Dioner Navarro Rumors

AL Central Notes: Montas, Twins, Tigers, Almonte

The White Sox will promote highly touted right-hander Frankie Montas as the 26th man in Friday’s double-header, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan first reported (via Twitter). Acquired along with Avisail Garcia in the three-team trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston and Jose Iglesias to Detroit two years ago, Montas’ stock has soared over the past 24 months. MLB.com ranked him as the game’s No. 91 prospect heading into the season, and the hard-throwing Dominican hurler hasn’t disappointed at the Double-A level. He’s posted a 2.47 ERA in 15 starts at the level at the age of 22, averaging 7.6 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. That performance comes on the heels of a 1.44 ERA across three levels in 2014. Montas tossed a seven-inning no-hitter earlier this season and appeared in the Futures Game in Cincinnati during this year’s All-Star festivities. Though his promotion looks to be brief, he’ll give ChiSox fans a glimpse of what the team hopes is a long-term contributor.

More from the AL Central…

  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press runs down the Twins‘ three biggest problems as the trade deadline approaches and looks at some possible solutions for the club. Setup relief, catching and shortstop have been the club’s most glaring weaknesses in 2015, writes Berardino. In looking at catchers, he notes that the Twins made contract offers to both A.J. Pierzynski and Dioner Navarro before signing Kurt Suzuki in the 2013-14 offseason, so either backstop could again become a consideration. Both the Braves and Blue Jays figure to be open to dealing their veteran catcher.
  • Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN also examines the Twins‘ needs and speculates that rolling the dice on a Jimmy Rollins acquisition could be worthwhile for Minnesota. Neither Danny Santana nor Eduardo Escobar has played well enough to hold a firm grasp on the club’s starting shortstop role, and the Dodgers may want to clear the way for Corey Seager to jump to the Majors at short. Mackey, of course, notes that Rollins hasn’t played well in 2015. He’s hitting only .213/.266/.338 on the season and is expensive — owed about $4.48MM through year’s end. But, that price tag and those struggles mean he won’t cost much in a trade. Rollins’ track record as a productive player and 2015 BABIP woes make him an intriguing low-risk gamble that could rebound in the second half, Mackey concludes.
  • The next 10 days or so are critical to the Tigers‘ direction at the trade deadline, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Beck writes that the Tigers realize the division crown is a long shot at this point, so the question for Detroit becomes whether or not they feel pursuing a Wild Card berth “as more than a crapshoot.” Contending clubs continue to ask the Tigers what their plan is going to be, Beck writes, but Detroit’s minor league clubs are also still being scouted by potential sellers like the Reds and Padres in the event that they move to add big league help. Even if the Tigers decide to buy at the deadline, payroll will be a factor, according to Beck. He also reminds that while David Price can net a compensatory draft pick this offseason if he signs elsewhere, Yoenis Cespedes cannot, due to a contractual stipulation.
  • The Royals have promoted right-hander Miguel Almonte from Double-A to Triple-A and hope that the top prospect can emerge as a bullpen option in September, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The 22-year-old Almonte entered the season ranked 84th among prospects by MLB.com and 56th by Baseball Prospectus. His production in the Double-A rotation was a bit underwhelming, as he worked to a 4.03 ERA with 7.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. McCullough notes that part of the reason for Almonte’s declined strikeout rate (he averaged 8.7 K/9 from 2013-14) is that he’s been tasked with focusing on improved fastball command and is thus using his above-average changeup less. A lot will change between now and September, but Almonte’s not on the 40-man roster, so the team would need to make a corresponding roster move if he proves worthy of another promotion.

AL East Notes: Odorizzi, Navarro, Bradley, O’s

Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi will visit a doctor on Monday to determine the severity of the oblique injury that forced an early departure from Friday’s start.  Though the extent of the injury is yet to be determined, manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin) that it’s “fair to say” that Odorizzi will miss some time.  Needless to say, the last thing the Rays need is another starter on the DL given how their staff has already been ravaged by injuries this season.  Odorizzi was enjoying an excellent season, owning a 2.47 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 4.2 K/BB rate through 76 2/3 innings as he and Chris Archer have been carrying the beleaguered Tampa rotation.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Dioner Navarro has returned from the DL and has resumed being one of the Blue Jays‘ primary trade chips, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes.  Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos candidly discussed Navarro’s trade candidacy in a recent chat with reporters, saying that catcher was “an area of depth” for Toronto.  “He could be an everyday guy for somebody. We like him on the team. He’s valuable,” Anthopoulos said.  “We’re glad he’s on this team, but if there’s that opportunity we improve the club and it gets him an everyday playing spot, we would do that and I’ve said that to him as well. He understands that.”  In short, Anthopoulos’ stance on Navarro hasn’t changed from what he was saying about the catcher’s trade status during the offseason.  He noted that he had spoken to Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart about Navarro within the last few weeks.
  • In addition to the Blue Jays‘ known need for relief help, Anthopoulos noted that the Blue Jays were also looking for outfield depth.  Dalton Pompey‘s demotion has led to backup Kevin Pillar playing almost every day, and injuries to Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista led to variety of infielders (including Chris Colabello and Danny Valencia) filling the corner outfield slots with mediocre defensive results.  Griffin figures that Navarro may be dangled as trade bait for an outfielder since the Jays’ remaining payroll space may be targeted for bullpen upgrades.
  • The Red Sox aren’t looking to trade Jackie Bradley, Fangraphs’ David Laurila reports, nor is Bradley “in the proverbial doghouse” with team management.  The Sox, however, have been using other outfield options and have no plans to promote Bradley from Triple-A despite his strong play, leading Laurila to wonder if his source was correct.
  • Since the Orioles‘ roster may be depleted by free agent departures this winter, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski wonders if the team could draft college players to provide immediate help for 2016.  This theory is countered, however, by an interview with MLB.com’s Jim Callis, who feels that it’s generally safer to just take the best player available, regardless of whether he’s a high schooler or a college kid.
  • MLBTR’s Zach Links covered a couple of Yankees and Red Sox items in an East Notes post earlier today.

AL Notes: Navarro, Doolittle, DeShields

Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro is starting a rehab assignment at Triple-A Buffalo, John Lott of the National Post reports on Twitter. The club will have some roster decisions to make when he’s ready to return, particularly with Jose Bautista still limited to DH duties. Navarro has long seemed like a trade candidate, of course, and he could be the most appealing available receiver now that Welington Castillo has changed hands.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • Today, the Athletics finally welcome back closer Sean Doolittle after a prolonged DL stint to open the year, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Doolittle says he is not concerned that he was only just able to crack 90 mph with his fastball, saying that he still believes that hitters are having trouble picking up the pitch. Of course, his velocity has been trending upward and he will have a long leash as he looks to regain his outstanding form from a year ago. Doolittle, whose return will be most welcome for a struggling A’s pen, is playing in the second year of the $10.5MM extension he inked early in the 2014 season.
  • Josh Hamilton‘s return to the Rangers will not move Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields Jr. out of the regular playing time rotation, manager Jeff Banister tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram“This is the first real challenge in the middle of a positive performance,” said Banister. “I’ve thought about that. We’re going to continue to have Delino engaged, as long as he’s playing well, in as many games was we can.” The 22-year-old has hit an impressive .278/.394/.392 over his first 94 big league plate appearances, adding 11 steals in the process. Banister rejected the idea of moving DeShields to second, at least at this point, indicating that the’ll likely share time in center with Leonys Martin while also spelling Hamilton and Shin-soo Choo in the corners. Regardless of when and how he plays, it seems that Texas has every intention of keeping DeShields on the active roster to secure his rights from the Astros for the future.


Injury Notes: Pence, Tanaka, Blue Jays, Fister, Ryu

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.

Here are some more injury notes from around the game:

  • Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
  • The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
  • The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
  • Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.

AL East Notes: Navarro, A-Rod, Hanley

Though Bernie Williams hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2006, the longtime Yankees outfielder won’t officially hang up his glove until Friday, when he’ll sign his retirement papers prior to the Mets/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium.  Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes that Williams is also scheduled to have his #51 retired by the Yankees later this season and be honored with a plaque in Monument Park.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, the team announced.  Navarro has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate since the Jays signed Russell Martin, and Navarro has himself said that he’d prefer an everyday role elsewhere, though he’s committed to the Jays.  The veteran has received semi-regular playing time this season as Mark Buehrle‘s personal catcher and part-time DH duty.
  • With Alex Rodriguez closing in on his 660th career home run and the $6MM contract bonus associated with tying Willie Mays’ mark, Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post look at how the impending dispute between A-Rod and the Yankees will play out.  It’s possible the arbitration hearing to decide the matter wouldn’t take place until the offseason, Davidoff/Sherman write, as “there is no reason to speed this case along, especially because neither the Yankees nor A-Rod seem anxious to mess with the positive vibe around the controversial slugger.”
  • Outfielder Ramon Flores enjoyed a big Spring Training and he’s tearing up Triple-A pitching, yet as Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog writes, the Yankees don’t currently have a spot for him at the Major League level.  New York would have to trade someone to create even a bench spot for Flores, and dealing Flores himself might not net a big return since he has no MLB experience.
  • Hanley Ramirez has looked defensively shaky in his new left field role, yet Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he doesn’t plan on removing Ramirez for a better fielder in late-game situations.  “I want to show him the confidence to bring him along….I think the benefit of not taking him out far outweighs, at least at this point and time, taking him out because of his continued growth and us showing faith in him in left field,” Farrell said.  Needless to say, the Sox have a lot invested in Ramirez’s development as a left fielder since (at least for this season) they have nowhere else in the field to play him; Pablo Sandoval (3B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), David Ortiz (DH) and Mike Napoli (1B) are locked in at other possible positions.

Heyman’s Latest: Padres, Buehrle, Greene

The Padres declined to part with top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe in their deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  At the same time, the Braves weren’t sold on top catching prospect Austin Hedges and feared that his hitting might not develop enough. Ultimately, that left pitcher Matt Wisler as the key prospect in the deal.  Here’s more from Heyman’s column..

  • Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is considering retirement following the 2015 season, Heyman reports. While he notes that April retirement ruminations often prove to be inaccurate, there seems to be a strong possibility that the 36-year-old Buehrle will call it quits.
  • Tigers executives were shocked that they were able to pry right-hander Shane Greene away from the Yankees this winter, Heyman writes. The Yankees considered trading Greene “painful,” but the team was desperate for a shortstop, and New York scouting guru Gene Michael was a strong supporter of Gregorius.
  • Trading Ryan Howard seems less and less likely for the Phillies each coming day, Heyman writes, noting that one scout said that Howard simply looks “lost” at the plate. Heyman also notes that the stacked starting pitching class on next year’s free agent market may be hindering the Phillies’ ability to move Cole Hamels, as teams are content to wait to bid on the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others.
  • The Orioles checked in on Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro at some point late in the spring.  Navarro, who has been supplanted as the starting catcher in Toronto by Russell Martin, is hoping to go elsewhere and start.  The diplomatic Navarro spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links last month about the trade talk surrounding him.
  • One GM who has some interest in Elvis Andrus suggested to Heyman that it’d be hard for the Rangers to trade him now.  While Texas has infield depth, most of it is at the lower rungs of their system.  Meanwhile, they’ll be without Jurickson Profar for a second straight year.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has one year to go on his contract, but word is that the front office likes him and they mainly want to see progress from their younger players before extending him.  It’s said that Gonzalez won’t be judged on his win-loss record, but so far he’s doing pretty well in that department too.
  • The Red Sox made at least a preliminary offer to Yoenis Cespedes before trading him, which seems to poke a hole in the theory that Boston coaches “hated” the outfielder.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Rays, Saunders, Navarro, Webb, Davies

Following the promotion of former first-round pick Mikie Mahtook to the Majors, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks back at what the Rays hoped would be a franchise-altering 2011 draft. Tampa had 10 of the first 60 picks in that year’s draft, but as Topkin points out, a significant number of the picks haven’t panned out. Infielder Brandon Martin and outfielder James Harris have both been released, while surgeries have slowed the careers of several others. Pitchers Taylor Guerrieri and Grayson Garvin have both undergone Tommy John surgery, right-hander Jeff Ames‘ 2014 season was cut short by thoracic surgery, and infielder Jake Hager will miss 2015 following a knee operation.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is hopeful that outfielder Michael Saunders will be healthy enough to join the roster on the team’s upcoming 10-game homestand, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. However, Anthopoulos stressed that the team isn’t going to “force a timeline” on Saunders’ return. The GM said that the team needs to be convinced that Saunders is able to play nine innings at a time five days in a row, though he won’t necessarily be required to do that on his rehab assignment before activation. Saunders played five innings in the outfield on Saturday and took just one at-bat as a DH on Sunday before being pulled with a tight hamstring, though that decision was a precautionary move, Davidi writes.
  • Anthopoulos also briefly addressed Dioner Navarro‘s trade situation, David notes. “If we have any trade discussions on anybody, that’s not something we’re going to advertise,” said Anthopoulos. “But like I said, if there’s an opportunity to get him an everyday job we’ll look to do that, same thing we said in spring training.” It’s pure speculation on my behalf, but I do wonder if the Indians would have interest in Navarro with Yan Gomes out for up to two months. Navarro would eventually be reduced to a reserve role, but he’d likely accumulate more at-bats over the next six to eight weeks in Cleveland than in Toronto.
  • Orioles executive VP/general manager Dan Duquette joined MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski on 105.7 The Fan yesterday, and the two discussed the Ryan Webb trade as well as Chris Tillman‘s contract status. Melewski asked if it’s more difficult to trade player that has already been designated for assignment, as was the case with Webb, but Duquette revealed that trade talks with the Dodgers were already fairly advanced when Webb was designated. “In other situations, I wouldn’t designate the player and then continue down the track with a trade,” said Duquette. “I had a good sense that we could make a deal with the Dodgers and get back a couple of players that we liked.” Duquette also acknowledged that there won’t be any continuation of extension talks for Tillman during the season but said that the team had several good talks with Tillman’s representatives about his 2015 contract. He didn’t specify how much, if any, progress was made on a longer-term deal. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth took an in-depth look at the unique nature of the Webb trade last night.
  • Kyle Davies‘ return to a Major League mound as a member of the Yankees marks the culmination of three years spent recovering from shoulder surgery, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Coincidentally, last night’s appearance forced Davies to face the final hitter he faced in his last Major League appearance in 2011 — David Ortiz (Ortiz grounded out each time). After the outing, Davies spoke with Hoch about the feeling of returning to the Majors. “This is why you come to work and you still do it,” said Davies. “This is why you did all that stuff and rode the buses in [Class A] and Double-A two years ago. It’s pretty cool.”

AL Notes: LaPorta, Eveland, Blue Jays

Former Indians first baseman and outfielder Matt LaPorta has retired, former big-leaguer Joe Thurston tells FanGraphs’ David Laurila. LaPorta and Thurston played together in Mexico last year. LaPorta, the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft, appeared at the time to be the key to the deal that send C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee. (In time, of course, it became clear that Michael Brantley was the best player on the Indians’ end of the deal.) LaPorta appeared in parts of four seasons with Cleveland, hitting a disappointing .238/.301/.393 in 1,068 career plate appearances. Thurston, who collected 307 plate appearances playing second and third for the Cardinals in 2009, is also now retired and is working as a coach in the Red Sox system. Here are more quick notes from around the American League.

  • Red Sox minor-league reliever Dana Eveland is only 31, but he’s already had a wide range of experiences within the game, Laurila writes. As a veteran of both Triple-A and the big leagues, he’s spent much of his career waiting on call-ups and demotions. “I got called up from a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi,” says Eveland. “I started the Double-A All-Star game there and after it was over, I went to the casino. I got called up from a three-card poker table. … During the season, you answer your cell phone when you see the right area code.” Eveland spent much of the 2014 season pitching well for the Mets, and he’s not considering giving up now that he’s back in the minors.
  • GM Alex Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays continue to be open to trading Dioner Navarro if another team has a starting role for him, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The Jays could also keep Navarro, Anthopoulos adds. The GM also says the Jays are currently comfortable carrying 13 pitchers, which they’re doing in part because hurlers like Todd Redmond and Liam Hendriks are out of options. Going with a 13-man staff for now helps maintain their depth and gives them time to evaluate their players.

AL Notes: Wright, Vazquez, Russell, Pelfrey

Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News writes Spring Training is broken. Grant suggests reversing the current reporting schedule of players with minor leaguers and non-roster invitees reporting at the beginning of camp and the 40-man roster showing up ten days later. Grant also proposes expanding the roster to 28 for the month of April with 25 designated as active for games. This would allow teams, Grant reasons, to carry more pitching in April, as the hurlers continue to build their durability.

In today’s news and notes from the American League:

  • In a separate article, Grant reports the Rangers have informed Jamey Wright he will not make the team, but the right-hander has decided to remain in camp. “If they change their minds, I’m still here,” said Wright, who is an Article XX(B) free agent. “But, if not, I’m showcasing for all the other teams.” As an Article XX(B) free agent, the Rangers must pay Wright a $100K retention bonus, if they decide to keep him in their organization.
  • Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday increasing speculation his recent MRI results could lead to Tommy John surgery and the end to his season before it begins, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • Despite the uncertain status of Vazquez, the Red Sox have not engaged the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, tweets CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. With Vazquez’s injury, Heyman notes the Red Sox will give prized catching propsect Blake Swihart an extended look during the final week of Spring Training.
  • James Schmehl of MLive.com tweets he wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers take a flyer on James Russell, even though the left-hander has had a terrible spring. The 29-year-old was released by the Braves Sunday morning.
  • The Tigers will only go as far as their veteran stars take them, but there is some important young talent on the roster and their performance could prove pivotal as the franchise bids for its fifth straight AL Central title, opines MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan did not address whether Mike Pelfrey has requested a trade in the wake of the right-hander’s comments yesterday after losing the battle for a rotation spot, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Pelfrey threw one inning of perfect relief against the Orioles today needing just eight pitches in lowering his spring ERA to 1.23.
  • Ryan Madson, in camp with the Royals on a minor league contract, calls his comeback from elbow injuries “a challenge” and knows he can pitch again at the MLB level, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. “If it doesn’t happen here, I will see if there’s any other interest and will go from there,” said Madson, who has a May 1st opt-out. “I mean, I came in not knowing whether I could pitch on consecutive days or three times a week, and now I’m past that. I know what I can do and I want to pitch again in the Major Leagues.

East Notes: Vazquez, Braves, Navarro

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez says his recent elbow MRI “found something,” but there’s no diagnosis yet, the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier tweets. Vazquez will seek a second opinion. If the Red Sox were to need to replace Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan would be the obvious choice. If Vazquez were to need to miss significant time, there would likely be speculation about the promotion of top prospect Blake Swihart, who the Red Sox optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket last week. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • James Russell and Josh Outman have struggled this spring, widening the field of decisions the Braves will have to make as they set their roster, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes. The Braves could release either one and pay only about a quarter of their salaries. Outman, who’s set to make $925K after signing with the Braves in January, could be in particular danger, Bowman suggests. It now looks increasingly likely that Luis Avilan will make the team as one of the Braves’ bullpen lefties, with prospect Brady Feigl as another possibility.
  • There don’t appear to be any trades involving Dioner Navarro in the works, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Navarro, of course, became mostly superfluous to the Jays after they acquired Russell Martin. Navarro’s name had lately been connected to the Diamondbacks, although the D-backs have said they can’t afford his $5MM salary.