Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

NL Notes: Solarte, Wang, Papelbon

Yangervis Solarte has made a good impression on the Padres since arriving from New York in the Chase Headley trade, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. He’s versatile (playing second base, third base and outfield), and he’s hit .271/.347/.383 in 126 plate appearances so far, coming up with several big hits. That’s not bad at all for a solid defender playing in Petco Park. The Padres can move him around the diamond to accommodate their other players. “He’s shown he’s capable of holding down a major-league job,” says manager Bud Black. “What role that is, I think depends on the makeup of the other 12 position players.” Here are more notes from the NL.

  • It’s unclear what the Brewers will do with Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang, Caitlin Swieca of MLB.com writes. Milwaukee selected Wang from the Pirates last fall even though he hadn’t played above rookie ball. He predictably struggled out of the Brewers’ bullpen, but since hitting the DL with shoulder tightness in July, he’s transitioned back into starting while on a rehab assignment at the Class A level. It’s unclear whether the Brewers will recall him in September.
  • The Phillies have had trouble drumming up interest in closer Jonathan Papelbon even though he’s cleared waivers and the Phillies are willing to eat some of his salary, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Papelbon’s declining velocity might be a one problem, but as Rosenthal points out, he’s gotten good results despite it. His personality might be another issue, but GM Ruben Amaro insists Papelbon is well behaved, even though he’s opinionated.

Phillies Notes: Burnett, Amaro, Tomas, Kendrick

Following a tough start on Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett sounded as if retirement was on his mind when asked by reporters if he planned to pitch in 2015.   “I have no idea.  Probably not, but we’ll see,” Burnett told the media, including Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  As Narducci notes, Burnett’s comments could be stemming from frustration given how both he and the Phillies have struggled this season, so it’s too early to assume Burnett is hanging up his glove.  Narducci also cites Burnett’s competitive nature and his increasingly pricey player option for 2015 as reasons why the veteran righty won’t want to end his career quite yet.

Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…

  • In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli of 97.5FM radio yesterday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said he wasn’t surprised that team president David Montgomery recently gave GM Ruben Amaro a vote of confidence but Stark feels no decision has been made about Amaro’s future yet.  The Phillies’ other owners could get involved, and the anti-Amaro sentiment amongst the team’s fans could also play a role.  “They are certainly going to make changes in the organization.  There’s a lot of rumors swirling about all sorts of stuff below Ruben,” Stark said.  With just one left year on Amaro’s contract, if the Phillies decide to keep him, Stark wonders if the GM could actually receive an extension in order to avoid lame-duck status.  (Hat tip to Peter Mucha of Philly.com for the partial transcript of Stark’s interview.)
  • “There are indications” the Phillies will make a strong play for Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports.  Tomas is expected to become eligible to sign this offseason, and the recently-defected outfielder is considered to be an intriguing power prospect.
  • Burnett retiring would only make the Phillies’ offseason need for starting pitching all the more dire, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Phillies could have as many as three rotation spots to fill given Cliff Lee‘s injury issues, Burnett’s uncertain status and pending free agency for Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams.  Lawrence predicts the Phils will target mid-tier starters this winter given how much payroll space is already tied up by Lee and Cole Hamels.
  • Speaking of Kendrick, the right-hander recently discussed his free agency in general terms with reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.  Kendrick isn’t sure if he’ll remain in Philadelphia, saying “I want to go where whoever wants me. That’s where I want to go. If it’s here, great. If they want me. You want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. We’ll see. I don’t know.”
  • Ken Giles looks like a closer of the future for the Phillies, and ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) suggests that that the team could take the bold step of installing Giles as the closer right now.  The switch could also prevent Jonathan Papelbon from reaching his $13MM vesting option for 2016, which would help increase Papelbon’s trade value.  Olney notes that Papelbon could easily file a grievance over the situation, though I’d argue that given Papelbon’s past comments about wanting to play for a contender, he might begrudgingly go along with the move if it helps get him out of Philadelphia.

Cafardo’s Latest: Bogaerts, Bradley, Phillies, Masterson, Uehara

In the latest edition of his Sunday column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the early struggles of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have left many around the game wondering how good each player truly is. Bogaerts’ youth makes his scuffles more understandable, but one NL adviser said that Bradley has fallen from a prospect that would be the centerpiece of a trade to a “throw-in.” The 24-year-old is a standout defender, but he’s hit just .208/.284/.303 in 470 big league plate appearances and has shown “absolutely no sign of the hitting getting better,” said the adviser. Boston will commit to Bogaerts for next year regardless of his finish, writes Cafardo, but he concludes that Bradley will have to show improvement over the final seven weeks in order to handed the center field job in 2015.

More from his column…

  • In 30 years covering baseball, Cafardo says he cannot recall an instance of a team scouting another club as much as the Phillies scouted the Red Sox without pulling the trigger on a trade. The Phillies have continued to send scouts to all three of Boston’s post-deadline series, and Cafardo wonders if the team could be preparing for offseason negotiations regarding Cole Hamels. He hears that the Sox, Rangers, Angels, Dodgers and Cubs will be the big players for Hamels this winter.
  • The Red Sox will have interest in bringing back right-hander Justin Masterson back to the organization as a free agent this winter.
  • James Shields will be one of the most sought-after free agents on this year’s market, and while his age presents risk, one AL GM tells Cafardo that being older than Jon Lester and Max Scherzer actually has some appeal: “He’s thrown a lot of innings and pitched a lot of games and there’s always the possibility of breakdown, but the fact you might be able to get him at a shorter term reduces that big risk.”
  • “The Phillies are just unreasonable in their demands,” an AL official said when discussing the trade market for Jonathan Papelbon. Still, that official feels that Papelbon will indeed be traded in August, though it may not happen until the end of the month when the Phillies will be forced to “get a bit more realistic.”
  • The Red Sox want to retain Koji Uehara, but they don’t want to go as high as the approximately $15MM qualifying offer. It appears that Uehara wants to return, though Cafardo notes that the Orioles could be a factor, as the closer’s family makes its home in the Baltimore area.
  • The MarinersChris Young just picked up his 10th win, but he tells Cafardo that the statistic doesn’t mean much to him these days. “Earlier in my career, I think it’s something I’d get excited about,” he said. “But at this point in my career, I know that wins are so far beyond a pitcher’s control. One day, the media will stop evaluating us on that.”


Hamels, Byrd Claimed On Revocable Waivers; Papelbon Clears

THURSDAY: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the previous details of Hamels’ no-trade clause were slightly incorrect, however the error is notable: the Red Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade clause, while the Cubs, according to Stark, are not (Twitter link). It’s still not known if the Cubs were the team to claim Hamels, but if they are the claiming team, he would not have any veto power over a potential deal.

WEDNESDAY: Phillies ace Cole Hamels has been claimed by an unnamed team on revocable waivers, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Phillies will have 48.5 hours to work out a trade with the claiming team or pull Hamels back on waivers. Of course, if Hamels was claimed by any club other than the Red Sox, Angels, Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, Rangers or Yankees — the nine teams not included on his no-trade clause — he would have the right to veto the deal.

As Rosenthal notes, the Phillies may prefer to wait until the offseason to listen to offers on Hamels, as they’ll be free to negotiate with multiple clubs at that time rather than the lone club that has currently placed a claim on Hamels. As a reminder, waiver priority would be determined by reverse order of record, beginning with the player’s current league. In other words, the Rockies, who have the NL’s worst record, would have the first crack at claiming Hamels. Every other NL team would have a chance to do so before Hamels was made available to the team with the worst record in the AL (the Rangers).

The 30-year-old Hamels is guaranteed $90MM from 2015-18 (plus a $6MM buyout of his 2019 option) and is enjoying yet another elite season on the mound. He’s posted a 2.42 ERA (2.85 FIP, 3.16 xFIP) to go along with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 137 1/3 innings. Hamels would be the ace of many staffs around the league and would appeal to a wide range of teams — even non-contenders. In his Insider-only blog today, ESPN’s Buster Olney speculated that it would behoove the Cubs to claim Hamels and try to work out a deal for the dominant southpaw, as he could serve as a building block for their rotation for several years.

Rosenthal also tweets that Marlon Byrd was claimed by an unknown team, while closer Jonathan Papelbon cleared waivers. Byrd is earning $8MM in 2014 and will earn the same in 2015, and he has an easily attainable vesting option at the same rate for the 2016 season. That obstacle proved to be problematic for Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. while he was listening to offers on Byrd at the trade deadline this season, as he was vocal about his displeasure with the offers he received for Byrd. The 36-year-old Byrd is batting a healthy .269/.318/.474 with 21 homers and solid defense in right field. He can block trades to the Royals, Mariners, Blue Jays and Rays.

Papelbon, meanwhile, is earning $13MM in 2014 and will earn the same sum in 2015. He, too, has a vesting option at his current rate which can be easily attained if he remains healthy in 2015. Papelbon has a 1.71 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 36.7 percent ground-ball rate in 47 1/3 innings for the Phillies this season. However, he’s also thrived thanks to a .238 BABIP and an 83.3 percent strand rate while seeing his average fastball velocity dip to a career-low 91.4 mph, leading many to believe that regression is around the corner. Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause but said last month that he would be more than willing to waive that right to approve a trade to a contending club.


Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Remember though, players must be acquired by Aug. 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. Also bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

Last Updated: 8-26-2014

  • Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks — Still owed $12.8MM (including the buyout of two successive club options after next season) on a no-longer-attractive contract, Cahill remains a somewhat intriguing option at just 26 years of age. Though he owns just a 4.54 ERA over 83 1/3 innings on the year, including his first significant stretch of bullpen work, Cahill actually sports a career-best 3.72 FIP.
  • Scott Feldman, Astros — In the first year of a front-loaded $30MM contract, Feldman was owed roughly $20.36MM through the 2016 season at the time he reportedly cleared waivers. He’s missed a coupled weeks with biceps tendinitis in 2014 but been healthy otherwise and soaked up some innings with a reasonable 4.37 ERA (through Aug. 25) for Houston. He’s not an elite arm, but he could have appeal to a team in need of solid innings, particularly if Astros GM Jeff Luhnow were to sweeten the deal with some cash.
  • Bartolo Colon, Mets — The 41-year-old Colon was guaranteed $12.77MM through 2015 at the time he cleared waivers on Aug. 25. He’s pitched to a 3.82 ERA in 167 1/3 innings, more than justifying the commitment that the Mets made to him as a free agent. Colon’s age will scare off some contenders, but he looks the part of an effective starter, and with one year at $11MM remaining after the season, his salary isn’t exorbitant.
  • Yu Darvish, Rangers – It is somewhat hard to imagine that Darvish’s current DL stint for elbow inflammation would be enough to scare away other clubs from the outstanding righty. He has produced stellar results (3.06 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 over 144 1/3 innings on the year), only just turned 28, and is guaranteed a modest $31MM over the next three seasons (though the last year could turn into a player option). The likelier possibility, perhaps, is that other clubs felt it would not be possible to achieve a deal, especially while he is out of action to have his elbow looked at.
  • Adrian Beltre, Rangers – If anything, the lack of a claim on Beltre is more surprising (if only because of Darvish’s injury situation). The 35-year-old is in the midst of a typically outstanding year, with a .318/.373/.498 slash with 17 home runs and excellent defense. He is owed $34MM over the next two years, which is a large sum given his age. But that is a bargain for his production, and the $16MM salary for 2016 has injury protections built in.
  • Elvis Andrus, Rangers – That Andrus was left unclaimed could represent something of a statement on the league’s view of his contract. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) is set to go into effect next season. Just 25, Andrus has not produced offensively either this year or last (.271/.326/.337 cumulative line), and his high-level defense and baserunning are probably not enough on their own to justify his pay level.
  • Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers – Choo has thus far failed to live up to the seven-year, $130MM deal that brought him to Texas. He owns a .241/.341/.371 slash in that contract’s first year, with 12 home runs and just three stolen bases. While there is time for Choo to rebound, he is promised far too much future cash ($116MM) for another team to have placed a claim.
  • Jon Niese, Mets — It’s a bit surprising that teams would let a controllable, highly affordable arm like Niese clear waivers. He’s owed about $1.34MM through season’s end (as of his clearing on Aug. 11) and is guaranteed $7MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016. Niese’s deal contains a $10MM club option for 2017 and $11MM club option for 2018, each with a $500K buyout. He’s not an ace, but he’s a reliable mid-rotation arm that is on the verge of finishing his third season with a sub-3.75 ERA. The asking price will be sky-high — justifiably so — making a trade unlikely.
  • Curtis Granderson, Mets — The Grandy Man has recovered from a slow start to post strong numbers since May 1 (.258/.360/.447 from May 1 through Aug. 11), but the odds of a team taking on the roughly $50MM he has remaining on his deal are slim. It also would set a poor precedent with future free agents if the Mets issued a four-year deal, only to trade him in the first year of the contract. Don’t expect a trade.
  • Ian Desmond, Nationals — That Desmond would clear is surprising, but it’s likely that the other 29 clubs knew that GM Mike Rizzo wouldn’t deal his shortstop in the midst of a playoff push anyway. Desmond is earning $6.5MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015 before being eligible for free agency, so he’d have plenty of trade value. An in-season trade would be shocking, however, with the Nats fighting for a division title.
  • Gio Gonzalez, Nationals — Gonzalez is controlled relatively cheaply through the 2018 season ($23MM guaranteed through 2016 plus a pair of $12MM options), making it a virtual lock that he’s not going anywhere prior to season’s end. With four years of control, he could fetch a haul in the offseason, but teams are rarely willing to move an established starter with that type of control. He’s extremely likely to be a National again in 2015.
  • Kevin Correia, Twins — The Twins sent Correia through waivers at the beginning of the month, as he had reportedly already cleared by the time the Dodgers acquired him on Aug. 9. The Dodgers are on the hook for the remaining $1.5MM on his contract, and he’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
  • Alex Rios, Rangers — Rios is owed roughly $3.62MM through season’s end (as of Aug. 7) as well as a $1MM buyout on next year’s $13.5MM club option. While he’s enjoyed a decent season at the plate, a good deal of his slugging percentage comes from a high number of triples, rather than his usual contribution of double-digit home runs. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that teams are wary of Rios’ declining home run power, so the Rangers have some obstacles in trying to work out a trade for their right fielder.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies — Papelbon cleared waivers on Aug. 6, to the surprise of very few, given the fact that he is owed $13MM in 2015 and has a vesting option for the 2016 season. Papelbon’s ERA and K/BB numbers remain appealing, but he’s survived with an abnormally low BABIP while seeing his average fastball velocity diminish to 91.4 mph. He has a limited no-trade clause but has said he’d waive those rights to join a contender. Philadelphia would have to eat some salary in order to facilitate a deal, however.
  • Matt Kemp, Dodgers – Though Kemp has shown flashes of returning to his prior form at the plate, he is owed too much money after this year ($107MM) and comes with too many questions (injuries, defense) to warrant a claim. In any event, the Dodgers seem disinclined to trade him.
  • Andre Ethier, Dodgers — If any Dodgers outfielder were to move, Ethier might be the likeliest option, but a .672 OPS won’t be appealing to interested parties. Even less appealing, however, will be the $56MM he is guaranteed following the 2014 season. That number could rise even further as well, as 550 PA in 2017 would trigger a $17.5MM vesting option ($2.5MM buyout). Clearly, L.A. would have to pay a significant portion of Ethier’s salary to move him, as his production in 2014 has been near or below replacement level (depending on your preferred version of WAR).
  • Carl Crawford, Dodgers — The 33-year-old Crawford may be even more untradeable for the Dodgers, as he’s owed $62.5MM beyond the 2014 season and is hitting just .236/.271/.341 in what has been an injury-riddled season. The Dodgers have motivation to move at least one of their overpriced outfielders, with top prospect Joc Pederson likely ready to make the move to the Majors, but they’ll be hard-pressed to do so.
  • Josh Beckett, Dodgers — Owed a much more reasonable $4.73MM (as of Aug. 5), Beckett is a more desirable commodity for interested parties. However, he’s currently occupying a slot in L.A.’s rotation, and he’s produced a surprisingly excellent 2.88 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 112 innings this season. The contending Dodgers don’t seem likely to deal from their rotation depth. The loss of Paul Maholm to a torn ACL has already weakened their rotation depth.
  • Brett Gardner, Yankees — Gardner is owed $50MM from 2015-18, and the Yankees weren’t likely to have given any serious consideration to dealing him anyhow. The speedster has shown more power than ever this season and has been New York’s most valuable position player. He’s staying put.
  • Martin Prado, Yankees — Owed $11MM in 2015 and in 2016, Prado’s salary and struggles with the bat have combined to offset a great deal of the value his versatility provides to his team. The Yankees acquired Prado just minutes before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so it seems unlikely that they’d move him this quickly.
  • Stephen Drew, Yankees — Drew is owed about $4.24MM from Aug. 5 through season’s end, making it unsurprising that a team neglected to claim him on waivers. His bat showed some life in July and in early August, but the impending free agent’s overall numbers are pretty woeful. Another two or three weeks of solid offense could make him a trade candidate if the Yankees fall out of the playoff picture, however.

Note: This is not a complete list of all players to have cleared revocable waivers. Many players are placed on waivers and pass through unclaimed without ever going reported. This is merely a list of the names that have reportedly cleared waivers according to major media outlets around the game.


Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.

Sherman On Papelbon, Duda, Mariners

Here’s the latest hot stove news from four pieces by Joel Sherman of the New York Post…

  • Jonathan Papelbon has told the Phillies that he won’t waive his no-trade clause to go to a team that will use him as anything less than a full-time closer.  Between the lack of teams looking for closing help and Papelbon’s large remaining salary, this is yet another obstacle that would hamper the Phils’ ability to trade their stopper, though they’re reportedly willing to eat at least some of Papelbon’s salary in a trade.
  • The Rays were one of several teams who tried to obtain Lucas Duda from the Mets over the years, yet the Mets held onto the young slugger and are reaping the benefits of Duda’s breakout season.  Playing largely against right-handed pitching, Duda has 18 homers and a .259/.356/.500 slash line over 365 PA.
  • The Mets and Yankees both sorely need to add some power, Sherman opines.
  • The Rays had talent evaluators specifically watching Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker‘s start against the Mets last week.
  • The Mariners have been linked to David Price, though one scout doesn’t know why Seattle is looking to add pitching and not hitting.  “Their rotation can do damage in the playoffs, but I don’t know if that offense can get to the playoffs,” the scout told Sherman.  “If you are going to trade a prospect as good as Walker, don’t you have to get the bat you so desperately need?”  Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, however, says it’s all about the caliber of talent available to be added to a team.  “If you consider David Price a [grade] A and the only thing available to you as a hitter is a C-plus hitter, you are better off with the A pitcher.  It really all depends what opportunity presents itself. What are you giving up to what are you getting back?“, Zduriencik says.
  • Speaking of Price, the Rays‘ recent hot streak has convinced one rival executive that the club will hold onto its star left-hander though the deadline.  Tampa can always re-open trade talks about Price in the offseason and in the meantime keep their ace and keep gunning for the top of the weakened AL East, the executive tells Sherman.

East Notes: Price, Lester, Howard, Papelbon, Mets, Braves

All eyes were on Tampa, where David Price of the Rays and Jon Lester of the Red Sox are squared off in a match-up of top starting pitchers — and top potential trade pieces. And that includes many top scouts around the game, as several reports suggest. At least 17 clubs had eyes in the stands, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. That includes two each for the Royals, Giants, and Pirates. A scout from the Phillies was also on hand — according to a tweet from Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, he is the club’s top evaluator — though presumably not for the two starters. Other teams with “top evaluators” watching, presumably with a variety of possible motives, included the Braves, Orioles, Mariners, Cubs, and Nationals, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Of course, it remains to be seen whether either of the two lefties is shopped, but the ramifications of the decisions of their respective clubs will obviously be widespread.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • In comments after the game, Lester said that he is “aware of what’s coming next week,” referring to the possibility of deals, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (via Twitter). If he does end up being shipped out, Lester said that he would still be open to re-signing with the team as a free agent.
  • The Red Sox-Lester situation remains a complicated one, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com explains. Boston’s decision-makers have clearly put out the word through the press that the club wanted to re-start extension negotiations, but were told that was not Lester’s preference. Meanwhile, sources tell Bradford that Lester’s camp would be willing to talk if the Sox came in with a realistic starting point. The underlying tension appears to be the basis for the notion that the fading club could consider dealing its best arm. If that does not happen, Bradford suggests that the team may intend to pursue a strategy it has employed in the past: make a larger offer after evaluating things in the offseason that falls shy of other open-market bids, banking on the player desiring to continue playing in Boston.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expanded on his comments regarding first baseman Ryan Howard, as Todd Zolecki of MLBcom reports on Twitter“I fully expect him to be our first baseman next year,” said Amaro.
  • Meanwhile, the Phillies have told teams that they are willing to hold on to some of the $18MM still owed to closer Jonathan Papelbon, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While there is still some market for Papelbon, Heyman says it does not look strong. His $13MM vesting clause for 2016, in particular, is a looming threat that would seem to complicate any deal.
  • The Mets are not engaged in any “substantive talks” at present, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, as Rubin notes, that does not mean that chatter won’t pick up in the coming days.
  • There were two injury updates today for the Braves, both via Joe Morgan of MLB.com. Southpaw Jonny Venters is making progress and is expected to begin throwing bullpen sessions soon. It still seems that he is a ways off, however, and manager Fredi Gonzalez made clear that the club is not yet counting on a return this season. Meanwhile, starter Gavin Floyd is also moving forward in his recovery from a fracture in his elbow, but Gonzalez says he will not even be evaluated again for a month. Needless to say, Atlanta does not seem destined to receive a surprise, late-season comeback from Floyd, who will be a free agent after the season.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.

Reactions To The Joakim Soria Trade

Last night, the Tigers landed right-hander Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for two of their top prospects — right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Detroit has long been said to be in pursuit of relief help, and they’ve now added one of the top bullpen arms on the market. Here are some reactions to the deal as well as a few additional bits of info about the Tigers’ trade talks…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Soria was the Tigers’ primary bullpen target, and they didn’t pursue former Tiger Joaquin Benoit all that aggressively before landing Soria last night.
  • Likewise, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the Tigers were never in on Philadelphia’s Jonathan Papelbon all that seriously.
  • Soria himself is very excited to join the Tigers, agent Oscar Suarez old FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link), specifically mentioning excitement over a chance to win. That excitement isnt surprising for Soria, who didn’t have much of an opportunity at the postseason early in his career with the Royals (he wasn’t with the club for their recent improvements).
  • The Tigers have the prospect depth to add another relief arm if they wish, but it will depend on the asking price, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Beck notes that Detroit probably wishes to avoid too much long-term depth to the farm system, but he mentions Chad Qualls as a possibly more affordable option to pursue. Beck also reports that the initial asking price on Soria was higher than the one the Tigers ultimately wound up paying.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law understands the deal for both Detroit and Texas (Insider subscription required and recommended). While the Tigers paid a steep price, he notes that Soria will be worth about an extra win over the remainder of the season and will be featured in some very high-leverage postseason innings. From Texas’ standpoint, they get a raw but projectable 20-year-old in Thompson who needs to learn to get more plane on his fastball and develop a changeup to succeed as a starter, plus a controllable potential seventh- or eighth-inning reliever in Knebel.
  • Jim Callis of MLB.com “loves” the Rangers’ end of the deal, calling Thompson a potential No. 2 or 3 starter and noting that Knebel has closer upside (Twitter link).
  • Soria’s value in the postseason could be significant, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. Cameron examines the usage of teams’ best relievers in last year’s playoffs, noting that while a typical elite reliever throws about five percent of his team’s innings during the regular season, that number increases in the playoffs due to more off days and the increased importance of late innings. The Red Sox used Koji Uehara for 9.6 percent of their postseason innings, which translates to about 140 innings during the regular season (a value of 246 innings when accounting for the increased leverage index).
  • R.J. Anderson and Jordan Gorosh break down the trade over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required/recommended). Anderson notes the steep price Detroit paid as well and wonders if the Tigers are done adding relievers. If Dave Dombrowski is serious about truly upgrading the bullpen (which he clearly seems to be), the Tigers should look to add another arm, Anderson opines. Meanwhile, Gorosh feels that Thompson could make an appearance on the back end of B-Pro’s offseason Top 101 prospects list, writing that he has the potential to be a “very strong No. 4 starter” and could have been the best pitching prospect in Detroit’s system (thereby implying that he likes him better than Robbie Ray).