Colorado Rockies Rumors

Colorado Rockies trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Flande, Vitters, Barfield, Malm, Perez

Let’s round up the day’s minor moves:

  • Rockies lefty Yohan Flande has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the club announced. Flande lost his roster spot to make space for the signing of Kyle Kendrick, but could be one of the first men up if a big league rotation spot opens.
  • The Rockies have also added outfielder/first baseman Josh Vitters and right fielder Jeremy Barfield on minor league deals, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Still just 25, Vitters came into the league as the third overall pick in the 2007 draft, but struggled mightily in a brief MLB stint and had a rough go last year at Triple-A as he suddenly experienced a huge increase in his strikeout rates. Barfield, the 26-year-old son of longtime big leaguer Jesse, had always been an outfielder but began working as a left-handed reliever last year in the A’s system. He racked up 10.6 K/9 but allowing nearly seven free passes per nine at High-A while also slashing .261/.387/.394 in 173 Double-A plate appearances.
  • Another player looking to move to the mound is former first baseman Jeff Malm, who signed a minor league pact with the Angels, according to reports from Eddy (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). The left-handed former Rays prospect failed to crack the .700 OPS mark in his last two campaigns and will hope for a new start as a pitcher.
  • Lefty Luis Perez is headed to the Blue Jays on a minor league pact, Eddy tweets. Perez missed all of 2014 with injury, but does have 112 big league innings under his belt from the 2011-13 campaigns, all with Toronto. He owns a 4.50 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over his MLB time.

NL Notes: Toussaint, Castillo, Wood, Minor, Kendrick

Diamondbacks right-hander Touki Toussaint, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has hired Rick Thurman and Nate Heisler of the Beverly Hills Sports Council as his new agents, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). The 18-year-old struggled greatly in his pro debut last year but still ranked as the D-Backs’ No. 5 prospect, per Baseball America and Fangraphs, and No. 98 overall in the game, per MLB.com. Toussaint’s change has been reflected in the MLBTR Agency Database, which contains agent information for more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. Agents, if you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com expects the Cubs to move Welington Castillo and possibly Travis Wood before the team heads to Arizona for Spring Training (Twitter link). The Phillies are one of multiple teams that have shown interest, according to Kaplan. Castillo has been displaced as a starter with the addition of Miguel Montero, and the team has also added David Ross as a backup option as well. Wood figures to battle for the team’s fifth starter spot, as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks are the likely front four in the rotation. The Cubs also have Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront as options for the fifth spot.
  • Mike Minor and the Braves have an arbitration hearing set for Feb. 19, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That’s just one day before pitchers and catchers are slated to report to Spring Training. Minor filed for a $5.6MM salary, while the team countered at $5.1MM, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
  • Kyle Kendrick tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he had interest from multiple teams before signing with the Rockies. Though it’s clearly not a favorable environment for a pitcher, Kendrick praised the Rockies’ offense and defense as reasons to sign with the team.

Rockies Deal Jayson Aquino To Blue Jays For Tyler Ybarra

The Blue Jays and Rockies have agreed to a swap of southpaws. The Rockies will acquire minor league lefty Tyler Ybarra, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. In return, Toronto will add recently-designated hurler Jayson Aquino, his colleague Shi Davidi tweets.

Ybarra, 25, reached the Double-A level last year, tossing 53 innings and compiling a 4.42 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9. The 2008 draftee has put up some impressive earned run totals and strikeout figures in the lower minors, though he also tallied around five free passes per nine.

Meanwhile, Aquino was in need of a new home after losing his place in Colorado. Just 22, Aquino has also made it to the Double-A level and is still being worked out as a starter. Once a top-ten organizational prospect, Aquino has fallen down the charts in recent seasons. In 107 frames at High-A and Double-A last year, he worked to a 5.13 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.



Rockies Designate Yohan Flande

The Rockies have designated lefty Yohan Flande for assignment, the team announced. His roster spot will go to righty Kyle Kendrick, whose signing was also announced.

Flande, 29, threw 59 innings of 5.19 ERA ball last year in his first big league stint, generating a healthy 58.2% groundball rate. He struck out 5.2 and walked 2.4 per nine over ten starts and six relief appearances.

The southpaw has never posted a sub-4.00 ERA over a full season in the upper minors, but ERA estimators all valued his work in the bigs at or below that mark last year. Nevertheless, Flande is probably best characterized as an organizational depth piece at this stage of his career.


Rockies To Sign Kyle Kendrick

Free agent righty Kyle Kendrick has agreed to sign with the Rockies, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal is for one year and $5.5MM, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Kendrick, a client of Relativity Baseball, can earn an additional $500K if he logs 190 innings.

Colorado was said to be eyeing another starter addition, with Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweeting earlier today that Kendrick remained a possibility. Though the Rockies added a rotation candidate recently via trade in David Hale, bringing in Kendrick should insulate the organization from feeling compelled to elevate any of its top prospects outside of its preferred timetable.

Still only 30, Kendrick has been a durable innings-logger over his career, missing only 15 games total on the DL. He has at times split time between the rotation and pen, but racked up 381 frames in 62 starts over 2013-14. Of course, the results have not always been there: he owns a cumulative 4.65 ERA over the past two seasons. More promisingly, Kendrick was good for a 3.61 earned run mark across 2011-12. But ERA estimators have consistently valued him in the low-to-mid 4 earned per nine range.


Rockies To Sign John Axford To Minor League Deal

2:53pm: MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports that if Axford makes the Major League roster, he will earn a $2.6MM base salary (Twitter link). That’s a fairly significant base salary for a minor league deal and likely explains why Axford was willing to take a non-guaranteed contract. I’d imagine that so long as Axford remains healthy, he’s a good bet to make the roster, and that guarantee may be larger than some big league deals he discussed with other clubs.

Additionally, per Harding, Axford can earn $1.5MM worth of incentives, meaning his deal can max out at $4.1MM.

2:22pm: The Rockies are in agreement with right-hander John Axford on a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, per the team’s transactions page. Axford is a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Axford, 32 in April, began the 2014 season closing games for the Indians but quickly ceded the job to standout Cody Allen, who took hold of the ninth-inning reins and never looked back. Things weren’t so rosy for Axford, who issued far too many walks and eventually was traded to the Pirates after an August waiver claim. Axford showed slightly better control in Pittsburgh than in Cleveland, and overall the former Brewers stopper pitched to a 3.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 5.9 BB/9 and a 53.6 percent ground-ball rate.

While the control numbers are clearly troublesome, Axford’s increase in ground-ball rate would play well in Colorado if he can limit his walks, and he’s never had a problem racking up strikeouts. As I noted earlier this morning, Axford sports (or rather, sported) the best velocity of any remaining free agent reliever, so there’s certainly some upside on this deal.

LaTroy Hawkins figures to man the ninth inning in Denver in what will be his final season, but it’s not out of the question to think that Axford could be in the mix to pick up some saves as well. It’s possible, even, that some ninth-inning work was dangled as an incentive to get him to agree to pitch half of his innings in the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field.


NL West Notes: Greinke, Rockies, Padres

You could say that Clint Barmes is something of a hipster.  He signed his one-year, $1.6MM deal with the Padres on December 3rd – just before they became cool.  “Being one of the earlier guys to sign over there, you hear from the GM that they’re going to try to make these trades and sign these guys,” Barmes said, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. “It happens every year. You hear a lot of that. But to have a guy do what he’s done has been pretty impressive. My agent said they were focusing on making some changes and bringing guys in. It’s definitely going to be exciting.”  More from the NL West..

  • Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke says that he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of his contract after the season, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  The 31-year-old would forfeit three years and $71MM if he opts out, but the recent deals landed by Max Scherzer and Jon Lester indicate that he can likely make even more.  Still, the hurler was very complimentary of the organization.  “I do know I have really enjoyed L.A. I don’t think you could get a better organization. The owners are amazing. Our front office is, by reputation, the best – or at least in the top three in the game. Our coaching staff is great too. There’s not really any better options anywhere besides here,” Greinke said.
  • Change is coming for the Rockies, but it’s not necessarily coming right now.  Colorado could look quite different in 2016, as Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post writes.  GM Jeff Bridich didn’t make major moves despite saying that he was “keeping his eyes and ears open” for potential deals involving everybody this winter, but those trades could go down this summer.  Saunders writes that come August, it’s conceivable that the Rockies could be without Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Justin Morneau.
  • It’s been a crazy offseason for the Padres and Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego ranked the biggest moves made by GM A.J. Preller.  The acquisition of Matt Kemp takes the top spot, followed by the trades made for fellow outfielders Wil Myers and Justin Upton, respectively.

Quick Hits: Workman, Ogando, Rockies, Loria

Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is the top prospect in baseball, per MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. The Cubs have two prospects in the top five – Kris Bryant (second) and Addison Russell (fifth). The Dodgers have three in the top 13 – Corey Seager (seventh), Julio Urias (eighth), and Joc Pederson (13th). The Cubs and Twins are the two teams with five prospects in the top 50. Here’s more news from around the league.


Quick Hits: Rockies, Aardsma, Moylan

Despite their recent additions of David Hale and Gus Schlosser, the Rockies are still hunting for established pitching, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. GM Jeff Bridich says will try to add another pitcher who will be part of the 40-man roster. Bridich says he likes Hale and Schlosser’s abilities to get ground balls, and notes that the Rockies will have both head into Spring Training preparing to be starters. “[W]e will sit down in the early part of spring and figure it out,” says Bridich. “The fact that both of these guys have started in the past was an appealing part of who they are, and of their history.” Here are more notes from throughout the game.

  • Agent Jamie Murphy says client David Aardsma will throw for teams next Monday (Feb. 9) in Arizona, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Aardsma hopes to demonstrate increased velocity after making mechanical changes, Murphy adds. The 33-year-old Aardsma had a strong 2014 season for Triple-A Memphis in the Cardinals organization, posting a 1.29 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 35 innings. The former closer last appeared in the Majors with the Mets in 2013.
  • Free agent righty Peter Moylan is “feeling great” and is hoping to return to the Majors by midseason after having Tommy John surgery last March, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring,” says Moylan. “Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging.” The 36-year-old, a former Braves bullpen mainstay, has pitched fewer than 30 innings in the big leagues since 2010, last appearing in the bigs with the Dodgers in 2013.

Rockies Sign Rafael Betancourt, Omar Quintanilla

The Rockies have re-signed former closer Rafael Betancourt and also added shortstop Omar Quintanilla, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. It appears that the pair will head to camp on minor league deals.

Betancourt is entering his age-40 season. He came back from Tommy John surgery in late 2013 to throw 19 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, and he will surely hope for another crack at the bigs this time around. Betancourt has been excellent since joining the Rockies back in 2009, contributing 236 1/3 innings of 3.08 ERA bullpen work with 10.5 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9. He racked up 57 saves in that span.

Quintanilla, 33, will return to the place where he first cracked the show (back in 2005). He has bounced around a bit since, most recently appearing with the Mets. Despite a lifetime .220/.287/.295 slash, Quintanilla has taken 1,162 trips to the plate at the MLB level over parts of nine seasons. As one might expect, Quintanilla has spent the bulk of his time playing at short and second, though he has also logged a few innings at third.