Joe Blanton Rumors

Stark On Johnson, Rangers, Phillies

The results of Josh Johnson’s start against the Padres and Roy Halladay’s start against the Braves could have major consequences for the trade market, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. More than a dozen scouts are on hand to watch Johnson pitch in Miami today, while Halladay is attempting to prevent the Braves from sweeping the Phillies out of town and, possibly, out of the playoff mix. Here are the details from Stark:

  • MLB executives are wary of Johnson’s past shoulder troubles, his career-high ERA and his diminishing fastball velocity, but no other available starter has his kind of stuff. The Marlins continue to look for a “dream package” for Johnson and they’re prepared to keep him if no club meets their asking price, Stark reports.
  • The Rangers seem especially cautious about Johnson, but they have people watching his start today. The Marlins told the Rangers  they aren’t interested in discussing a trade unless Mike Olt is involved, yet the Rangers haven’t been willing to make Olt available.
  • As of last night, the Phillies were telling clubs they haven’t decided how they’ll approach the deadline. They’ve likely done enough talking to trade Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Juan Pierre and Ty Wigginton in short order if necessary, Stark writes.
  • The Phillies continue dangling Hunter Pence, but seem intent on waiting until the offseason to start serious trade discussions.
  • Philadelphia could keep its trade chips for now and make moves in August, when players have to be placed on waivers to be dealt.

Interest In Shane Victorino Heating Up

Trade buzz surrounding Shane Victorino has started to pick up, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. The Reds, Dodgers, Pirates, and Giants all have interest in the outfielder and are scouting the Phillies. Cincinnati also has interest in Juan Pierre.

Victorino, 31, is hitting just .256/.321/.391 this season and will become a free agent this winter. He's owed approximately $6.3MM through the end of the season and thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, any team that acquires him in a trade will not be eligible to receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere as a free agent.

Teams are also showing interest in Hunter Pence but are being told the price is high according to Salisbury. The Orioles and Blue Jays have also been keeping an eye on Joe Blanton's recent starts.


Stark On Marlins, Phillies, Dodgers, Garza, Twins

Here's the latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • One official who spoke with the Marlins brass estimates that the odds Josh Johnson remains with Miami are "95 percent." The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals have all checked in.
  • Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell, and Gaby Sanchez are all very available. Other than Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton will be the toughest player to pry away from the Fish.
  • The Phillies have talked about trading Cliff Lee following the Cole Hamels extension and they haven't discouraged other teams from inquiring, but their game plan right now is to keep their trio of aces intact.
  • Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton are good bets to be dealt and the Phillies will listen on Hunter Pence. They want multiple young big leaguers to plug holes at third base, in the outfield, and in the bullpen in return.
  • The Dodgers are in on a number of starting pitchers, including Nolasco, Blanton, Kevin Millwood, and Jason Vargas in addition to Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They've also checked in on outfield and first base help, including Victorino and Justin Morneau.
  • Clubs have not been assured by the Cubs that Garza will make another start before the trade deadline due to his triceps issue. He's more likely to be dealt in the offseason.
  • In the wake of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates are sending signals that they could trade away a starter like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia.
  • The Twins' asking prices for Morneau ("pricey"), Denard Span ("more pricey"), and Josh Willingham ("it made me laugh") are high. Minnesota insists they will listen on anyone and Stark says Morneau is the bat they're most likely to move. Francisco Liriano is "nearly 100 percent" likely to be traded.
  • The Orioles continue to look for pitching, someone they consider a number three starter or better. Garza and Vargas have their eye but Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table. They've gotten hits on Jake Arrieta but won't move him unless they get a similar young arm with several years of team control remaining in return.
  • The Brewers will trade Randy Wolf "for nothing if you take the money," according to one official. 
  • The Rays have "got a big market" for Wade Davis


Stark On Rays, Volquez, Butler, Phillies

The chances of Cole Hamels getting traded are diminishing, but they haven't disappeared, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The Phillies are trying to sign the left-hander to a long-term deal, but will weigh trade offers if they can’t agree on an extension. Here are Stark’s latest rumors…

  • The Rays would be looking for a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher and a controllable hitter if they discuss trades involving James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Wade Davis is drawing as much interest as Shields, now that he’s pitching well out of the Tampa Bay bullpen, Stark reports.
  • The Astros have told rival teams that they’d absorb a substantial percentage of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary in a trade if it allows them to get “the best value back.” 
  • The Padres aren’t shopping Edinson Volquez, but they haven’t made him untouchable.
  • Teams don’t expect the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
  • Brandon McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value. “He's not going anywhere," one executive predicted to Stark.
  • The Nationals haven’t been focused on finding a center fielder.
  • Hunter Pence is attracting as much interest as anyone on the Phillies, including Hamels. However, the Phillies have downplayed their interest in trading the right fielder. Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick would be available if the Phillies decide to sell this month, Stark reports. Rollins can veto any trade and would only accept deals to West Coast contenders.
  • The Pirates have asked about tons of hitters, including Billy Butler, but they’re still in a “buy-low frame of mind.” The Royals have told clubs they’d have to be overwhelmed to part with Butler, Stark reports.
  • The Rockies are trying to move Marco Scutaro and Jason Giambi, but they’d have to be “bowled over” to deal relievers such as Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Matt Reynolds.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Marlins, ChiSox, Headley, Orioles

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a bunch of new rumors for us today in a pair of videos. Let's round 'em up…

  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria may soon be faced with the question about selling at the deadline, something he wanted to avoid in the first year of the club's new ballpark. The best thing they could do to improve their farm system likely involves trading guys like Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, and the newly acquired Carlos Lee.
  • White Sox GM Kenny Williams always thinks big and it would not be surprising to see him get in on pitcher such as Zack Greinke. The problem is that his farm system doesn't have much to offer and they don't want to give up pieces off the big league roster while contending.
  • The best guess right now has the Padres keeping Carlos Quentin and trading Chase Headley. Rosenthal says it's simple supply-and-demand; as many as ten teams have shown interest in the third baseman Headley. The team isn't sure they can get more for Quentin in a trade than they would by letting him walk as a free agent and recouping draft picks after the season.
  • The Orioles are clearly buyers. They're willing to trade any prospect not named Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado, but they probably don't have enough to get Greinke. They do have interest in lesser arms like Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas, as well as leadoff man Juan Pierre.
  • The Brewers could pit the Rangers and Angels against each other in the Greinke sweepstakes. Texas is unwilling to trade Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar, or Martin Perez for a rental, which could create an opening for the Halos if they're willing to deal Major League talent.
  • The Phillies do not intend to trade Cliff Lee to create payroll room for Cole Hamels. If they do keep Hamels long-term, they could have $140MM tied up in just eight players going into next season.

NL East Notes: Chipper, Blanton, Utley

Baseball America recently ranked all 30 organizations based on how much talent has passed through their systems since the end of the 2008 season and the Nationals and Braves place third and sixth, respectively. The Marlins (11th) and Phillies (12th) were also better than average, but the Mets were 28th. Here are today's NL East-related links…

  • The Phillies are less motivated to trade Joe Blanton than they were earlier in the spring, when Joel Pineiro was around, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).
  • The Phillies are cautiously optimistic about Chase Utley and hopeful that Ryan Howard will play in early May, Knobler writes.
  • Braves third baseman Chipper Jones told reporters that his upcoming retirement will be final, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes (Twitter link). "I'm very comfortable with this decision and I'm ready to stick to it," Jones said this morning while discussing his decision.

Red Sox Links: Oswalt, Blanton, Beltran

It was on this day in 2000 that six Boston pitchers (including starter Pedro Martinez) combined to throw a perfect game against the Blue Jays in a Spring Training matchup.  While perfect games in the spring obviously aren't nearly as prestigious as those during the regular season, it was still an opportunity for Martinez to finally be involved in a recognized perfecto.  Martinez threw nine perfect innings against the Padres on June 3, 1995 but his performance isn't considered a perfect game by MLB rules since (shades of Harvey Haddix) the 0-0 game went into extra innings and Martinez allowed a hit to the first batter of the 10th inning.

Here's the latest from Fenway….

  • The Red Sox have "their radar up on Roy Oswalt," writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe as part of a reader mailbag.  Carfardo thinks if Oswalt wants to pitch for Boston, the club will sign him.  Oswalt was reportedly holding out for a team closer to his Mississippi home but recently said he's willing to pitch anywhere, though perhaps not until midseason.  Also in Cafardo's piece, he says the Sox aren't going to make a move for a pitcher until they see what they have in Daniel Bard and internal fifth starter candidates like Felix Doubront.
  • Scouts from the Red Sox and Orioles have joined the contingent of scouts at Joe Blanton's spring starts, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.  The Phillies are reportedly willing to pay up to $2MM of Blanton's $8MM salary as part of a trade, but Boston makes another move, even $6MM might be too much for the Sox, who are trying to keep payroll down to avoid a big luxury tax hit.
  • Carlos Beltran was interested in joining the Red Sox this winter, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, but ultimately signed with the Cardinals since Boston's focus was on working out a deal with David Ortiz.  "We talked a little bit, and they had interest," Beltran said. "They were trying to get something done first with David. At the end of the day, I wasn't going to wait until they got that done."  As MacPherson points out, it may have been a moot point since the Sox wouldn't have been able to afford Beltran once Ortiz accepted salary arbitration.

Phillies Notes: Blanton, Gillies, Thome

The latest the the Phillies, who are looking for a sixth consecutive NL East title in the increasingly competitive NL East…

  • The perception among most baseball people is that Joe Blanton is available for the right price, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said outfielder Tyson Gillies has the skillset to play in the Major Leagues, according to Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He has better tools than a lot of the guys we've got," Amaro said. "He just needs to play. The poor guy hasn't gotten a chance to play. He's still young." Gillies, 23, missed all but three games in 2011 and played in only 28 games in 2010.
  • The Phillies’ projected 25-man roster consists of many older players, but Sheridan writes that "it's more important to get better than simply younger.” The Phillies added players such as Jim Thome (41), Ty Wigginton (34) and Chad Qualls (33) this past offseason.
  • Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains why Thome's defensive work will affect the Phillies' ability to work him into their lineup.

Cafardo On Phillies, Blanton, Lannan, Ramirez

In this morning's column, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe takes a look at some of the emerging storylines in the American League East.  In New York, Francisco Cervelli is set to be the backup catcher, but could become trade bait for the Yankees with Austin Romine knocking on the door.  The catching situation with Tampa Bay is also worth keeping an eye on as Jose Molina needs a backup.  The Rays could pick up Ivan Rodriguez or deal from their pitching surplus to fill the vacancy.  If they trade Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis, Cafardo writes that it would be for a catcher.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • The Phillies are making it clear to teams that they would eat as much as $2MM of Joe Blanton’s $8MM deal in a trade.  Moving Blanton would allow the Phillies to have payroll flexibility and bump Kyle Kendrick into the No. 5 spot in the rotation.  Yesterday, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos scouted the Phillies game and left after Blanton's exit.
  • Meanwhile, the Nationals continue to dangle left-hander John Lannan.  The club is spreading word that the 27-year-old is available in a deal, particularly one for a center fielder.
  • The Braves are in need of a left field power bat and right-hander Jair Jurrjens could be the trade bait for one.
  • At some point, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar will have to move to second base to make room for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.  Escobar loves being a shortstop, so there is a bit of trepidation among some in the organization as to how he will accept this.
  • Meanwhile, many feel that the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez won't stay happy for long at third base and eventually will demand a trade.
  • With several teams in the market for a center fielder, Cafardo asked a National League scout if the Yankees would entertain a deal for Brett Gardner.  Gardner is currently slated to start in left field for the Yanks but a National League scout said that at some point the club might seek out a more traditional left field option.
  • The Red Sox are impressed with Chris Carpenter's live fastball but privately they are not happy with what they wound up getting in exchange for Theo Epstein.

AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Blanton, Yankees, Pineda

On this day in 1966, the Orioles acquired catcher Cam Carreon from the Indians in exchange for leftfielder Lou Piniella.  Sweet Lou became an everyday major leaguer in 1969 with the Royals and made his way back to the American League East with the Bombers in 1974.  Here's what's happening in the AL East today..

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos scouted today's Phillies game and left after Joe Blanton exited the game, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  
  • Even though Brandon League has blossomed into an All-Star closer for the Mariners, Anthopoulos has no regrets about the trade that shipped League to Seattle and brought Brandon Morrow to Toronto, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.  The Blue Jays signed Morrow to three-year, $21MM contract extension this winter with a team option for 2015.
  • Red Sox right-hander Michael Bowden is out-of-options and fighting to make the big league roster, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com.  The 25-year-old appeared in 14 games for the BoSox last season.
  • There's a great deal of excitement surrounding Michael Pineda as he gets set for his first year in pinstripes, but GM Brian Cashman is looking to pump the brakes on fans' expectations for him, writes Jeff Bradley of the Star-Ledger.  Cashman doesn't view Pineda as an "instant number two" but instead as a long-term asset with a great deal of promise.