Houston Astros Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Alex Sogard, Pedro Ciriaco

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Astros have traded pitcher Alex Sogard to the Diamondbacks, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Astros will receive minor-league infielder Cesar Carrasco in return. Sogard, 26, has pitched 43 1/3 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi this season, with 5.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
  • Utilityman Pedro Ciriaco has accepted his outright assignment from the Royals, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. The Royals designated Ciriaco for assignment last week. He has a career .270/.299/.372 line in 498 plate appearances over five seasons with the Pirates, Red Sox, Padres and Royals.

Minor Moves: Clark, Ayala, Robinson, Sanchez, Janish

Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Brewers have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league deal, the club’s player development department announced on Twitter. Clark had been hitting .297/.380/.498 at Double-A for the Mets before he was released recently. He will take the roster spot of Hunter Morris, the club’s tenth overall prospect coming into the year (per Baseball America), who was DL’ed after breaking his arm.
  • Veteran righty Luis Ayala has been released by the Blue Jays, according to the International League transactions page. The reliever had been working at Triple-A. As MLBTR’s Zach Links reported at the time of the signing, Ayala did not have the right to opt out of his deal. Though he worked to a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 31 innings last year for the Braves, Ayala has not had an opportunity to throw in the bigs yet this season. Through 17 innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he owns a 5.29 ERA (7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)
  • The Braves officially acquired minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, as per a Houston media release.  Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported yesterday that the trade was imminent.
  • The Cubs released left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports (Twitter link).  The Cubs signed Sanchez to a minor league deal in December but the southpaw has been injured for most of the season and only pitched 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Iowa.  After being traded from the Giants following the 2011 season, Sanchez’s numbers ballooned to the tune of an 8.73 ERA over 78 1/3 IP with the Royals, Rockies and Pirates in 2012-13.
  • The Royals have signed infielder Paul Janish to a minor league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Janish opted out of his previous minors deal with the Rockies on Tuesday.  Janish provided some good defense but only a .572 OPS in 1206 PA with the Reds and Braves from 2008-13, and he spent all of his season with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
  • The Blue Jays have released outfielder Brett Carroll, as announced via Twitter by the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.  Carroll posted only a .438 OPS in 63 Triple-A plate appearances after signing a minor league contract with the Jays in February.  Carroll appeared in 173 games with the Marlins from 2007-10 and had cups of coffee with the Brewers and Nationals in 2011-12 before spending 2013 with the Pirates’ Triple-A franchise.

Astros Notes: Luhnow, Fowler, Castro, Rule 5

This trade deadline could be a quiet but a fascinating one for the Astros, as the team may still willing to move veteran players but not only for prospects, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  “We’re going to do anything that presents itself that will improve our club,” GM Jeff Luhnow said. “We’re not going to focus only on the next two months. We’re also not going to focus only on 2017 and beyond. We’re going to focus on any moves that we think can help in both the short term and the long term. That may be nothing; it may be several things.”

Here’s some more from Drellich’s broad overview of what the Astros could explore over the next two months…

  • Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro would’ve likely been trade candidates in past years given the Astros’ veteran-dealing strategy since Luhnow took over.  Now, however,  the GM says he wants both players to be Astros “for a while.  And they’re still under team control, and there are opportunities to keep them beyond team control.”
  • Fowler told Drellich that he hadn’t had any extension talks to keep him in Houston beyond the end of the 2015 season, when his current contract expires.
  • Castro’s trade value has dropped thanks to a poor season, though Houston is known to have explored dealing the catcher thanks to the team’s recently-leaked trade notes.  Castro is under team control through 2016 and the Astros have catching prospect Max Stassi at Triple-A.
  • Drellich thinks every member of the bullpen “feels moveable.”  Once some injured relievers return, Luhnow said “we would probably have surplus in the bullpen, and bullpen is one of those areas that clubs that feel like they’re in contention for a division or wild card oftentimes need some depth.  Something could happen there, but there’s nothing right now that seems obvious.”
  • Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls both figure to draw interest from other teams, though Drellich isn’t sure the Astros would trade Chad Qualls so soon after he signed a two-year deal with the club last winter.  Dealing a player relatively soon after a multiyear commitment could harm the team’s standing with future free agents.
  • On the minor league front, Houston has so many quality prospects that they can’t protect them all via the Rule 5 draft.  Some prospects may have to be traded if the organization doesn’t truly see them as long-term pieces.


NL East Notes: Mets, Detwiler, Penny

We heard earlier today about Bartolo Colon possibly being a trade candidate this summer, and now here’s some more items from around the NL East…

  • There isn’t any reason for the Mets to fire GM Sandy Alderson or manager Terry Collins since such moves would only prolong the club’s rebuilding process, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post opines.  While the Mets are on pace for another losing, the team is in good shape for the future with young talent on the rise and Chris Young‘s contract seems to be the only true mistake on the current roster.
  • Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler could be a trade target for teams looking to add rotation help, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).  Detwiler “could start for most” teams, as Heyman notes, and the southpaw has had trouble finding a spot in Washington’s deep rotation despite some good career numbers.  Detwiler currently has a 4.00 ERA, 1.29 K/BB rate and 5.5 K/9 in 36 relief innings for the Nats, and he’s had control issues, as his 4.3 BB/9 is markedly up from his 2.6 BB/9 over the previous three seasons.
  • Brad Penny and Marlins GM Dan Jennings talk to Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post about Penny’s minor league comeback attempt and why Miami brought Penny back to his original franchise.
  • The impending trade of minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros to the Braves is taking an unusually long time to complete for a move outside the 40-man roster, which makes MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo think Robinson could be part of a larger transaction between the two clubs.  Cotillo makes it clear that he is just speculating, however.

Minor Moves: Snyder, Clark, Robinson, Dobbs

Here are today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league…

  • Brad Snyder, who recently elected free agency after being outrighted by the Rangers, has signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization, Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net reports (via Twitter). Snyder has crushed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .288/.351/.507 batting line in his career but has never received an extended look in the bigs.
  • First baseman Matt Clark, who recently opted out of his minor league deal with the Mets, tweets that he has signed a new minor league deal with the Brewers (hat tip: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York on Twitter). Clark hit .297/.380/.498 with 10 homers for Double-A Binghamton this season, one year after he posted a .785 OPS and hit 25 bombs for the Chunici Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports that the Braves are set to acquire right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros. The 26-year-old Robinson, a former 12th-round pick by the Astros, has excelled in 41 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, posting a combined 2.40 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Further details of the deal aren’t known at this time.
  • The Nationals announced that Greg Dobbs has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Syracuse.  The 35-year-old was designated for assignment last week.  He has largely struggled in a limited bench role for the Marlins and Nats this year and owns a .171/.186/.195 line through 43 plate appearances on the season.  Over parts of 11 seasons in the bigs, Dobbs has slashed .261/.306/.386 over 2,272 plate appearances.

Mets Notes: Niese, Conforto, Syndergaard, Collins

The Mets have yet to determine whether they’re buyers or sellers at this year’s trade deadline, GM Sandy Alderson tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The next 10 to 12 days will be vital in making that assessment, Alderson said, but he made it clear that regardless of the way they go, the team isn’t likely to deal left-hander Jon Niese. Given the fact that the Mets can control Niese, who has a 2.88 ERA in 103 innings, through 2018, that stance isn’t entirely surprising. Niese is guaranteed $16.5MM through the 2016 season, and his contract contains a $10MM club option for 2017 and an $11MM club option for 2018. That would be tremendously difficult to part with, though it would also be highly appealing to other clubs and carry a great deal of trade value.

More from Heyman and other reporters on the Mets…

  • From that same piece, Alderson notes that Daniel Murphy‘s name has come up “periodically” in trade talks. Heyman suggests that Alderson’s statement includes the mention of a Murphy in trade that would net Jonathan Villar and others, which appeared in the recent Astros’ data leak. Heyman adds that Alderson didn’t deny anything that was mentioned in those notes.
  • In a second piece, Heyman reports that the Mets’ deal with top pick Michael Conforto still isn’t quite done. Alderson tells Heyman that the two sides are still working out three or four mostly non-financial clauses. The two sides remain in agreement on a $2.97MM signing bonus.
  • While he was once thought to be on the Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler summer promotion track, top prospect Noah Syndergaard now might not even be called up in 2014 at all, manager Terry Collins told reporters yesterday (including Mike Puma of the New York Post). One club source told Puma that team officials have struggled to get a read on Syndergaard, and some feel he would benefit from a full year at Triple-A. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wrote earlier today that a club official recently told him Syndergaard is “not even on our radar” at this point.
  • Martino also tweets that Alderson recently lamented the team’s run differential (a point he touched on with Heyman as well) but firmly stated that he doesn’t feel Collins is the cause for that issue.
  • The Mets announced the signings of 11 international free agents today, and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo runs down the list, noting that Venezuelan shortstops Yoel Romero and Edgardo Fermin received respective bonuses of $300K and $250K. None of the 11 signed by the Mets ranked among the Top 30 lists compiled by MLB.com and Baseball America.

AL International Signings: White Sox, Castillo, Martinez

July 2 is upon us; here are the day’s notable international prospect signings from the American League (rankings via MLB.com and Baseball America):

  • The White Sox have made several big-dollar signings: shortstop Ricardo Mota has signed for $750K, second baseman Felix Mercedes will receive a $950K bonus, and catcher Jhoandro Alfaro (brother of Rangers’ prospect Jorge) will get $750K, according to Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com (links to Twitter). Earlier, we learned that shortstop Amado Nunez has agreed to a $900K bonus with Chicago, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. The club has announced all four signings, per Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Nunez is perhaps the highest-rated of the foursome, with MLB.com and BA both rating him the 26th-best available prospect. Though he lacks any eye-popping tools and may ultimately need to move off of shortstop, BA says that his broad-based talents tend to show up in game action.
  • The Yankees have agreed to a $750K bonus with shortstop Diego Castillo, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The highly-rated Venezuelan prospect (16th by MLB.com, 24th by BA) is small in stature but shows promising skill up the middle and a nice line-drive swing at the plate.
  • Julio Martinez has signed with the Tigers for $600K, reports Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com (via Twitter). Martinez, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic, placed 19th on MLB.com’s ranking, owing largely to his hit and power tools.
  • The Astros have agreed to sign righty Franklin Perez and shortstop Miguel Sierra for $1MM each, reports Sanchez (via Twitter). MLB.com rated them the 21st and 23rd best available prospects, respectively, while Baseball America had them at 15th and 19th on its list. Perez is said to have a good fastball and advanced approach on the mound, while Sierra profiles as a solid all-around player with a line-drive stroke and the ability to stay at short.
  • The Twins have reached agreement on a $800K bonus with righty Huascar Ynoa, tweets Sanchez. The younger brother of record-holding international signee Michael Ynoa, the Dominican landed at 17th among available prospects on the MLB.com list and 14th in the eyes of Baseball America, which credits him with outstanding stuff but streaky control.

International Notes: Forecasts, Astros, Castillo, Tomas

Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams broke down everything you need to know entering the July 2 signing period. As it opens up officially, here’s the latest on the international market:

  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler has excellent team-by-team forecasts for the 2014-15 July 2 market. In addition to covering the landing spots of some of the more notable available names, Badler also discusses teams’ differing approaches and predilections in this area of player acquisition.
  • Armed with over $5MM in available pool money, the Astros expect to be “reasonably aggressive,” GM Jeff Luhnow tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart“It’s a good class,” said Luhnow. “It’s deep and has got pitchers, position players. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to add a lot of depth to our system this year.”
  • Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to hold a showcase next week in Miami, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports on Twitter. Badler notes that Castillo could make an impact down the stretch; he has previously written that the 26-year-old is viewed as a major league-caliber, but not necessarily top-flight, talent.
  • Yasmani Tomas, who recently defected from Cuba, is working with agent Jay Alou, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 23-year-old outfielder will be exempt from spending limits, and is expected to draw significant interest based on his impressive power.

Astros Sign Derek Fisher

2:07pm: Fisher will receive a full-slot bonus, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com.

1:56pm: The Astros announced that they have signed No. 37 overall pick Derek Fisher (Twitter link). Terms have yet to be disclosed, though the University of Virgina outfielder’s slot comes with a value of $1,534,100.

Fisher ranked 15th among draft prospects according to ESPN’s Keith Law, while MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked him 26th, and Baseball America ranked him 31st. He was originally selected in the sixth round by the Rangers in 2011 but reportedly turned down a seven-figure offer to attend UVA. Fisher was thought to be a potential Top 100 pick at one point, Law notes, but a broken hamate bone caused his stock to drop a bit.

Law, however, cautions that his average speed and defensive question marks likely limit Fisher to left field as a pro, meaning he will have to hit to provide significant value. It appears there’s a good chance of that happening, though, as Law praises his left-handed swing which comes with “very little wasted movement” and good bat speed. Callis and Mayo project him as a plus hitter in terms of both average and power, and BA notes that scouts have given him 70-grade raw power (which would line up with Law’s assertion that he could hit 30-plus homers if everything breaks right).


Reactions To The Astros’ Data Leak

Yesterday’s leak of roughly 10 months worth of Astros trade notes and discussions made plenty of headlines around the nation. Not only was information that was sensitive to the Astros revealed, but other teams found their own executives and trade discussions included in the data. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has a full transcript of GM Jeff Luhnow’s response to the situation. Luhnow says that he’s been on the phone with other clubs since the information leaked and said that “in general, they’re understanding and supportive,” though he added that he’s sure other clubs aren’t happy to have seen their names in place. Luhnow mentions multiple times that not all of the info in the data leak is accurate, adding that the team is working with the FBI to determine who stole the information and will press criminal charges. He also says that the Astros have since upgraded the security on their databases, but he still used a pencil and paper to take notes in all conversations he had yesterday. “I think we were prepared,” Luhnow told Drellich after being asked if the Astros should’ve been better prepared. “We had security in place, and when you’re talking about criminals we just never know if we have enough. I think we were prepared as we could have been.”

Here are some reactions from around the baseball world…

  • Jim Margalus of SB Nation’s South Side Sox looks at the mentions of the White Sox within the leak and makes some educated guesses as to how the team’s offseason trade talks played out. He points back to a December comment from Sox GM Rick Hahn in which Hahn noted that the club almost swapped one of its pitchers for a position player before the other team decided it preferred a position player from another club. Margalus speculates that, based on data leaked yesterday and Hahn’s prior comments, that a Hector Santiago/Peter Bourjos swap (or a different three-team deal involving those players) may have been in play at one point.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays will review the safeguards on their own proprietary database — entitled “The BEST.” He describes the system as a “one stop catch-all for scouting reports, video, medical records, analytics and dialogue with various clubs.”
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he’s thankful to have escaped from the situation unscathed, as he’s “certainly talked to the Astros about various things.” The Twins have had internal discussions about communications security since the breach.
  • George Springer, whose name appeared in supposed trade talks in the leaked information, offered little comment when asked by Bob Nightengale of USA Today“I’m just here to play baseball. That’s it,” Springer said.
  • MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reminds that the Marlins made it clear prior to last offseason’s GM Meetings that Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t on the market. Still, he continues, teams commonly throw out feelers, but that hardly means the noted discussion of Stanton for Springer and Carlos Correa ever had any real legs to it. Marlins GM Dan Jennings dismissed the information yesterday, calling it “laughable.”
  • Rob Neyer of FOX Sports writes that he simply doesn’t believe Jennings’ claim that the two sides never discussed anything involving Stanton. Neyer points out that it does behoove Jennings and the Marlins to deny the report in an effort not to upset fans or Stanton himself, but the better route to take would be to simply acknowledge that he’d have been doing the Marlins a disservice not to float the idea of two elite prospects as headliners for a Stanton trade package.