Francisco Rodriguez Rumors
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.
Here's the latest out of the AL central...
- The White Sox's Jake Peavy may be the top name on the trade market now that he's returned from the DL, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says. Up until now, most of the market's attention seems to have been on another Chicago hurler, the Cubs' Matt Garza, but a survey of GMs and assistant GMs favored Peavy, Heyman writes. Executives say they like Peavy's extra year of club control - allowing a club to extend a qualifying offer, which won't be an option for the team that acquires Garza - and overall appeared to be "pretty enamored" of the Chicago righty. "Peavy has been better than Garza except for lately and he has done it in a hitter's park in the American League," an NL GM said. "Garza's better for 2013, but I think Peavy has more overall value."
- Scouts from the Blue Jays, the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Orioles and the Diamondbacks were on hand for the White Sox's matchup with the Braves today, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets. However, not all were there to watch Peavy, who started for the White Sox and went six innings, striking out three and walking none. Rosenthal says Yankees scouts were in attendance merely as a part of the team's normal coverage, while the Diamondbacks aren't in on the righty.
- The Tigers hope to be the team that ends up with the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez when the trade deadline passes, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). K-Rod appears to make the most sense for Detroit and Boston, Olney tweets, as he has experience in the ninth inning but can pitch in any role and any market.
With yesterday's unfortunate news on reliever Andrew Bailey and extension talks surrounding second bagger Dustin Pedroia, things are getting interesting in Boston as the trade deadline nears. Here's the latest:
- Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez could make sense for the Red Sox, ESPN's Buster Olney opines on Twitter. When MLBTR's Tim Dierkes first listed preliminary relief trade candidates earlier in the year, Rodriguez had yet to appear for the Brewers after signing in mid-April. More recently, however, MLBTR's Steve Adams noted and explored Rodriguez's emergence on the trade market for righty pen pieces.
- If he is even made available by the Phillies, former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon shouldn't be considered by Boston, according to Bill Chuck of BaseballAnalytics.org. As Chuck explains, Papelbon's ERA and WHIP are masking significant declines in the velocity and effectiveness of Papelbon's fastball, making his $13MM annual salary over 2014-15 an unwise investment.
- Boston is sending a scout to the White Sox game today, presumably to take a look at starter Jake Peavy, Olney reports via Twitter. As noted earlier today, Peavy will make his first outing since going on the DL this afternoon in an inter-league matchup against the Braves.
- If the Sox do look to make a big splash on the trade market, pitcing prospect Anthony Ranaudo is one piece that it could consider moving, write WEEI.com's Alex Speier and Katie Morrison. While Ranaudo's value was down after being shut down last year, he has been overpowering (if inconsistent) at times this year in Double-A. The 23-year-old sports a 2.87 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Given the organization's upper-level minor league starting pitching depth, say Speier and Morrison, Ranaudo is a candidate to be dealt.
- Looking at the overall pitching needs of the Red Sox in light of the loss of Bailey and uncertainty surrounding injured starter Clay Buchholz, Speier says (in another piece) that the team's recent trade history shows that it is unlikely to act rashly. Of course, as Speier's breakdown shows, the failure to shore up the roster has left the team shorthanded at times over the post-season push.
- Indeed, while the Red Sox may feel pressure to go out and find a replacement for Bailey, the team's management and ownership appear to be in unison in not wanting to mortgage the future to do so, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. While McAdam notes that the organization could feel pressure to make a post-season drive at all costs, he quotes a source as saying that ownership "trust[s]" and is "on the same page" with the baseball operations team. GM Ben Cherington said that he is determined to attack this season's trade deadline "in a way that makes us better but doesn't alter our long-term course."
Brewers relievers John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, and Mike Gonzalez are a popular bunch. A Dodgers scout was sent to Milwaukee this week to watch the available trio, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, while the Red Sox, Orioles and Tigers have scouts in Milwaukee this week and the other NL West teams are interested in the Brewers' relievers as well as Yovani Gallardo. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has a new report too, saying the Tigers, Orioles, and Diamondbacks have scouted the Brewers' relievers in recent days and weeks.
Morosi says the D'Backs and Brewers have discussed Axford, Rodriguez, and Jim Henderson, while Knobler says the Brewers have told teams Henderson won't be dealt. Interest from the Tigers and Orioles appears more preliminary, writes Morosi, and the Tigers and Brewers have not had formal talks recently.
Rodriguez and Gonzalez will be eligible for free agency after the season, while Axford is under team control through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. As a Super Two with 106 career saves to his credit, Axford's salary jumped to $5MM this year. As Morosi notes, Axford's salary might scare some teams off, though his lack of saves this year will slow down his arbitration raises. Even though a team can technically own Axford's rights through 2016, the focus for a team acquiring him has to be on 2013, with tendering him a contract even for 2014 a decision that will require more information and some thought. It's one of the reasons the Brewers are reportedly willing to move him.