Houston Astros Rumors

Houston Astros trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Cole Hamels Would Consider Trade To Any Team

Phillies ace Cole Hamels is “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Blue Jays and Astros, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I have not been approached,” says Hamels. “When I’m approached, then I can make a decision and provide an answer about a team. But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”

Hamels’ contract allows him to block trades to all teams except the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Padres, Rangers, and Yankees. Previous reports had suggested he would block trades to the Blue Jays and Astros if given the chance, but that apparently isn’t the case.

Hamels adds that he didn’t foresee the Astros’ strong performance this year when he failed to mark them for inclusion on his list of approved teams. “They just didn’t make the nine-team list,” he says. “When I made the list in October –- who knew?

The Phillies owe Hamels about $86MM guaranteed through 2018, including a $6MM buyout on his vesting/club option for 2019. As Salisbury notes, the absence of certain teams (such as the Red Sox, although it now appears less likely that the Red Sox would acquire him after their underwhelming start) from Hamels’ approved-trade list could give him leverage to ask the team acquiring him to pick up his option. Hamels has lately been connected to the Yankees and Rangers as well as the Blue Jays.

Draft Signings: Lambert, Eshelman, Ferrell, Denton

Let’s wrap up some notable recent draft signings to close out the day. Slot values, as always, are courtesy of Baseball America.

  • We already noted that Rockies second-rounder Peter Lambert had signed, and now Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets that he’ll earn $1,495,000 to forego his commitment to UCLA. That’s just shy of a full $100K above the slot value for the 44th choice. A projectable right-hander, Lambert was rated a top-fifty draft-eligible player by both Baseball America and MLB.com.
  • The Astros have agreed to terms with second-round choice and 46th overall pick Thomas Eshelman, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston reports on Twitter. The Cal State-Fullerton righty says he’ll formally sign next week. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had Eshelman as the 54th player on his pre-draft board, while others were somewhat less optimistic. Baseball America rated him 126th, explaining that Eshelman has exceptional command but lacks outstanding pure stuff.
  • The Astros have also announced the signing of TCU righty Riley Ferrell, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle first reported on Twitter. He’ll get a $1MM bonus from the club, per Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). MLB.com liked him as the 45th-best draft prospect, noting that the TCU closer has a big fastball-slider combination that could make him a big league contributor from the pen in short order.
  • The Cardinals are in agreement with second-round pick Bryce Denton, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Denton had been committed to Vanderbilt, but is just a physical away from becoming a professional. ESPN.com’s Keith Law rated Denton 68th coming into the draft, noting that he has enhanced his outlook with improved strength and conditioning. Law says that the Tennessee high schooler is likely to play in the corner outfield as a pro, and could ultimately possess both a high-contact and powerful bat if he develops.
  • Rays third-round second baseman Brandon Lowe has agreed to terms on an unspecified bonus, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports on Twitter. Lowe was taken 87th overall, which came with a $676,900 slot value. The University of Maryland product ranked as high as 92nd in pre-draft rankings, with that tab coming from Law, who profiles him as a very good hitter with below-average power and solid-but-not-spectacular overall defensive ability.
  • The Nationals have agreed to a $500K bonus with 13th-round pick Max Schrock, Callis tweets, That’s the highest bonus yet given to a post-tenth-round selection, Callis adds. As I noted recently, Washington had freed a significant amount of cash with its previously reported signings, and $400K of that will go to add the South Carolina second baseman, who Baseball America rated 282nd overall based on his strong bat.

Astros Recall Jon Singleton, Place Chad Qualls On DL

The Astros announced today that setup man Chad Qualls has been placed on the 15-day DL (retroactive to June 25) with a pinched nerve in his neck. To fill his spot on the roster, Houston recalled first baseman Jon Singleton.

The 23-year-old Singleton was the subject of a good deal of controversy in 2014, as many felt that the five-year, $10MM extension (plus three club options) that he signed with Houston was far too team-friendly of a deal. At the time, Singleton was a much-ballyhooed prospect who had obliterated Triple-A pitching at a .267/.397/.544 pace.

Singleton, however, struggled tremendously at the Major League level in 2014, hitting just .168/.285/.335 with an alarming 134 strikeouts in 362 trips to the plate (37 percent). The offseason acquisitions of Evan Gattis and Colby Rasmus, along with Chris Carter‘s presence on the roster, created a crowded corner outfield/first base/DH scenario on the Astros’ roster in Spring Training, so when Singleton struggled in March, it wasn’t surprising to see him head back to Triple-A.

Singleton’s 2015 season at Triple-A looks an awful lot like his 2014 season at the level. He’s batted .280/.387/.553 with 17 homers and 17 doubles thus far with the Astros’ new Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. Now, Singleton will hope for better results at the Major League level than he experienced last year.

It’s entirely possible that this will merely represent a short-term promotion for Singleton. But, it also seems short-sighted not to consider the possibility that the former Top 30 prospect hits well enough to force Houston to keep him on the roster. Carter, after all, has struggled in terms of hitting for average, though he sports a .321 OBP and plenty of power. And Gattis has seen his already questionable OBP dip to .262, although he, like Carter, is showing excellent pop as well.

As for Qualls, it’s not clear exactly when this injury began ailing him, but in late May, he went into somewhat of a tailspin after a strong start to the season. Qualls had a 2.93 ERA with an 18-to-3 K/BB ratio as recently as May 22. He struggled that evening, however, and since that time has yielded nine runs in 9 1/3 innings, surrendering 15 hits and four walks while striking out just five.

Orioles Acquire Richard Rodriguez From Astros

The Orioles have acquired minor league righty Richard Rodriguez from the Astros, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. Cash considerations will head back to Houston, Baltimore stated in announcing the agreement.

Rodriguez, 25, has worked almost exclusively as a reliever in the minor leagues. He’s spent his entire career in the Astros farm system, reaching Triple-A last year. Over 70 1/3 frames at the highest level of the minors over 2014-15, Rodriguez owns a 2.94 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.

As Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports, Baltimore has fairly high regard for both Rodriguez’s fastball and curve. The Orioles see Rodriguez as pen depth for the club’s top affiliate as well as a potential call-up option down the line. Because he has a full slate of options remaining and is not yet on the 40-man roster — he was left off despite being Rule 5-eligible — Rodriguez does come with plenty of flexibility.

NL Notes: Evans, Cardinals, Flores, Utley

Giants GM Bobby Evans has succeeded with subtly bold action, as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes in an interesting feature on the recently promoted executive. If you’re interested in learning how exactly one can make it to the top echelons of baseball decisionmaking without a professional playing career or other “in” to get you there, this is essential reading. Now 46, Evans got his start with an internship, worked in the commissioner’s office, and then jumped on an opportunity to join the San Francisco organization as a minor league administrative assistant. “He was very eager, obviously an intelligent kid, he had the intern experience in Boston and the commissioner’s office, and quite frankly, he was single and wide-eyed and willing to put the hours in,” said former Giants GM and current executive VP of operations Brian Sabean of Evans’s start with the club.  “That’s half the battle. You have to be willing to punch the clock, and put up with the demands.” 21 years and a lot of hard work later, Evans was given the general manager’s chair as Sabean moved to a more senior post.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • As it investigates Cardinals employees’ improper access of the Astros‘ computer system, the FBI is still working to determine precisely which personnel were responsible for the breach, Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reports. Per the report, the focus is on “a small group of Cardinals employees who specialize in statistical analysis and computer programming and had access to a computer in a residence” in Jupiter, Florida last spring. Given the potential criminal ramifications, several individuals under investigation have obtained representation, which necessarily constrains the fact-finding process. It appears that the intrusion came from a commonly-used computer, as the report indicates that a significant part of the puzzle involves the questions of when and for how long various Cardinals employees were utilizing a single machine around the time that the Astros’ databases were accessed.
  • Though a lawsuit against the Cardinals by the Astros is not likely given the league rules barring such an action, and fines are capped at $2MM, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Cards could still face significant financial exposure. Namely, commissioner Rob Manfred could function as an arbitrator to award damages should Houston seek to prove that it suffered harm due to the actions of the St. Louis employees (and the public exposure of the information).
  • The Mets shortstop saga may have a new chapter, as the team appears likely to move Wilmer Flores to second base when Daniel Murphy is activated from the DL, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. In that scenario, Murphy would play third (in place of David Wright), while Ruben Tejada would slide in at short for at least some time with Dilson Herrera moving to the bench. Hypothetically, of course, the club could seek an outside addition to take over for Flores while keeping his bat in the lineup at second. But it’s far from clear whether that is a realistic or wise option for the New York front office, particularly with the team sliding of late.
  • Chase Utley‘s DL stint for a nagging ankle injury came as something of a surprise to Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports“In my communication with Chase throughout the season about playing he’s always been up and willing to go and no real reports of anything holding him back, so I was a little bit surprised by it in some regards,” Sandberg said. The skipper’s reaction is at least potentially notable because of the delicate situation that seems to be playing itself out in Philly. Sandberg had increasingly turned to Cesar Hernandez at second, but it has remained unclear what strategic direction the organization was taking with Utley, one of the faces of the team’s last great run. The veteran is already halfway (249/500 plate appearances) to triggering a $15MM vesting clause for next year. Given his recent injury history and marked production downturn this year, it would obviously behoove the club to avoid that obligation, but doing so will likely require some deft handling.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Desmond, Toussaint, D-Backs, Samardzija, Cotts

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)

Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
  • A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
  • Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
  • The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
  • The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
  • The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.

Astros Agree To Terms With Alex Bregman

2:58pm: Bregman’s bonus is expected to be $6MM, reports Drellich (on Twitter). That would add an approximate $1.42MM to the $1.069MM they’ve already saved, giving the team about $2.3MM over slot to offer Cameron. Of course, as noted below, the team’s second- and third-round picks remain unsigned, so there are still some yet-undetermined factors in calculating Cameron’s maximum bonus.

12:35pm: Bregman tells MLB.com’s Chandler Rome that he’s “pretty sure” he’ll be introduced at Minute Maid Park tomorrow (Twitter link).

12:27pm: The Astros are in agreement with No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman, reports Mark Berman of MyFOXHouston.com (All Twitter links). Bregman has arrived in Houston to sign his contract with the Astros, according to Berman. A shortstop out of Louisiana State University, Bregman himself confirmed that the deal is in place and voiced his excitement over beginning his pro career when talking to Berman. “I was so excited. I can’t wait to get wherever I’m going,” said Bregman.

Alex Bregman

Earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reported that the ‘Stros were closing in on agreements with Bregman and No. 37 overall selection Daz Cameron. GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he hoped to have a couple of signings to announce during the upcoming homestand, which starts tomorrow.

Bregman was universally considered among the top four prospects in this year’s draft class. He rated as the No. 4 prospect in the draft in the estimation of Baseball America, Keith Law of ESPN.com and Jonathan Mayo/Jim Callis of MLB.com. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Bregman third.

Law calls Bregman the “best pure hitter in the class,” sharing the opinion of many scouts that Bregman will eventually end up at second base. That’s far from a guarantee, however, as McDaniel notes that he feels Bregman can stick at short, and both the MLB.com and BA scouting reports add that he has a chance to be an average defender there. BA notes that “average” range isn’t good enough for some clubs, but Bregman projects as a plus defender at second if he moves to the other side of the bag. BA calls Bregman “one of the safest picks in this year’s draft,” noting that he has an exceptionally long track record of success, dating back to his high school days, when he led the USA 16U and 18U teams to gold medals in 2010 and 2011.

If Bregman’s bonus comes in below the slot value of $7,420,100, the Astros could use those savings and the roughly $189K they saved on No. 5 overall selection Kyle Tucker in order to offer Cameron a significantly above-slot bonus. A look at MLB.com’s draft bonus tracker also shows that the Astros have saved $273K on fourth-rounder Anthony Hermelyn, $66.5K on fifth-rounder Trent Thornton, $43K on sixth-rounder Nestor Muriel, $120K on seventh-rounder Michael Freeman, $76K on eighth-rounder Garrett Stubbs, $154K on ninth-rounder Zac Person and $148K on 10th-rounder Scott Weathersby. All told that’s a savings of about $1.069MM in addition to any savings from Bregman’s bonus and their remaining unsigned second- and third-round selections. Cameron’s slot value is $1.6686MM, so the Astros seem well-positioned to offer substantially more in order to convince him to sign rather than attend Florida State.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AL West Notes: Beltre, Hamels, Astros’ Draft, Skaggs

In a surprising decision, the Rangers have activated Adrian Beltre from the disabled list and reinserted him into the cleanup spot, the team announced. Beltre has been on the DL since June 2 with a thumb injury, and as recently as last Thursday, he told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that he was not even capable of swinging a bat. It would seem unreasonable to expect that Beltre is 100 percent, and Sullivan even tweeted that he’s in “total shock” to see Beltre come off the DL so soon. Asked by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) about managing expectations for Beltre upon his return, GM Jon Daniels replied by saying, “He’s a freak. Freaky players do freaky things.” Righty Jon Edwards was optioned to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for Beltre, and top prospect Joey Gallo has shifted from third base to left field to accommodate Beltre’s return.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Earlier this morning, Grant examined some of the obstacles that stand between the Rangers and a potential Hamels trade. For one, he notes, both Chi Chi Gonzalez and Gallo have been so impressive in their big league debuts that they’re likely more untouchable than they were as prospects. (I’ll interject to point out that Gonzalez’s 10-to-12 K/BB ratio is worth at least some concern, though it’s an admittedly small sample.) Beyond that, Hamels’ salary would be difficult to take on without significantly bumping payroll, and candidates with notable salaries that could theoretically be moved to offset the $23.5MM annual sum are currently injured (e.g. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison). Grant also points to the need for a right-handed bat and bullpen reinforcements. The eventual return of Holland, Harrison and Martin Perez may give the Rangers’ rotation the boost it needs, Grant speculates, but there are no such looming upgrades for the ‘pen or lineup.
  • Daniels told Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he expects to be a buyer next month and spoke about the inconsistency he’s had in his bullpen. “Everyone in that bullpen has done it for periods in the big leagues, but we are inconsistent there,” Daniels told Engel. “There are good arms with plus-stuff, and when they are on, they are good. But that is an area we have been inconsistent.”
  • The Astros are getting closer to finalizing agreements with No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman and No. 37 overall pick Daz Cameron, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Nothing will be announced in the next day or two, but GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he’s hopeful of having a pair of signings to announce during the upcoming homestand, which begins on Thursday. As Drellich notes, Cameron’s signing figures to be the final one, as he will sign well over slot.
  • Though the Angels said from the get-go that Tyler Skaggs wouldn’t pitch in 2015 following Tommy John surgery last August, the left-hander tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he thinks he can help the team this year. Skaggs said he’d be happy to pitch out of the bullpen if there’s no room in the rotation, though clearly whether or not he throws for the big league club in 2015 is not his decision to make. Fletcher writes that it might be more likely that Skaggs will pitch in the instructional league, if he pitches at all this year.

Prospect Notes: Appel, Judge, Margot, Toussaint

Mark Appel may have thrown his last pitch at the Double-A level, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the 2013 No. 1 overall pick is likely to be promoted to Triple-A following a strong Double-A showing on Sunday. Appel’s overall numbers aren’t great due to a pair of ugly starts in May, but as Drellich points out, the Stanford product has worked to a 2.17 ERA with a 24-to-8 K/BB ratio in 29 innings over his past five starts. Appel’s production at Triple-A will be worth monitoring, as Drellich also adds that the Astros want to assess their internal starting pitching options before exploring a trade for an upgrade.

Here’s more on Appel and some other top prospects filtering up toward the big leagues …

  • Appel spoke with MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart about his desire to join close friends and former Double-A teammates Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez and Carlos Correa in the Majors. He tells McTaggart that the key to his turnaround has been establishing his fastball earlier in counts in order to get ahead of hitters — something on which he has worked repeatedly with pitching coach Doug Brocail.
  • The Yankees have announced that slugger Aaron Judge will move up to Triple-A Scranton, as Jack Curry of the YES Network was first to report on Twitter. The massive outfielder cracked top-100 lists to start the year, and has performed well thus far in his first run at Double-A, slashing .284/.350/.516 with 12 home runs in 280 plate appearances.
  • Red Sox outfielder Manuel Margot has received a bump up to Double-A, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe tweets. The 20-year-old has slashed .282/.321/.420 and added twenty steals over his 198 turns at bat at the High-A level this year. Baseball America rated him the organization’s seventh-best prospect entering the year, crediting Margot with the potential to develop into a true five-tool performer who can play center field. We heard some chatter this spring that the Phillies were eyeing the interesting prospect as a possible piece in a Cole Hamels deal.
  • We saw a fascinating deal last weekend involving the effective sale of young righty Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks to the Braves. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron discusses the deal in terms of prospect valuation. He reckons that Toussaint is probably worth about $20MM based on consensus prospect evaluations. While Arizona’s internal assessment may well have been lower, as Cameron notes, it still seems puzzling that the team cut bait given the organization’s current standing.
  • Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa weighed in on the Toussaint deal, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. La Russa says the move was all about opening budgetary space to improve the big league roster in the relatively near future. “The ability to to have some payroll flexibility is critical to adding a couple of pieces,” said La Russa. I don’t think we’re going to need a lot of pieces because we’re going to develop with this core. But if you can make the right move or two with somebody, that brings a lot to the table. Payroll flexibility is important.” Toussaint was a ways off from contributing at the big league level, said the club’s top baseball decisionmaker, while the D’Backs “think [their future] is sooner rather than later.” All said, La Russa indicated that the club simply preferred to move the salary of Bronson Arroyo to holding onto the lottery ticket of a young arm. “We’re not pushing a five-year plan, which is what Touki is,” he said. Does that mean, just in retrospect, since I was there, should I have told (former scouting director Ray Montgomery), ‘Ray, don’t draft a Touki?’ Maybe I should have, but that was my first draft.” The 19-year-old (as of two days ago) Toussaint, of course, was the first name that Arizona called in last year’s amateur draft. Notably, as Piecoro has observed, this year’s selections were heavy on collegiate players.