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Ian Desmond Rumors
Ninety years and one day ago, the Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants in Game Seven of the 1924 World Series. Newsreel footage (YouTube link) of the Senators’ 12-inning walkoff win was recently uncovered by the Library of Congress, giving us a very cool glimpse into how baseball has both changed and stayed the same over nine decades. (The blunt “President is there” title card is also pretty funny; poor Calvin Coolidge didn’t even merit being named?) The Senators franchise won two more championships after they moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, but 1924 was the only time Washington D.C. celebrated a World Series title.
It’ll be at least one more year of waiting for D.C. in the wake of the Nationals’ loss in the NLDS but in the meantime, here are some Nats-related links…
- Asdrubal Cabrera would prefer play shortstop but said he is open to playing second base on a contending team, he tells MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko. “It depends. A team like this team, a good team that want me to play second, I would love to stay here. I just want to win. I’ve got eight seasons already. I want to be in the World Series one day,” Cabrera said. With a fairly thin crop of free agent shortstops, Cabrera could draw a lot of interest this winter, and his market will be further widened if he is willing to play second as well. It would seem that the Nationals are Cabrera’s first choice given how he stressed how much he enjoyed his brief stint with the club.
- The Nationals offered Jordan Zimmermann a five-year, $85MM extension last winter, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. Zimmermann mentioned that the two sides had discussed a lengthier deal than his eventual two-year, $24MM agreement, though the term and dollar figure of the larger offer weren’t known at the time. The right-hander will be a free agent after the 2015 season and, if he continues his current form, he’ll be looking at deals in the $130-$140MM range on the open market.
- Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals also have to consider extensions for Ian Desmond and Doug Fister this offseason, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman writes. All three players will be free agents after 2015. The Nationals could look to lock up Fister since he’ll command less money than Zimmermann, Zuckerman opines, and he also wonders if a seven-year, $105MM deal would be enough to keep Desmond in the fold. That would represent a bump from the seven-year, $85-98MM deal that Desmond reportedly rejected last winter.
The Reds had yet to place any of their starting pitchers on waivers as of Saturday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in his weekly “Full Count” video. As Rosenthal notes, their waiver status may be a moot point, as each would likely be claimed and subsequently pulled back. More highlights regarding the Reds and the rest of the league below…
- The real drama surrounding the Reds‘ rotation could come this offseason, as Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon will all be entering their final year of team control. The Reds will have to decide which, if any, they want to sign to a long-term deal, and Rosenthal notes that they will likely trade “at least” one. Latos is perhaps the likeliest candidate to be dealt, according to Rosenthal, who notes that both Latos and Cueto would command more than Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105MM contract.
- Rusney Castillo‘s six-year, $72.5MM contract with the Red Sox might not stand as the largest deal for a Cuban free agent very long. Yasmani Tomas is expected to be cleared as a free agent this offseason, and his huge raw power will be highly appealing, even if he is limited to left field, defensively speaking. As Rosenthal points out, Tomas is four years younger than Castillo and is against a crop of weak free agent bats. One executive that spoke with Rosenthal said the only flaw he sees in Castillo is his propensity to swing and miss.
- Rosenthal points back to a report of his prior to the trade deadline in which he had learned that the Nationals were looking for a young shortstop on the trade market. He’s now learned that Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks was one of their targets. Washington had planned on playing Gregorius at second base in the near-term and moving him back over to shortstop if Ian Desmond could not be retained. Of course, the club still wants to extend Desmond, who is a free agent following the 2015 season.
The Nationals are clearly in the process of running much of their roster through waivers, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that shortstop Ian Desmond and left-hander Gio Gonzalez have both cleared revocable trade waivers. Ace Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper were both claimed on waivers and subsequently pulled back, Nightengale adds (Twitter links).
That both Desmond and Gonzalez would clear waivers is a bit surprising, although even in the event that they had been claimed, it’s highly unlikely that the contending Nationals would’ve dealt away either key contributor. Desmond, 28, is in the midst of a down season at the plate but has still been valuable. He’s hitting .244/.296/.422 with 19 homers and 13 stolen bases. Defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved are down on his typically strong glovework in 2014, however. Still, as a shortstop with pop that is owed just $1.74MM through season’s end in addition to $11MM in 2015, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for a club to place a claim.
Gonzalez, also 28, has struggled in 2014 as well (by his standards). The lefty has pitched to a 4.00 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate. Though his ERA is higher than normal, ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all feel that he’s having one of his better years. Gonzalez is controlled through 2016 ($11MM in 2015, $12MM in 2016) with a $12MM club option for 2017 and a $12MM vesting option for 2018. As noted before, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Desmond or Gonzalez being moved this month.
It’s hardly a surprise to see Harper and Strasburg claimed, but it’s even less surprising that the Nats promptly pulled them back. Harper is controlled through the 2018 season, and while he’s having a down season, he possesses a sky-high ceiling and was excellent in 2012-13 despite playing at the ages of 19 and 20. Strasburg is under control through 2016, and while his ERA is higher than normal, he’s sporting a 10.7 K/9 rate and an even 3.00 FIP. Both are Scott Boras clients, so while an extension is unlikely for either, they’re integral part of the Nationals’ plan in the coming seasons.
Both Desmond and Gonzalez will now be added to MLBTR’s growing list of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers.
MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Remember though, players must be acquired by Aug. 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. Also bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.
Last Updated: 8-26-2014
- Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks — Still owed $12.8MM (including the buyout of two successive club options after next season) on a no-longer-attractive contract, Cahill remains a somewhat intriguing option at just 26 years of age. Though he owns just a 4.54 ERA over 83 1/3 innings on the year, including his first significant stretch of bullpen work, Cahill actually sports a career-best 3.72 FIP.
- Scott Feldman, Astros — In the first year of a front-loaded $30MM contract, Feldman was owed roughly $20.36MM through the 2016 season at the time he reportedly cleared waivers. He’s missed a coupled weeks with biceps tendinitis in 2014 but been healthy otherwise and soaked up some innings with a reasonable 4.37 ERA (through Aug. 25) for Houston. He’s not an elite arm, but he could have appeal to a team in need of solid innings, particularly if Astros GM Jeff Luhnow were to sweeten the deal with some cash.
- Bartolo Colon, Mets — The 41-year-old Colon was guaranteed $12.77MM through 2015 at the time he cleared waivers on Aug. 25. He’s pitched to a 3.82 ERA in 167 1/3 innings, more than justifying the commitment that the Mets made to him as a free agent. Colon’s age will scare off some contenders, but he looks the part of an effective starter, and with one year at $11MM remaining after the season, his salary isn’t exorbitant.
- Yu Darvish, Rangers — It is somewhat hard to imagine that Darvish’s current DL stint for elbow inflammation would be enough to scare away other clubs from the outstanding righty. He has produced stellar results (3.06 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 over 144 1/3 innings on the year), only just turned 28, and is guaranteed a modest $31MM over the next three seasons (though the last year could turn into a player option). The likelier possibility, perhaps, is that other clubs felt it would not be possible to achieve a deal, especially while he is out of action to have his elbow looked at.
- Adrian Beltre, Rangers — If anything, the lack of a claim on Beltre is more surprising (if only because of Darvish’s injury situation). The 35-year-old is in the midst of a typically outstanding year, with a .318/.373/.498 slash with 17 home runs and excellent defense. He is owed $34MM over the next two years, which is a large sum given his age. But that is a bargain for his production, and the $16MM salary for 2016 has injury protections built in.
- Elvis Andrus, Rangers — That Andrus was left unclaimed could represent something of a statement on the league’s view of his contract. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) is set to go into effect next season. Just 25, Andrus has not produced offensively either this year or last (.271/.326/.337 cumulative line), and his high-level defense and baserunning are probably not enough on their own to justify his pay level.
- Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers — Choo has thus far failed to live up to the seven-year, $130MM deal that brought him to Texas. He owns a .241/.341/.371 slash in that contract’s first year, with 12 home runs and just three stolen bases. While there is time for Choo to rebound, he is promised far too much future cash ($116MM) for another team to have placed a claim.
- Jon Niese, Mets — It’s a bit surprising that teams would let a controllable, highly affordable arm like Niese clear waivers. He’s owed about $1.34MM through season’s end (as of his clearing on Aug. 11) and is guaranteed $7MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016. Niese’s deal contains a $10MM club option for 2017 and $11MM club option for 2018, each with a $500K buyout. He’s not an ace, but he’s a reliable mid-rotation arm that is on the verge of finishing his third season with a sub-3.75 ERA. The asking price will be sky-high — justifiably so — making a trade unlikely.
- Curtis Granderson, Mets — The Grandy Man has recovered from a slow start to post strong numbers since May 1 (.258/.360/.447 from May 1 through Aug. 11), but the odds of a team taking on the roughly $50MM he has remaining on his deal are slim. It also would set a poor precedent with future free agents if the Mets issued a four-year deal, only to trade him in the first year of the contract. Don’t expect a trade.
- Ian Desmond, Nationals — That Desmond would clear is surprising, but it’s likely that the other 29 clubs knew that GM Mike Rizzo wouldn’t deal his shortstop in the midst of a playoff push anyway. Desmond is earning $6.5MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015 before being eligible for free agency, so he’d have plenty of trade value. An in-season trade would be shocking, however, with the Nats fighting for a division title.
- Gio Gonzalez, Nationals — Gonzalez is controlled relatively cheaply through the 2018 season ($23MM guaranteed through 2016 plus a pair of $12MM options), making it a virtual lock that he’s not going anywhere prior to season’s end. With four years of control, he could fetch a haul in the offseason, but teams are rarely willing to move an established starter with that type of control. He’s extremely likely to be a National again in 2015.
- Kevin Correia, Twins — The Twins sent Correia through waivers at the beginning of the month, as he had reportedly already cleared by the time the Dodgers acquired him on Aug. 9. The Dodgers are on the hook for the remaining $1.5MM on his contract, and he’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
- Alex Rios, Rangers — Rios is owed roughly $3.62MM through season’s end (as of Aug. 7) as well as a $1MM buyout on next year’s $13.5MM club option. While he’s enjoyed a decent season at the plate, a good deal of his slugging percentage comes from a high number of triples, rather than his usual contribution of double-digit home runs. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that teams are wary of Rios’ declining home run power, so the Rangers have some obstacles in trying to work out a trade for their right fielder.
- Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies — Papelbon cleared waivers on Aug. 6, to the surprise of very few, given the fact that he is owed $13MM in 2015 and has a vesting option for the 2016 season. Papelbon’s ERA and K/BB numbers remain appealing, but he’s survived with an abnormally low BABIP while seeing his average fastball velocity diminish to 91.4 mph. He has a limited no-trade clause but has said he’d waive those rights to join a contender. Philadelphia would have to eat some salary in order to facilitate a deal, however.
- Matt Kemp, Dodgers — Though Kemp has shown flashes of returning to his prior form at the plate, he is owed too much money after this year ($107MM) and comes with too many questions (injuries, defense) to warrant a claim. In any event, the Dodgers seem disinclined to trade him.
- Andre Ethier, Dodgers — If any Dodgers outfielder were to move, Ethier might be the likeliest option, but a .672 OPS won’t be appealing to interested parties. Even less appealing, however, will be the $56MM he is guaranteed following the 2014 season. That number could rise even further as well, as 550 PA in 2017 would trigger a $17.5MM vesting option ($2.5MM buyout). Clearly, L.A. would have to pay a significant portion of Ethier’s salary to move him, as his production in 2014 has been near or below replacement level (depending on your preferred version of WAR).
- Carl Crawford, Dodgers — The 33-year-old Crawford may be even more untradeable for the Dodgers, as he’s owed $62.5MM beyond the 2014 season and is hitting just .236/.271/.341 in what has been an injury-riddled season. The Dodgers have motivation to move at least one of their overpriced outfielders, with top prospect Joc Pederson likely ready to make the move to the Majors, but they’ll be hard-pressed to do so.
- Josh Beckett, Dodgers — Owed a much more reasonable $4.73MM (as of Aug. 5), Beckett is a more desirable commodity for interested parties. However, he’s currently occupying a slot in L.A.’s rotation, and he’s produced a surprisingly excellent 2.88 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 112 innings this season. The contending Dodgers don’t seem likely to deal from their rotation depth. The loss of Paul Maholm to a torn ACL has already weakened their rotation depth.
- Brett Gardner, Yankees — Gardner is owed $50MM from 2015-18, and the Yankees weren’t likely to have given any serious consideration to dealing him anyhow. The speedster has shown more power than ever this season and has been New York’s most valuable position player. He’s staying put.
- Martin Prado, Yankees — Owed $11MM in 2015 and in 2016, Prado’s salary and struggles with the bat have combined to offset a great deal of the value his versatility provides to his team. The Yankees acquired Prado just minutes before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so it seems unlikely that they’d move him this quickly.
- Stephen Drew, Yankees — Drew is owed about $4.24MM from Aug. 5 through season’s end, making it unsurprising that a team neglected to claim him on waivers. His bat showed some life in July and in early August, but the impending free agent’s overall numbers are pretty woeful. Another two or three weeks of solid offense could make him a trade candidate if the Yankees fall out of the playoff picture, however.
Note: This is not a complete list of all players to have cleared revocable waivers. Many players are placed on waivers and pass through unclaimed without ever going reported. This is merely a list of the names that have reportedly cleared waivers according to major media outlets around the game.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rios | Andre Ethier | Arizona Diamondbacks | Brett Gardner | Carl Crawford | Curtis Granderson | Gio Gonzalez | Ian Desmond | Jon Niese | Jonathan Papelbon | Josh Beckett | Kevin Correia | Los Angeles Dodgers | Martin Prado | Matt Kemp | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Stephen Drew | Texas Rangers | Trevor Cahill | Washington Nationals
In response to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in which it was reported that the Nationals were looking to add shortstop prospects to their system, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post breaks down the reported offers to Ian Desmond and examines his contract situation. Desmond reportedly rejected an offer of $85-98MM over seven years this offseason, but as Kilgore notes, other shortstops with similar (or inferior) production have signed for more. Desmond has already said he feels financially secure — as well he should, having been guaranteed more than $23MM in his career — and he therefore doesn’t need to feel pressured to take a below-market deal, Kilgore writes. He concludes by noting that if Desmond finishes his career elsewhere, it’ll be because the Nationals let him walk, not because Desmond turned his back on the club.
Here’s more on Desmond and the NL East…
- Desmond spoke with MLB.com’s Bill Ladson and flatly said that he expects to be a National in 2016 and beyond. “I can’t picture myself other than this,” said Desmond. “I can’t picture myself in any other uniform, clubhouse and Spring Training complex. I can’t see myself with any other coaching staff or anything like that. This is what I know. This is what’s on my mind. This is home for me.” Asked about the aforementioned Rosenthal report, Desmond declined to comment but added that there’s no ill will between him and the organization, and he has tremendous respect for GM Mike Rizzo’s decision-making skills.
- In a second piece from Kilgore, he looks at the fact that three of the Nationals‘ top 10 picks in this year’s draft — including first-rounder Erick Fedde and second-rounder Andrew Suarez – are unsigned. The Nationals are unlikely to sign ninth-rounder Austin Byler, a source tells Kilgore, meaning the Nats will lose $145,900 from their bonus pool, further complicating their negotiations with Fedde — a Scott Boras client. Rizzo considers it a “cardinal sin” to leave a top pick unsigned, notes Kilgore, who expects both Fedde and Suarez to sign. He feels that negotiations could come down to the wire, however.
- The Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization are working on a buyout of minor league right-hander Yunesky Maya of the Braves, reports Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (on Twitter). The Cuban hurler was originally signed by the Nationals with much fanfare, but he never panned out in the Major Leagues. Maya, now 32, has a 2.63 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 85 2/3 innings this season for Triple-A Gwinnett.
- The Braves don’t have the financial wherewithal to take on Jake Peavy or any other significant salary, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. He notes that in 2011, when the team acquired Michael Bourn from Houston, GM Frank Wren included an additional prospect in the deal to avoid having to pay the remainder of Bourn’s salary.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade stock and a list of teams that will looking for bullpen help. He notes that there are a lot of excellent relievers on the market this year, all of whom make less money than Papelbon. Ultimately, he opines that a package of Papelbon and A.J. Burnett could be beneficial to the Orioles, though he feels the Angels and Tigers are other plausible destinations.
- Antonio Bastardo is the name that Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com hears the most in trade buzz (Twitter link). Entering play today, the 28-year-old southpaw had a 3.60 ERA with 50 strikeouts against 24 walks in 40 innings. Bastardo is earning $2MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this offseason. He is under team control through 2015.
Previous reports have indicated that Desmond rejected a seven-year, $85.5MM contract, but Rosenthal spoke to one source who said as much as $98MM was on the table over a seven-year period. Rosenthal notes that the Nats would clearly never trade Desmond or right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (also a free agent after the 2015 season) while the team was making a playoff push, but one or both could be on the market this winter.
The team isn’t likely to deal pieces from its Major League club this July, as they’re firmly in the playoff race. Instead, Rosenthal writes, Major League ready prospects like catcher Sandy Leon, outfielder Steven Souza and infielder Zach Walters could be used to entice teams instead (the mention of Walters is at least somewhat puzzling, as he is a shortstop himself, albeit one with poor on-base skills in Triple-A). Pitching prospects such as A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito figure to be off limits due to uncertainty regarding Zimmermann’s future with the team, Rosenthal adds.
The Diamondbacks naturally come to mind when reports indicate that a club is looking for young shortstops, as they have Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed in their organization. In the Nationals’ case, however, it seems likely that they’d be ok with targeting someone who is a bit further from Major League ready than that trio, as the team could simply retain Desmond for the 2015 season and give a younger shortstop another year to develop.
Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote last night that Ike Davis concealed an oblique injury for much of the season prior to Aug. 31, when it worsened and sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Davis took exception to the story and addressed Puma and other reporters today, writes ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. He quotes the first baseman: "You made it look like an excuse. It’s an excuse. It shouldn’t have been a story anyway. … I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury. You always have injuries. And now it just looks bad."
More from the NL East…
- Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has indicated that the team is likely to pick up GM Sandy Alderson's option for the 2015 season, writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Alderson's contract expires after the season, and while some have mentioned his name as a possible replacement for retiring commissioner Bud Selig, David Wright thinks Alderson wants to stay with the Mets and complete the rebuild he's begun since taking over as GM. Said Wright: "Everybody is kind of concerned with how they are remembered. … he wants to be remembered for taking an organization that was struggling and slowly building it up with the system with some good trades and free-agent signings."
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines the psychology behind long-term deals for young players, noting that some believe extensions can relieve pressure, while others feel the extensions provide extra pressure, as players feel they must live up to that contract. O'Brien spoke with each of the five players the Braves have signed to multi-year deals in the past three weeks and got their takes on their new contracts.
- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond spoke with Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com and reflected on the decade he's spent with the organization. Desmond is appreciative of GM Mike Rizzo for declining trade offers when he was struggling and also appreciative of managers Davey Johnson and Jim Riggleman for playing him through those struggles.
- Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will make his debut for the Phillies on Thursday this week, giving the club a chance to evaluate the pitcher they signed for $12MM last August, writes CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Salisbury writes that Gonzalez has merely looked "so-so" to this point and could end up in the minors to open the season if he doesn't win the fifth starter's job.
Ian Desmond reportedly turned down a seven-year contract offer from the Nationals that was worth at least $85.5MM and possibly topped the $90MM threshold, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post reported during a reader chat. Rumors about the Nats extending Desmond have swirled for over a year, and while the two sides agreed to a two-year, $17.5MM extension in January that covered both of his remaining arbitration years, Desmond is still eligible for free agency following the 2015 season. While Desmond didn't specifically comment on Boswell's report, the shortstop told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that "the Nationals and I had been in conversation prior to the two-year deal, but things didn't work out. I don't know how this got out. It's not something that came from my side. We don't operate like that."
Here's some more from Desmond and some other items from Washington…
- Though a long-term deal hasn't been reached, Desmond "feel[s] real strongly about my future with the Nationals. I would like to play here for the rest of my career."
- Desmond admitted he was "a little bit hesitant" to sign his two-year extension, "but in turn, I have a wife and kids. Guaranteed money is guaranteed money. I think it was a good, fair deal for both sides. I took a deal that benefited my family and it didn't affect future infielders in the arbitration process. To have the security was something I couldn't pass up."
- Also from Boswell's chat, he notes that the Nationals offered Grant Balfour a two-year, $12MM deal but the reliever took a similar deal from the Rays instead because Washington's offer contained mostly deferred money. Boswell admits this could be "one of those many after-the-fact retellings of history," but believes the rumor to be true. The Nats were known to be interested in Balfour and were trying to free up 2014 payroll space to sign him and make further moves, to the point that Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann's two-year extensions were both backloaded to 2015.
- Gio Gonzalez's contract has become a major bargain for the Nationals, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes. Gonzalez has three years and a guaranteed $31.5MM remaining on his original five-year pact, and the Nationals have $12MM club options on the southpaw for both 2017 and 2018.
3:50pm: Desmond would also earn an additional $500K for winning NL MVP honors in either season, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
11:56am: The Nationals have agreed to sign shortstop Ian Desmond to a two-year, $17.5MM extension that will buy out his final two years of arbitration, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (Twitter link). Desmond is a client of Sports One Athlete Management. Desmond will earn $6.5MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Desmond's contract is the second two-year deal inked by the Nationals today, as they also locked up Jordan Zimmermann for two years and $24MM. Barring a long-term extension, Desmond's salaries are now locked in until he eligible for free agency following the 2015 campaign. He'd been projected to earn $6.9MM in 2014 by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
Desmond has broken out as one of the game's best all-around shortstops, slashing .286/.333/.480 with solid defense at shortstop and a pair of 20-homer, 20-steal campaigns in 2012-13. The Nationals are reportedly interested in locking him up to a long-term extension, as is also the case with Zimmermann.
Last month, reliever Darin Downs found out the Astros had claimed him off waivers from the Tigers as he was driving his wife to deliver the couple's second child, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I had a couple missed calls, a couple text messages. So I call one of the front office staff from the Tigers, he says, 'Oh, you've just been claimed by the Astros.' I'm like, 'All right, cool. I'm going to the hospital,'" Downs says. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- A year removed from their nightmarish 2012 season, the Red Sox are again a desirable team for free agents, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Some of that, Lauber notes, has to do with the team's willingness to spend money. The team also seems to have rehabilitated its reputation among players after reports of 2012 locker-room disarray. But another important consideration is simply that every season is different. "I always chuckle inside when you see the quote from a free agent, 'I want to go to a contender,'" says Jonny Gomes. "Oh, you mean the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008? Or the Oakland A’s in 2012? That contender? I know anything can happen. Every single year, good, bad and in between, is like an individual season. All you have to do is turn the page."
- Reliever Jim Hoey is trying to return to the big leagues, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets. Hoey, who will be 31 next week, last appeared in the Majors in 2011, when he pitched in the Twins' bullpen. He is perhaps best known for being traded (with minor-leaguer Brett Jacobson) for J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris in 2010. He pitched briefly in the Brewers' system in 2013, and also pitched in independent ball.
- The Nationals have a variety of extension candidates and may not have an easy time deciding how to handle them, writes Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com. Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond are both open to extensions, Kerzel notes, but GM Mike Rizzo also needs to think about whether to extend Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg long-term (if that's practical — Scott Boras represents both of them, and one would think his demands would be through the roof). An extension for Zimmermann could exceed Matt Harrison's five-year, $55MM deal, possibly winding up somewhere near $85MM, Kerzel suggests. Both Zimmermann and Desmond can become eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- The decline in Jonathan Papelbon's stuff last season could make other teams reluctant to trade for him, and Jason Collette of Fangraphs shows exactly what went wrong. Papelbon's velocity dropped as the season progressed, which allowed batters to make more frequent contact with his fastball. Hitters also made more contact with his splitter when he left it in the zone. While Papelbon's superficial statistics (a 2.92 ERA and 29 saves) were reasonable, his peripheral numbers mark him as something like an average closer at this point. Since he's making $13MM a year, that's a problem, and it could be tricky for the Phillies to deal him.
- The Yankees have had talks with Mark Reynolds about a deal to return next season, but the corner infielder appears set to sign somewhere else, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Reynolds, 30, joined the Yankees in August after being released by the Indians, and hit .236/.300/.455 in 120 plate appearances, with characteristically high strikeout totals.