Jason Knapp Rumors
Here are some of today's notable minor moves -- a rather interesting group on the whole -- all courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy unless otherwise noted:
- Catcher Chris Robinson will retire, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 29-year-old, who was a 3rd round pick of the Tigers back in 2005, had a chance to see his first MLB action (and hit his first home run) last year with the Padres. At Triple-A with the Pads and Orioles, Robinson put up a .282/.307/.320 line in 255 plate appearances.
- The Rangers have signed righty Jason Knapp to a minor league deal, tweets Eddy. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Knapp is attempting a comeback after washing out of baseball following successive shoulder surgeries. The big hurler was once a top prospect, and headlined the deal that sent Cliff Lee from the Indians to the Phillies. Though he hasn't thrown a professional pitch since 2010, Knapp is just 23 years old and reportedly has managed to build his heater back up into the 90s.
- Reliever Pat Egan has signed with the Reds, Eddy tweets. Though he has yet to crack the bigs at age 29, the towering righty has found success in recent seasons at the upper reaches of the minors. In 2013 with the Braves organization, Egan notched a 2.95 ERA in 73 1/3 innings (though he was better at Double-A than Triple-A). And in 2012, he was good for 67 innings of 1.61 ERA ball for the Orioles' top affiliates.
- Reliever Juan Morillo has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun recently reported. The 30-year-old fireballer struggled in four MLB cups of coffee, and washed out of American professional baseball after 2012 as his walk totals reached unsustainable levels. According to Encina, Morillo served as the closer for the Taiwanese EDA Rhinos, during which time his heater registered at a league-record 99.4 mph.
- The Orioles have also signed lefty Steve Garrison and first baseman Henry Wrigley to minor league deals, tweets Eddy. Garrison, 27, has thrown in just one big league game, and worked 43 2/3 innings of 3.30 ball for the Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate last year, his first as a reliever. In the process, he boasted significantly higher strikeout totals (10.1 K/9) than he carried as a starter. Wrigley, also 27, spent his entire career in the minors with the Rays before moving to the Rockies in 2013. Previously a solid (if strikeout-prone) hitter with 20-home run power, Wrigley struggled to a .188/.227/.348 line in 119 Double-A plate appearances last year.
- Righty Josh Geer has re-signed with the Padres, Eddy tweets. Geer battled back from Stage III melanoma before the 2012 season. Now 30, the RIce University product saw time in the bigs over 2008-09 but has thrown in the upper minors since. Working mostly as a reliever for the first time last year, he threw 104 1/3 innings of 3.54 ERA baseball with 6.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.
- Longtime catcher Rob Johnson will attempt to move onto the mound with the Padres organization, Eddie notes in the same tweet. The 31-year-old saw MLB action behind the dish in every season between 2007-13, carrying a lifetime .200/.275/.295 line in the process. Though a surprising number of converted catchers have found success as pitchers, far fewer can say they appeared at both positions at the big league level.
- One example that Johnson can hope to emulate is Chris Hatcher, who has seen MLB time as a catcher and pitcher. Hatcher was recently designated by the Marlins and remains in DFA limbo. As MLBTR's DFA Tracker shows, two others join Hatcher in waiting to learn their fates: Henry Rodriguez (Reds) and Jimmy Paredes (Marlins).
It's been more than four years since the Indians traded reigning Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee to the Phillies in exchange for a package of four prospects headlined by right-hander Jason Knapp. Since that time, Knapp has undergone a pair of shoulder surgeries and been released by the Indians, but ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that the former top prospect will be attempting a comeback at age 23 (All Twitter links).
Knapp hasn't pitched professionally since 2010, but Crasnick reports that his fastball is back up into the 90s. As Crasnick notes, if Knapp truly is healthy, he figures to draw interest from plenty of teams. Knapp is the type of player teams will dream on -- a low-cost, low-risk pickup of a player that was once one of the game's best pitching prospects. From 2008-10, Knapp posted a 3.63 ERA with 12.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 across two minor league levels with the Phillies and Indians.
The Phillies drafted Knapp -- who was last listed at 6'5", 235 pounds -- out of high school in the second round of the 2007 draft. Following the 2008 season, Baseball America ranked Knapp 64th among all prospects and called him the best player the Indians received in the Lee haul. BA then praised Knapp for a fastball that could touch 98 mph, a sometimes-plus 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup that had the makings of at least an average third pitch. At the time, BA wrote that if he could remain healthy, Knapp could develop into a front-line starting pitcher.
The latest minor moves...
- The Indians announced that they released right-hander Jason Knapp (Twitter link). Knapp was a key part of the 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies, but injuries have sidelined him, and he hasn't pitched since 2010. The 21-year-old had a 3.63 ERA with 12.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in three professional seasons from 2008-10.
- The Angels released catcher Robinzon Diaz and right-hander Francisco Rodriguez from their Triple-A team, according to the Pacific Coast League. Diaz, who last appeared in the Major Leagues in 2009, has a 285/.309/.437 batting line in 166 plate appearances at Triple-A this year. Rodriguez accumulated more walks than strikeouts and posted a 6.35 ERA in 51 innings with the Salt Lake Bees. He appeared in ten games for last year's Angels team and posted a 4.37 ERA in 43 games for the 2010 team.
A second pitching coach change occurred today, as Mark Connor resigned from the Orioles post for personal reasons. Rick Adair will take his place. Today's links...
- A couple of young pitchers were added to 40-man rosters today, as the Blue Jays added Zach Stewart in place of Kyle Drabek and the Cubs promoted Chris Carpenter in place of Casey Coleman according to ESPN's Bruce Levine. Both teams already had one open spot on the 40-man roster.
- Andrew Miller's agent Mark Rodgers implied his client will not opt out of his Red Sox contract tomorrow, in a discussion with Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. Lauber notes that Miller has a second opt-out date on August 5th.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski suggested he might look for offense at the trade deadline, talking to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link). The Tigers currently rank sixth in the AL with 4.48 runs scored per game.
- Minor league infielder Matt Lawson retired, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. The Indians acquired Lawson and cash considerations from the Mariners for Aaron Laffey in March. At least they still have the cash. Laffey currently has a 1.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings for the Mariners.
- More bad news for the Indians: pitching prospect Jason Knapp, acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, will miss the rest of the season due to shoulder surgery according to the team (Twitter link).
- An unnamed agent guesses contracts for ten prominent free agents in Jeff Passan's latest Yahoo article. The agent guessed eight years and $200MM for Prince Fielder. Meanwhile, Fielder's former Brewers teammate Bill Hall had all kinds of praise for the first baseman in this conversation with Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The latest on the Phillies, before they take on their intra-state rivals far from Pennsylvania...
- The Phillies' goal with Chase Utley is to avoid surgery at all costs, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- As Olney points out in a column at ESPN.com, this is the point in the spring where injuries have a good chance of impacting Opening Day rosters.
- The Phillies say they aren't worried about Placido Polanco, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The infielder, who is dealing with a hyperextended elbow, practiced yesterday and won't play in a game for at least two days.
- Former Phillies prospect Jason Knapp tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he was healthy when Philadelphia sent him to Cleveland as part of the summer 2009 Cliff Lee trade. Knapp, still just 20, has recovered from shoulder problems to re-establish himself as one of Cleveland's top prospects.
A few tidbits of note from what may be one of the more competitive and intriguing divisions in baseball in 2011 ...
- White Sox slugger Adam Dunn suspects that his now-infamous war of words with then-Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi in 2008 hurt his value on the free-agent market that offseason, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Dunn, of course, was traded from the Reds to the Diamondbacks in a post-deadline deal in 2008 and signed a modest two-year deal with the Nationals in the subsequent offseason. He reportedly was unwilling to be a full-time DH then, but when he hit free agency this offseason after two productive years in Washington, he had no such qualms, signing a nice four-year, $56MM deal with the South Siders.
- Indians right-hander Jason Knapp could "rocket up" next year's prospects lists if he's healthy this year and continues to polish up his raw talents, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America. It feels like a lifetime ago that the Indians acquired Knapp from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal, and it looks like Knapp may be Cleveland's last hope of salvaging a player with big upside from that swap. As Callis notes, Knapp has logged only 40 innings since the Tribe acquired him in 2009 due to injuries, but he's still only 21.
- Twins reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2010, will have to prove that he's his old self before he returns to closing duty, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t make any decisions until the end of spring training," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Passan. "If [Nathan] comes back and throws like he did two years ago, he’ll probably be our closer." Of course, the Twins have a nice insurance policy in Matt Capps should Nathan not be ready. The Twins acquired Capps in a midseason trade last year and avoided arbitration with him this offseason, settling on a 2011 salary of $7.15MM.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has his Sunday column up. Let's have a look.
- Cafardo expects the Red Sox to make another push for Felix Hernandez in the offseason. Hernandez's price tag could prove too high for Seattle to retain him; however, they are open to extending him. Before the deadline, the Red Sox reportedly offered a 5-for-1 deal for the ace that Seattle turned down.
- The Indians have yet to see dividends pay for the players they received for Cliff Lee. Cafardo writes, "Righty Carlos Carrasco is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA (six homers in 14 innings); catcher Lou Marson is hitting .154; shortstop Jason Donald went on the disabled list in Triple A; and righty Jason Knapp underwent surgery to remove fragments from his shoulder."
- Cafardo wonders if the Nats would've dealt Cristian Guzman had they known Ian Desmond would emerge as their shortstop of the future.
- Chiming in on the Jason Bay or Matt Holliday discussion, Cafardo quotes scouts who seem to have him leaning toward Holliday as the better option, particularly for Boston.
A few tidbits to start the day...
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the key prospect in the Cliff Lee deal, Jason Knapp, had surgery yesterday to remove loose bodies from his throwing shoulder. The Indians do not believe the Phillies "pulled a fast one," but do feel that the Phillies misdiagnosed Knapp's original injury (Knapp was on the DL at the time of the trade).
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star is reporting that Aaron Crow's contract ($3MM guaranteed) could be worth as much as $4.5MM depending on how much time he spends in the big leagues the next three seasons.
- Sam Mellinger also writes in his blog, that the Royals came out the victors in the negotiations based on MLB slot recommendations and what Crow turned down last year.
- MetsBlog take a look at the Mets off-season and how the team may approach free agency.
11:02pm: It appears we've passed J.P. Ricciardi's self-imposed deadline to deal Halladay. We probably should just pack it in, huh? Nah. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian has the word from Ricciardi, who dismisses the "soft" deadline he laid out. Still, Bastian reports that they're no closer to making a decision, and that it appears more and more likely Doc remains a Blue Jay. And so it goes.
9:11pm: Gordon Edes at Yahoo has a pretty big update on the discussions. It appears the Red Sox have amped up their efforts to obtain the Doc, and they're willing to include Buchholz, one of Lars Anderson, Justin Masterson or Michael Bowden, and lesser prospects to fill out the rest of the offer.
Edes also reneges on his earlier report that Westmoreland had been part of a Red Sox proposal, and thinks that any reports about the Red Sox involving a third team to get a shortstop to Toronto are untrue.
7:07pm: Jon Heyman tweets an AL executive's comment that Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Ryan Westmoreland "won't get it done" to obtain Halladay.
6:44pm: T.R. Sullivan at MLB.com says that the Rangers are reluctant to part with their top prospects for Halladay. The Blue Jays reportedly asked for a king's ransom of Derek Holland, Justin Smoak and Julio Borbon.
5:00pm: ESPN.com's Keith Law hears that the Red Sox have no intention of including Westmoreland in any deal.
4:40pm: Jayson Stark reports that the same Blue Jays scout who watched Kyle Drabek pitch last night will be in Lehigh Valley to watch as shortstop Jason Donald comes off the DL for his first start since June. Both minor leaguers could be part of a Phils-Jays trade.
1:57pm: Yahoo's Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox offered "at least" Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Ryan Westmoreland to the Blue Jays for Halladay. In my opinion, that is a very strong offer. Edes says the Jays would like to acquire a shortstop since they are "vigorously shopping" Marco Scutaro. That means the Sox might need to get creative.
Edes says Daniel Bard and Casey Kelly "have been declared off-limits by the Red Sox." And while the Dodgers deem Clayton Kershaw untouchable, they've at least discussed internally the possibility of moving Chad Billingsley. Billingsley might be the best name we've heard yet in connection with Halladay, though remember that Edes labeled that an internal discussion.
1:29pm: The Associated Press (via ESPN) reports that Rogers Communications, the company that owns the Blue Jays, wants to bring its costs under control. The Blue Jays have said they don't have to deal Halladay, who has over $20MM left on his contract, for financial reasons.
1:12pm: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says the Blue Jays and Phillies both need to complete a Roy Halladay trade. Ruben Amaro Jr. will be criticized if he can't get Halladay and J.P. Ricciardi's chance to get more than one impact player for his ace disappears at 4:01 EST on Friday.
12:53pm: Sherman says the Rangers are very much involved in the Halladay talks. The Jays want three of the Rangers' best prospects. Not only is GM Jon Daniels reluctant to give up that much talent, he has limited financial flexibility and the Blue Jays are refusing to take on salary.
The Jays want high-ceiling, MLB-ready players instead of many players who are further from contributing in the majors.
10:55am: Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail says many top Blue Jays people are deciding whether to trade Halladay. It's not just Ricciardi's decision.
Meanwhile, SI's Tom Verducci weighs in. He talked to a scout who spoke of an organizational "tug of war" in Philly, with Pat Gillick and Charlie Manuel pushing the win-now move for Doc while Ruben Amaro Jr. and other player development guys are reluctant to move top prospects.
Verducci says Carlos Carrasco doesn't do anything for the Jays, and they'll require either Drabek or Jason Knapp. The Angels and Dodgers are the other top suitors for Halladay, in Verducci's opinion.
10:07am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the Blue Jays insist on receiving Drabek because they consider Happ a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter. They want Happ, but may relent if the Phillies give up Drabek.
The Phillies remain favorites to add Doc, but the Red Sox and Rangers could still acquire him.
9:04am: Here's a quick summary of yesterday's Roy Halladay rumors, 15 updates and nearly 400 comments later. The Phillies and Jays reached an "impasse" in their negotiations since neither side wanted to change its offer. The Red Sox are planning a big move, but the Jays would ask the Red Sox or Yankees to give up more than other teams. And what about those other teams? Don't expect the Twins to trade for Halladay, and the Dodgers don't seem likely either. Here are today's rumors:
- Several Phillies people tell David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News that they don't expect resolution on a possible Halladay trade before Friday.
- The Blue Jays are still asking for J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek in any deal.
- The Phillies believe they'd have to give up almost as much to acquire Cliff Lee.
- Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer hears that the Jays and Phillies are still talking.
- As for Drabek, he struck out six without walking a man yesterday, touching 96 mph on the gun, according to Don Beideman of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Yahoo's Tim Brown says no GM believes J.P. Ricciardi will stick to his self imposed deadline. Last week Ricciardi said today was the last day he'd consider dealing Halladay.
Tim Dierkes also contributed to this post.