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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.
JUNE 26: Reed has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, the club announced.
Reed, 28, had worked to a 4.91 ERA over 25 2/3 innings. But his underlying rate states look solid, as Reed has posted 8.1 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 to go with a 55.7% groundball rate. And advanced metrics are somewhat more optimistic, crediting him with a 3.71 FIP and xFIP along with a 3.35 SIERA mark.
Taken in the 17th round of the 2011 draft out of USC, Smith has been outstanding thus far in his first action in the upper minors. He currently sports a 1.80 ERA through 35 innings (22 of which came at Triple-A), striking out 8.5 and walking 2.1 per nine.
The latest from ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee threw a bullpen session yesterday and is slated to return around the All-Star break, Stark writes for ESPN.com. Lee’s next step is to throw a simulated game this weekend before heading out on a minor league rehab assignment and returning either just before or just after the All-Star break. Rival teams tell Stark that they expect the Phillies to aggressively shop Lee, and they believe that Philadelphia would eat a significant amount of the remaining $50MM guarantee on Lee’s deal in order to net the right pieces.
- The Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays and Angels are scouting the Phillies this week, Stark tweets. The Phillies are telling other teams around the league that this week could determine their status as buyer or sellers next month.
- Stark also tweets that he asked an unnamed club official if any teams other than the Cubs are aggressively selling at this point and was told him that in addition to Chicago, the Rays are “definitely open for business.” Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, reported yesterday that the Rays would deal David Price “right now” if the right offer came along.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves from around the league right here…
- Cubs backstop Eli Whiteside has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old, who saw only minimal action with the Cubs, was designated for assignment on Sunday.
- The Braves have inked righty Kanekoa Texeira to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. The 28-year-old, who last threw in the bigs in 2011 with the Royals, threw effectively over each of the last two seasons at Triple-A with the Reds. He had been pitching for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish in 2014 before joining Atlanta.
- Righty Kevin Slowey has been released by the Marlins, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter). Slowey owned a 5.30 ERA through 37 1/3 innings this year, most of which came in relief. He had been a starter for much of his prior time as a big leaguer, and owns a 4.62 ERA over 662 career MLB frames.
- The Yankees have released reliever Heath Bell, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). Bell, who recently signed a minor league deal, had a 7.50 ERA in five appearances at Triple-A Scranton. In 17 1/3 frames at the major league level with the Rays this year, Bell threw to a 7.27 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
- The Tigers have acquired southpaw Daniel Schlereth from the Pirates, reports John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. James Schmel of MLive.com tweets that the Pirates will receive cash considerations. This will be Schlereth’s second stint with the Tigers, as he spent the 2010-12 seasons in Detroit’s bullpen after coming over in the three-team Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson blockbuster. Schlereth’s long-standing control problems have been very apparent this season at Triple-A; he’s walked 18 batters and surrendered 18 hits in 18 2/3 innings en route to a 7.23 ERA. On the plus side, he’s also fanned 18 hitters in that time.
Though they’ve lost Matt Wieters for the season to Tommy John surgery, the Orioles aren’t actively shopping for upgrades at the catcher position, executive VP Dan Duquette told reporters (including Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com). “It’s always a challenge to change catchers during the season because the catcher is involved in so many factors of the game,” said Duquette. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the O’s eventually poke around in the catcher market, though, as Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley haven’t shown much value at the plate. Joseph, at least, has been outstanding on defense. He ranks as one of the best pitch-framers in the game (via Baseball Prospectus and Matthew Carruth’s StatCorner), and his 47 percent success rate in catching base stealers leads the league.
Here are a few more items from the O’s and the rest of the American League …
- Randy Wolf spent more than a year away from the Orioles organization between the end of the 2012 season and the minor league deal he signed to return on Sunday, but he seems to have helped the Orioles even when he wasn’t with the club. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Duquette credits Wolf for Ryan Webb signing with the team this offseason, as Wolf gave a ringing endorsement of the organization to Webb when he was a free agent. Webb’s strong command and elite ground-ball rate have led to 32 2/3 innings of 2.48 ERA ball out of the Baltimore ‘pen — a bargain considering the two-year, $4.5MM deal he signed with the O’s.
- The Mariners‘ trade deadline plans could be dictated in part by how top prospect Taijuan Walker throws over his next several outings, notes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Though Seattle is not necessarily intent on dealing him, a return to health and top form would provide options, says Morosi. Presumably, Walker could also be looked to for a boost to the club’s own rotation.
- It is no accident that J.D. Martinez has had his sudden breakout with the Tigers, according to a report from George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit assistant GM Al Avila, who has had his eye on Martinez for quite some time, says that he “always felt [Martinez] was a good hitter” and saw him going through highs and lows much like many other young players. Of course, Avila acknowledges that he has still been surprised by Martinez’s stunning .310/.344/.593 line and seven home runs through 122 plate appearances since signing a minor league pact with the Tigers late in the spring.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Padres are set to promote Odrisamer Despaigne, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. They’ll need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to make space for him. Despaigne, a Cuban pitcher who the Padres signed to a minor league deal in May, had two good starts for Double-A San Antonio before posting a 7.61 ERA in five starts for Triple-A El Paso. He did, however, post 11.0 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 23 2/3 innings there. Despaigne will start in place of Andrew Cashner on Monday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman suggests (via Twitter). (The Padres are merely being “conservative” in scratching Cashner, Heyman says, although he does not give an exact reason why Cashner won’t be starting.)
- The Orioles have signed Randy Wolf to a minor league contract and he will pitch three innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. The deal is pending a physical, tweets MASNsports.com Roch Kubatko.
- Right-hander Josh Stinson has accepted his outright assignment by the Orioles to Triple-A Norfolk, tweets Kubatko and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli.
- The Orioles have outrighted right-hander Edgmer Escalona to Triple-A, tweets Hall. In a separate tweet, Hall reports Escalona is still processing the move and will consult his agent as to whether to accept the outright or declare free agency. The 27-year-old has appeared in six games (three starts) for Norfolk this year posting a 6.10 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 20 2/3 innings.
- The Cubs added left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to their 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa, the club announced. Wada has been pitching for Iowa all season but, as Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets, the Japanese southpaw had an opt-out clause in his contract, so putting Wada on the 40-man allows the Cubs to keep him. Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, Wada has an impressive 2.81 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate in 14 Triple-A starts in 2014.
- The Phillies released outfielder Tyson Gillies, the team announced. A career .284/.364/.411 hitter over 2060 minor league PA, Gillies struggled at the Triple-A level over the last two seasons. Gillies joined the Phillies from the Mariners organization in December 2009 as part of the trade package (along with J.C. Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont) that Philadelphia acquired from Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.
- The Tigers shifted right-hander Luke Putkonen from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL in order to create a 40-man roster spot for the newly-recalled Pat McCoy, the team announced. In another corresponding move, Ian Krol was put on the 15-day DL to make room for McCoy on the 25-man roster. Putkonen only pitched 2 2/3 innings for Detroit and five total minor league innings this season due to elbow problems, and he is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks after recently undergoing surgery.
- Per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker, there are six players in DFA limbo: Kevin Slowey (Marlins), Josh Outman (Indians), Evan Reed (Tigers), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jake Dunning (Giants), and Roger Bernadina (Reds).
Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Here’s a look at today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The Braves have purchased the contract of Carlos Fisher from the Somerset Patriots and assigned him to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Fisher, 31, previously spent parts of three seasons with the Reds, most recently in 2011. He posted a 4.74 ERA, 7.84 K/9, and 5.02 BB/9 in 98 2/3 innings.
- The Angels have signed Caleb Clay from the Korean Baseball Organization’s Hanwha Eagles and assigned him to Triple-A, according to Cotillo (via Twitter). Clay was selected 44th overall by the Red Sox during the 2006 amateur draft. He’s since pitched for the Sox and Nationals organizations but never reached the majors. The 26-year-old right-hander struggled in his first season overseas, with a 8.33 ERA, 4.50 K/9, and 5.63 BB/9.
- Once again from Cotillo (on Twitter), the Diamondbacks have signed 27-year-old Argenis Diaz to a minor league deal. Diaz was with the Reds until recently. Interestingly, Arizona’s Triple-A affiliate has only used Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed at shortstop to date in 2014. Diaz will presumably provide depth up the middle.
- The Tigers will promote lefty Pat McCoy, Mark Anderson of TigsTown.com tweets. McCoy will have to be added to their 40-man roster. McCoy, 25, has posted a 2.94 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 33 2/3 innings this season divided between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers signed McCoy, a product of the Nationals system, to a minor league deal last fall.
- The Giants will promote prospect Joe Panik, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Panik, the team’s first-round pick in 2011, will need to be added to the Giants’ 40-man roster. The second baseman was hitting .321/.382/.447 in 326 plate appearances for Triple-A Fresno.
- The Orioles have announced that pitcher Josh Stinson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles designated Stinson for assignment on Tuesday. He has pitched 13 innings for the Orioles this season, allowing nine runs while striking out six and walking six.
- The Rockies have purchased the contract of pitcher Wilton Lopez, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding tweets. They’ve made space for Lopez by optioning pitching Chris Martin to Triple-A Colorado Springs and moving Michael Cuddyer to the 60-day DL. The Rockies outrighted Lopez last week.
- The Yankees have released 1B/OF Russ Canzler, Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune tweets. Canzler last appeared in the big leagues with the Indians in 2012. He hit .263/.332/.389 in 199 plate appearances for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2014.
- The Royals have added selected the contract of OF Justin Maxwell, Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City tweets. Maxwell will take Norichika Aoki’s place on the active roster as Aoki heads to the disabled list with a groin injury. The Royals outrighted Maxwell in May, and he’s hit .316/.358/.541 in 106 plate appearances since then.
- The Astros will add Jake Buchanan to their 40-man roster to start Saturday, and Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes (via Twitter) that fellow pitcher Jose Cisnero will head to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Buchanan on the 40-man roster. Buchanan, 24, has posted 5.2 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City this season.
In the video atop his latest Notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal states that he feels this will finally be the year that the Rays deal David Price, as they can receive max value for him by dealing their ace to a team that can use him for two playoff pushes. He also adds that he expects the Rays to move Ben Zobrist, even though his price tag is affordable, simply because the demand for Zobrist will be so high.
Here are some more highlights from his column…
- Hanley Ramirez‘s poor glove is perhaps the main reason that he and the Dodgers have yet to agree to an extension, Rosenthal writes. He wonders how much that flaw will impact Ramirez’s value on the open market at a time when teams are placing a higher premium than ever before on defense. He adds that if Ramirez does stay in L.A. and shift to third base in the long-term on his next contract, the team may have to trade Juan Uribe and his $6.5MM 2015 salary.
- Looking at other Dodgers issues, Rosenthal writes that many executives around the league expect that it will ultimately be Matt Kemp who is traded to clear the team’s outfield logjam, though it likely won’t happen until the offseason. He adds that the Dodgers are likely to be in the market for a starting pitcher after the news that Chad Billingsley is out for the season, as Josh Beckett and Dan Haren are tough to rely on down the stretch.
- Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez completely revamped his swing mechanics this offseason before he was released by the Astros in Spring Training. He signed a minor league deal with Detroit two days later and found himself teammates with the man whose mechanics he spent the entire offseason studying — Miguel Cabrera. Martinez tells Rosenthal he watched video of Cabrera and Ryan Braun all winter and “re-invented” himself at the plate. It may not be sustainable, but the early results are positive; Martinez is hitting .300/.333/.570 with six homers in 108 PA with Detroit.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and while things figure to get exciting over the next month and change, not everyone is drooling over what might be available. “To be honest, I don’t see much out there,” an official of one contender told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. “Who’s even selling? And what are they selling? I know there will be guys to trade for. But where’s the quality?” The whole column is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights from Stark’s latest..
- The Rays front office believed that they had the talent to win it all this year and that optimism could play into how they approach the deadline. The Rays aren’t selling and Stark writes that if they believe what they have can power them to a championship next season, they might stand pat and keep the band together. Teams that have spoken with Tampa Bay see a fire sale as unlikely.
- The Rays might listen on Ben Zobrist, but one exec who has spoken with the club gets the sense that it would be “really, really difficult” for them to part with him. The exception to all of this, of course, is David Price.
- The Phillies are expected to be open for business between now and the deadline, but they might not like the offers that come in. “Look at their trade chips,” said an NL executive. “Even if they blow it up, dangle [Cole] Hamels and dangle all these other guys, each one of those guys has some reason it will be hard for them to get back what they want.“
- Meanwhile, one exec flatly said a Chase Utley trade is “not happening.” The sticker price might not be met on Phillies like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins, but teams see Domonic Brown as someone whom the Phillies would like to swap for a different young change-of-scenery candidate.
- Teams that have spoken with the Cubs expect them to move pitcher Jason Hammel in the next two weeks. That could just be the warm up for Jeff Samardzija, but they continue to tell teams that they’d like to hammer out a new contract with him. This week we learned that the Cubs ace rejected a five-year, $85MM+ offer.
- While some teams are beating around the bush, the Padres are aggressively letting teams know that they want to sell. All of their outfielders, except Cameron Maybin, are available, and that includes Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable.
- Several teams report the Dodgers are telling them they’ll listen right now on every one of their outfielders except Yasiel Puig.
- The Yankees have been asking almost exclusively about starting pitching in their preliminary conversations.
- Teams that have talked with the Tigers say they’re focused on bullpen upgrades, not shortstop.
- The Angels are in the bullpen market, but they’re looking hard at left-handed-relief options, not closers.
- Things are murky around the D’Backs since no one really knows who is in charge their or what their goals are.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the Royals can add payroll, but clubs believe that he won’t get to go-ahead to spend until mid-July. When and if KC starts buying, they are expected to target right fielders and bullpen arms since that is what they’ve been asking about in conversations.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Ben Zobrist | Chase Utley | Chicago Cubs | Chris Denorfia | Detroit Tigers | Domonic Brown | Jason Hammel | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Mets | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seth Smith | Tampa Bay Rays | Will Venable
Justin Verlander‘s recent struggles are “a giant concern” for the Tigers, writes James Schmel of MLive.com, because Verlander himself admits that he isn’t sure how to fix them. Verlander told reporters that he doesn’t feel he’s at the point in his career where he needs to reinvent himself on the mound, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t have the same velocity he used to have and said he didn’t blame the fans for booing him last night as he left the game. Verlander yielded seven runs on 12 hits last night and has posted a 7.83 ERA with a woeful 26-to-20 K/BB ratio over his last 43 2/3 innings (seven starts). He is averaging a career-worst (though still solid) 92.6 mph on his fastball.
Here’s more on the Tigers and the baseball’s Central divisions…
- Jon Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the Tigers aren’t planning on making a move to upgrade at shortstop, as they like what they’ve seen from rookie Eugenio Suarez since his promotion to the Majors (Twitter link). It’s tough not to like what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old Suarez, who is hitting .346/.452/.808 with three homers through his first 10 games. Clearly, he’s due for some regression, but the optimism is understandable.
- An AL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago that he’s spoken to the Cubs about both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he hasn’t gotten any indication from Chicago that any of their other starters are available (Twitter link). That contrasts recent reports that the team would be willing to listen to offers on Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta. Given Jackson’s remaining salary, it seems hard to believe that Chicago wouldn’t be open to moving him.
- The Pirates weren’t looking to trade right-hander Bryan Morris before trading him to the Marlins, GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, Miami expressed interest in the deal after being attracted to an increase in Morris’ velocity and the addition of a two-seam/sinking fastball to his repertoire, and the two sides were able to strike a deal. Pittsburgh received Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 39 overall), used to draft (and sign) Connor Joe, while Miami has been rewarded to this point with 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Morris, who has shown greatly improved command.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins offered some candid comments regarding catcher Josmil Pinto on 1500 ESPN Radio with Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). While he was highly complimentary of Pinto’s offensive skills, the left-hander was blunt in his description of Pinto’s defense: “He’s a long, long ways away, to be honest with you. …his pitch framing, he’s got some work to do.” Perkins flatly he said Pinto is “surely not at the big-league level as far as catching for me.” Perkins went on to preach the importance of framing and praise veterans Jonathan Lucroy and Jose Molina for their prowess at the skill. Minnesota recently sent Pinto to the minors to get more consistent at-bats and consistent time behind the plate. He’s spent much of the season DHing while Kurt Suzuki, whose offensive contributions have been somewhat surprising, has done the bulk of the catching.
- After leaving the Reds organization to take a “mental break,” the representative of reliever Carlos Marmol says that the righty may not look to return this season, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Agent Paul Kinzer told Heyman that Marmol decided to return to the Dominican Republic to deal with unspecified personal issues, and has had no physical problems.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.