Francisco Rodriguez Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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...
- Speaking of the Blue Jays, GM Alex Anthopoulos predicts a "quiet" trade deadline for his struggling team, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reports (Twitter links). The Jays are looking for players who are controlled beyond the 2013 season and not just rental players. "From our standpoint, we’re having dialogue....I really don’t see us doing anything," Anthopoulos said.
- The Rays are also likely to have a pretty uneventful deadline period, principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) though they're always open to making moves.
- Jim Hendry, special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, attended tonight's Tigers/White Sox game, according to Meghan Montemurro of the Northwest Herald. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune speculates that the Yankees could be interested in Alex Rios as a backup plan if they fail to acquire Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs (both links are to Twitter).
- The Orioles may need to make some tough choices given the number of key players whose contracts are soon up, CSN Baltimore's Rich Dubroff writes. Players like Chris Davis, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Jim Johnson are only under contract through 2015 at the latest and Nate McLouth, Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel are set for free agency this winter.
- In other AL East news from earlier today....Dustin Pedroia agreed to a seven-year extension with the Red Sox, the baseball punditry weighed in on the Pedroia extension, we compiled a series of Red Sox notes, Alex Rodriguez plans to fight any possible PED suspension and the Yankees and Cubs continue to discuss a deal for Soriano.
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.
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.”
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.
While "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
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.
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.
The three most prominent starting pitcher trade candidates reside in baseball's Central divisions: Matt Garza (Cubs), Jake Peavy (White Sox), and Yovani Gallardo (Brewers). The latest on the Garza rumors can be found here while Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune reports at least a half dozen scouts, including ex-Cub GMs Jim Hendry (Yankees) and Ed Lynch (Blue Jays) were on hand to see Peavy's outing against the Braves last night. "There are a lot of eyes on me, period," Peavy said after allowing two earned runs on seven hits during his six-inning stint (96 pitches). "I was trying to win for (27,294 fans) who came to support us. Whatever the scouts see, they see. I love to play and I love to compete. I want to win, that's the bottom line." The bottom line with Gallardo, according to a tweet from ESPN's Jayson Stark, is not a lot of enthusiasm for what two executives called a "4-5 starter" despite tossing six and 1/3 shutout innings against the Marlins last night. Here's more from the Central:
- The Tigers have made initial inquiries with the Padres about their relievers, sources tell FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link). Morosi lists Huston Street and Luke Gregerson as possibilities.
- Both the Tigers and Red Sox are scouting Brewers' closer Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
- The Pirates' biggest need is another bat but they are also exploring the pitching market and seeking a bench upgrade, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel (Twitter link), "We know players we want and we know what we're willing to give up. We're willing to stretch lot on some guys, not so much others."
- Huntington acknowledges he has the flexibility to add payroll "within reason," but would not elaborate, per a Biertempfel tweet.
- The Pirates had lost three in a row and Huntington blamed their struggles on BABIP, tweets Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Pirates have also scuffled with runners in scoring position breaking an 0-for-29 drought with a pair of RBI singles this afternoon.
- Brandon Phillips addressed the reaction to his recent comments in a Cincinnati Magazine article, which quoted him as saying the six-year, $72.5MM contract extension he signed with the Reds in 2012 was a "slap in the face" and that GM Walt Jocketty and owner Bob Castellini lied to him during the process. "Do I feel like they lied to me? If someone tells me they don’t have no money and you find $200 million somewhere, what does that sound like?" Phillips told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, referencing the ten-year, $225MM deal first baseman Joey Votto completed with the Reds about a week before his own deal was announced. "I’m very happy for Joey, don’t get me wrong," the second baseman added. "It was basically, if you think about it, I was saying I thought I wasn’t going to be a Cincinnati Red ... if y’all want to take that to the negative way, be my guest, that doesn’t bother me."
- While there has been a great deal of speculation about Justin Morneau and other Twins, rival executives haven’t sensed a big push from Minnesota to make deals, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
Edward Creech contributed to this post.