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- Dodgers Designate Brandon League For Assignment
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Darwin Barney Rumors
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…
- The Mets are calling up right-hander Akeel Morris from Single-A St. Lucie, the club announced, and the 22-year-old will be activated before tomorrow’s game against the Blue Jays. Morris was a 10th-round draft pick in 2010 and has never pitched above the high-A level — his only high-A experience comes in 31 relief innings for St. Lucie this season. That said, Morris has been a dominant bullpen arm, posting a 1.74 ERA, 12.8 K/9 and 3.14 K/BB rate this year and recording 12 saves. The 2015 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Morris as the 19th-best prospect in the Mets’ system before the season, noting his plus changeup and a 92-94mph fastball.
- The Dodgers have outrighted infielder Darwin Barney to Triple-A, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page. Barney was designated for assignment on Friday to create 40-man roster space for the newly-acquired Ronald Torreyes. Barney has only appeared in two big league games in 2015, and he has struggled to a .214/.273/.259 slash line over 121 Triple-A plate appearances.
- Also from the MLB.com transactions listing, the Rays outrighted catcher Bobby Wilson to Triple-A Durham. Wilson has a .349 OPS over 59 PA with the Rays this season and was designated for assignment on Thursday.
- Now that Barney and Wilson have been outrighted, that leaves six players in “limbo,” as per the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker. Trevor Cahill (Braves), Matt Dominguez (Astros), Erik Kratz (Royals), J.C. Ramirez (Diamondbacks), Tim Stauffer (Twins), and Rickie Weeks (Mariners) are all awaiting their next assignment.
The Dodgers have acquired infielder Ronald Torreyes from the Blue Jays for cash considerations, the teams have announced. To clear space on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers have designated Darwin Barney for assignment and optioned Torreyes to Double-A Tulsa.
The Blue Jays acquired Torreyes from the Astros last month. The 22-year-old has hit a disappointing .175/.208/.200 in the high minors this season, but he held his own at Triple-A Oklahoma City (then an Astros affiliate) as a 21-year-old last season, batting .298/.345/.376. He can also play a variety of infield and outfield positions, which might make him a useful bench player someday.
The 29-year-old Barney spent several seasons as a starting shortstop and second baseman for the Cubs, but Chicago traded him to the Dodgers in the middle of Barney’s disappointing 2014 season. He then wound up in the minors, and this year, he’s hit poorly for Triple-A Oklahoma City, with a .214/.273/.259 line in 121 plate appearances.
The Dodgers have reached agreement on a one-year deal with utility infielder Darwin Barney to avoid arbitration, the team announced. Los Angeles also tendered contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, per the release.
Barney will receive a $2.525MM salary next year, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The 29-year-old had only minimal time with the Dodgers last year but apparently made quite an impression. He will pair with Justin Turner to contribute a lot of versatility to the bench, although both swing from the right side and neither really looks to be the everyday answer at short.
WEDNESDAY: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter) that the Dodgers will send right-handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez to the Cubs as the PTBNL. The 20-year-old was enjoying a strong season at Class A in the Midwest League, having pitched to a 3.47 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 106 innings. He did not rank among the Dodgers’ top 30 prospects, per Baseball America.
MONDAY, 5:43pm: MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that the Dodgers will pay $500K of what is owed to Barney this season (Twitter link).
2:32pm: The Dodgers have bolstered their infield depth and their defense with the acquisition of Darwin Barney from the Cubs, both teams announced. Chicago will send Barney and cash considerations to Los Angeles in return for a player to be named later, according to releases from each team. It was reported earlier today that Barney, who was designated for assignment last week, was garnering trade interest.
The 28-year-old Barney hit just .230/.265/.328 in 217 plate appearances with the Cubs this season, but his bat has never been his calling card. Barney consistently rates as one of the best defensive second baseman in the Major Leagues, and this year was no different. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games was +15.5, while Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at +7 runs in limited time. Per DRS, Barney has saved 46 runs over the past three seasons.
Dee Gordon has established himself as Los Angeles’ everyday second baseman this season, so it doesn’t seem likely that Barney will be seeing everyday at-bats with the Dodgers. However, his glove makes him a nice bench piece that the team can use to improve its defense late in games. Barney was drafted as a shortstop and spent more time at short than at the keystone in his minor league career. Despite a lack of experience at the position in recent years, Barney could be used as a replacement if the team wants to either replace the defensively challenged Hanley Ramirez or shift him over to third base late in games.
Barney is earning just $2.3MM this season and is controllable through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. His bat makes him a non-tender candidate in the offseason, but he will only cost the Dodgers about $804K from here through season’s end.
Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune first reported that the two sides were nearing a trade (on Twitter), and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweeted that it was a deal. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs would receive a PTBNL in return (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Expecting fireworks at the deadline from the Rays? History would dictate that it won’t happen, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. If anything, Topkin writes, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman has been known for holding on to big-name players like Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and James Shields. More from the AL and NL East..
- There’s “absolutely nothing” brewing on trade talks for Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon at the moment, a source tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays were interested in Darwin Barney before he was shipped to the Dodgers and have kicked the tires on the White Sox’s Gordon Beckham for the last month, tweets Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM. However, Beckham’s recent slump has hurt progress in those talks. Toronto was linked to Beckham last October.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said the main reason why he traded for Danny Valencia was his “success versus left-handers and what he can do in the box,” tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Valencia boasts a career .879 OPS against lefties.
The Dodgers and Cubs are nearing a trade that will send Darwin Barney to Los Angeles, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Barney was designated for assignment last week, though he was been said to be garnering trade interest earlier this afternoon.
The Cubs scored a league-best eight players within MLB.com’s midseason list of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and also topped the league in terms of the “prospect points” ranking system. Kris Bryant (fourth), Javier Baez (sixth) and Addison Russell (seventh) were the highest-rated young Cubs on the list.
Here’s some more news out of Wrigleyville…
- Rumors linking the Cubs to David Price don’t make much sense, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines (Twitter links). While the Cubs have the prospect depth the Rays are looking for in a Price deal, Olney wonders why Chicago would give away top minor league talent when they could just sign a top free agent arm like Jon Lester this winter if they wanted to add an ace.
- Olney figures the Cubs would only make a move for him if the Rays’ asking price severely dropped and if Chicago was allowed to negotiate an extension before making the trade, as the Cubs aren’t going to be contenders before Price’s contract expires at the end of the 2015 season.
- “We called Theo [Epstein] and asked about Jake Arrieta and we were told they will NOT move him. Period,” an NL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). There were rumors last month that the Cubs were gauging the market for Arrieta, yet it’s no surprise he could be untouchable given his excellent performance this year. The right-hander has a 2.18 ERA and 9.8 K/9 over 91 innings and is controlled through the 2017 season.
- The Cubs have received trade interest in second baseman Darwin Barney and expect to move him before Thursday’s DFA deadline, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Barney was designated for assignment by Chicago on July 22.
- Neither the Cubs or the Diamondbacks will trade from their surplus of young infielders this summer, as both teams prefer to use that depth to look for pitching in the offseason, Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone reports.
Though regarded as a plus (and, at times, elite) defender, Barney has struggled to deliver value from the offensive side. After averaging a barely serviceable .265/.306/.354 slash over 2011-12, Barney has slipped to a combined .214/.266/.311 line since the start of 2013. He has also contributed on the basepaths, but certainly was not doing enough to merit a starting role; indeed, he has graded out as barely above replacement level over the past two seasons.
The move’s immediate purpose is to clear roster space for the activation of Emilio Bonifacio. In the grand scheme of things, however, it represents yet another step towards the infusion of the Cubs’ top prospects into the MLB roster. Since being promoted when Barney went on paternity leave, Arismendy Alcantara has taken the lion’s share of time at second (though he’s playing center field tonight), with fellow top youngster Javier Baez reportedly also moving to that spot at Triple-A in recent days.
The Cubs begin a series at Fenway Park tonight, getting back in action following a rare Sunday off-day. The club played a doubleheader on Saturday in order to keep Sunday free for Chicago’s Pride Parade, which could’ve created a traffic jam in the Wrigleyville area had the Cubs been playing as originally scheduled. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat takes a look at the history of Sunday baseball, and passes along the historical note that the Cubs were off on a Sunday for the first time since 1932.
Here’s the latest from the north side of Chicago…
- Theo Epstein denied rumors that he will leave the Cubs after his contract expires following the 2016 season, he tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. While some speculate that Epstein has been upset at the lack of Major League resources he’s been given by the Cubs, he “insists he will be here as long as the Cubs want him,” Sullivan writes.
- Two scouts aren’t impressed by Darwin Barney‘s bat, telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that while Barney is a good fielder, “if he can’t hit in the National League, what makes anyone think he can hit in the American League?” Barney has only slashed .198/.243/.284 in 174 PA this season and could be non-tendered if he can’t improve at the plate. Gonzales feels Barney’s time with the Cubs is probably nearing an end, though it could come via a trade if he can hit enough to get a look from another team.
- Also from Gonzales’ reader mailbag piece, he expects the Cubs “to wait as long as possible” for the best offer before trading Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel. He thinks Samardzija might even not be moved until the offseason if necessary, though this would lessen this trade value as a new team would only have him under contract for the 2015 season.
- The Cubs haven’t gotten much production out of their veteran outfielders, and Gonzales expects maybe one (at most) of Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, Chris Coghlan or Ryan Kalish to be back next season and Chicago will look for more veteran upgrades. Since Sweeney is owed $2MM for 2015 and the others are all on one-year or minor league contracts, I’d suspect Sweeney is the favorite to return, though $2MM isn’t so large an amount that the Cubs couldn’t eat it if necessary.
Cubs executive Jason McLeod, who’s also a candidate for the Padres’ open GM job, discusses drafting and player development in a wide-ranging interview with Fangraphs’ David Laurila that also addresses McLeod’s past in the Red Sox organization. McLeod says that one of the biggest challenges in drafting is weighing riskier high-school players against college players who are closer to being finished products. “It was ‘I can’t pass on this toolsy high school upside guy? The risk is big – it’s huge – but how can I pass? If I do, people will say I was too conservative, that I was too scared to make that pick because of the potential downside,‘” McLeod says, saying that he’s still haunted by the Red Sox’ decision to pass on high-schooler Chase Headley in the 2005 draft. Here are more notes out of Chicago.
- The Cubs are open to keeping players like Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel if they have a dramatic (and unlikely) season turnaround, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald writes. “I said the other day, if we want to win 15 in a row, we’d definitely be open to it,” says Theo Epstein. “Sometimes it’s more important why you’re playing well than if you’re playing well.”
- With Samardzija and Hammel likely to be dealt in the near future, the Cubs will likely continue to depend on lefty Travis Wood, Brian Sandalow of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Wood, who now has a 4.52 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings in 2013, suddenly looks like a part of the Cubs’ future, despite arriving in a relatively minor deal in 2011.
- Infielder Darwin Barney hasn’t hit much lately, so his future is murky, but ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers writes that Barney wants to stay in Chicago. “We all hope that our future is here,” says Barney. “We want to be here when things turn around. I think we can see that things slowly are.” Barney has hit .205/.256/.295 in 168 plate appearances this season.