Miami Marlins Rumors
Today's minor moves:
- Infielder Josh Bell has been released by the White Sox, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Bell, 26, was with the club's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte where he hit .273/.310/.345 in 58 plate appearances this season. He was the key player in the July 2009 trade that sent George Sherrill to the Dodgers.
- The Blue Jays released righty Trystan Magnuson, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Magnuson, a 27-year-old Canadian, struggled in his ten Double-A appearances this year. The 56th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Magnuson was traded to the Athletics in 2010 in the deal that brought Rajai Davis to Toronto. A year later, the Blue Jays bought Magnuson back from the A's.
- Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano was placed on the 15-day DL last night, reported MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, prompting the club to purchase the contract of infielder Nick Green from Triple-A. Henderson Alvarez was transferred to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move. Green, signed to a minor league deal in January, lost his 40-man roster spot last Thursday in favor of Matt Diaz but has already regained it.
- Four players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jonathan Sanchez of the Pirates, Kameron Loe of the Cubs, and Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez of the Astros.
It's never fun to punt a season, as the Marlins decided to do before the 2013 campaign began. But one silver lining is the ability to offer more opportunity to minor league free agents. 29-year-old righty Kevin Slowey is one such example, and he's rewarded the team with a 1.81 ERA through seven starts after joining the organization on a minor league deal. He was a contributing member of the Twins' rotation as recently as 2010 despite missing time with an elbow and triceps injury, but then things took a turn.
Slowey failed to make the Twins' rotation out of camp in 2011, and then quickly hit the DL with a shoulder strain. After returning from that, he missed time with an abdomen strain, expressed displeasure with working as a reliever, and pitched in the minors before finally rejoining the rotation in August of that year. With a non-tender looming, Slowey was shipped to Colorado during the offseason, and then traded to the Indians shortly thereafter. He was unable to crack the Indians rotation out of camp in 2012, and missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his rib cage. He was removed from the Indians' 40-man roster in October, pitched in the Dominican Winter League, and signed a minor league deal with the Marlins in January of this year. This time Slowey did win a rotation spot out of Spring Training, which was further solidified with injuries to Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi.
After seven starts this year, Slowey ranks sixth in the National League with a 1.81 ERA. His control has always been stellar, leading to a seventh-ranked 4.5 K/BB ratio so far. Though he's never averaged six innings per start in a season, Slowey is at nearly 6.4 this year. Aside from his injury history, the biggest concern with Slowey is his flyball tendency. His 32.3% groundball rate is the fourth-lowest in all of baseball, and he's benefited from one of the least homer-happy ballparks in the game (though he's pitched well in all three starts on the road).
The Marlins are playing .300 baseball, so why shouldn't they move Slowey? One reason is that he'll be arbitration eligible after this season, and therefore under team control for 2014. Given his $750K salary - barely above the league minimum - trading Slowey now would not be a cost-cutting move. It'd simply be a way of cashing in a 29-year-old off to a hot start for at least one credible prospect. Slowey has his flaws, but he'd fit well with teams like the Giants or Pirates come the July trade deadline.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Green, however, could back be with the Marlins soon, according to Frisaro. Donovan Solano has missed the last two games after tweaking his left oblique against the Phillies Friday night. If Solano is placed on the disabled list, Green is a candidate to replace him; but, the Marlins would have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to do so.
Green has hit .321/.344/.500 with a home run in 34 plate appearances for the Marlins this year. The offensive prowess by the 34-year-old is somewhat of a surprise considering he owns a career slash line of .237/.304/.351 in parts of eight MLB seasons with the Braves, Rays, Yankees, Mariners, Red Sox, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Marlins.
In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark looks at what we've learned around the 30-game mark of the season. The Red Sox have spent their money better than any team in baseball as Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, and Shane Victorino (before his back issues) have gotten off to excellent starts. Meanwhile, it looks like the Braves have made the best trade of anyone so far as they landed Justin Upton and Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and four players that aren't currently in the majors. Here's more from today's column..
- Teams that have checked in on Brian Wilson have been told that his target date to throw for interested clubs should be around the All-Star break. Wilson wants to ensure that he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery before auditioning again.
- Giancarlo Stanton's hamstring injury should probably put any talk of a July trade to rest. "If they trade him in-season, they probably wouldn't get any major league talent," said one exec. "So given everything that's happened with their team and their attendance, are they really in a position to make a deal for him where they just get back prospects? Probably not." The exec concluded that the Marlins are better off waiting until the offseason and getting big league ready talent back for their star.
- The Rays may be the most closely-watched team in the league by contenders over the next few months. Teams know the Rays will keep David Price in July if they're alive in the AL East, and will listen hard if they're out of contention. If they're caught in between, one exec believes that the Rays still might move him if they feel like they're not good enough to win it all. The hurler's price tag is expected to by skyhigh if he hits the open market after the 2015 season.
- The buzzards are already starting to circle over the Phillies, Stark writes, but club officials have told teams that have checked in that they still expect their club to contend and won't even think about selling for another two months.
- If a Phillies sell-off happens, the biggest buzz would include impending free agent Chase Utley. One exec who has checked into things says his impression is that the Phillies would approach Utley first and get a feel for whether he wants to go elsewhere. Utley, who will be just short of 10-and-5 rights at the deadline - can block trades to 21 teams.
- Execs say they'd rather trade for Lucas Harrell than Bud Norris if they had a choice between the Astros pitchers. Harrell has two more years of control and one scout says that the big knock on Norris is that he's still basically a "two-pitch guy". Quite a few teams also think he profiles more as a bullpen weapon on a contender even though he's the Astros' ace.
- The Yankees want a right-handed bat, but one scout feels that they don't have enough pieces to land an impact deal. The Bombers added one right-handed hitter when they traded for Chris Nelson earlier this week.
The Phillies have made multiple inquiries on the availability of Giancarlo Stanton over the past several months, Major League sources tell Jim Sailisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but have received the same answer as every other team in baseball: Stanton isn't available for the time being.
Salisbury notes that while the Phils lack a deep farm system, they do have plenty of near-MLB-ready arms such as Jesse Biddle, Jonathan Pettibone and Adam Morgan that could be used to headline a Stanton package. Of course, as Salisbury notes, if and when the Marlins decide to listen to offers on Stanton, they may not be keen on trading him within the division. That hasn't stopped the Phillies -- and reportedly the Mets -- from showing interest.
Salisbury writes that the very reason that the Phillies have such great need for Stanton's services could lead the team to be sellers come the trade deadline. Philadelphia outfielders are hitting just .215/.285/.330, which has contributed to their 13-16 record. Here are the highlights from his list of potential trade chips...
- Cliff Lee could become the prize of the July trade market should the Phillies sell. The Red Sox inquired on Lee before the Winter Meetings but were rebuffed. Given their first-place standing, they could look at Lee as a means to push them toward a World Series run.
- Jonathan Papelbon is another expensive piece that the Phils could move, and Salisbury wonders if the Tigers could be interested, given deep-pocketed owner Mike Illitch's desire to win a World Series. Detroit has had bullpen issues all season and recently re-signed Jose Valverde to reprise his role as closer. However, Salisbury reports that the Tigers are one of the team's in Papelbon's no-trade clause.
- Jimmy Rollins could be moved but would have to waive his full no-trade clause in order for that to happen.
- There's a sentiment that the Phillies would prefer to keep Chase Utley than deal him this summer if he remains healthy. Utley will gain 10-and-5 rights in August, Salisbury notes.
- Salisbury also mentions Carlos Ruiz, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Delmon Young as players the Phillies would consider. Halladay's inconsistency and Howard's price tag would be prohibitive factors in any trade talks for that duo.
The Marlins have designated infielder Nick Green for assignment and selected the contract of outfielder Matt Diaz from Triple-A New Orleans, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (on Twitter).
It was reported yesterday that this was a likely outcome for Green, who hit .321/.344/.500 with a home run in 34 plate appearances for the Fish. However, the 34-year-old has a lifetime batting line of just .237/.304/.351. In parts of eight Major League seasons, the journeyman has seen time with the Rays, Dodgers, Marlins, Mariners, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Braves.
Defensively, Green has graded out as an above average shortstop and an average second baseman, according to UZR and The Fielding Bible. Neither is a fan of his limited body of work at third base (242 innings).
The Prospect Rumor Roundup returns for a second week with a look back at the biggest trade of the offseason...
With Toronto almost 10 games out of first place at the beginning of May, and with the bandwagon already set ablaze by fickle fans, it's safe to say that this is not the type of start to the year that the Blue Jays front office was expecting. The organization orchestrated two key trades during the 2012-13 offseason, which brought a number of high-profile veterans north of the border, including R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio. A month into the season, those five players have accumulated a combined 0.3 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement).
With arguably a top five minor league system prior to the deals, Toronto mortgaged a good deal of its future for a chance to win now. While the veterans are struggling, the majority of the prospects -- no longer under the Jays' control -- are thriving in their new digs.
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud reportedly came close to winning a big league roster spot out of spring training with the Mets. He was assigned to Triple-A where six of his nine hits went for extra bases. He also added 12 walks before going down with a broken foot. He'll miss about eight weeks, but veteran catcher John Buck is holding down the fort in the Majors. D'Arnaud was added to the 40-man roster in November 2011 and is currently in his second of three option years, so he'll have to establish himself in the Majors by the end of the 2014 season to avoid being sent through waivers to be demoted to the minors.
One of three top young arms in Toronto's system prior to being dealt to the Mets, Noah Syndergaard has a 3.24 ERA in five High-A ball starts. He's been even better than it appears, though, as he allowed seven of his nine earned runs on the year in just one start. Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com recently spoke to the prospect's A-ball pitching coach to learn more about his approach. The Texas native is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2014 so he'll have to be added to the 40-man roster after next season to avoid being snatched away from the Mets.
Outfielder Wuilmer Becerra suffered a scary injury last year in rookie ball when he was hit in the face during an at-bat, ending his season after just 11 games. The 18-year-old was originally signed out of Venezuela for $1.3MM and was considered one of the top Latin amateur free agents in 2011. He's currently playing in extended spring training and should be assigned to a short-season club in June.
Adeiny Hechavarria was signed out of Cuba by the Jays and has taken over the starting shortstop gig in Miami, although he's currently on the disabled list. His offense hasn't kicked in yet but he's playing steady ball in the field and is known for being a plus defender capable of providing a ton of value with his glove alone. Hechavarria's traditional three option years expired at the end of 2012 but he was granted a rare fourth option year for the 2013 season, so he can be sent down to the minors this year -- if need be -- without being exposed to waivers.
Like Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino was a member of Toronto's top pitching trio. The Florida native has enjoyed his time in the Miami Marlins organization despite an inconsistent year to date and has a 3.60 ERA in five starts in the High-A Florida State League. Nicolino's adjustment to his hometown organization was recently outlined by Guy Curtright at MiLB.com. He doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season. I recently spoke with Marlins Director of Player Development Brian Chattin, who said the organization was happy with all the players they acquired. "Nicolino has shown an above-average changeup and a mature approach to his development," he added.
An injury to outfielder Jake Marisnick kept him on the sidelines until this past weekend. After spending 55 games at the Double-A level in 2013, he got his feet wet back in High-A ball before moving back to Double-A. He has plus defensive skills but a front office contact within the Jays organization told me during the offseason -- shortly before the big trade -- that he's still getting used to some adjustments made to his batting stance and swing mechanics. Chattin told MLBTR, "[Jake has] excellent makeup, he's a well-above-average athlete, impressive defender in center field and has the tools to be an impact major leaguer." Marisnick will have to be added to the 40-man roster this coming November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
The lesser known name of the group of prospects sent to Miami, Anthony DeSclafani arguably has had the most success of the four players. The University of Florida alum has a 0.44 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 20.2 innings pitched. A reliever with inconsistent results in college, the organization is trying to stretch him out as a starter in pro ball. "Anthony has thrown strikes and lived at the bottom of the zone in each of his starts," Chattin told MLBTR. "We are allowing him to use his curveball in addition to his slider/fastball/changeup combination. He has confidence in his curveball and is using it well as a complement to the rest of his arsenal." Like Nicolino, DeSclafani has to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2014 season.
Prospect Tidbits: With the recent success of 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball is enjoying renewed popularity. Orioles minor leaguer Eddie Gamboa is attempting to become the next successful big league knuckleballer. Benjamin Hill of MLB.com explained that the pitching prospect received some guidance from Hall of Famer Phil Niekro during spring training. Gamboa said that he's currently throwing his new pitch about 50 percent of the time in game situations, much to his surprise. Said Gamboa:
"I always put up okay numbers, enough to keep getting a job again but not enough to get a promotion... My game was stuck... The knuckleball was always something that I had practiced just in case, but I didn't think that just in case was going to be this year."
A talented two-way player in high school, Stetson Allie signed with the Pirates for a $2.25MM bonus in 2010 and began his career on the mound. When he was unable to harness his control (29 walks in 26 innings in 2011), the organization took a huge gamble by shifting the strong-armed prospect to first base. It took a year of struggling to find his footing but Allie is finally tapping into his plus raw power and has eight home runs in 24 A-ball games. Mike Newman of FanGraphs.com recently watched the Pirates prospect play and he also spoke with Allie, as well as Pittsburgh's assistant general manager Kyle Stark.
Barring an unforseen setback, the Marlins are set to designate Nick Green for assignment, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday and chances are he will be reinstated, meaning that the club will have to make roster space for him.
Green, 34, is understandably disappointed by the pending move as he has been playing well for the Marlins. The infielder has a .292/.321/.417 slash line so far this year in a small sample size of 30 plate appearances. For his career, Green has hit .237/.304/.349 across eight big league campaigns.
The veteran signed a minor league deal with the Marlins in January and was called up earlier this month. Green spent the bulk of 2012 in Triple-A, where he hit .344/.397/.599 in 63 games for New Orleans.
The Marlins have promoted 22-year-old right fielder Marcell Ozuna, who will make his big league debut tonight against Jeremy Hefner and the Mets. Ozuna, who was already on the team's 40-man roster, replaces slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton hit the DL with a Grade 2 hamstring strain and will be out a few weeks in the best case scenario, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald among others.
Ozuna ranked 75th on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list, but failed to place on Keith Law's list for ESPN or the MLB.com list. Prior to the season, BA wrote that Ozuna "oozes tools, particularly with his plus-plus raw power and a cannon arm." He opened the season on the DL with a broken left wrist but showed no ill effects in ten Double-A games. If Ozuna manages to stick in the Majors permanently, a tall order, he'll accumulate 153 days of big league service this year and qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player after the 2015 season. He'd be under team control through 2019.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has posted his latest edition of Full Count (video link) and we've got the highlights..
- If the White Sox fall out of contention, they could be an interesting seller at the deadline. Paul Konerko, Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton, and Jesse Crain are among their attractive potential free agents. Meanwhile, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy are signed only through next season. However, their pitching means that they should be in the mix for at least the second wild card spot. According to one team's internal calculations, their staff is currently the most productive in baseball.
- The Rangers could face a problem if they try to put a deal together for Giancarlo Stanton or David Price. Texas is thin on high-end pitching in the upper levels farm system, which will hurt them, particularly if they go after Price.
- Mets skipper Terry Collins is in the final year of his deal and one team official says he'll likely be judged on how much the team's young talent improves. So far, so good as Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda, and of course Matt Harvey are among the homegrown Mets off to decent starts. Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, on the other hand, appear to be question marks. In any case, Collins' status likely won't be decided until the end of the season.
- There was a lot of talk about Dan Haren's hip after the Cubs backed out of trading for him last November, but the pitcher has heard the talk and thinks its overblown. He says that his hip is the same as it was when he was in Oakland and says that it hasn't gotten any better or worse since then. He also noted that he has missed only three starts in ten seasons and doesn't plan to miss any in 2013.