 100th on BA’s and 113th on MLB.com’s. Law feels he can stick in center due to his athleticism, while the other two think he may be ticketed for right field. There are questions about his power as well, but his speed draws praise.
- The Twins and fifth-rounder Jake Reed agreed to a $350K bonus that saves Minnesota about $6,400, Cotillo tweets. After starting for his first two seasons with Oregon, Reed was moved to the bullpen and settled in as the Ducks’ closer. With a sinking fastball touching 97 mph and a hard slider, he ranked 123rd on MLB.com’s list and 155th on BA’s. He is one of many power relievers selected by Minnesota.
- The Indians went nearly $200K over slot on eighth-round pick Micah Miniard, Cotillo reports. BA, who ranked Miniard 393rd among prospects, noted that the Kentucky high school right-hander’s velocity touched 94 mph last fall but dipped into the mid-80s this season.