Jordan Schafer Rumors
The Braves announced that they claimed outfielder Jordan Schafer off of waivers from the Astros. Schafer played in the Braves' organization from 2005-11 before going to Houston in last summer's Michael Bourn trade.
Schafer appeared in 106 games for the Astros this past season, posting a .211/.297/.294 batting line with 27 stolen bases as the team's primary center fielder. The 26-year-old spent most of August on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Now that Bourn's a free agent Schafer provides the Braves with some insurance in center field. Atlanta originally selected him in the third round of the 2005 draft.
After seeing top outfield trade candidates Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence land with National League rivals, Braves GM made a splash today by acquiring center fielder Michael Bourn and cash from the Astros for center fielder Jordan Schafer, southpaw Double-A starter Brett Oberholtzer, righty Double-A starter Paul Clemens, and righty Triple-A reliever Juan Abreu. The Astros announced the deal via press release.
Bourn (pictured) is hitting .303/.363/.403 in 473 plate appearances, and he leads MLB with 39 steals. He fills the Braves' need for a center fielder and leadoff man through next year. The 28-year-old Scott Boras client has $1.45MM remaining on his contract this year and is arbitration eligible for 2012 before hitting free agency. The Astros' outfield purge continues, as they sent Pence to the Phillies on Friday. The Reds, Giants, Indians, and Nationals had also shown interest in Bourn.
Schafer, 24, figures to replace Bourn as the Astros' regular center fielder once he returns from the disabled list for a finger injury. He owns a .223/.310/.303 line in 414 big league plate appearances, coming in '09 and this year. Before the 2008 and '09 seasons, he was considered one of the best 50 prospects in the game, but an HGH suspension and wrist surgery dropped his stock.
None of the three pitchers are top 50 prospects, but they did rank ninth, 26th, and 27th respectively for the Braves on Baseball America's preseason rankings, and the team has a highly-regarded farm system. Oberholtzer, 22, ranked ninth and is seen as a potential third or fourth starter in the big leagues. Clemens and Abreu both have big upside and impressive fastballs.
A few more newsbits as we near the end of a busy Tuesday...
- Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times singles out the Cubs and Yankees as "among those interested" in Rocco Baldelli. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com thinks Baldelli would be a good fit in the Bronx, though he notes that New York GM Brian Cashman "refused an internet rumor" claiming that the Yanks had already signed Baldelli.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are looking over Chien-Ming Wang's medical history.
- Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that pitcher Steven Jackson was designated for assignment by the Pirates to make room for Ryan Church on the 40-man roster. Jackson posted an impressive 3.14 ERA in his 2009 rookie season, making 40 appearances out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh.
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman thought the Braves might try to trade Jordan Schafer earlier this winter, but no more.
- The Cubs have settled with five arbitration-eligible players, but still don't have deals worked out with Carlos Marmol and Ryan Theriot, reports Dave van Dyck of The Chicago Tribune.
- Grant of the McCovey Chronicles blog is, shall we say, less than enthused about the Bengie Molina signing.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com discussed some of Atlanta's options in the free agent market, and here are a few of the more notable pieces of news....
- Relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez "will likely leave Atlanta" for greener free agent pastures, and thus the Braves are looking for new options at the back of their bullpen. Bowman says the Braves have talked to free agent closer Billy Wagner's representatives and "won't necessarily be scared" by Wagner's Type A status since Soriano and Gonzalez are also both Type A's. If those two were to sign elsewhere, the compensation that Atlanta would receive would more than make up for the picks they would lose for signing Wagner. The Braves and Wagner's most recent club, the Red Sox, may end up virtually trading relievers since Soriano and Gonzalez are two names on Boston's lengthy list of possible free agent targets.
- Bowman lists former Brave Octavio Dotel as a potential set-up option, and Fernando Rodney as a signing who could serve as either a set-up man or a closer.
- There isn't anything to rumors that Atlanta will try to trade with Detroit for Miguel Cabrera, or sign free agent Jermaine Dye. Cabrera's big contract is too rich for the Braves' blood, and as for Dye, there is no DH spot in the National League to stash a right fielder who posted a -20 UZR and -24.5 UZR/150 last season.
- Signing Marlon Byrd would make Jordan Schaefer expendable, Bowman reports. Byrd wouldn't necessarily solve Atlanta's need for a right-handed outfield bat, however, given that Byrd's career splits against right-handed and left-handed pitching are pretty even --- a .769 lifetime OPS against southpaws and a .759 OPS against righties. Byrd actually hit significantly better against righties (.835 OPS) last season than he did against lefties (.744 OPS).
- The Braves are prepared to see what other offers Adam LaRoche receives before they decide if they want to bring him back next season.
Links for Monday...
- Former GM Kevin Towers will attend the Winter Meetings and meet with three or four teams about possible employment, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Towers prefers the American League.
- Randy Johnson is undecided about pitching in 2010, say Rosenthal and Morosi.
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman tells readers in his latest mailbag that he wouldn't be surprised to see the Braves trade Jordan Schafer.
- Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues speculates on what the Yankees would have to give up for Josh Johnson.
- ESPN's Buster Olney compares a potential Joe Mauer extension to Todd Helton's contract, in that it'd make up such a large percentage of the Twins' payroll.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel discovered that a handful of teams have avoided four-year commitments to pitchers in recent years.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos talked to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about the team's strategy to beef up scouting.
- For someone who hasn't been paying attention to the hot stove, Bronson Arroyo has a reasonable take on the Reds' direction and recent Scott Rolen/Ramon Hernandez commitments (MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reporting).
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick discusses the role of advanced defensive metrics in player acquisitions.
- MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone notes that a very similar report surfaced in three different media outlets within a span of a few hours.
Talks have swirled this weekend about the Nationals' pursuit of Pirates CF Nyjer Morgan, but it looks like he's not the only outfielder on the team's radar. Bill Ladson at MLB.com has updated his previous post on the discussions, and this time he throws Braves CF prospect Jordan Schafer's name into the mix as a potential target for the Nats.
Ladson says the Nationals are seeking an improvement in their outfield defense, as they have apparently concluded that Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham profile more as designated hitters and Elijah Dukes still makes too many mental errors. Schafer was sent down earlier this season to make room for Nate McLouth, but it isn't clear if the Braves would be willing to move him.
It seems like the Nats are looking for a young, cost-controlled and speedy outfielder as well as a defensively adept one. Who else comes to mind that might be attainable for the Nationals?
More links for Tuesday...
- As David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News points out, the Phillies already have $94.5MM committed to next year's roster, so adding Jake Peavy would require good accounting or, perhaps more available money.
- Cardinals fans voted Mark DeRosa as the player they'd most like to acquire to play third in this poll on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's site.
- Jeff Gordon of the Post-Dispatch suggests John Mozeliak "will almost certainly deal from his pitching depth" to obtain some infield help.
- Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Jordan Schafer has been sent to the minors, as the Braves' outfield problems continue.
- The AP (via the Miami Herald) reports that Stephen Strasburg is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded to the top amateur player in America.
- Orioles president Andy MacPhail is proud of the progress his team has made in the minors, according to Steve Melewski of MASN.com.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com says he expects this to be the year that Roy Oswalt is dealt (via Twitter).
WEDNESDAY, 6:22pm: Kovacevic says Doumit's agent will meet with the Pirates later tonight to discuss their offer. Rob Biertempfel says the Pirates did make offers to all three and want to finalize deals within six to eight weeks.
TUESDAY, 11:28pm: Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers up the latest information on the Pirates.
- The Pirates have initiated extension talks with Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, and Paul Maholm. The Braves inquired on McLouth and Maholm, but the Pirates' demands were "way high" according to an Atlanta official. Kovacevic mentions Jordan Schafer as someone who could be offered.
- The Pirates had conversations with David Eckstein's agent, but not negotiations. The Bucs would probably have to trade a middle infielder for it to make sense. They never made a formal offer to Mark Loretta, who signed with the Dodgers today.
- The Jack Wilson market is tepid - the Twins have mild interest, the Dodgers have moved on to Rafael Furcal.
- While the Pirates have gotten inquiries on John Grabow, teams apparently want to look at free agent options first.
- John Perrotto says Jason Davis will refuse the Pirates' Triple A assignment and head to Japan.
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.
1:47pm: This Scott Miller column is from yesterday, but it has some good info. Miller's source believes the Braves are the frontrunners for Peavy and are willing to include Gorkys Hernandez. Additionally, the source said the Cubs are very aggressive and the Dodgers are making a strong pitch.
12:53pm: Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald says Samardzija is not on the table and has a full, not partial, no-trade. Additionally, the Cubs have not thrown Fontenot into the mix. Miles gives a 50-50 chance of the Cubs getting Peavy.
9:39am: GM Kevin Towers expects to trade Jake Peavy before the winter meetings, saying, "The train's kind of left the station." Continuing the metaphor, Barry Axelrod said, "The only thing we've got is a brake."
According to Yahoo's Jeff Passan, the Cubs have moved in front of the Braves in the battle for Peavy. Passan says the Padres want Jeff Samardzija (who has a limited no-trade clause), and the Cubs could also include players such as Felix Pie, Sean Marshall, Ronny Cedeno, Kevin Hart, and Donald Veal. Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests Rich Harden or Mike Fontenot could be involved. De Luca notes that a Peavy trade would probably prevent the Cubs from acquiring Brian Roberts. ESPN's Buster Olney believes Josh Vitters would have to be involved, while the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles adds Jose Ceda, Welington Castillo, and Mitch Atkins as possibilities. Miles does not see the Cubs as a player for C.C. Sabathia, by the way.
The Padres would prefer a deal with Atlanta, but can't pry Tommy Hanson loose. The Braves are willing to trade Yunel Escobar, Charlie Morton, and Jordan Schafer.
Meanwhile, Tom Krasovic at the San Diego Union-Tribune says Peavy and Barry Axelrod are concerned about the Braves' shortstop situation if they are to include the defensively-talented Escobar. Perhaps the Braves could sway them by outlining some contingency plans at the position.