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WEDNESDAY: A trade is looking increasingly unlikely, writes MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Between Qualls’ highly affordable contract and his desire to play out his contract and retire as an Astro, there’s little motivation to deal him. Beck reports that the Astros recently had a pro scout watching Detroit’s Double-A team, which includes prospects such as Steven Moya, Devon Travis and Angel Nesbitt, all of whom could be of interest to Houston. However, Detroit already parted with top prospects Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson in the Joakim Soria trade, and the team is reluctant to deal more well-regarded prospects for another reliever.
Asked about the waiver claim, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (who caught Qualls for four years from 2004-07) told Beck: “I don’t think there’s anything to talk about. As far as I know, Tigers baseball stance, there’s really nothing to it.”
TUESDAY: Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons reports that the Tigers were awarded the claim on Qualls (Twitter link). As he notes, it’s hardly surprising that Detroit placed a claim, though it’s at least mildly surprising that the Yankees, who had waiver priority and have been aggressively claiming players, neglected to go after Qualls.
The Tigers have had bullpen issues all season, with Joe Nathan struggling at the back of the bullpen and deadline acquisition Joakim Soria hitting the disabled list with an injury earlier this month. Qualls would provide a solid late-inning option for the Tigers and could serve as a low-cost 2015 replacement for Joba Chamberlain, should the setup man find a new home as a free agent after a strong season in Detroit.
MONDAY, 9:00pm: MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes that it’s more likely that Qualls will be pulled off waivers than traded.
5:50pm: Astros right-hander Chad Qualls has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unnamed club, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It’s not clear if the Astros are willing to move Qualls, but the Astros will have until Wednesday to work out a deal with the claiming club, Rosenthal adds.
Qualls, 36, signed a two-year, $5.95MM contract with the Astros in the offseason. He’s owed about $531K of his $2.7MM salary through the end of the year, plus a $3MM salary in 2015. His contract contains a $3.5MM salary for the 2016 season which comes with a $250K buyout, bringing his remaining guarantee to about $3.781MM through the end of next season.
The veteran ground-ball specialist has been excellent in 2014, posting a 3.07 ERA (and an identical 3.07 FIP) with 7.8 K/9, 1.0 BB/9 and a 56.7 percent ground-ball rate in 44 innings. He’s spent a good deal of time in the closer’s role this season as well, picking up 14 saves for manager Bo Porter.
Houston isn’t averse to trading its closer midseason, as the team pulled the trigger on a trade to send Jose Veras to the Tigers last summer. Somewhat coincidentally, the Tigers are a very likely candidate to have placed a claim on Qualls this season, given their need for bullpen help in a tight AL Central race. However, as Peter Gammons reported over the weekend (Twitter links), the Yankees are “claiming everyone” on waivers, so it’s possible that the Bombers placed a claim with the hope of working out a deal or at the very least blocking their Wild Card competitors from strengthening their bullpens. The Yankees would have waiver priority over the Tigers.
Cuban first baseman Jozzen Cuesta and Cuban left-hander Misael Siverio will host a showcase for interested clubs on Friday in Jupiter, Fla., agent Eric Izen of the Legacy Agency tells MLBTR.
The last we heard on the 25-year-old Siverio came back in May when he was declared eligible for free agency. The 25-year-old Cuesta was, at the time, said to be awaiting clearance from Major League Baseball and the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control, but he has since been cleared by both entities and is now eligible to sign with any club. The 6’2″, 220-pound first baseman is said to possess some power and will present a younger alternative to the first basemen on the free agent market.
Reports on Siverio peg the lefty at 5’9″ tall, and while he’s not said to possess an overpowering fastball, he had drawn interest from 10 teams back in May. Siverio pitched in front of several clubs at a showcase in June, and the Yankees, Cubs and Astros were among the teams in attendance, MLBTR has learned.
Siverio posted a 3.24 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over his career in Cuba’s Serie Nacional – a span of 153 games (75 starts). More recently, he pitched in Mexico this past winter, posting a 2.45 ERA and a 36-to-10 K/BB ratio. His full statistics and some video footage can be seen at ObstructedView.net.
The Rangers announced tonight that outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow to remove a bone spur and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. The loss of a player to season-ending surgery has become a familiar refrain for Rangers fans, who have seen Prince Fielder, Martin Perez, Mitch Moreland, Jurickson Profar, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando all go down for the season, while Derek Holland has yet to step on a big league mound as of Aug. 25. Clearly, the Rangers were hoping for more than the .242/.340/.374 batting line turned in by Choo in his inaugural season with the club, though he’s been bothered by ankle injuries all season in addition to the aforementioned elbow problem. Michael Choice will take Choo’s roster spot for the rest of the season.
Here’s more on the Rangers and their division…
- As if the loss of Choo wasn’t enough, Jon Daniels said in an interview on 105.3 The Fan that he is doubtful Yu Darvish will pitch again in 2014 (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). While the Rangers GM said the team has stopped short of definitively ruling out its ace, it seems safe to assume that Darvish can have his name added to the list of Rangers whose seasons ended prematurely due to injury.
- Geovany Soto tells Jane Lee of MLB.com that he was “very surprised” to learn of his trade from the Rangers to the division-rival Athletics, but he’s happy to have the opportunity to play on a contending team and work with the Oakland pitching staff.
- The Angels don’t appear to be a fit for Bartolo Colon at this time, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Colon, who cleared waivers today, is owed $1.77MM for the remainder of the season and $11MM in 2015, and the Angels would likely have interest only if the Mets were to assume some of the remaining salary, DiGiovanna says.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that the team will not comment on the federal investigation that is looking into the team’s data leak earlier this year. He did, however, reassure Drellich that the team’s systems are now secure.
Feldman, 31, is in the first season of a front-loaded three-year, $30MM contract. He’s earning $12MM in 2014 before earning $10MM in 2015 and $8MM in 2016, making his contract slightly more desirable to interested parties. He’s owed roughly $2.36MM through the end of the current season, bringing the total that he is owed to about $20.36MM. Though he missed a brief period with biceps tendinitis, Feldman has been reasonably healthy and effective in his inaugural season with the Astros. The former Ranger has posted a 4.37 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Colon, who is 10 years older than Feldman, has posted better numbers despite his age, and he is the more affordable of the two pitchers. The former AL Cy Young winner signed a two-year, $20MM contract with the Mets in the offseason that pays him $9MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015. Colon is owed $1.77MM for the remainder of the season, bringing his total commitment to $12.77MM. His first season with the Mets has gone well, as he’s pitched to a 3.82 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and 38.7 percent ground-ball rate in 167 1/3 innings. Colon is currently in the Dominican Republic to attend the funeral of his mother.
The team most commonly associated with the starting pitching market at this time is the Angels, who have lost both Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs to season-ending surgery this month (Skaggs’ Tommy John surgery will sideline him for 2015 as well). However, the Dodgers also have a need in the rotation due to injuries, and some have speculated that the Pirates could benefit from a rotation upgrade as well.
The Angels have watched the Athletics add Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester — and now Geovany Soto — to an already-strong club, but they don’t feel a compulsion to make similar moves, Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times writes. “You have to make sure you tend your own garden,” says Angels GM Jerry Dipoto. “Don’t worry about what they’re doing. Do what you know will help our team get better.” The Angels will be without Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs for the rest of the season, but Dipoto points out that acquiring a starter to replace someone like Richards is different from acquiring a backup catcher, as the Athletics did today. The Angels did recently add Gordon Beckham in a trade with the White Sox. Here’s more from the AL West.
- Derek Holland has missed all of this season due to a knee injury, but he’s excited to return to the Rangers in the near future, writes Christian Corona of MLB.com. “There’s no doubt I’m ready. That’s for sure. It’s just now, are they ready for me to come back?” says Holland. “I’ll take whatever they give me. I’m happy to be playing after what I’ve been through.” Holland has recently had back spasms, which could be a complicating factor, although he now says his back isn’t bothering him. Either way, his return will surely be a day of relief for the Rangers, whose season has been destroyed by injuries to Holland, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and numerous others.
- With Soto’s departure, the Rangers promoted rookie Tomas Telis, and giving them a preview of what the position might look like for them in 2015, ESPN Dallas’ Calvin Watkins writes. Telis will back up Robinson Chirinos for now, and the Rangers will decide which of them will start next season. “[Telis has] really taken a step forward with his game,” says GM Jon Daniels. “I want to take a look at both those guys.” Top prospect Jorge Alfaro still looks like the Rangers’ catcher of the future, but for now, he’s at Double-A Frisco.
- Scott Feldman isn’t concerned that the Astros placed him on revocable waivers, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I don’t think it’s something to worry about,” Feldman says. “It’s part of the game. If they put me on waivers and somebody wants me it will probably be a win-win.” Feldman adds that he’s also happy to stay with the Astros. Feldman is in the first season of a three-year, $30MM contract, so it’s unclear whether someone will claim him. If they want to, they’ll have to do it by tomorrow. The Angels and Tigers might be possibilities, as Peter Gammons noted earlier today.
Bartolo Colon is reportedly on revocable waivers at the moment (his waiver period expires tomorrow), but he is of course just one of many names to be in that situation. We’ll keep track of the players that are reported to be on revocable waivers today in this post…
- Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons reports that the Astros placed Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls on revocable waivers yesterday, meaning their waiver periods will expire tomorrow (Twitter link). The Angels and Tigers will both monitor the situation, he notes, referring to Anaheim’s need for rotation help and Detroit’s bullpen needs. Feldman is owed roughly $22.4MM through 2016 as part of a front-loaded three-year, $30MM pact. He’s posted a 4.37 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate this season. His salary commitment, like Cahill, gives him a realistic chance of falling to the Angels, in my view.
- Qualls has been excellent out of the Houston bullpen, notching a 3.07 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 1.0 BB/9 and a 56.7 percent ground-ball rate in 44 innings this year. He’s owed about $3.78MM through 2015 on his current contract. That sum includes the remainder of this season’s $2.7MM salary, next year’s $3MM guarantee and the $250K buyout on a $3.5MM option for the 2016 season.
- The Diamondbacks appear to be putting a large chunk of their roster through waivers this weekend, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Trevor Cahill, Oliver Perez, Cliff Pennington, Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler are all on revocable waivers. At first glance, Cahill would appear to be a sure thing to clear, given his $12MM salary in 2015 and the fact that he already cleared outright waivers earlier this year after struggling. However, Cahill has a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings since returning from Triple-A, and it’s fair to speculate about an injury-ravaged team like the Angels placing a claim with the hopes that he can sustain the turnaround. Cahill is guaranteed about $13.7MM through the end of the 2015 season, but his contract also contains a pair of reasonable club options (reasonable, of course, assuming he is effective). His team can exercise a $13MM option ($300K buyout) for 2016 and a $13.5MM option ($500K buyout) for 2017.
- As Rosenthal notes, virtually every reliever being placed on waivers is being claimed. Even non-contending clubs could look to claim any of Arizona’s three relief arms known to be on waivers, as each is controlled beyond 2014. Perez will probably generate the most interest given his strong results and the modest $2.8MM remaining on his deal. Reed’s save totals will inflate his price tag in arbitration, while the D’Backs have reportedly shown no interest in parting with Ziegler all summer.
- Teams may be wary of claiming Pennington, who is owed $639K through season’s end, due to his injury troubles in 2014 and his history of modest offensive contributions. He’s arb-eligible following the season, but he’s a non-tender candidate after earning $3.25MM this season.
For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.
The Dodgers will change their Triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to the Oklahoma City RedHawks next season, Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma City is currently affiliated with the Astros. Mandalay Baseball Properties will reportedly sell the RedHawks to a group tied to the Dodgers for a sum in the $22MM to $28MM range. Baldwin writes that the Dodgers are trying to get out of Albuquerque, a difficult environment in which to evaluate prospects because its park is so favorable to hitters. The move is part of what could be a big shakeup in the Pacific Coast League, with the Athletics also moving from Sacramento to Nashville (currently a Brewers affiliate) and the Giants moving from Fresno to Sacramento. It’s unclear where the Astros and Brewers will end up in such a scenario. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Brady Aiken may have selected a junior college after being selected first overall and then going unsigned in a dispute with the Astros, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aiken could end up at Yavapai JC in Arizona, which has helped develop future big-leaguers like Curt Schilling, Kole Calhoun, Bob Milacki, Billy Hatcher and Kyle Blanks.
- Carlos Quentin is likely “on his way out” with the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a recent chat. Quentin is under contract for $8MM in 2015, but the Padres likely won’t want to keep him, given his struggles to stay healthy. (What they might do with him is a different question — it’s hard to imagine Quentin having much trade value, given that he’s hit poorly in limited action this season.) Seth Smith and Rymer Liriano are the only near-locks for spots in the San Diego outfield next year, Lin writes.
- With Andrew Susac emerging as a potential starting option at catcher and Buster Posey showing signs of wear, the Giants might consider moving Posey to a new position in the future, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News writes. The Giants have no plans to move Posey at this time, however. If Posey does eventually move, he will probably move to first base.
- With Garrett Richards out for the rest of the season, the Angels will presumably be looking for pitching, and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com has a list of pitchers who might be available. Given the obstacles to making August trades, perhaps it’s no surprise that it isn’t an incredibly inspiring list, with some of the better options possibly being either unwilling to play for the Angels (A.J. Burnett, who can block trades to West Coast teams) or unlikely to make it all the way to them on waivers (Mat Latos).
The Angels have had a run of terrible luck in the second half, losing both Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) for the remainder of the 2014 season (Skaggs will miss most or all of 2015 as well). Following the news of Richards’ diagnosis yesterday, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters he would be on the lookout for further pitching help. As quoted by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links): “Between now and Sept. 1, we’ll try to be as open as we can be. And after Sept. 1, hopefully what we’re missing in Garrett Richards we’re able to somewhat make up for in volume and depth.”
Here’s the latest on Anaheim’s search for pitching and other Angels-related matters…
- The Angels have been connected to Bartolo Colon in the wake of these injuries, but Peter Gammons reports (Twitter links) that he’s heard Astros right-hander Scott Feldman‘s name in connection with the Halos as well. However, neither right-hander had been put on waivers as of earlier this morning, and Gammons notes that it might be difficult for the Angels to land a pitcher on waivers because, as one baseball source explained to him, the Orioles and Yankees “are claiming everyone.”
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times looks at the diverse background of educations in the Athletics‘ front office and how those varying personalities fuel the team’s analytical approaches. Baxter spoke with assistant GMs David Forst and Farhan Zaidi for the piece, with Zaidi noting: “It cultivates a lot of debate in our office, just having diverse educational backgrounds and having people that aren’t necessarily guys who have spent their whole careers in the industry … As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed.”
- Robinson Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and has been worth five-plus wins above replacement this season, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes that his on-field work isn’t the only way he contributes to the Mariners. Divish spoke with skipper Lloyd McClendon and outfielder Dustin Ackley about Cano’s positive and relaxed personality and the impact that his demeanor has on the team.
11:46am: “There’s nothing to report, nothing going on there,” Astros owner Jim Crane tells Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link) in regards to a possible Aiken deal.
11:25am: The Astros could still end up signing first overall draft pick Brady Aiken, and “the expectation from those close to the negotiation” is that the two sides will reach an agreement around the time of Jacob Nix‘s grievance hearing, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports (Twitter links). The MLBPA filed the grievance on Nix’s behalf last month, and the hearing will reportedly be held during the offseason.
As McDaniel puts it, the possibility of Aiken inking a deal beyond the July 18th deadline for signing draft picks is an “MLB’s discretion situation.” It had been presumed that Houston had forfeited their right to sign Aiken (plus Nix and 21st-rounder Mac Marshall) when they couldn’t reach agreements with any of the players by July 18th. In failing to sign Aiken, the Astros received the second overall pick in the 2015 draft as compensation.
Aiken had a verbal agreement in place with the Astros just a few days after he was selected as the #1 pick in the 2014 draft, but no official deal was finalized due to the team’s concerns over Aiken’s unusually small UCL, a detail discovered during a post-draft physical. This led Houston to drop their offer from the agreed-upon $6.5MM bonus (which was already over $1.4MM below the assigned slot price of the first overall pick) to $5MM. This set off a chain reaction that caused the Astros to pull their $1.5MM agreement with Nix off the table, as signing Nix at that price would’ve put the Astros over their draft pool limit and put them in danger of facing penalties such as the loss of two future first-round picks.
Needless to say, it would be surprising to see Aiken wind up wearing Astros orange given the harsh words that Casey Close (the agent for both Aiken and Nix) had for the organization and GM Jeff Luhnow in the wake of the controversy. As it stands, Aiken would have to either attend a junior college and re-enter the draft next year or commit to a college and not be able to turn pro for three more years. It’s possible the high schooler is simply eager to begin his professional career and/or wants some financial security now, given that anything could happen to lower his stock over the next 1-3 years.
For the Astros, signing Aiken would help the team save face after it was widely criticized for its handling of the situation. Aiken has until September 1 to file a grievance himself, though that deadline could be extended.
Angels pitcher Garrett Richards suffered what appeared to be a significant knee injury while trying to make a play at first in the second inning of a game against the Red Sox Wednesday. He fell while still running to first and spent several minutes on the ground in obvious pain before being removed on a stretcher. There’s no word yet on the severity of the injury (which the Angels described as a “left knee/patellar injury“) but if it’s as serious as it appears to be, it would be a big blow to the Angels. Entering tonight’s game, Richards had posted a 2.53 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 167 innings this season, and the Angels are currently fighting the Athletics for first place in the AL West. Here are more notes from the division.
- Diminutive Astros star Jose Altuve has made it big despite his size, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “He’s an anomaly,” says Astros assistant GM David Stearns. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.” History indicates that Altuve is, in fact, very unusual, Kepner writes — there isn’t anyone in the Hall of Fame listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter who debuted in the Majors since the early 1940s. Altuve signed for just $15K as an amateur out of Venezuela.
- The Athletics have struggled since their surprising trade of Yoenis Cespedes and a draft pick for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, John Branch of the New York Times notes. It’s not clear that the trade is to blame, however. “We were struggling some before the trade as well, and we haven’t been as good offensively as we have been for the better part of a season,” says manager Bob Melvin. “But I expect us to get much better offensively because we still do have a very deep lineup.”