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James Russell Rumors
The Cubs have plenty of trade chips remaining, but time is running out to deal them as tomorrow's 4pm ET deadline looms. Here's the latest…
- The Pirates remain interested in Nate Schierholtz, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Concerns surrounding his shoulder cause the Bucs to switch gears to Alex Rios a few weeks back, but Schierholtz has demonstrated his health with strong play of late. Earlier today, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that Schierholtz is likely to be traded.
- Levine also reports that James Russell was nearly acquired by the Braves last week, and he's now drawing interest from the Reds. The Braves have since acquired Scott Downs to fill the left-handed void in their bullpen. Russell had a rough outing in the first game of today's doubleheader, allowing a three-run home run to Khris Davis plus two other hits and a free pass.
- Schierholtz and Kevin Gregg are the two Cubs most likely to be dealt prior to tomorrow's deadline, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Time reports. The Pirates and Tigers are scouting the Cubs' series with the Brewers, with the Bucs looking for outfield help and the Tigers on the hunt for bullpen help.
- The Blue Jays have also been scouting the Cubs for the past week, according to Wittenmyer, but that's likely because they're looking to add pieces for 2014.
- Wittenmyer adds that Carlos Villanueva isn't likely to be traded, as the Cubs value his versatility and cheap contract as they look to shuffle the roster again in 2014.
ESPN's Jayson Stark begins his latest column with a look at the Biogenesis situation. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported, suspension announcements are not expected today. Sherman expects the announcements to come Thursday or Friday. In Stark's opinion, the Rangers are acting like a team that knows what Nelson Cruz will do if suspended, in that their aggressive search for a bat suggests he might serve a suspension now to preserve his free agent value. Meanwhile, the Tigers' lack of pursuit of a backup plan to shortstop Jhonny Peralta suggests he'll appeal. Elsewhere in Stark's column:
- The Dodgers and Angels, who haven't made a trade in 20 years, had a "mostly casual conversation" regarding Halos second baseman Howie Kendrick. There are no indications a deal is in the works.
- The Angels are at least listening on infielders Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo, and seeking high quality big league ready pitching in return.
- The Cubs could move Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, but are extremely unlikely to trade lefty reliever James Russell and there's just about zero chance of a Jeff Samardzija trade.
- Pitchers Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays "have suddenly been made available." Trading Kennedy would allow Arizona to clear around $1.4MM toward another move. Are they that hard up for cash?
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alberto Callaspo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Chicago Cubs | Detroit Tigers | Erick Aybar | Howie Kendrick | Ian Kennedy | J.J. Putz | James Russell | Jeff Samardzija | Jhonny Peralta | Kevin Gregg | Kyle Farnsworth | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Nate Schierholtz | Nelson Cruz | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers
A month ago, White Sox reliever Jesse Crain appeared very likely to be traded at the deadline, but now, it looks like it would be tricky for the team to deal him. Crain's shoulder injury, which has kept him out since June 29, is still a problem, and he won't throw until next week, as Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter) has an idea of how a trade might work despite that injury, though — the Sox might ship him to a contender in a conditional deal, with the return predicated upon how much he's able to pitch down the stretch. Here are more notes out of Chicago.
- The Blue Jays asked the White Sox about trading for second baseman Gordon Beckham earlier this season, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. There is currently no activity on that front, however. The Jays are now 14 games out of the AL East race, and it would be surprising to see them trade for a veteran. Also, the Jays' top infielders are now healthy.
- "At least five teams" are interested in Cubs lefty reliever James Russell, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago reports. Russell does not become a free agent until after the 2015 season, however, and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says his top priority is trading players who are set to become free agents after the season, like Kevin Gregg. "Potentially, we will be hearing from people on the guys who we don’t control after this year," says Epstein. "It would make more sense moving those guys."
- The Cubs have already dealt Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston, Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano, and they're not sure if they're done dealing, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. "There are some things we'd like to explore, and if we can find the right fit and bring value back to the organization, sure, we would be [interested]," says Epstein. Of the veterans still with the Cubs, Gregg and outfielder Nate Schierholtz appear most likely to be traded.
ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams. That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column…
- Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars. While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals. "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
- The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick. The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
- Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter. Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said. Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
- We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams. The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
- The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club. Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week. The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
- Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
- Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers. The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
- The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year. The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
- Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder. The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
- The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline. Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him.
- The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching. While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
- In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal. You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rios | Atlanta Braves | Biogenesis | Boston Red Sox | Charlie Furbush | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Drew Storen | James Russell | Jonathan Papelbon | Justin Ruggiano | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Miami Marlins | Michael Young | Mike Dunn | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Yankees | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Scott Downs | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Washington Nationals | Yovani Gallardo
With just over a week to the trade deadline, there's still been only one significant move for a reliever — Boston's acquisition of Matt Thornton. Plenty of teams are on the lookout for bullpen help, however, including the Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Diamondbacks and more. With a potential Jason Grilli injury last night, more bullpen rumors could begin to circulate. Here are the latest relief rumblings from around the baseball world…
- The Red Sox, Dodgers and Tigers are all keeping close tabs on Francisco Rodriguez, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The Sox and Dodgers, in particular, were said by Crasnick to have scouts "all over" Rodriguez this week. Detroit, meanwhile, isn't as interested as it once was due to the strong recent performance of Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly (Twitter links).
- Former closer Brian Wilson threw for Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen catcher Billy Hayes yesterday, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. The session was a personal favor to Wilson and not an indicator that a deal is coming, Baggarly writes. However, Wilson looked nearly Major League ready, and Baggarly feels that the willingness to afford Wilson this favor suggests that any ill will between the two sides following Wilson's offseason non-tender has subsided.
- The Braves continue to search for left-handed relief help, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio, who lists Oliver Perez, Mike Dunn, Glen Perkins, Scott Downs and James Russell as potential targets. Bowden notes that Perkins is unlikely, likely because of the numerous reports that the Twins won't move their closer.
- While the Twins aren't interested in moving Perkins, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves may have interest in another Minnesota lefty who may be available — Brian Duensing (Twitter link). Duensing has two years of team control remaining and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason.
- One more note from Crasnick, who tweets that the Braves also checked in on Phil Coke in their quest for lefty relief help, but nothing came of the talks with the Tigers. Coke has had a brutal season because of overexposure against right-handed hitters, but he's held lefties to a .231/.271/.346 batting line.
- For more on the relief trade market, check out my examinations of the market for left-handed relievers and the market for right-handed relievers. Also, for all fantasy players out there, be sure to follow @closernews on Twitter to keep up to speed with closer injuries, performance, usage and more.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Boston Red Sox | Brian Duensing | Brian Wilson | Chicago Cubs | Detroit Tigers | Francisco Rodriguez | Glen Perkins | James Russell | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Mike Dunn | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Oliver Perez | Phil Coke | San Francisco Giants | Scott Downs | Seattle Mariners
For a while earlier today, it looked like the top available starting pitcher on the trade market could pack his bags for Texas. The Cubs and Rangers reached the point of exchanging medical information on six players who were apparently ready to change teams, most prominent among them the Cubs' Matt Garza.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and president Theo Epstein have already been active on the trade front this summer, dealing Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Orioles, sending Scott Hairston to the Nats, swapping Carlos Marmol and an international bonus slot for Matt Guerrier, and sending Ronald Torreyes to the Astros for international bonus money. A Garza deal would be the duo's highest-profile trade of the summer and arguably the highest-profile trade of their tenure with the Cubs. It could also have the most impact of any 2013 trade deadline deal.
With the Cubs now reportedly looking to open talks back up with other clubs, even as they continue to talk with the Rangers, let's take stock of where we're at and track new updates right here:
- The prospective trade broke down over the medicals of one player, tweets Bowden. He says that the clubs are "working hard" to re-formulate the deal with a replacement piece. Quite the opposite is true, according to Sullivan, who writes that "right now there is nothing happening" and that "tonight is not the night."
- The loss of momentum between the Cubs and Rangers occured after the teams had swapped medical information on the players that were to be involved, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. If medical concerns are to blame, Passan says it was likely not an issue with Garza, since the Rangers are apparently continuing to pursue him.
- Some of the deal's apparent urgency may have come from the fact that the Rangers hoped that Garza would pitch for the club tomorrow, explains Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. While the team thought at one point that a deal could have been locked down as early as yesterday, Wilson says that club officials now do not believe an agreement is likely tonight.
- While various trade packages were discussed and reported, the Rangers prospects believed to be potentially in play at this point are third baseman Mike Olt and starters Neil Ramirez and C.J. Edwards. As Passan also reported, the Rangers also inquired about Cubs reliever James Russell, though it is not known whether he was a part of the trade that almost went through. (MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan first reported that the deal under consideration likely included Ramirez, Olt and Edwards.)
- As for other teams that could jump in, we learned earlier of a possible "mystery team" that was rumored to play in the National League. Previous National League clubs that have been connected to Garza include the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Pirates. The Cubs have not re-engaged the Dodgers at this point, however, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- While the Cardinals have been connected to Garza as well, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets that they are not the unnamed team in the mix. The Nationals also appear to be out of the race, both Wittenmyer and ESPN's Jim Bowden (Twitter link) report. Of course, at this point, it seems that negotiations could pick up with any club — American or National League — that has the need and the means for Garza.
Earlier Updates (reverse chronological order)
- Garza's agent (Nez Balelo of CAA Sports) has reportedly been notified by the Cubs that a trade could be coming, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (free registration required). Garza himself confirmed that notification, though he downplayed its significance given his seemingly annual involvement in trade rumors.
- A deal sending Garza to the Rangers "will get done," according to a source of Jim Bowden of ESPN (Twitter link). He says that Neil Ramirez is expected to be the featured piece going back to the Cubs. While Ramirez was reported to have been scratched from his minor league start today, according to a Bowden tweet, Bowden retracted that information shortly thereafter (via Twitter).
- A Cubs source tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that a mystery NL team has joined the fray and may intercept Garza (Twitter link). Previous National League clubs that have been connected to Garza include the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Pirates. The Cardinals have been connected to Garza as well, but in a separate tweet, Wittenmyer adds that they are not the unnamed team in the mix.
- MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez points out that both the Rangers and Cubs have committed all of their international signing money, so no bonus slots can be used as a component to this trade (Twitter link).
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers would like to get a deal completed in time for Garza to start for them tomorrow night against the Orioles. The two sides are discussing Ramirez, Olt and Edwards, but the Rangers are unwilling to part with Martin Perez or Luke Jackson. Their refusal on Perez is nothing new, but this is the first report that they're unwilling to part with Jackson.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Rangers minor league right-hander Neil Ramirez has also been discussed in trade talks.
- The Cubs and Rangers are on the verge of completing a trade that would send Matt Garza to Texas in exchange for "a strong package of prospects," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The two sides have discussed prospects at multiple levels, including third baseman Mike Olt and right-hander C.J. Edwards, as Rosenthal reported last night. Rosenthal notes that other interested parties such as the Red Sox, Indians, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Cardinals are reluctant to meet the club's asking price for Garza, who is a free agent at the end of the season.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Braves' priority is to add a left-handed reliever, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, with James Russell of the Cubs, Mike Gonzalez of the Brewers, and Wesley Wright of the Astros on their wish list. The Braves are more interested in Russell and Gonzalez, he adds.
The Braves' need for a southpaw reliever has increased with the plan to put Alex Wood in the starting rotation, possibly swapping roles with right-hander Kris Medlen. That would leave Luis Avilan as the only lefty in the Braves' pen, with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters both out for the season due to Tommy John surgery.
Russell, 27, has a large platoon split. He'd held lefties to a .187/.218/.284 line, but righties have hit him hard (small sample size warning). Russell is earning $1.075MM this year, and he's under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. Gonzalez, 35, joined the Braves from the Pirates in the January 2007 Adam LaRoche trade. He racked up 125 innings and 26 saves for the Braves over three seasons, mostly after recovering from June '07 Tommy John surgery. The Braves allowed him to leave as a free agent for Baltimore, drafting Matt Lipka as a supplemental pick in 2010 as compensation. After spending time with the Rangers and Nationals, Gonzalez signed with the Brewers as a free agent in January this year. He's always been prone to the free pass, especially against righties this year, but he's been strong against lefties.
Wright, 28, came to the Astros in the '07 Rule 5 draft, from the Dodgers. They were able to retain him by keeping him in the Majors for all of '08, and he's improved since then. Similar to Russell, Wright is under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. His problem this year, against righties and lefties, has been an abnormally high batting average on balls in play and rate of flyballs leaving the yard.
Which other left-handed relievers might be available? We'll have a full post on the topic later today, but Mike Dunn, Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez, Jose Mijares, Darren Oliver, Scott Downs, Joe Thatcher, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt are names to consider.
The Braves also seek a backup infielder to fill the void after the loss of Ramiro Pena to season-ending surgery; they'd prefer a left-handed hitter with more offense than Paul Janish, writes Bowman. The Cubs' Luis Valbuena could be a logical candidate there, in my opinion.
Trade rumors continue to swirl around the Cubs' Matt Garza, but his teammates would like to see the Cubs extend him, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "It’s hard to find pitchers like that because he’s always there for us," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. However, an AL GM told CSN Chicago's David Kaplan recently that there's probably not much to recent rumors that the Cubs are exploring an extension for Garza. "I'd be stunned if he is a Cub August 1," the executive told Kaplan. Some more North Siders notes..
- Soriano is the subject of a lot of trade talk himself, but he's not thinking about the rumors, according to Sullivan. "If they want me to stay here, I stay here. But if they don’t want me to, the door is open. I’ve had a good time. I just play one day at a time and enjoy my time," the former All-Star said.
- Soriano's recent surge, in which he's hit .381 with six homers and four doubles in 10 games, has drawn new attention from contending teams that are looking for offense, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Soriano, who has a full no-trade clause, turned down a potential trade to the Giants last year, but he indicated during the Cubs' recent road trip that he may be more open to more teams this summer. "For sure, if somebody asks for me, they have to be a contender for the playoffs," Soriano said. "A good city, I guess … But I don’t want to think about it. Just see what happens."
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum's decision to use James Russell for the third consecutive day in Monday's blowout win over the White Sox may have been to showcase the lefty to "the many" scouts in attendance, Sullivan also reports. Sullivan notes that the Red Sox are seeking to fill the void left by recently injured left-hander Andrew Miller. Though the Cubs aren't attempting to trade Russell, they aren't deeming any player untouchable in their summer sale, Sullivan says, citing an anonymous source.
- The Cubs could also move catcher Dioner Navarro, who's performed well above expectations since signing a one-year deal in the offseason, writes Sullivan. Navarro's already clubbed eight homers this year after never hitting more than nine in any previous season. Together, Garza and Navarro could be "a perfect package deal," Sullivan imagines. Navarro, who serves as a mentor to catcher Welington Castillo and has just 128 plate appearances, concedes that he'd like to return to a full-time role.
Gregg served as the Cubs' closer in 2009 before signing with the Blue Jays in 2010 and inking a two-year deal with the Orioles that covered the 2011-12 seasons. He returned to the Cubs on a minor league deal this April and now finds himself in the midst of an unlikely career year at age 35.
Gregg has pitched to an immaculate 1.11 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 with 11 saves in 24 1/3 innings since returning to the Cubs. That ERA is likely unsustainable, but even advanced metrics like FIP (2.31), xFIP (3.05) and SIERA (2.79) feel that Gregg's work this year has truly been in the upper echelon of Major League relievers.
Gregg could serve as a bargain bullpen upgrade for teams that don't wish to meet the steep asking price on players like Jesse Crain and Jonathan Papelbon (if he does indeed become available). Gregg ranks fourth in FIP, xFIP and WAR among relief trade candidates according to the custom Fangraphs leaderboard compiled yesterday by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
We're just under six weeks away from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At this point, many teams are still attempting to determine whether or not they're buyers or sellers, and the addition of a second Wild Card in each league has made that a longer process than it was in the past. However, ESPN's Buster Olney has spoken to rival evaluators who have said that the Cubs are "open for business" and ready to sell (ESPN Insider required and recommended).
The Cubs are 13 games below .500 and 17 games out of first place in the National League Central as of this morning, so their stance is a clear one. Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus (when healthy), Alfonso Soriano, James Russell and Matt Garza are the names that figure to be on the trading block as the Cubs field calls, writes Olney. His piece also includes much more info on potential matches for the Cubs and which divisions may be the first to become active on the trade front.
My take on the Cubs' situation: Being the first team to sell pieces has its advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the Cubs will have more teams to work with at this juncture. Early in the trading season, with so few teams ready to declare themselves sellers, buyers will have few other places to turn. Trading for a player like Garza or Feldman right now would give the acquiring team an extra few starts from the pitcher they're trading precious prospects for. Acquiring a position player in late June as opposed to late July could mean an extra 20 to 30 games out of that player.
On the flipside of the coin, teams may not be as desperate right now as they would be in the final hours leading up to the deadline. Oftentimes, big deals go down with just hours or minutes to go before the trade deadline, as teams have decided that one final push is worth the risk. Recent examples of July 31 blockbusters include both Hunter Pence trades, the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and the White Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy. Each of these deals included high-profile prospects being exchanged for star-caliber players, though obviously not all of them worked out.
Injuries can also occur in the next month that would make buyers out of teams who are currently not looking. Conversely, one of the Cubs' trade chips could incur an injury, which would leave president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer one less piece to work with.
Selling pieces early takes away some of the "desperation" leverage from the Cubs, but it also will likely increase their number of suitors, creating more competition for their players. Epstein and Hoyer will have to determine how to walk that line over the next several weeks as they look to build toward the future.