Daryle Ward Rumors

Minor Moves: Buente, Hendrickson, Ward

As I showed earlier today in my 10 Best Minor League Deals Of The Year post, minor moves sometimes have a major impact.  Today's latest:

Minor Moves: Flores, Stokes, Ward, Carson

Let's keep track of the day's minor moves here…

  • The Yankees will release Triple-A left-hander Randy Flores tomorrow according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Both sides agreed to the move. Flores pitched to a 2.54 ERA in 28 1/3 innings for New York's top minor league affiliate, but he gave up 14 hits in 14 innings against lefties.
  • The Diamondbacks have signed Brian Stokes and assigned him to Triple-A Reno according to the team's Twitter feed. The righty reliever spent last season with the Angels organization, throwing 16 2/3 innings in the majors and 17 2/3 innings in the minors.
  • The D'Backs also signed infielder Daryle Ward according to the club's Twitter feed. The 36-year-old had been playing with the independent Newark Bears, and he hasn't appeared in the big leagues since 2008. He's headed to Double-A Mobile.
  • The Rays have acquired Matt Carson from the Athletics according to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League transactions page. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .285/.338/.538 with 19 homers and 11 stolen bases in exactly 400 plate appearances for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate this season. He's seen time with the A's in each of the last two seasons, posting a .200/.210/.370 batting line with five homers in 105 plate appearances from 2009-2010.
  • The Astros have released right-hander Brad Hennessey according to Zachary Levine of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched to a 7.76 ERA in 26 2/3 innings for Houston's Triple-A affiliate,

Checking In On The Atlantic League

Of the major independent leagues, play begins earliest in the Atlantic League, which often serves as a halfway house for players who eventually return to affiliated baseball. Making that jump has become increasingly common, with 11 former Atlantic Leaguers logging major league time in 2009. Former stars like Ruben Sierra and Juan Gonzalez have played in the Atlantic League and others, like Nelson Figueroa, have used the league to induce organized baseball to give them second chances.

It is hard to find a group more worthy of fan appreciation than those in the Atlantic League. These players earn small salaries and hope that with enough strong play, they can return to one of the 30 major league organizations.

So with the 2010 Atlantic League season more than 20 games old, let's take a look at some of the players there who could make that jump this year:

  • Kennard Jones currently leads the circuit for the Newark Bears with a .403 average, 13 extra-base hits in his first 77 at-bats, and nine walks against ten strikeouts. Jones was a third-round pick of the San Diego Padres back in 2002, and played all three outfield positions in their organization, though he's been primarily in right field with Newark. Just 28, it seems far from impossible to imagine him helping a big league team. Jones' big limitation during his time with the Padres was a lack of power, something he clearly doesn't suffer from in Newark.
  • Daryle Ward is a name familiar to many baseball fans, and he is remaking a name for himself with Newark as well, leading the Atlantic League with six home runs. Ward played with six major league teams, most notably with the Houston Astros, and could be a source of power for a team short at first base or designated hitter. Two notes of caution: Ward is turning 35 next month, and has three walks in his first 78 at-bats, a sign he has become an all-or-nothing hitter.
  • Rene Rivera, who played briefly with the Seattle Mariners and now plays with the Camden Riversharks, is tied with Ward for the league home run lead. Rivera plays catcher, a position where power is scarce, particularly this season, so he may be the best bet to find his way back to the major leagues. What works against Rivera is that he's never hit with anything close to this kind of power- in 259 plate appearances last season with Triple-A Buffalo, Rivera had nine home runs. Still, Rivera was a second round pick of the Mariners back in 2001, and is just 26. Catchers often develop later offensively, so perhaps Rivera has figured it out.
  • Another potential late bloomer is right-hander Ben Fritz, a first round pick of the Athletics back in 2001. The 6'4" hurler has been nothing short of dominant for the Lancaster Barnstormers so far this season, with 23 strikeouts against seven walks in his past three starts. Fritz never put it together for Oakland, but still just 29, perhaps Fritz is ready to shed his first-round bust label once and for all.

Some difference-makers were signed this past winter, and others will be acquired at the trade deadline, but don't discount the possibility that one could come from independent league baseball, either.

Nats Acquire Ward & Hopper From White Sox

The Nationals acquired former major leaguers Daryle Ward and Norris Hopper from the White Sox today, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The players go from Chicago's Triple A team to Washington's.

Ward, 34, played 11 big league seasons, most recently with last year's Cubs. Hopper, 30, spent parts of three seasons with the Reds, but hasn't appeared in the majors this year.

White Sox Sign Daryle Ward

According to Bobbie Dittmeier of MLB.com, the White Sox signed first baseman/outfielder Daryle Ward and assigned him to Triple A Charlotte.  In fact, Ward already homered for the team yesterday.  He had been playing in the Atlantic League after the Reds let him go.

Ward, 34 in June, hit .216./.319/.402 in 119 plate appearances for the Cubs last year.

Reds Release Daryle Ward, Aaron Fultz

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds released veterans Daryle Ward and Aaron Fultz today.

Ward, 33, hit .259/.310/.407 in 29 plate appearances this spring.  The Reds apparently couldn't squeeze him in for a pinch-hitting role.  Fultz, 35, posted a 3.38 ERA in 5.3 innings.

Reds Sign Jacque Jones, Daryle Ward

According to Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, the Reds signed Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward to minor league deals today. 

Jones, 34 in April, hit .147/.239/.207 in 134 plate appearances for the Tigers and Marlins last year.  Jones played winter ball and had laser eye surgery this winter.  Troy Renck says he’ll get $600K and an April out clause.

Ward, 33, hit .216/.319/.402 in 119 plate appearances for the Cubs last year.  He missed time with a herniated disc.

Cubs Rumors: Wood, Schilling

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has a Cubs update for us this morning.

Let’s start with Kerry Wood, who would garner plenty of interest on the open market.  Despite rumors that Wood might look elsewhere for a chance to start, he’s likely to stay with the Cubs as a starter.

The Cubs are on Curt Schilling‘s list, and they’ll be in the mix for him if his price is reasonable.  I take that to mean not much more than $12-13MM.  A cheaper option might be Hiroki Kuroda, though that could take a three-year commitment.  So, perhaps a larger cash outlay. 

The Cubs will probably pass on Alex Rodriguez, though he would’ve been a nice fit at shortstop in my opinion. 

Options: the Cubs exercised Daryle Ward‘s for $1.2MM.  They passed on Steve Trachsel‘s $4.75MM option, which is a relief since there had been rumors of exercising it.  Cliff Floyd is probably gone as well.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Bonds, Nathan, Barrett

Ken Rosenthal has a new rumor column up.  Feels like it’s been a while.

  • Rosenthal thinks it’s a sign of desperation that the Angels would entertain signing Barry Bonds, who doesn’t fit in with their club.  His OBP would fit in anywhere, but he would tie up the DH spot at the expense of Juan Rivera and Vladimir Guerrero.
  • The Cubs are expected to bring Daryle Ward back at $1.2MM (makes sense) and Steve Trachsel at $4.75MM (questionable).  Cubs fans can only hope Trachsel would be considered a tradeable asset, as Rosenthal opines.  Rosenthal also quashes the idea of trading Aramis Ramirez, both because of his full no-trade clause and the team’s impending sale. 
  • David Eckstein is expected to leave the Cardinals, no big surprise.  Rosenthal reiterates recent rumors connecting him to the White Sox, Tigers, and Mets.
  • Rosenthal’s idea for Bill Smith and the Twins: keep Johan Santana this winter, and instead trade the $6MM super-closer Joe Nathan.  Teams would line up for him, and Pat Neshek wouldn’t be a bad replacement.
  • Do you think Michael Barrett could be a free agent bargain?  Rosenthal talked to one exec who feels this way, and it is a good point if he can bounce back to .280/.350/.480 for five million bucks.