Erick Aybar Rumors
We just wrapped up the early reactions to today's biggest news out of the National League Central, but there are some other notes from the division that are worth a look:
- Though the Cardinals talked about acquiring Erick Aybar along with David Freese, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports via Twitter, that does not mean that a second deal is on the horizon. To the contrary, Goold says that the Cards do not expect to continue discussions about bringing Aybar in from the Angels, having realized that the Halos will demand a live, young arm even if Aybar's $25.5MM remaining salary is absorbed by a trade partner.
- A rival executive believes that St. Louis is in on Jhonny Peralta, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, and the Freese trade makes sense in that respect. That being said, Morosi says in another tweet that he has not heard whether St. Louis would go to four years for Peralta.
- Meanwhile, one must wonder whether the addition of Bourjos takes the Cardinals completely out of the running to sign another of the club's recent post-season heroes: Carlos Beltran. This is my speculation, but with top prospect Oscar Taveras knocking on the door, Allen Craig warranting time in right field to give Matt Adams at-bats at first, and Jon Jay still in the fold, a return for Beltran might require another trade to make sense at this point.
- Another trade went down today from the division, with the Brewers shipping out reliever Burke Badenhop to the Red Sox in exchange for 20-year-old lefty Luis Ortega. Baseball America breaks down the players involved, explaining that Ortega is a longshot to make the bigs and profiles as a reliever. The Brew Crew will shed an estimated $2.1MM arbitration salary in the deal, however.
- After shedding Badenhop from the pen, Milwaukee is not hot on the trail of any new relievers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. As MLBTR's Ed Creech explained in his offseason outlook for the Brewers, the team's pen was hardly the problem last year, and seems to be in good shape save the possible addition of another veteran.
Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them. Here's more of Heyman's latest..
- One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes. One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
- The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
- Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss. The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
- We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact. The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
- The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes. Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.
Here is Monday's list of notable players who have been placed on revocable trade waivers...
- The Nationals acquired David DeJesus from the Cubs earlier today and "almost immediately" put the outfielder on waivers, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. DeJesus' claiming period is up on Wednesday. Rival executives speculate that the Nats are trying to rid themselves of the approximately $2.5MM remaining on DeJesus' contract ($975K in salary, $1.5MM in a buyout of his 2014 option). This could be an attempt by the Nats to flip DeJesus, simply a procedural move or perhaps they never expected the Cubs to accept their original waiver claim on DeJesus in the first place. Amanda Comak of the Washington Times (Twitter link) opines that perhaps the Nats claimed DeJesus to keep him away from another contender.
- The Angels placed left-hander Jason Vargas and shortstop Erick Aybar on waivers, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). The claiming period for both players expires on Wednesday. Vargas was dealt to Anaheim from Seattle in exchange for Kendrys Morales last December and has posted a 3.92 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.00 K/BB ratio in 101 IP in 2013, though he spent almost two months on the DL recovering from a blood clot in his left armpit. Vargas has roughly $1.5MM still owed to him from his $8.5MM salary for the season and the southpaw is a free agent this winter. He could make a cheap pickup for a team looking for starting pitching depth during the pennant race, though Vargas' career road splits indicate that he struggles when he isn't at a pitcher-friendly ballpark like Angel Stadium or Safeco Field.
- Aybar signed a four-year, $35MM extension in April 2012 that covered the 2013-16 seasons and Aybar is hitting .282/.316/.380 in 417 PA in the first year of that new contract. Though the 29-year-old is known more for his solid glove (he won a Gold Glove in 2011), Aybar has a below-average -8.2 UZR.150 this season. The Cardinals had some interest in Aybar before the trade deadline but had no interest in giving up a top prospect in exchange for the veteran shortstop.
For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer.
The Angels and Dodgers "held extensive trade discussions" about a possible deal that would've sent Howie Kendrick from Angel Stadium to Chavez Ravine, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Negotiations went on right up until the July 31 deadline, a source tells Rosenthal, and Zach Lee would've been part of the package that went back to the Angels in return. It isn't clear which team backed away from the deal.
Kendrick also drew attention from the Blue Jays and Royals before the deadline as the Angels openly shopped a number of pieces on their roster in an attempt to gauge their trade value and obtain young, MLB-ready pitching. (Alberto Callaspo and Scott Downs ended up being the only notable Angels moved in July.) ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on July 30 that the Angels and Dodgers had discussed Kendrick, but there was no indication that a deal was close.
Kendrick has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 12 teams, but Rosenthal notes that the Dodgers aren't one of them. Rosenthal says the Halos are likelier to deal Kendrick than they are Erick Aybar since they think it's easier to find a replacement at second base than at shortstop. Indeed, Anaheim may already have an in-house second base option in Grant Green.
The Dodgers' pursuit of Kendrick could be a sign, Rosenthal notes, that the team is looking for second base options besides Robinson Cano. It has been widely speculated that the Dodgers would be one of the very few teams that could meet Cano's salary demands in free agency but we heard earlier today that L.A. might not pursue Cano (or any major free agents) this offseason.
Kendrick, 30, has hit .301/.341/.437 with 11 homers in 451 PA, though hasn't played since August 5 due to a sprained left knee. He is owed $18.85MM over the 2014-15 seasons, the last two years of his current four-year contract. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Kendrick's limited no-trade protection drops to just six blocked teams in 2014, so the Halos could have a wider array of trade partners in the new year.
Lee, the 28th overall pick of the 2010 draft, was ranked by MLB.com as the sport's 78th-best prospect prior to the 2013 season. The right-hander has a 3.19 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 3.9 K/BB ratio in 26 games (23 of them starts) at Double-A this season. Lee's name has popped up in a few trade rumors in recent years, perhaps most notably in a rumored deal for Matt Garza in July 2012.
As noted earlier today, the Angels' acquisition of infielder Grant Green from the Athletics looks to be a sound move thus far, but the team still has plenty of holes, namely in the pitching department. Here's more on the Halos...
- Asked by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times whether or not GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would return next season, owner Arte Moreno declined comment. Not surprisingly, Scioscia told Shaikin that he wants to remain with the Angels. He says he has not given any thought to one day managing his hometown Phillies now that Charlie Manuel has been fired.
- One general manager told Peter Gammons of the MLB Network that the Angels have the two most unmovable contracts in baseball in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. The same GM added that they "have no farm system" after trading for Zack Greinke and forfeiting their 2013 first-rounder to sign Hamilton, and they've wasted the inexpensive years of Mike Trout's career.
- Dipoto failed on his four offseason pitching acquisitions, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton have contributed very little for the Halos, which Dipoto himself acknowledged. The team is confident that Burnett will be healthy for 2014, but DiGiovanna writes that Blanton could be released in the offseason and Hanson non-tendered. The thin market for free agent pitching might ultimately lead the Halos to consider trading Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick for young, controllable pitching help.
Kendrick, 29, will earn $9.35MM in 2014 and $9.5MM in 2015 in the final two seasons of a four-year contract with the Halos. He's hitting .298/.338/.444 with 11 homers this season and has drawn interest from the Royals in recent days. Anaheim flipped Alberto Callaspo to the A's in exchange for former first-rounder and second base prospect Grant Green, so the Angels have newfound depth at second base that could allow them to move Kendrick if they wish.
7:59pm: The Angels appear to be seeking top pitching prospects in return for Aybar, but the Cardinals have no interest whatsoever in including Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez in a possible deal, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter links).
6:27pm: After their interest in Alexei Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins failed to produce anything meaningful, the Cardinals have reached out to the Angels regarding Erick Aybar, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
The Cardinals have deployed Pete Kozma as their primary shortstop in 2013, and while he's provided solid defense, Kozma is batting just .241/.283/.301 through 339 plate appearances. Aybar, on the other hand, is hitting .283/.320/.410 dating back to the beginning of the 2011 season. He signed a four-year, $35MM extension prior to the 2012 season that took effect beginning this season. As such, he's under contract through 2016 at $8.5MM per season.
Knobler points out that the Cardinals are rich in pitching prospects that would be of interest to the Angels, though to this point, St. Louis GM John Mozeliak has been highly reluctant to deal from that surplus.
ESPN's Jayson Stark begins his latest column with a look at the Biogenesis situation. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported, suspension announcements are not expected today. Sherman expects the announcements to come Thursday or Friday. In Stark's opinion, the Rangers are acting like a team that knows what Nelson Cruz will do if suspended, in that their aggressive search for a bat suggests he might serve a suspension now to preserve his free agent value. Meanwhile, the Tigers' lack of pursuit of a backup plan to shortstop Jhonny Peralta suggests he'll appeal. Elsewhere in Stark's column:
- The Dodgers and Angels, who haven't made a trade in 20 years, had a "mostly casual conversation" regarding Halos second baseman Howie Kendrick. There are no indications a deal is in the works.
- The Angels are at least listening on infielders Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo, and seeking high quality big league ready pitching in return.
- The Cubs could move Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, but are extremely unlikely to trade lefty reliever James Russell and there's just about zero chance of a Jeff Samardzija trade.
- Pitchers Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays "have suddenly been made available." Trading Kennedy would allow Arizona to clear around $1.4MM toward another move. Are they that hard up for cash?
The Angels are "open for business," Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. That means deals for Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and others could be on the table. It remains to be seen what the Angels might be able to do with less than three days before the deadline, but Kendrick would be a particularly attractive trade candidate -- his consistently high batting averages and solid defense make him a dependably productive player, and he's under contract through 2015 at a reasonable cost, making a bit over $9MM both in 2014 and 2015. Aybar isn't having as good a year as Kendrick, but he might make an interesting buy-low candidate. If the Angels are open to selling other players, reliever Scott Downs, who becomes a free agent after this season, would also be an obvious possibility, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman suggested yesterday. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- With a 13-game deficit in the AL West and with Albert Pujols on the disabled list, however, the Angels have "nothing to sell," ESPN's Jim Bowden says (Insider-only). Several of their top players, like Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, aren't candidates to be dealt, and much of the rest of their roster has been disappointing, which is why they're 13 games back to begin with. That leaves a handful of relievers as the Angels' only viable trade pieces.
- If the Rangers want to trade Joe Nathan, the Dodgers are the only suitor that makes much sense, Bowden writes (Twitter links). Boston or Detroit could be possible destinations, but Bowden guesses that the Rangers won't relish the possibility of dealing Nathan to the Red Sox or Tigers and then having to face him in the playoffs. Instead, they could send him to L.A., possibly in a deal involving Andre Ethier.
- The Diamondbacks are looking for a second bullpen lefty, FOXSportsArizona.com's Jack Magruder tweets.
- Five teams, four of them from the National League, are interested in former Giants closer Brian Wilson, who's returning from Tommy John surgery, tweets Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.
Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs is on the Yankees' radar as a possible trade target, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. If any deal were to take place, though, it might not happen in July, since the $25MM remaining on Soriano's contract means he's sure to pass through waivers in August. Soriano has a full no-trade clause, but says he will consider a trade to a contending team. Wittenmyer writes that the Yankees view another Cubs outfielder, Nate Schierholtz, as more of a platoon type.
- The Nationals shouldn't be buyers at the trade deadline, the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell writes. The Nats are now 48-50, and are now seven games back of the Braves in the NL East, as well as seven games back of the Reds for the second Wild Card. Boswell points out that their chance of making the playoffs is less than 20 percent, and for a team in that position, the value of a rental player like Matt Garza or Ervin Santana is questionable. Boswell argues that even if the Nats acquire a player who is also under contract for 2014, like Jake Peavy or Yovani Gallardo, they need to do so mostly because those players can help next year, not because they can help down the stretch this season.
- The Angels are now ten games back of the Athletics in the AL West, and it looks like they should sell at the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. (Note that Morosi isn't predicting the Angels will sell, only saying that they should.) If the Angels were to sell, Erick Aybar and Scott Downs are two players they could trade, Morosi writes. Aybar is in the first year of a four-year, $35MM deal, and he's hitting .287/.305/.388 as the Angels' starting shortstop. Downs, who is in the last year of a three-year, $15MM contract, has a 1.32 ERA, albeit with a more pedestrian 6.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
- The Dodgers have heavily scouted Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez recently, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports. Milwaukee also has two other veteran relievers in Mike Gonzalez and John Axford, and Knobler notes that the Tigers and Red Sox have also been scouting the Brewers. Still, the Brewers might opt not to trade any of their relievers before the deadline.
- The Yankees have signed left-handed pitcher Artur Strzalka, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues notes (via Baseball America's Matt Eddy). Strzalka is the first born-and-raised Polish player ever to sign with a Major League team. As Axisa notes, one likely purpose of this signing is to help the Yankees establish themselves as bidders for talent in a new part of the world.