The Mariners announced that they’ve traded infielder Luis Sardinas to the Padres in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Padres have also announced the move, adding that Sardinas has been optioned to Triple-A El Paso, and right-hander Erik Johnson has been moved to the 60-day disabled list in order to create a spot on the 40-man roster.
A week after talks between the Padres and White Sox regarding James Shields began gaining “significant momentum,” the two sides have officially reached a deal. The veteran right-hander and cash (reportedly $31MM of the remaining $58MM on his contract) will head to Chicago in exchange for fellow righty Erik Johnson and shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres general manager A.J. Preller announced.
Since beginning the season with a red-hot 19-8 mark, the White Sox have fallen to 29-26 and have dropped to third place in the AL Central, though they’re only 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Royals. While their starters entered Saturday with the majors’ eighth-lowest ERA (3.61) and seventh-best fWAR (5.7), their pre-Shields rotation was a top-heavy group. Aside from superstar Chris Sale and the underrated Jose Quintana, who has posted ace-like numbers this year, the White Sox haven’t gotten overly impressive production from any of their other starters.
With Shields aboard, the expectation is that either Mat Latos or Miguel Gonzalez will lose his spot in the rotation. Regardless of whether the White Sox demote Latos or Gonzalez, their top four will likely consist of Sale, Quintana, Shields and Carlos Rodon as long as all four are healthy. Whether Shields will stay in that top four beyond 2016 is up in the air, though, as he could opt out of the final two years of his contract at season’s end. That would mean leaving $42MM on the table, however.
Shields, 34, isn’t the pitcher he was during his best years with the Rays and Royals, but he remains a competent innings eater who’s on pace to exceed the 200-inning plateau and surpass the 30-start barrier for the 11th straight season. That aside, Shields does come with red flags. After a dreadful final start with the Padres, Shields’ ERA (4.28) is at its highest since 2010. Further, his strikeout rate – which spiked to a personal-best 9.61 per nine innings last year – has regressed to 7.62 (closer to his 7.84 career average) and the control that he displayed in his earlier days has declined. Shields’ walk rate is at 3.61 per nine innings, which is in line with last year’s 3.6, and his velocity has dipped. To Shields’ credit, he has long been a capable ground-ball generator – at 48 percent this year, there’s no sign he’s slowing down in that area. That should help his cause as he shifts to the hitter-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field, but he does have the third-highest home run rate among qualified starters since last season (16.9 percent).
For the Padres, this is undoubtedly a disappointing ending to a short-lived experiment. Shields joined the Friars on a lucrative long-term deal as a free agent in 2015, at which point the club gave up the 13th overall pick in that June’s draft to sign him. With Shields in the fold, the Padres had designs on competing for a playoff spot. They instead finished a disappointing 74-88, though, and have begun this season 22-34. San Diego is now rebuilding, so keeping Shields around wouldn’t have made sense.
The 26-year-old Johnson, who’s the more established player the Padres got for Shields, could figure into their rotation at some point. Johnson has posted a 4.50 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 across 98 major league innings. In a 523 2/3-frame minor league sample size, Johnson’s strikeout rate (7.8) hasn’t looked much different, though he has walked fewer batters (3.1) while working to a terrific 3.23 ERA.
Tatis, meanwhile, signed with the White Sox for $700K as a 16-year-old last summer. The Dominican native is the son of former big leaguer Fernando Tatis, and Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote at the time of his signing that the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder pairs power potential on offense with a good arm on defense. Tatis, therefore, could potentially serve as a third baseman or outfielder in the majors.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported May 28 that the two teams were discussing a Shields trade, and he confirmed the return for the Padres today. Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted earlier today that a deal was close. FanRag Sports Jon Heyman then reported that the framework of a deal was agreed upon. Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago had Johnson going to San Diego. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported that the trade was done. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the amount of money the White Sox will receive in the trade.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller told reporters – including AJ Cassavell of MLB.com – that four to five clubs called him with interest in right-hander James Shields, whom San Diego ended up trading to the White Sox on Saturday. With the Shields trade out of the way, Preller doesn’t expect to do much else until things heat up around the trade deadline, he added.
More from San Diego and a few other NL cities:
- There’s a “pretty good possibility” righty Erik Johnson, one of the two players the Padres received for Shields, will slot into their rotation as Shields’ long-term replacement, manager Andy Green said (Twitter link via Cassavell). For now, the Padres have optioned Johnson to Triple-A El Paso, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter).
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the club has “no regrets” about the widely panned offseason trade that sent Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair to Atlanta for righty Shelby Miller. Nevertheless, La Russa believes that Swanson – the top pick in last year’s draft – “will be a star” in the majors.
- Injured Dodgers starters Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy are unlikely to make it back before the All-Star break, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (Twitter links here). Ryu, who had a setback last week with his surgically repaired left shoulder, will need to make at least four rehab starts before he can return to the majors. He has to resume throwing first, however. McCarthy also isn’t ready to begin a rehab assignment. In the meantime, the 2015 Tommy John recipient will throw a three-inning, 60-pitch sim game at some point in the coming days.
- Right-hander Bronson Arroyo is recovering well from partial tears in his rotator cuff tendons and hopes to pitch for the Nationals this season, Bill Ladson of MLB.com relays. Arroyo, whose injury forced him to use a sidearm delivery in early May, is now healthy enough to throw from a three-quarter arm slot, Ladson writes. “I guess my shoulder has turned the corner,” Arroyo told Ladson. “Now, the shoulder feels pretty good. It’s little less pressure throwing sidearm, but it has been OK throwing over the top. “ The 39-year-old, who hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2014, has been pitching intrasquad games at the Nationals’ spring training complex in Florida. He’s likely to make five more starts there before the team reevaluates him July 1. If all goes well, Arroyo could then begin a rehab assignment and perhaps join the Nationals down the stretch. Arroyo has started in the vast majority of his major league appearances (369 of 405), but he told Ladson he’d be willing to work out of the Nats’ bullpen.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball:
- The Rangers will purchase the contract of southpaw Cesar Ramos on Monday so he can make a spot start in place of the injured Cole Hamels, Texas executive VP of communications John Blake tweets. There is no word yet on the corresponding moves that would create roster space for Ramos; Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram speculates that Keone Kela could be moved to the 60-day DL and Alex Claudio could head to Triple-A. Only ten of Ramos’ 251 career games have been starts, though he made seven starts as recently as 2014 with the Rays. Ramos posted a 2.75 ERA and 2.87 K/BB rate in 52 1/3 relief innings with the Angels last season before being rather surprisingly non-tendered. He signed a minor league deal with Texas in January.
- The Rays transferred Alex Cobb to the 60-day DL in order to create a 40-man roster spot for Jhan Marinez, the club announced. Cobb has been out of action for almost a full year recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected back late this season.
- The White Sox have recalled right-hander Miguel Gonzalez from Triple-A and optioned righty Erik Johnson in a corresponding move, tweets Scott Gregor of the Daily Herald. Gonzalez will start for the White Sox on Monday in Toronto. Gonzalez joined the Sox as a free agent earlier this month after the Orioles unexpectedly released him. The 31-year-old has made 95 career starts and owns a lifetime 3.82 ERA to go with a 6.47 K/9 and 2.96 BB/9.
- The Red Sox recalled lefty Henry Owens and right-hander Pat Light, sending southpaw Roenis Elias and righty Noe Ramirez to Triple-A in corresponding moves, per a team announcement. Owens, 23, will start the Red Sox’s game against Houston tonight. He made 11 starts for the Sox last year and logged a 4.57 ERA with a 7.14 K/9 and 3.43 BB/9 in 63 innings. Light has been in Boston’s system since the club used a first-rounder on him in the 2012 draft, and he’s just now breaking into the majors. Light owns an underwhelming 4.63 ERA in 266 1/3 minor league innings, though he has flashed impressive strikeout ability since moving to a relief role last season and can hit 100 mph.
- The Reds announced that right-hander Tim Melville (who was designated for assignment Friday) cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Louisville. The 26-year-old Melville allowed 11 earned runs in nine innings — including two starts — while recording eight strikeouts against nine walks before the Reds designated him. Melville worked to a 4.63 ERA in 151 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level last year in the Tigers organization.
- The Tigers have placed closer Francisco Rodriguez on the family medical emergency list and recalled left-hander Matt Boyd from Triple-A, the team announced. There’s no word yet on how long Rodriguez will be away from the club. K-Rod has converted on 4 of 5 save opportunities for the Tigers this season, but the process hasn’t been pretty (.75 K/BB ratio, 7.11 ERA). Boyd, whom Detroit acquired from Toronto in the David Price trade last year, debuted in the majors in 2015, logging a combined 13 appearances with the Tigers and Blue Jays. The 25-year-old pitched to an unsightly 7.53 ERA in 57 1/3 innings, though he has been quite successful at the Triple-A level (2.53 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 10 starts dating back to last season).
White Sox right-hander Erik Johnson’s resurgent season at Triple-A has placed the former top prospect firmly on the map for a rotation spot in 2016, GM Rick Hahn tells Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. After a 6.73 ERA in 105 2/3 innings at Triple-A last season, Johnson has turned in a 2.37 mark over 132 2/3 frames with 9.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. As Kane writes, Johnson will be working in relief initially, but he’s likely to make some starts later this month in what could be a preview for the 2016 season.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- The Twins will not call up top pitching prospect Jose Berrios this season, GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. The 21-year-old’s innings total is a concern to the Twins, Ryan explained, especially considering the fact that Berrios is of slighter frame than many pitchers. Berrios ranks as one of the game’s best prospects, including No. 23 on MLB.com’s Top 100, No. 7 per Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, No. 21 per ESPN’s Keith Law and No. 19 per Baseball America.
- The Indians activated right-hander Gavin Floyd from the DL when rosters expanded in September, and manager Terry Francona told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jamie Ross, that Floyd is healthy enough to work out of the bullpen in the season’s final month. Francona said the Indians, however, owe it to Floyd to be careful with his surgically repaired right elbow because “he’s got more career ahead of him.” Floyd signed a one-year, $4MM contract this winter and re-fractured the olecranon bone in his right elbow in Spring Training — an injury that was initially believed to have ended his season. He made his Indians debut today, though, and fired a perfect inning from the ’pen.
- Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel looks at some of departing Indians president Mark Shapiro’s comments from his press conference announcing his move to Toronto. Meisel breaks down Shapiro’s response to his biggest challenge with Cleveland — Shapiro diplomatically hinted at payroll constraints while noting that market size can’t be used as an excuse for lack of results — as well as Shapiro’s comments on the Michael Bourn/Nick Swisher signings.
Rumors from MLB’s central divisions:
- The Twins are in the market for a power reliever, writes Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Minnesota has long been known for their reliance on command and control pitchers. Their bullpen has a league worst 6.08 K/9. The Tigers are next worst with 7.30 K/9. Twins GM Terry Ryan acknowledged the advantage strikeouts can provide in big situations. If somebody’s got the out pitch to be able to get a strikeout, that’s great. Unfortunately there are pitchers that don’t have that capability as much as others, so it makes those sac flies or putting the ball in play with the infield back … it just gives the other offense that advantage.
- Minnesota has spoken with the Padres about relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi lists Joaquin Benoit and Shawn Kelley as possible fits. I would add that Brandon Maurer fits the power pitching profile. However, Benoit and Kelley could both hit free agency after this season. Kelley is unsigned beyond this season, and Benoit has a $8MM club option ($500K buyout). Maurer comes with four more seasons of club control. As such, he’s probably more difficult to acquire.
- The Brewers are drawing plenty of interest in starter Mike Fiers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of MLB.com. However, the club presently plans to keep Fiers. They are more open to trading veterans Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza. Given the performance of both pitchers this season, they’ll have a hard time finding an interested suitor. Garza has a 5.49 ERA in 100 innings while Lohse has scuffled to a 6.29 ERA in 113 innings.
- Prior to being no-hit by Cole Hamels, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reiterated a need for pitching and bench depth, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN 1000. Hoyer didn’t elaborate about any specific talks. Rogers opines (via Twitter) that the club could seek to make some smaller moves for veterans to bolster depth and balance a young roster. The offense has struggled recently, but the Cubs are still in the thick of the Wild Card race. They’re just 1.5 games behind the Giants for the second slot.
- The White Sox are increasingly willing to trade starter Jeff Samardzija, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Samardzija has performed below expectations this season with a 3.91 ERA, 6.93 K/9, and 1.67 BB/9. However, he’s posted a strong 2.55 ERA over his last eight starts due to a low HR/FB ratio. While teams may no longer view him as an ace, he has failed to last seven innings in just four of his 20 starts this season. This is my speculation: he could prove to be a valuable innings eater for a club on the bubble like the Orioles or Astros. Hayes also notes that the White Sox have lined up Erik Johnson’s starts with Samardzija. Johnson is in the midst of a breakout season with a 2.59 ERA, 10.05 K/9, and 2.87 BB/9.
- The big story tonight is that the Royals nearly acquired Johnny Cueto from the Reds; read all about that here.
Check here for today's promotions of top prospects around baseball….
- The Mariners have called up left-hander James Paxton, Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Paxton, 24, was ranked before the season as one of the game's top prospects by MLB.com (57th) and Baseball America (#87) and he has posted a 4.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.26 K/BB rate over 145 2/3 innings in his first taste of Triple-A this year. The southpaw is the second top M's pitching prospect this week to receive a promotion, after Taijuan Walker. Paxton is under team control through the 2019 campaign and he'll have to be added to Seattle's 40-man roster.
- The Brewers have called up right-hander Jimmy Nelson, manager Ron Roenicke told reporters (including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy). Nelson, a second-rounder from the 2010 draft, has been a starter for the last three seasons but the Crew will use him as a reliever. MLB.com ranked Nelson as the top prospect in the Brewers system and the 88th-best prospect overall, saying that the 24-year-old has "a heavy fastball that elicits ground balls and sits in the low 90s." Nelson posted a 3.25 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.51 K/BB rate in 27 starts at Double-A and Triple-A this season, though he didn't perform quite as well at Triple-A. Since he's being called up at this late date in the season, Nelson won't gain Super Two status and will be under team control through 2019.
- The Orioles have called up middle infielder Jonathan Schoop, according to David Hall of the Virginian Pilot (Twitter link). Schoop was ranked as the 50th-best prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN insider subscription required) before the season and MLB.com ranks him as the fourth-best prospect in the Baltimore organization. Schoop, 21, hails from Curacao and has gradually evolved from a shortstop to a second baseman over his five minor league seasons could possibly be Brian Roberts' replacement at the position in the Major Leagues. Schoop was limited to 285 PA at Triple-A Norfolk this season due to a stress fracture in his back, and he hit .255/.298/.397 with nine homers for the Tides. He will be under team control through 2019, as Schoop's late callup won't give him Super Two status. Besides Schoop, the O's have also called up Henry Urrutia and right-hander Josh Stinson.
- As expected, the Reds have purchased the contract of outfielder Billy Hamilton, according to a tweet from his now-former club, the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Hamilton currently stands as the 17th-best prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The 22-year-old burner has scuffled somewhat in his first season at Triple-A, seeing his on-base percentage drop to a career-low .308 mark and carrying a .651 OPS. Nevertheless, he has swiped 75 bases in 90 attempts, added some pop (he has a career-best six home runs), and transitioned from shortstop to center field. Baseball Prospectus has a full scouting report on Hamilton (subscription required) as he reaches the bigs for the first time.
- The White Sox have brought up two of the organization's top prospects, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. In addition to well-regarded youngster Marcus Semien, the club has purchased the contract of righty Erik Johnson, who John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranks as the 76th-best prospect in the game. Though he missed the top-100 list of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Johnson did appear at the number two slot among White Sox prospects, with Mayo explaining that he has the repertoire to become a mid-rotation starter. The 23-year-old has an excellent 1.57 ERA over 57 1/3 innings since reaching Triple-A, where he maintains a 8.9 K/9 ratio against 3.0 BB/9.
If you're a moderate to hardcore baseball fan, you've probably heard of the term "Super Two" when top prospects and their imminent big league promotions are being discussed. Basically, it's an important business aspect of baseball that can cause your favorite MLB-ready prospect to spend a little extra time in the minors. For a refresher on the subject, check out Tim Dierkes' article from April and Ben Nicholson-Smith's post from February.
Now that you're up to date and understand why some players have been recently called up to the Majors, it's time to identify the next big-named prospects who could be promoted in 2013, following in the footsteps of the Rays' Wil Myers, the Mets' Zack Wheeler, and the Mariners' Mike Zunino.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox: Bogaerts, 20, didn't let his age stop him from dominating Double-A ball. One of the youngest players in the Eastern League, the shortstop hit more than .300 with strong on-base skills and power. The Aruba native earned himself a trip to Triple-A after less than half a season. A strong start to 2013 earned fellow shortstop prospect (and potential roadblock) Jose Iglesias a 25-man roster spot as the backup to oft-injured veteran Stephen Drew, but Bogaerts has a much higher ceiling. Iglesias is much more likely to end up as trade bait thanks to his high-level play — should Boston need to shore up its roster for a run at the playoffs. Drew is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Red Sox may want to give Bogaerts a chance to get his feet wet in the Majors by the end of the year to gauge if he's truly ready to assume the full-time gig in 2014.
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Tigers: Castellanos had a modest start to the 2013 season, but he's seen his offensive numbers improve each month with his OPS rising from .755 to .814 to 1.025. Also working in his favor for a call-up is the fact that he can offer competent defensive assistance at both third base and in the corner outfield. Miguel Cabrera isn't going to be bumped from his starting gig at the hot corner, but the emergence of Castellanos could allow the club to rest the veteran in the second half of the year in preparation for long playoff run. The prospect could also be a solid platoon complement to left fielder Andy Dirks, a left-handed hitter. It would also give Avisail Garcia — another rookie outfielder — a chance to spend more time in Triple-A. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News wrote that Castellanos could be a key player for the big league club as it tries to secure a playoff spot in 2013.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Athletics: Aside from Bartolo Colon, injuries have ensured that Oakland's starting rotation lacks pitchers with more than two years of service time. Due to the volatility of young pitchers, depth could become an issue for the first-place club in the second half of the year. Gray, a former first round draft pick, could offer some help after rebounding well from a disappointing 2012 season. The right-hander has averaged more than six innings per start in his 13 Triple-A appearances and struck out 83 batters in 82 1/3 innings of work.
Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox: Chicago is currently deploying an inexperienced starting rotation with the likes of Hector Santiago, Jose Quintana, and Dylan Axelrod. Johnson, a former second round draft pick, has dominated pro ball and his time at Double-A in 2013 has been no different. He currently has a 2.24 ERA with 74 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 84 2/3 innings of work. Johnson, 23, has a frame that suggests he should develop into an innings-eater and his pitching acumen could eventually help him develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter for the Sox. The California native could offer some assistance to the big league club in the second half of the season, and he has the highest ceiling of any starter in the Sox system at either Double-A or Triple-A. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune recently penned an article after speaking with Johnson, who said he's just taking it one day at a time and not worrying about a promotion to The Show.
Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians: After spending big in the offseason, Cleveland finds itself in a playoff hunt. With a big league starting rotation that features some rather large question marks with the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, and Carlos Carrasco, Salazar could become a key player at some point during the second half of the season. While splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, the Dominican right-hander has struck out 80 batters in 58 innings of work. If he doesn't figure into the club's plans in the starting rotation, his power arsenal and ability to pitch multiple innings could allow him to offer some assistance in the bullpen in the latter half of the year and even the playoffs. In a piece for MLB.com, John Wagner spoke to Salazar's Triple-A manager, Chris Tremie, who talked about the things that the young pitcher does well.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, Astros: Singleton's season got off to an inauspicious start when he was suspended for 50 games after violating minor league baseball's drug policy. Since returning, the 21-year-old hitter has appeared in just 10 games, split between Single-A, Double-A and now Triple-A. Thirteen of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases, and he's walked 13 times. Singleton has experience playing both left field and first base but has exclusively played the infield in 2013. Despite that, his clearest opening for big league playing time could be in the outfield where Trevor Crowe, J.D. Martinez, and (recently demoted) Jimmy Paredes have produced less-than-impressive numbers. First basemen/designated hitters Chris Carter and Carlos Pena have also had underwhelming seasons to date (and could become trade bait) but offer much-needed power. The playoffs are out of the question for 2013, but once outfield prospect George Springer joins Singleton in Houston, the club will have a strong middle-of-the-order core to build around.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals: Talented but undersized pitching prospects are slowly shedding the stigma that they're destined for future bullpen work at the big league level. Like Toronto's Marcus Stroman, the slender Ventura doesn't break the six-foot mark, but his upper-90s velocity — which tickles triple digits — has intrigued prospect watchers since he came over to North America from the Dominican Republic in 2010. After opening 2013 in Double-A, a recent promotion has brought Ventura one step away from the Majors. Should injuries strike — or should the Royals tire of the inconsistent performances from Luis Mendoza or Wade Davis — the 22-year-old Dominican could receive the call. Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports Kansas City recently spoke to Royals Assistant General Manager J.J. Picollo who said the organization is looking to have Ventura become more efficient and keep his pitch counts down.