Francisco Rodriguez Rumors

Orioles Notes: Hendriks, Balfour, K-Rod

The Orioles' claim of Liam Hendriks today was, like many waiver claims, an acquisition made with depth in mind — Orioles executive Dan Duquette sees Hendriks as a possible spot starter, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. But Duquette also likes Hendriks' control. Hendriks struggled in the Majors in 2013, but he walked only 1.4 batters per nine innings in 98 1/3 frames for Triple-A Rochester, and since he was only 24, Duquette is optimistic that he might be able to post strong control numbers in the big leagues. Here are more notes on the Orioles.

  • Hendriks' acquisition won't stop the Orioles from pursuing starting pitching. The O's continue to look for starters in both free agency and the trade market, Encina tweets. Baltimore has been connected to starters including Ubaldo Jimenez, Johan Santana and A.J. Burnett.
  • Don't expect a big move before Christmas, however — Duquette indicates that most teams will begin their holiday breaks after today (via MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko on Twitter).
  • The Grant Balfour "fiasco" could be an issue for the Orioles as they pursue free agents, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. The O's backed out of their agreement with Balfour over concern regarding his medicals, a concern some other teams did not share. That wasn't the first time the Orioles had voided a deal for medical reasons, as Rosenthal describes. "This will factor into every competent agent's thought process going forward," an agent tells Rosenthal.
  • The Orioles do not seem to be interested in re-signing Francisco Rodriguez, Kubatko writes. Instead, they'll likely go with Tommy Hunter or free agent Fernando Rodney for their closer role.

Orioles, Three Others Showing “Significant” Interest In Rodney

MONDAY: The Orioles are one of four teams showing "significant" interest in Rodney, Connolly reports. Baltimore's decision not to sign Balfour has "unquestionably" intensified the Rodney market, Connolly's source added. Baltimore likes Rodney's recent AL East success, but there's a sense that he could require a larger deal than the two-year, $15MM agreement with Balfour that crumbled, and that could be beyond the Orioles' comfort limit, says Connolly.

The team has also checked in on Francisco Rodriguez, Connolly adds. One source told him that the O's have reached out to K-Rod very recently, but the sense is that it was more due diligence than genuine interest. Rodriguez wasn't happy with his role in Baltimore's bullpen in 2013, as he rarely worked high leverage innings after being acquired from the Brewers for infield prospect Nick Delmonico.

FRIDAY: With the Grant Balfour decision in limbo, the Orioles are turning their attention to Fernando Rodney, an industry source tells Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).  The O's had discussions with and about Rodney earlier this winter but negotiations didn't progress (link).

Rodney is reportedly seeking as much as $10MM per year, which would make him a considerably more expensive option than Balfour.  However, with many closing vacancies already filled, Rodney's leverage may not be as great as it was early in the offseason.  By that same token, his agents at the MVP Sports group can make the case that Rodney is the best closer left on the market to try to get the Orioles to pay a premium.

Rodney is coming off a strong season in which he pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings for the Rays.  Though he racked up another 37 saves, Rodney's history of command issues resurfaced in 2013 after it looked like he may have overcome that problem a year prior.  In his free agent profile of Rodney back on Nov. 1, our own Steve Adams predicted a two-year, $18MM contract for the soon-to-be 37-year-old.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Orioles Notes: Rodriguez, Feldman, McFarland

We learned earlier this morning that two recent Orioles players — Taylor Teagarden and Jairo Asencio — will hit the open market and could be playing elsewhere in 2014. Of course, neither of those players figured prominently in the club's plans. Here are a few notes of somewhat greater importance to the Baltimore franchise:

  • Trade deadline acquisition Francisco Rodriguez never really fit in with the club, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Dubroff says the O's will not bring back Roriguez, who was the last to show up and first to leave the clubhouse and never found a prominent role in manager Buck Showalter's pen. The O's largely got what they hoped for with Rodriguez: he posted 11.5 K/9 against just 2.0 BB/9 in 22 innings, though his ERA ended up at a middling 4.50. But he was used in just seven games that the team ultimately won, making the price (prospect Nick Delmonico) seem tough to swallow in retrospect. 
  • One of the Orioles' other big mid-year adds was starter Scott Feldman, who could be re-signed as a free agent. To do so, says MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, the club may need to be willing to offer a three-year deal. (MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged three years and $25MM as Feldman's ceiling, but opined that he is likelier to end up in the neighborhood of two years and $17MM.) Whether or not Feldman is pitching in Camden Yards next year, Kubatko says that the trade by which he was acquired was a good one. Though Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta have both enhanced their value since going to the Cubs in that deal, says Kubatko, the former couldn't be trusted in the late innings and lacked options, while the latter clearly needed a change of scenery to get his career back on track. 
  • Another candidate for the 2014 Baltimore rotation could be the under-the-radar T.J. McFarland, says MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. The O's have now established control over the Rule 5 pick after carrying him on their active roster for all of 2013. McFarland, a 24-year-old lefty, ended the year with a 4.22 ERA in 74 2/3 innings, the vast majority of which came in relief. But the former Indians farmhand spent his entire minor league career in the rotation, and will throw in Venezuela over the winter to add innings in the hopes of competing for a starting gig with Baltimore next season.


Quick Hits: Rodriguez, Middlebrooks, Mariners, Haren

To round out the evening, here are a few links …

  • The Red Sox had an opportunity to acquire reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, reports CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler, but were unwilling to give up young third baseman Will Middlebrooks to do so. Leaving Rodriguez go to the division-rival Orioles, GM Ben Cherington determined that Middlebrooks could still contribute to the team this season. Of course, he has done just that, posting an excellent .972 OPS since being recalled on August 10th.
  • Mariners manager Eric Wedge says that his team has "a lot of guys that have a good chance to be good ballplayers," reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, but says he is not sure "we have any superstars." Wedge went on to praise the organization's "volume" of talent. Though intended as a compliment, says Baker, these comments make clear that the team needs to jettison its "risk-averse financial approach" and act boldly on the free agent market to produce a real contender.
  • Nationals' starter Dan Haren had a second straight disastrous outing today, once more failing to hang in past the third inning. While Haren had a chance to end his rocky season on a consistent high note after a solid run through much of July and August, his free agent value seems unlikely to make a real recovery at this point. It will be interesting to see how the market values once-excellent starters like Haren, Josh Johnson, and Roy Halladay, each of whom have suffered through miserable seasons in their walk years.

Placed On Waivers: Santana, Rodriguez, DeJesus, Willingham

Here's Tuesday's list of players who have been placed on revocable trade waivers…

  • Ervin Santana — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Ervin Santana has been placed on waivers. He instantly becomes one of the most desirable pieces on waivers, but the Royals are likely not inclined to move him. Santana, 30, has a 3.21 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in what has been a tremendous rebound campaign with the Royals. He's owed about $2.23MM this season and is a free agent at season's end. However, Kansas City is still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot and will be making Santana a qualifying offer following the season, so a return would likely have to overwhelm them.
  • Francisco Rodriguez — Rosenthal's tweet also reported that K-Rod has been placed on waivers by the Orioles. This is likely nothing more than a procedural move, as he's been solid for the O's, and they're just 2.5 games back from a Wild Card spot.
  • Wesley Wright, David DeJesus — Rosenthal also noted that the Rays have put both of their most recent waiver pickups back on waivers. However, in a second tweet he cautions that DeJesus needn't be worried this time, as the Rays are merely putting all of their players through waivers as a procedural move right now, which explains Wright's placement as well.
  • Josh Willingham — Peter Gammons of the MLB Network tweets that the Twins have placed Willingham on waivers. Minnesota was expecting big things out of Willingham following a 35-homer season in 2012, but knee injuries diminished his production at the plate and he ultimately underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early July. Since being activated on Aug. 9, he's batting just .177/.316/.371 with a pair of homers and six doubles. Willingham's walk rate (13.4 percent) and power (.179 ISO) remain strong, but his strikeout rate is up (26.7 percent) and his average is down due to a decrease in line drives and an increase in pop-ups. He's owed roughly $1.3MM for the remainder of the season and is owed $7MM in 2014 — the final season of a three-year, $21MM contract.
  • Earlier today, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that Marlon Byrd, Pedro Feliciano and John Buck of the Mets were all on waivers, and at least one trade is likely. Byrd was claimed by an unknown NL team shortly thereafter.

For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer. You can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers.


AL East Notes: Anthopoulos, Sternberg, Rios, Orioles

The Orioles paid a steep price to acquire Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, ESPN's Keith Law opines, (Insider subscription required), given that Rodriguez will be a free agent this offseason.  The busy marketplace for relief pitching could be a boon to another AL East club if they decided to become sellers; "if a two-month rental of K-Rod gets a mid-level prospect, the Jays should shop Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar," Law tweets.

Here's the latest from around the AL East…


Melvin On K-Rod Trade, Bullpen, Gallardo, Lohse

Francisco Rodriguez's trade to the Orioles may be the first of several moves for the Brewers before the trade deadline, though Brewers GM Doug Melvin hinted that further moves (if any) would require a very high return.  Here are the highlights of Melvin's conference call with reporters, including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

  • As many as six teams had interest in Rodriguez but the field narrowed to three bidders, Melvin said.  The other two finalists, besides the O's, were also from the American League.  The Tigers and Red Sox were known to have interest in Rodriguez, though it's just speculation on my part that they could have been the two mystery AL teams.
  • Melvin spoke highly of Nick Delmonico, the infield prospect acquired from Baltimore.  Melvin said he asked the Orioles about Delmonico three weeks ago and were turned down, so the deep trade market for Rodriguez helped the Brewers eventually get the prospect they wanted.
  • The Brewers are "not shopping" other bullpen pieces like John Axford or Jim Henderson "but if teams have interest, I have to listen," Melvin said.  "We've still got a lot of good young players here. People talk about our pitching but if you trade pitching, you're going to need pitching back for this year, next year and the following years."
  • Teams have called about Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse but Melvin said he's "not motivated" to move either starter.  Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) reported earlier today that the Brewers "need to be blown away" to consider moving Lohse, and the Giants weren't a fit as a trade partner.
  • Melvin made it clear that he isn't under any pressure to move veterans just for the sake of rebuilding the roster.  "This isn't where we're selling. I'm not a believer in buyers and sellers; I'm a believer in making a good deal," Melvin said.  "Deals that help both ball clubs are the best deals to work. When you're selling, you're just moving players because of salary and we don't have to do that."
  • Some teams have called about the Brewers' position players though Melvin declined to provide details.

Red Sox Notes: Hochevar, K-Rod, Wilson, Workman

The biggest news of the day from Fenway Park is Dustin Pedroia's seven-year, $100MM extension with the Red Sox, and we already have heard a lot of reaction to the big contract.  While locking up Pedroia is a major long-term move for the team, the Red Sox could make a move for their immediate future by adding a reliever before the trade deadline.  Here's the latest…

  • The Red Sox are interested in Royals reliever Luke Hochevar and have been scouting the right-hander, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  The two teams haven't engaged in trade discussions, however, as the Royals aren't yet open to dealing their veterans.  Hochevar, the first overall pick of the 2006 draft, has posted a 2.00 ERA, 9.5 K/9 and 3.8 K/BB ratio in 36 IP in his first season as a reliever.  Hochevar is earning $4.56MM this year and will get an arbitration raise this winter, however, so he could be too expensive for the Royals to retain.
  • The Sox had spoken to the Brewers about Francisco Rodriguez but thought Milwaukee's asking price was too high for a reliever who will be a free agent this winter, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports.  Boston will now have to deal with K-Rod in the AL East pennant race now that the veteran righty has been acquired by the Orioles.
  • The Red Sox have no current interest in Brian Wilson, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter).  The former Giants closer will be showcasing his arm for teams within the next few weeks as he attempts to return from Tommy John surgery.
  • Brandon Workman has pitched well as a stopgap starter for Boston but manager John Farrell admitted that even if the righty keeps performing, it wouldn't stop the club from pursuing starting pitching help if necessary.  “[GM Ben Cherington] will be aggressive in a situation in a deal that makes sense for us,” Farrell told reporters, including Alex Speier. “I wouldn’t pin our assessment of the trade market on Brandon Workman. He’s not the linchpin to whether we make a trade or not.”

Orioles Acquire Francisco Rodriguez From Brewers

The Orioles have acquired right-hander Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers in exchange for minor league infielder Nick Delmonico, according to a team press release.  Nolan Reimold has been transferred to the 60-day DL to create 40-man roster space in a corresponding move.

The 31-year-old Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in April and while he didn't make his season debut until May 16, he has been stellar ever since and even moved back into a closer's role due to John Axford's struggles.  Rodriguez is a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities and has posted a 1.09 ERA, 9.5 K/9 and 2.89 K/BB rate in 24 2/3 IP for Milwaukee this season. 

USATSI_7328061While "K-Rod" won't usurp Jim Johnson as Baltimore's closer, he does bring a wealth of big-game experience to the Orioles bullpen and gives the O's some depth behind Johnson.  As for the Brewers, Axford and Jim Henderson will get the majority of save chances, though both men have been whispered in trade rumors themselves.  You can keep track of Milwaukee's closer situation on MLBTR's sister Twitter feed, @CloserNews.

Delmonico was the Orioles' sixth-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft.  The 21-year-old has played first, second and third base in his brief pro career and owns a .244/.351/.471 line and 13 homers in 262 PA at the high-A ball level in 2013.  Baseball America ranked Delmonico as the fourth-best prospect in the Orioles' system before the season and praised his high baseball IQ and hitting tools, "though there's some length to his swing."  Delmonico projects as a corner infielder in the future as he doesn't have the fielding ability to stick at second base.

The Dodgers, Tigers and Red Sox had been linked to Rodriguez in recent days though the Orioles were one of several teams known to be scouting Milwaukee's relievers earlier this month.  Since Rodriguez may have been the best right-handed closing option available on the trade market, the Orioles have also done well to keep him away from teams who had more pressing needs at the back of their bullpens.

Photo courtesy of Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports Images


Relief Market Rumors: K-Rod, Wilson, Duensing, Coke

With just over a week to the trade deadline, there's still been only one significant move for a reliever — Boston's acquisition of Matt Thornton. Plenty of teams are on the lookout for bullpen help, however, including the Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Diamondbacks and more. With a potential Jason Grilli injury last night, more bullpen rumors could begin to circulate. Here are the latest relief rumblings from around the baseball world…

  • The Red Sox, Dodgers and Tigers are all keeping close tabs on Francisco Rodriguez, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The Sox and Dodgers, in particular, were said by Crasnick to have scouts "all over" Rodriguez this week. Detroit, meanwhile, isn't as interested as it once was due to the strong recent performance of Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly (Twitter links).
  • Former closer Brian Wilson threw for Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen catcher Billy Hayes yesterday, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. The session was a personal favor to Wilson and not an indicator that a deal is coming, Baggarly writes. However, Wilson looked nearly Major League ready, and Baggarly feels that the willingness to afford Wilson this favor suggests that any ill will between the two sides following Wilson's offseason non-tender has subsided.
  • The Braves continue to search for left-handed relief help, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio, who lists Oliver Perez, Mike Dunn, Glen Perkins, Scott Downs and James Russell as potential targets. Bowden notes that Perkins is unlikely, likely because of the numerous reports that the Twins won't move their closer.
  • While the Twins aren't interested in moving Perkins, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves may have interest in another Minnesota lefty who may be available — Brian Duensing (Twitter link). Duensing has two years of team control remaining and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason.
  • One more note from Crasnick, who tweets that the Braves also checked in on Phil Coke in their quest for lefty relief help, but nothing came of the talks with the Tigers. Coke has had a brutal season because of overexposure against right-handed hitters, but he's held lefties to a .231/.271/.346 batting line.
  • For more on the relief trade market, check out my examinations of the market for left-handed relievers and the market for right-handed relievers. Also, for all fantasy players out there, be sure to follow @closernews on Twitter to keep up to speed with closer injuries, performance, usage and more.