Jo-Jo Reyes Rumors
The Blue Jays acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes from the Braves for shortstop Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky, according to a team press release. The Jays designated Ronald Uviedo for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
The move comes as a big surprise, as Escobar was perhaps one of the more valuable commodities in the game when the 2009 season concluded. Just a few days ago, MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote that the Braves "simply aren't willing to sell low on a guy who they still view as the game's top defensive shortstop." Escobar was worth over four wins last year, but his power has disappeared in 301 plate appearances this year. Escobar will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, so he'll be under the Jays' control through 2013. Escobar's attitude was a likely factor in the deal; Bowman wrote in June that "there's no doubt that Escobar's flamboyant approach to the game has continued to infuriate some members of the Braves organization." Back in February, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez went more in-depth on the attitude angle.
Gonzalez will replace Escobar as the Braves' starting shortstop as they enter the second half with a four game lead in the NL East. He doesn't get on base, but he's already hit 17 home runs on the season and continues to play strong defense. Gonzalez is owed another $1.23MM this year and has a $2.5MM club option for 2011. Braves GM Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "This trade improves our club for the second half of the season."
Reyes, a 25-year-old southpaw, has spent most of the season at Triple A. His strikeout and walk rates are strong in his fourth stint at the level, but he's had problems with home runs and hits. Baseball America regarded Reyes as the Braves' eighth-best prospect heading into the 2007 season, calling him a "thick-bodied lefthander who does a good job of keeping hitters off balance." He's dealt with injuries, including Tommy John surgery in '04.
Collins, a 20-year-old lefty, was ranked 19th among Blue Jays prospects by Baseball America heading into this season. The 5'7" southpaw "gets outs with a solid fastball that tops out at 93 mph and a true 12-to-6 curveball that he spins really well." Working in relief, Collins has a 15.3 K/9 in 43 Double A innings this year. Pastornicky, a 20-year-old shortstop, was ranked 17th. He's described as a player who "doesn't have flashy tools but gets the most out of what he has." In the best case, he'll become a line drive top of the order hitter with solid defense, indicates BA. As for Uviedo, the Jays had acquired him from the Pirates in the June Dana Eveland deal. BA described him as rail-thin and homer-prone heading into the '09 season, but praised his fastball and slider.
My take: this is certainly a win-now move for the Braves, who are confident Gonzalez will provide more over the next few months than Escobar would have. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, managed the rare feat of acquiring three-plus years of a shortstop with star potential without giving up much.
Sunday night linkage..
- Rookie left-hander and Rule 5 draftee Edgar Osuna has impressed in Kansas City and will likely stick with the club, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Joe Torre has suspended contract extension talks with the Dodgers to avoid becoming a distraction during the season, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner (via Twitter) believes that the Twins are paying Joe Mauer what he's worth. Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Minnesota's payroll will likely top $100MM in 2011.
- Social media can be a real headache for GMs, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Hanshin Tigers are looking at three major league pitchers to bolster their rotation, according to a report from Sports Hochi passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The report lists Jo-Jo Reyes, Eric Stults, and Seth McClung as possibilities. You may recall that another Japanese club, the Chiba Lotte Marines, has previously shown interest in Stults.
- Bobby Jenks will be on a short leash this season, writes Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald. Jenks, who turned 29 on March 14th, is set to earn $7.5MM in 2010 after avoiding arbitration with the White Sox.
- The Padres' Adrian Gonzalez is ignoring all of the trade talk that surrounds him, writes Peter Gammons in a column for MLB.com.
Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune had an article yesterday involving a couple of failed Padres trades.
Krasovic says the Padres and Braves were discussing a 4-for-1 Jake Peavy deal in November. Yunel Escobar and Gorkys Hernadez were agreed upon. The conflict came as the Padres wanted Charlie Morton over Jo-Jo Reyes as well as Jeff Locke or Tyler Flowers over Blaine Boyer. To me that gap looks pretty sizeable, so maybe the trade was never close. At this point it seems like the Braves could end up with Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami as their rotation upgrades. They've reportedly made Escobar unavailable, leading Dan Hayes of the North County Times to suggest the Braves would have to remove Tommy Hanson's apparent "untouchable" tag to get Peavy. Everything I've read about Hanson has said the Braves are adamant about keeping him.
Krasovic also says the Giants made a run at shortstop Khalil Greene before he was dealt to the Cardinals.
7:05pm: MLB.com's Mark Bowman says the White Sox will actually receive four players in the deal. They'll choose from a list of five, with Flowers and Lillibridge their top targets.
5:34pm: Rosenthal says an announcement could come Wednesday or Thursday. He says Lillibridge is in the deal along with a young starter, but it's not Reyes. Additionally, highly regarded catcher Tyler Flowers might be the third prospect (which would improve the trade quite a bit for the Sox). Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein says Flowers profiles as an offense-first catcher, but there are questions about his ability to stay behind the plate. Dave O'Brien notes that Sox GM Ken Williams saw Flowers play in Arizona and "practically drooled over him."
5:19pm: ESPN's Peter Gammons says Vazquez is flying to Atlanta tomorrow for a physical; the deal will be finalized then. The White Sox will send Vazquez and lefty Boone Logan to the Braves for Reyes, Lillibridge, and another prospect. I'm wondering - with Reyes and another prospect gone, do the Braves still have the goods to pull off a Jake Peavy trade? With Vazquez added, the Braves should be less desperate if talks for Peavy resume.
4:53pm: Rosenthal now says the Braves are on the verge of acquiring Vazquez.
4:22pm: According to Ken Rosenthal, the Braves are in serious discussions with the White Sox for starter Javier Vazquez. The White Sox could receive as many as three players, with Jo-Jo Reyes and Brent Lillibridge among the names discussed. Vazquez is set to earn $11.5MM in each of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Acquiring him would definitely take some pressure off the Braves, who aim to add two quality starters to put in front of Jair Jurrjens.
According to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com, the Padres are expected to request Jake Peavy waive his no-trade clause to go to the Braves. The deal being discussed: Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes, and Blaine Boyer or one of two minor league southpaws. Miller says the Padres are leaning toward Morton and Boyer.
The Braves want an answer by Friday, so they can figure out their free agent needs. Peavy is said to prefer the Cubs, but we'll see what happens if the Padres approach him to waive the no-trade for Atlanta. It hasn't happened yet.
12:14pm: Dave O'Brien agrees that the Braves are growing frustrated waiting on Kevin Towers, with the free agent open season creeping up.
10:21am: ESPN's Buster Olney has the latest on the Jake Peavy trade talks.
Olney says the Braves and Padres are making progress, despite Ken Rosenthal's report of Atlanta's frustration. Olney says the Braves would send Yunel Escobar and Gorkys Hernandez to the Padres, plus Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes. They're haggling over one last player, with the Padres eyeing southpaw Jeff Locke.
The Cubs are still in the mix, and a third team would be included to flip pitching to San Diego. One way or another, the Cubs would give up Josh Vitters and others.
Summing up this weekend's Jake Peavy information...
- David O'Brien noted that the friendship between Padres GM Kevin Towers and Peavy's agent Barry Axelrod has raised some eyebrows. O'Brien also learned that Peavy's concern over Yunel Escobar being in the deal was overblown - it's more a general concern that the pitcher joins a strong team.
- On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal had the Braves and Cubs as frontrunners with the Yankees and Dodgers on the backburner. He said the Padres discussed keeping Peavy if offers do not suffice. The Braves were said to be growing impatient.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane indicated the Padres' demands for Peavy were too high for his club - "multiple players and some of our best players."
- Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times had it as a race between the Cubs and Braves, with the Dodgers a long shot. De Luca said no other teams will be considered at this point. A Cubs deal would apparently include Sean Marshall, and possibly Kevin Hart and Mike Fontenot. Jeff Samardzija is not in the mix.
- Dave O'Brien says the Braves' offer looks something like this: Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez or Jordan Schafer, and one or two pitching prospects (possibly Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes among them). Tommy Hanson is not in the mix. O'Brien agrees that it's between the Braves and Cubs, and likes the Braves' package more. O'Brien expects a deal before Thanksgiving, which is November 27th.
UPDATE: John Fay says the Braves are also offering Yunel Escobar. This could get done. And finally allow Kelly Johnson to play every day again.
The Braves are making a push to get one of the better starting pitchers available. They're willing to give up pitching prospect Jo-Jo Reyes to get Bronson Arroyo. My guess is that Reyes alone would not be enough; the Braves might have to dip into the farm system and pull out another prospect.
If you're a Braves fan, you're really have to admire John Schuerholz's willingness to go for broke. Maybe he's found a market inefficiency in teams overvaluing prospects.
UPDATE: Sent Bowman an email about Harrison - it was definitely supposed to be his left (pitching) shoulder. The MLB.com article has been updated.
22 year-old Double A southpaw Matt Harrison might be the Braves' top pitching prospect, and he was part of the team's offer for Mark Teixeira. However, Harrison is having shoulder problems and has apparently been removed from the deal. Ken Rosenthal does not indicate which shoulder, while MLB.com's Mark Bowman repeatedly says it's his right shoulder. Harrison is to see a doctor on Monday.
Furthermore, one source of Bowman's thinks Harrison is still in the Braves' offer along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus. Another source of Bowman's believes the injury isn't a dealbreaker.
Rosenthal, however, says the Braves gave Texas a list of pitchers to choose instead of Harrison, not including Jo-Jo Reyes. Rosenthal adds that talks are fluid and it could become a 4 for 2 deal. That might convince the Braves to part with Reyes.
Salty was the only position player not used in today's 14-0 blowout; Brian McCann did not get relief. That decision certainly seems related to an impending trade.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks inquired on Teixeira and were told it would take Conor Jackson, Carlos Gonzalez, and a pitching prospect. The Dodgers have been slipping while Arizona has been playing well, and the result is a virtual tie for first place. It would be interesting if the Diamondbacks jump in and become aggressive buyers.