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Jemile Weeks Rumors
The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar from the Red Sox for infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus. This is the Orioles’ second significant trade of the evening, having also recently acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox. The Johnson deal gives the Orioles a bit of low-cost infield depth.
Johnson, 32, began the season with the Yankees, then headed to Boston in a trade for Stephen Drew. (He also played for the Rays in 2013 and the Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, meaning that he’s now been or will be on the roster of all five AL East teams, with no non-AL East teams in between.) He’s played mostly third base and first base since 2012, and he’s hit .212/.290/.354 for the season. With the Orioles, he’ll likely play mostly at third base in the wake of the team’s loss of Manny Machado for the rest of the year.
The Orioles selected Almanzar from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but returned him in early July. Since then, he’s hit .280/.360/.427 in 186 plate appearances for Double-A Portland, mostly playing third base. At 23, he’s the youngest player in the deal.
Weeks was a first-round draft pick by the Athletics in 2008, and they sent him to Baltimore in 2013 in the Jim Johnson trade. The 27-year-old Weeks played in 215 games with the A’s in 2011 and 2012 but has spent most of the past two seasons in the minors. This season, he’s hit .278/.391/.385 in 254 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. Despite the high on-base percentage, the second baseman probably profiles mostly as depth at this point, although CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam tweets that Weeks will join the Red Sox’ big-league team. (Dustin Pedroia may have suffered a concussion in Saturday’s game, but the timing of Weeks’ acquisition appears to be a coincidence.)
De Jesus, who heads back to the Red Sox after spending a few months in the organization in 2012, also appears to be mostly a depth player. De Jesus came to Boston from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez / Carl Crawford / Josh Beckett blockbuster, then headed to Pittsburgh almost immediately as the Red Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt. The Pirates showed little interest in him despite a strong offensive season in Triple-A in 2013, and he signed with the Orioles after the season. The 27-year-old hit .282/.358/.389 in 469 plate appearances for Norfolk this year, mostly playing shortstop.
The Athletics have officially acquired closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles in exchange for second baseman Jemile Weeks. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) was the first to report the deal. The Orioles also pick up a player to be named later or future considerations in the deal, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
The Baltimore closer had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a $10MM+ payday through arbitration for the Orioles, but will now have the opportunity to try and break eight figures in Oakland. Rosenthal reported earlier this evening that talks were heating up between the A's and O's on Johnson.
The big right-hander has led the bigs in saves over 2012-13, with 101 total to his credit. Last year, he pitched to a 2.94 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 as well as a 58% ground-ball rate. Though he struggled for a stretch in May, Johnson rebounded with a strong run over the last four months of the season.
Weeks, meanwhile, has failed to reproduce his outstanding 2011 campaign, when he posted a .303/.340/.421 triple-slash in 437 plate appearances at age 24. Though he has struggled in the bigs since that campaign, Weeks did muster a .271/.376/.369 in Triple-A last year and still has the capacity to steal 15 to 20 bags a year. And with just 1.142 years of service under his belt, he will bring plenty of cheap years of control to Baltimore.
It appears that this deal fills holes for both clubs. The Athletics were in need of a back-end option with closer Grant Balfour hitting free agency, and the Orioles have long been searching for a reliable keystone option. The major questions, of course, will be whether Johnson can live up to his pay grade and whether Weeks will ever regain enough of his stroke to become a big league regular.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Athletics held their A's Fan Fest today with manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane hosting a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:
- Melvin says second base will be an open competition between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks while Grant Green, the A's fourth-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, will also receive a hard look, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (Twitter links).
- Melvin plans to continue with the Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon at first base, tweets Lee.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets the A's will not use any one set lineup because Melvin has multiple options depending on matchups and who's hot.
- Melvin views Coco Crisp as the starting center fielder with Chris Young moving around all three outfield spots, Lee tweets.
- Young says being reunited with Melvin is "like a breath of fresh air." (A's team Twitter feed).
- Melvin calls Yoenis Cespedes one of most talented players in the league and Beane adds he wouldn't be surprised if the 27-year-old Cuban takes it to another level, Slusser tweets.
- Beane is confident Hiroyuki Nakajima will make a successful transition to MLB, tweets Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com. In fact, Beane joked he will have a tougher transition in dealing with the effervescent Japanese shortstop.
- Beane expects their top prospect, outfielder Michael Choice, to open the season in Triple-A, unless something unforeseen happens, according to Pratt (via Twitter).
- The A's are convinced shortstop Addison Russell, last year's first round draft choice, is mature enough to be invited to Spring Training even though it wasn't part of his contract, writes Slusser on Twitter. Slusser adds this is an indication of how much the 19-year-old has wowed the front office.
- A major league executive tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that he believes Drew will sign with the A's for one year with an additional player option for 2014.
- If Drew ends up signing elsewhere and the Tigers do indeed find a new shortstop (possibly Drew himself), the A's would likely make a move to acquire Jhonny Peralta. Peralta and his $6MM salary would obviously be expendable to the Tigers in that scenario.
- The two don't immediately line up on paper as a fit given the Tigers' need for a right-handed hitting outfielder (the Tigers aren't interested in Michael Taylor). However, Slusser writes that Detroit likes Jemile Weeks and would contemplate moving him to the outfield. There's no guarantee the A's would move Weeks, however, even though they demoted him to Triple-A this season.
- Hiroyuki Nakajima is still in play for the A's, and he's seeking a three-year deal worth about $5MM annually. Most believe he'll have trouble doing better than one year and an option, though.
- Contrary to some national reports, Grant Green and Brad Peacock were not on the table in the team's Yunel Escobar trade discussions with the Marlins.
- The A's aren't likely to select a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow, but there's a good chance that they lose 2007 first-rounder James Simmons to another club. Simmons, the 26th overall selection that year, posted a 2.98 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 K/9 in 63 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. The 26-year-old also turned in a dominant performance in the Arizona Fall League.
The latest links from around MLB, as Albert Pujols flashes some power in Arizona…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the club continues monitoring the market for starting pitching. "We’re not doing our job if we’re not looking, whether that’s trade or free agent opportunities," Cherington said.
- Excel Sports management represents Athletics second baseman Jemile Weeks, the agency confirmed to MLBTR. Check out our Agency Database for the details on who represents MLB players.
- There’s no indication that extension talks between the Giants and Matt Cain are stalling, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links). There’s lots of time remaining before the soft deadline of Opening Day, and it doesn’t appear that the sides are particularly close to a deal.
- It seems unlikely that the Tigers would give up a major package for a fifth starter, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets. Manager Jim Leyland says he’s pleased with his internal options for the final rotation spot and the bullpen, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets.
The Athletics are willing to listen to trade offers for any player except Jemile Weeks, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The A’s aren’t sure where they’ll be playing in a few years, so their spending decisions appear to be on hold as they await word from MLB on a potential relocation to San Jose.
Though Oakland GM Billy Beane isn’t shopping his players, he’ll listen to proposals for Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Kurt Suzuki and others. The A’s have more starting pitching than most teams and they may leverage their depth in trade talks.
If the A’s move to nearby San Jose, they would look to contend as their new park opened, likely in approximately three years, according to Rosenthal. However, if the A’s remain in Oakland, the team may strip down its payroll. I explained last month that the A's will be looking to restore outfield depth and improve their offense.