- The Yankees will be willing to deal pending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran if they’re not in serious contention for a playoff spot by the August 1 deadline, Rosenthal says. They do not want to trade Andrew Miller right now, however. It’s also possible they could deal starting pitchers like CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda, but they are not in active discussions to sell right now and they could wait to deal members of that trio this offseason, since all are under control in 2017.
- The Marlins would deal Adeiny Hechavarria and replace him at shortstop with Miguel Rojas if they could get a top starter like Chris Archer of the Rays in return, Rosenthal says. From this vantage point, that sounds like a lot to ask for a shortstop who has hit .238/.274/.336 this season (although Hechavarria is a stellar defender), and one would think Hechavarria would have limited value in a deal for an ace, even as part of a package. Rosenthal unsurprisingly notes that the Rays aren’t interested in trading Archer for a package that has Hechavarria as its centerpiece. The Marlins are also very interested in Archer’s fellow Rays starters Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore, although their weak minor league system poses difficulties in lining up a trade.
- The Rockies don’t seem overly motivated to trade Carlos Gonzalez and have passed on opportunities to do so, Rosenthal says. Gonzalez’s contract runs through 2017, coinciding with the end of GM Jeff Bridich’s deal, and Rosenthal implies it might be in Bridich’s best interest to keep Gonzalez around to increase the Rockies’ chances of being competitive until then.
- The Tigers aren’t likely to make big moves before the deadline, with a large payroll that will limit their flexibility and a number of tough-to-move contracts on the books. They could, however, become a seller if they do especially poorly in the next two weeks, potentially dealing Francisco Rodriguez and/or other relievers.
- Braves GM John Coppolella continues to insist his team will not deal Julio Teheran, Rosenthal says. Coppolella believes Teheran (who is under team control through 2020) can be a key player on the next contending Braves team, although he acknowledges that won’t happen this season.
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).
The Brewers announced that they’ve acquired catcher Manny Pina from the Tigers as the player to be named later in last month’s Francisco Rodriguez trade. Milwaukee also picked up minor league infielder Javier Betancourt in the deal.
Pina, 28, received a pair of brief call-ups with the Royals back in 2011-12 but hasn’t appeared in the Majors since. He enjoyed a productive 2015 campaign with Triple-A Toledo, where he batted .305/.379/.461 with seven homers, and on the defensive side of the coin, he also caught 46 percent of attempted base-stealers. Pina has caught 37 percent of attempted runners over the life of his minor league career, and he’s a .264/.343/.395 hitter in 232 games at Triple-A. Pina will give the Brewers additional depth in the event of a trade or further injuries to Jonathan Lucroy.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has tons of great info and insight in his latest column. The whole article is worth a read, but here’s a look at a few of the highlights:
- Before acquiring Francisco Rodriguez via trade, the Tigers made an offer to free agent Joakim Soria, major league sources tell Rosenthal. They also inquired on a few Nationals relievers, including Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen. George A. King III of the New York Post first reported that there were discussions earlier this month between Soria and Detroit. Soria is seeking a three-year, $27MM deal, so that was likely too rich for the Tigers’ blood.
- Papelbon and Storen have been mentioned in rumors for some time now and sources tell Rosenthal that both are likely to be moved. Meanwhile, talk persists that the Nationals have been one of the clubs trying to pry closer Aroldis Chapman away from the Reds. All in all, it seems like Washington is looking for a major overhaul in their bullpen. Still, the Nats feel that a left-hander hitter is their biggest need and they could also be on the hunt for a starting pitcher.
- The Rangers inquired on Yoenis Cespedes multiple times when he was crushing homers for the A’s, sources tell Rosenthal, but it still seems unlikely that they’ll send the money necessary to sign him this winter. Last week, Steve Adams looked at the Rangers’ various options as a part of MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook series.
The dwindling relief market could work in the Yankees’ favor, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. The Braves and Dodgers have recently been linked to Darren O’Day, and if O’Day signs with one of those teams, the best late-inning option available on the free agent market will be Joakim Soria, who doesn’t appear likely to be cheap. The lack of capable and reasonably priced late-inning relievers could increase the trade value of Andrew Miller, who the Yankees could potentially use as a trade chip to bolster their rotation. Here are more quick notes from the American League.
- The Tigers pursued a number of potential upgrades for their bullpen before completing their deal for Francisco Rodriguez, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. They asked about Aroldis Chapman, Miller and Brad Boxberger, but any of those three relievers would have cost too much in prospects. They also had discussions with free agent Joakim Soria, but it appears he’ll get a three-year deal. Darren O’Day, meanwhile, seems likely to get four. So the Tigers approached the Brewers. Rodriguez was a good fit for them in that what’s left of his contract amounts to one year plus an option ($7.5MM for 2016, some of it deferred, and $6MM or a $2MM buyout for 2017), and the prospect cost (infielder Javier Betancourt plus a player to be named) wasn’t prohibitive.
- The Athletics also had interest in K-Rod, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. They balked, however, at the $9.5MM financial commitment. They have, of course, addressed their bullpen to some degree (while also shedding salary) with their trade of Jesse Chavez to the Blue Jays for Liam Hendriks.
Free agent reliever Joakim Soria has long been rumored to be drawing interest from several of his former employers, and at least two of them are still in the hunt, per a tweet from Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. The current “front-runners” to land the righty, it seems, include the Royals and Rangers — but not the Tigers, who just dealt for Francisco Rodriguez. Interestingly, the other top pursuer is largely a newcomer to the chatter on Soria: the Giants rate as one of the three most likely landing spots, according to the report.
Here are a few more free agent notes:
- Five or six clubs have expressed interest in signing Chase Utley as a “mostly everyday infielder,” agent Joel Wolfe tells Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News (Twitter link). The Dodgers are one of those teams, per the report (and as suggested previously). Utley would probably be best served as a platoon option at this point, though he’d presumably see plenty of action if he gets most of the time against right-handed pitching.
- The representatives of shortstop Ian Desmond are highlighting his defensive versatility to prospective clubs, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets. That’s a bit surprising to hear, given that much of Desmond’s value is tied to his ability to play short, where he rates as a solid defender despite being prone to committing errors. DiComo notes that Desmond has played outfield previously, which is true — but only barely. Desmond has appeared in the outfield in exactly four games as a professional: twice with the Nats, once in Triple-A, and once in the Dominican Winter League. Indeed, he’s only ever played eight other games at any position other than short, with all of those coming in the way of minor league appearances at second. None of that is to say that Desmond can’t play elsewhere on the diamond. After all, he is an excellent athlete. And perhaps the idea of eventually moving to the grass would make the back end of his deal somewhat more palatable.
- Veteran outfielder Andruw Jones is looking for a chance with a big league club and will retire if he doesn’t find one, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports on Twitter. The 17-year MLB veteran, now 38 years old, last appeared in the majors in 2012. But he was rather productive for the NPB’s Rakuten club between 2013 and 2014, slashing .232/.392/.441 in 1185 total plate appearances. It is worth noting, though, that Jones did not end up playing last year after reportedly seeking another shot at the bigs.
The Tigers have officially acquired reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers. Infielder Javier Betancourt will head to Milwaukee in the swap. Detroit will also send a player to be named in the deal. Detroit’s announcement mentions that it, too, will receive a PTBNL, but both teams’ general managers have indicated that is not a straightforward aspect of the deal. (Twitter links.)
K-Rod was something of a forgotten man in early-offseason discussions of relief trade chips, but it always seemed likely that he’d change hands. After all, new Brewers GM David Stearns has clearly been tasked with rebuilding. Rodriguez is obviously not a long-term piece, and his backloaded contract still has $9.5MM left to go (including the buyout of a 2017 option).
Detroit will pay the entirety of the remaining obligation. But with $2MM going to the buyout and another $2MM of salary deferred, some of that cost will be pushed into the future. It’s also worth noting that the $6MM option will really only represent a $4MM decision for Detroit, and could well end up being exercised.
Though he’s now nearly 34 years of age, Rodriguez has continued to be a reliable force at the back of the pen. He ended the 2015 season with 57 innings of 2.21 ERA pitching, striking out 9.8 and walking only 1.7 batters per nine along the way. Rodriguez also permitted a meager 6.0 hits per nine, leaving him with an outstanding (and career-low) 0.860 WHIP on the season.
It’s true that Rodriguez benefitted from a .234 BABIP last year, and an even lower one in the season prior, but he’s carried a .271 mark for his career and also put up a strong 46.4% groundball rate. Of greater concern, perhaps, is that Rodriguez has been increasingly homer-prone as his arm speed has dropped. He lost a full mile per hour off his average fastball velocity between 2014 and 2015, falling below 90 mph for the first time. Then again, that didn’t stop him from producing a 14.0% swinging strike rate — a level he hasn’t reached since he was with the Angels.
Rodriguez fills the stated desire of Tigers GM Al Avila to add a proven closer. He locked down 38 wins last year and has racked up 386 saves over his career, leading all active pitchers. While the value of the save as a statistic is plenty debatable, there’s little reason to fear that Rodriguez will be ruffled by high-leverage situations. And his acquisition will reduce the team’s need to spend more on the open market (or on other trade targets) to add pen help, clearing more resources to dedicate to starting pitching.
Meanwhile, the Brewers will not only shed some salary but will pick up a useful young player in Betancourt, who reached the High-A level last year at age 20. He currently sits at 11th among Tigers prospects, in the estimation of MLB.com, which says that he profiles more as a second baseman but is still capable of handling shortstop. Betancourt looks to be a contact hitter and hasn’t yet shown himself to be much of a long ball or stolen base threat. He slashed .263/.304/.336 in 531 plate appearances over the 2015 season, striking out only 44 times against 29 walks.
Venezuelan journalist Augusto Cardenas first reported the swap via Twitter. James Schmehl of MLive.com reported the inclusion of a PTBNL on Twitter, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted that Detroit would take all of Rodriguez’s salary.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Though each player just had his option exercised yesterday, Padres right-hander Joaquin Benoit and Brewers first baseman Adam Lind are both available in trade talks right now, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.
While the news isn’t necessarily unexpected, especially in Lind’s case, it could certainly have an impact on the offseason direction of multiple clubs. A team that acquires Lind in the near future — and it’s worth keeping in mind that he was traded from Toronto to Milwaukee on Nov. 1 last year, making a near-future deal plenty possible — would likely be plugging a hole at first base or designated hitter, thereby removing them from the free agent market at said positions. Clubs in possible need of first base/DH help could include the Pirates, Orioles, Rockies, Mariners, White Sox, Astros and A’s, depending on roster decisions made by each club early in the offseason.
Olney further tweets that catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer Francisco Rodriguez “are available for trade talks” as well, as new Milwaukee GM David Stearns aims to make his team younger and build for the future. Any of the three Brewers players mentioned by Olney would have value to another team, with Lind controlled for one year at $8MM, Rodriguez owed $7.5MM this coming season (plus a $2MM buyout or $6MM club option for 2017) and Lucroy owed $4MM in 2016 (plus a $5.25MM club option for 2017).
As for Benoit, the Padres exercised a $7.5MM club option over him yesterday rather than paying a $1MM buyout. The 38-year-old is coming off three exceptionally strong seasons split between the Tigers and Padres, having worked to a 1.98 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 41.7 percent ground-ball rate. Although metrics such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA feel that Benoit has overperformed, he’s been able to sustain abnormally low BABIP levels and high strand rates, suggesting that there’s some degree of skill involved in those atypical marks. While there’s been a good deal of talk about the Padres potentially trading Craig Kimbrel this winter, and Benoit then closing for the team next season, it appears that Benoit will be marketed prior to any theoretical Kimbrel talks. A trade of Benoit wouldn’t rule out the possibility of dealing Kimbrel, of course, but moving both would create quite a bit of work for the Padres in the bullpen, as right-hander Shawn Kelley is also up for free agency this winter.
An unknown team claimed reliever Francisco Rodriguez on revocable waivers, but the Brewers have pulled him back, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. That means Rodriguez will stay with Milwaukee at least until the offseason.
This summer, the Blue Jays and Astros were connected to Rodriguez. At the time, though, it appeared there wasn’t particularly intense interest in him due to his backloaded contract. Rodriguez is making $3.5MM this season, but that jumps to $7.5MM next season, plus either a $2MM buyout or a $6MM option in 2017.
Nonetheless, Rodriguez has been terrific this season, posting a 2.01 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 44 2/3 innings. He’s also still relatively young at 33, so he could certainly still be productive in 2016.
The Brewers have been busy on the trade market this summer — they recently dealt Neal Cotts to the Twins, and they had previously sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros, Gerardo Parra to the Orioles, Jonathan Broxton to the Cardinals and Aramis Ramirez to the Pirates. It appears Rodriguez will be one veteran they won’t be dealing, however.
There are just four days remaining for teams to make trades that will allow an acquired player to be eligible for his new team’s postseason roster. If the past two seasons are any indication (MLBTR Transaction Tracker links), we’ll see a handful of trades between now and Monday, as players acquired next Tuesday (Sept. 1) or later won’t be postseason eligible. Here’s a reminder on how the August trade process works, and here’s Friday’s list of players that have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…
- Peter Gammons reports that Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez and Orioles right-hander Darren O’Day are both on revocable waivers at the moment (Twitter link). It seems as though the pair was placed on waivers Wednesday afternoon, as Gammons notes that waivers on each expire today.
- Rodriguez, 33, is the likelier of the two to clear, as he’s owed about $10.23MM through the end of the 2016 season (though $2MM of his $7.5MM salary in 2016 is deferred, as is the $2MM buyout on his 2017 option, per Cot’s Contracts). If Rodriguez does clear, it’ll almost certainly be due to his salary, because his performance in 2015 has been outstanding. In 43 2/3 innings, K-Rod has a 2.06 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 45.6 percent ground-ball rate to go along with 30 saves. A fluky homer-to-flyball ratio bloated his home run rate in 2014 and dragged down his peripheral stats, but that number regressed toward Rodriguez’s career norm in 2015, leading to very strong numbers in spite of diminished velocity (89.6 mph average fastball).
- The 32-year-old O’Day seems like a surefire bet to be claimed, as he’s earning just $4.25MM in 2015 (with $882K remaining on the deal) and is in the midst of a career year. O’Day has been dominant in each of his four years with the O’s, but his current 1.63 ERA and 11.4 K/9 rate both represent career bests. The side-arming setup man is averaging just 2.2 walks per nine innings, and he’s held right-handed hitters to a feeble .195/.233/.244 batting line. It should be noted that lefties have had more success, posting a .237/.333/.407 line against O’Day.
MLBTR has kept track of all players to reportedly clear revocable waivers (list here), though there are, of course, numerous players who clear waivers and go unreported in doing so.