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Here are some links to check out before the NLCS kicks off later this afternoon..
- Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel points out that the somewhat low payrolls of the remaining playoff teams are examples of the importance of drafting, scouting, and player development. The Tigers have the largest payroll (10th), while the Cardinals (11th), Rangers (13th), and Brewers (17th) round out the pack. It's also worth noting that the Diamondbacks rank 25th and the Rays were 29th.
- The progress of center fielder Jon Jay allowed the Cardinals to trade Colby Rasmus at the deadline, GM John Mozeliak told Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, and Octavio Dotel have been key parts of the team's drive to the NLCS.
- Some people think that C.J. Wilson has keen interest as a free agent in New York, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. He adds that the Yankees are probably the early favorite to sign him.
- A Lakeview, Illinois resident is "99.9 percent sure" that he saw Red Sox GM Theo Epstein at a Starbucks in Lincoln Park, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Boston ownership has yet to acknowledge a report that the Cubs have asked for permission to talk to Epstein.
- The Angels continued their front-office purge by not renewing the contract of player development director Abe Flores, a major league source told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Flores spent four seasons as the team's player development director after spending the previous six as the team's manager of baseball operations.
- No matter what kind of career pitcher Pedro Strop has, the trade for left-hander Mike Gonzalez at the August deadline was worth it for the Rangers, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com.
Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus has hired Beverly Hills Sports Council to represent him, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Rasmus, who turns 25 Thursday, had been a TWC Sports client. Current Blue Jays Aaron Hill and Jesse Litsch are also BHSC clients, as our Agency Tracker shows.
Rasmus heads to arbitration for the first time this winter and is under team control through 2014. Based on arbitration rewards for comparable players such as Adam Jones ($3.25MM this year) and B.J. Upton ($3MM in 2010), Rasmus will likely earn $3MM or so in 2012.
A couple items of note as former Red Sock Justin Masterson battles his old team in Boston …
- Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, acquired from the Rockies in a pre-deadline blockbuster, never asked to be traded out of Colorado, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, although he wanted a resolution on the situation, and he didn't mind having the opportunity to waive his 2014 option with the commencement of the trade (via Twitter).
- The Giants activated Mark DeRosa from the 60-day disabled list today, but they haven't announced a corresponding 40-man roster move yet and "are being evasive about it," according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). Baggarly speculates that the Lads could activate Pat Burrell from the 15-day DL and release him.
- The Red Sox were willing to discuss a trade with the Cardinals involving center fielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Colby Rasmus in 2010, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter), but the talks never gained traction. That would have been a heck of a trade. Rasmus, of course, was traded by St. Louis to the Blue Jays prior to last month's trade deadline.
- The Indians were very close to drafting Ellsbury at No. 14 overall in the 2005 draft but instead opted for Trevor Crowe, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter). So close, in fact, that team officials asked Ellsbury, a Native American, his feelings about the team's logo, the so-called Chief Wahoo. … Edes' sources didn't provide him with Ellsbury's response, though.
The pace quickened in the Padres' trade talks involving relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams yesterday, tweeted ESPN's Buster Olney. The Rangers and Cardinals are in the mix for Bell, at the least. The latest:
- The Cardinals are in the mix for Bell and the Rangers remain the favorite to acquire him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Bell told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he would be willing to take a discount to re-sign with the Padres after the season (Twitter link). "I said I'd take a discount, and I want to stay here," said Bell. "Everyone knows that."
- Jon Heyman of SI.com says (on Twitter) that baseball people around the league expect Bell to wind up with Texas because they have the need and the prospects to get a deal done.
- Bell told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that a trade is "going to happen" (Twitter link).
- Don't expect the Angels to trade for Bell if the Rangers can't swing a deal for him, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times writes (on Twitter). The Angels may not have enough upper-level prospects to sway the Padres.
- The Rangers are "pushing hard" for Bell, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- The Rangers say any deal for Bell is doubtful today, since the sides aren't close, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Miller reports (on Twitter) that the Padres have not seemed willing to trade Adams.
- The Padres' asking price on Bell is too high for the Rangers currently, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports. The Padres are asking for three players for Bell and the Rangers remain "very interested" despite the Padres' asking price, according to Miller.
- An executive of one team told ESPN's Jayson Stark the Padres are "getting closer" to a major bullpen deal, and talks "could end quickly." The Rangers appear to be the favorite for Bell, though they've been in on Adams and Chad Qualls as well. The Phillies seem to view Adams as a better fit than Bell, and could try to swing a deal that also includes Ryan Ludwick. Though the Padres are talking actively with the Cardinals and Angels as well, they're higher on the Rangers' and Phillies' prospects.
- The Padres and Rangers are engaged in substantive talks on Bell, tweets Rosenthal. Similarly, Jon Heyman says the Rangers are making progress on Bell and Scott Miller says Texas has pushed harder today. Miller says they've had "good talks" but nothing is imminent.
- There's been little substantial dialogue between the Phillies and Padres regarding Bell, tweets MLB.com's Corey Brock.
- Colby Rasmus was a central part of the Cardinals' discussions with the Padres for Bell, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Colby Rasmus is making his Blue Jays debut in Toronto, where he’s batting second and starting in center field tonight. Here’s the latest on a Blue Jays team that could make another move or two before Sunday afternoon…
- Though the Blue Jays have said they're likely done making deals, other teams believe they may still trade Jon Rauch and/or Frank Francisco, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- The Diamondbacks, who had interest in some of the relievers the Blue Jays traded, aren't willing to mortgage the future for middle relief, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor and Marc Rzepczynski were dealt yesterday.
- Rasmus' father, Tony, says Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pushed his son out of town. “Tony needed pitching and wanted to force the GM into making a trade, so he belittled Colby to the fans,” the elder Rasmus told Bob Eilliott of the Toronto Sun.
- One MLB executive told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the only thing he's sure of is that Toronto GM "Alex Anthopoulos is the smartest dude in the game." Rosenthal warns his readers that forming snap judgments about trades is dangerous, but most of his sources like the deal for the Blue Jays.
The latest on the Red Sox, who have the best record in the American League…
- The Red Sox are “still looking at all options,” including outfielders, but their focus may be shifting to pitching, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Lauber hears that the Red Sox didn’t actively pursue Colby Rasmus.
- The Red Sox will consider Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie, Aaron Harang, and Ubaldo Jimenez as they decide whether to add a starting pitcher, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. ESPN's Jayson Stark names Kuroda, Bedard, Harden, and Jimenez as pitchers on their radar. He notes that the Red Sox have "stayed involved from the beginning" on Jimenez.
- The Red Sox wouldn't give up anything really good for Kuroda, opined MLB Network's Peter Gammons on WEEI's Mut & Merloni show.
- Gammons believes the Cubs' Reed Johnson is the most logical fit for an outfielder for Boston.
On the off-chance you missed it, the Blue Jays, Cardinals and White Sox announced a pair of major trades today. The Blue Jays acquired center fielder Colby Rasmus and pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters from the Cardinals for starter Edwin Jackson, relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, outfielder Corey Patterson, and three players to be named later or cash considerations. Before completing the deal with St. Louis, the Blue Jays acquired Jackson and third baseman Mark Teahen from the White Sox for reliever Jason Frasor and prospect Zach Stewart. Here’s reaction to the trades from around MLB. Be warned, Cardinals fans, you might not like what follows…
- The price the Cardinals paid to acquire Jackson and bullpen help was "just too high," according to ESPN.com's Keith Law, who suggests St. Louis' internal emphasis is on manager Tony La Russa, not the players. Law loves what Toronto did and doesn't understand Chicago's move.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN says the Cardinals had better win this year "or they will really regret this one." He calls St. Louis' move the "worst trade of the year" and gives the Blue Jays an 'A.'
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms that the Cardinals turned down the Rays' offer of Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell for Rasmus (Twitter link). Sherman suggests the Cardinals would have been better off accepting Tampa Bay's offer.
- The Giants showed how to go for it today and the Cardinals showed how not to go for it, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes.
- A longtime scout tells ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that Rasmus has a chance to be a star. “I don't understand that deal at all," the scout said (Twitter link).
- Matthew Leach of MLB.com likes what the Cardinals got for 2011, but finds it hard to like the deal for St. Louis because of what it means for 2012-14 (Twitter link).
- Now that Rasmus and Carlos Beltran are off of the market, the list of teams with possible interest in B.J. Upton is taking shape, as Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times explains. The Braves, Indians, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates and Reds are possible destinations for Upton.
- As Matt Eddy of Baseball America explains, Walters should qualify for a fourth option year in 2012 and Rzepczynski "might be the prototype" pupil for Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan.
- Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs explains that it's easiest to see the trade from the Blue Jays' perspective, since they gave up three relievers and a prospect for a player who can help them contend for 2012-14.
- At CloserNews, Dan Mennella wonders if Kyle McClellan could be in line for some saves, now that he's back in the bullpen.
- Tim Dierkes wrote earlier today that “it's hard to see this as anything but a win for the Blue Jays.”
- I agree with Tim and many of the others above- it’s a win for the Blue Jays. Let’s not forget how much has to be in place for this kind of deal to happen: a creative GM who reads the market well, payroll flexibility (for Teahen’s contract), willingness from ownership to take on salary, enough appealing prospects to be able to part with Stewart and enough bullpen depth to send three quality relievers packing on the same day. This trade doesn’t seem simple and in some ways it may actually be more complicated that it appears.
An eight-player deal was struck today, as the Blue Jays announced they've acquired center fielder Colby Rasmus and pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters from the Cardinals for starter Edwin Jackson, relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, outfielder Corey Patterson, and three players to be named later or cash considerations. ESPN's Buster Olney first tweeted the full details.
In Rasmus (pictured), Alex Anthopoulos acquired a good young player who had worn out his welcome with management, much like the Blue Jays GM did with Yunel Escobar last summer. Rasmus, 24, is hitting .246/.332/.420 in 386 plate appearances, a down year compared to 2010. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season, so he's under team control through 2014. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak recently called a Rasmus trade "highly unlikely," but as Strauss notes, the center fielder has "fascinated and frustrated" the Cardinals over the last three years and made repeated trade requests. Mozeliak shopped Rasmus to the Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He adds that prior to public criticism from manager Tony La Russa earlier this month, the Cardinals were in contract extension negotiations with Rasmus.
Miller, 38, has been used sparingly by the Cardinals this year, logging only 15 2/3 innings. Most of them came against left-handed hitters, but Miller hasn't pitched well no matter how you slice it. About $700K remains on his contract. Tallet, 33, has been ineffective as well and currently resides on the DL for an intercostal strain. He spent the previous five seasons with the Jays. About $263K remains on his contract.
Walters, 26, has logged 50 innings in the bigs since 2009. The righty has a 4.27 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and 0.8 HR/9 in 103 1/3 Triple-A innings this year, his fourth stint at the level. Baseball America ranked him 19th among Cardinals prospects prior to the season, praising his plus changeup but projecting a long relief/swingman role.
Jackson, 27, was traded for the fifth and sixth times in his career today. The 27-year-old flourished in nearly 200 innings with the White Sox, and improves a Cardinals rotation that ranks seventh in the NL with a 3.84 ERA. The acquisition gives the Cards the flexibility to move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen, leaving a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jackson, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse. Jackson, a Scott Boras client, figures to test free agency after the season as a Type B. About $2.9MM remains on his contract.
The Cardinals' bullpen gets a lift from Dotel, Rzepczynski, and McClellan. Dotel, 37, has a 3.68 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.53 HR/9, and 28.6% groundball rate on the season; he excels against right-handed batters. Should the Cardinals turn down his $3.5MM club option, Dotel projects as a Type B free agent in the AL at the moment. If the option is declined, about $1.7MM remains on Dotel's contract.
Rzepczynski, 25, switched to full-time relief this year. He has a 2.97 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.46 HR/9, and strong 65.7% groundball rate in 39 1/3 innings this year. He complements Dotel nicely, having dominated lefties and struggled against righties. Rzepczynski is under team control through 2015. Dotel and Rzepczynski do not appear to be a threat to closer Fernando Salas, writes Dan Mennella of CloserNews.
Patterson, 31, is hitting .252/.287/.379 in 341 plate appearances for the Blue Jays this year. He restores a little bit of outfield depth for St. Louis.
Though there are eight players in this deal, it mostly boils down to the Cardinals renting Jackson and Dotel and getting Rzepczynski long-term in exchange for Rasmus' three arbitration years. It's hard to see this as anything but a win for the Blue Jays. Ultimately Rasmus cost the Jays Zach Stewart, Jason Frasor, Dotel, Rzepczynski, and Teahen's contract.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Though a deal was never presented to Beltran, the Indians offered to pick up all of his contract and send a good player to the Mets, reported MLB.com's Peter Gammons yesterday. Rasmus, meanwhile, may be headed elsewhere.
10:44am: Money appears to be the only holdup in a trade that would send Jackson to the Cardinals and Rasmus to the Blue Jays, tweets Rosenthal. An exchange of more than $1MM awaits approval, and of course the Cards will get more than just Jackson for Rasmus.
10:37am: Jackson is now being told a trade is official, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He's shaking hands with staffers, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune from the White Sox clubhouse.
10:30am: The Cardinals continue to talk about Rasmus deals with the Blue Jays and other teams, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, and the outfielder appears to be "very much available."
10:09am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that this deal is close but not complete, because the money exchange requires approval and the Jays are trying to spin Jackson to another team. That team may be the Cardinals, based on tweets from Joe Strauss, Jon Heyman, and Sherman. Sherman believes the Cardinals could also get a reliever and Colby Rasmus may be involved, but nothing is official. The Blue Jays have interest in Rasmus, tweets Morosi.
9:21am: The White Sox are in serious talks for a deal that would send starter Edwin Jackson and third baseman Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays for reliever Jason Frasor and a prospect, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal's colleague Jon Paul Morosi says this deal is close and money could be involved. The rumor was first reported ten hours ago on Twitter by a fellow named Doug Seyller.
The Jays' motivation for renting Jackson for two months and taking on a bad contract in Teahen is unclear. There doesn't appear to be a draft pick angle, as both Jackson and Frasor project as Type Bs. Perhaps Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is considering flipping Jackson to a contender.
The White Sox were known to be seeking bullpen help, and Frasor has a club option for next year. The Sox could also subtract a reliever, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that they're talking to the Cardinals about Matt Thornton. Maybe Kenny Williams' goal in the Jackson trade is to shed the $9.7MM left on the contracts of the two veterans, though we need to see the quality of the prospect involved. Sox pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd are also on the market, according to Rosenthal. The White Sox are currently 4.5 games out in the AL Central with another game against the Tigers tonight.