Jose Ascanio Rumors

Dodgers Sign Bard, Ledezma, Castillo, Guzman, More

The Dodgers announced the signing of 15 non-roster players yesterday, reported MLB.com's Ken Gurnick: catcher Josh Bard, lefty reliever Wil Ledezma, lefty reliever Alberto Castillo, righty reliever Angel Guzman, outfielder Cory Sullivan, righty reliever Fernando Nieve, righty reliever Jose Ascanio, righty Ryan Tucker, righty Will Savage, lefty Matt Chico, lefty Scott Rice, corner infielder Jeff Baisley, infielder Lance Zawadzki, and infielder Luis Cruz.

Bard, 33, had 86 plate appearances for the Mariners this year and another 250 in Triple-A.  His signing was first rumored last week at the Winter Meetings.  Ledezma, 30, briefly appeared in the Majors with Toronto this year.  He struck out 64 batters in 48 Triple-A innings as well.  Castillo, a 36-year-old Cuban, tossed 11 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks and a strong 42 1/3 frames at Triple-A.  His near-deal was first reported last week.

Ascanio, 26, appeared briefly in the bigs with the Pirates this year and also whiffed 50 in 44 Triple-A innings.  He was part of the July '09 John Grabow-Tom Gorzelanny trade with the Cubs, but he had labrum surgery in October of that year.  Tucker, 25, is a former first-round pick of the Marlins who pitched five innings with the Rangers this year and 68 1/3 more in Triple-A.  Guzman, Sullivan, Nieve, Chico, Baisley, Zawadzki, and Cruz have also spent time in the Majors.  Guzman, notably, was a successful setup man for the Cubs in '09.


Pirates Designate Jose Ascanio For Assignment

The Pirates designated right-hander Jose Ascanio for assignment to create 25-man roster space for left-hander Tony Watson, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). Manager Clint Hurdle will have the second lefty reliever he coveted once Watson joins Daniel Moskos in the bullpen.

Ascanio appeared in eight games for the Pirates this year, allowing ten hits, five earned runs and two walks in 6 1/3 innings of work. The 26-year-old has a 5.28 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 46 career innings with the Pirates, Cubs and Braves.

Watson, a ninth round pick of the Pirates in 2007, has spent this season at Triple-A, where he was a 2.45 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old has a 3.26 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in five seasons of minor league baseball for the Pirates' affiliates.


Quick Hits: Reyes, Pirates, Garvey-Hershiser

A few items of note for Sunday afternoon. On this day in 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays selected Tim Beckham with the No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.

  • ESPN's Adam Rubin shares a video interview with Jose Reyes in which the Mets shortstop says he doesn't think about the constant trade rumors surrounding him because all he can control is his on-field performance.
  • Mike Pelfrey told Mark Hale of the New York Post that it would be tough for him as an individual, tough for the team, and tough for the fans to lose Reyes, whom he deems irreplaceable.
  • MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch covers the additional lefty relief options the Pirates have in Triple-A, and says that if a roster move needs to be made in order to appease manager Clint Hurdle's desire for another southpaw, Jose Ascanio is the most likely to be designated for assignment.
  • A Dodgers sale is not yet imminent, but Orel Hershiser has joined Steve Garvey and others, forming the Garvey-Hershiser Group, in hopes of bidding on the team should it be put up for sale by MLB, writes Jeff Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News. The Dodgers could be made for sale if Frank McCourt can't make the next payroll payments, according to Painter. Reports of Garvey's interest in purchasing the Dodgers first surfaced when MLB seized control of the team in April.
  • Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, slated for Tommy John surgery this week, hopes to "come back to the game with the Red Sox uniform," writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. Since it typically takes pitchers at least a calendar year to return from the surgery, Dice-K, whose six-year contract expires after 2012, may have played his last game for Boston and perhaps in MLB.
  • The Phillies' debt situation is broken down by David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News in the wake of Friday's news that the Phils are one of nine teams in violation of MLB's debt service rules. The takeaway: The Phils are in relatively solid financial standing, as the franchise is paid off, with their current debt representing only a "momentary hiccup," writes Murphy.


Pirates Notes: McCutchen, Heredia, Ascanio

The Pirates have won just one of Paul Maholm's eight starts this year, but the left-hander and his 3.60 ERA aren't to blame. Pittsburgh has averaged 1.5 runs per game with Maholm on the hill, including last night's shutout at the hands of the Dodgers. Here's the latest on the Pirates…

  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com explains that he believes the Pirates should move now to lock Andrew McCutchen long term. Since McCutchen hasn't fully realized his potential, the Pirates could save on an extension and pay him Justin Upton money ($51.25MMM) instead of Carlos Gonzalez money ($80MM). Plus, it would be a positive for fans and other players, Bowden argues. The Pirates have discussed a long-term deal with their center fielder and hope to sign him for five years or more.
  • Tim Dierkes says he expects a six-year deal for McCutchen, who probably won't have to settle for less than $52MM.
  • Pirates prospect Luis Heredia is just 16 years old, but he looks closer to 20, according to Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. The right-hander retired rehabbing catcher Carlos Ruiz in extended Spring Training, much to the delight of his mother.
  • John Grupp of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review chronicles Jose Ascanio's long path back to the Pirates roster. The right-hander, who was acquired as part of the 2009 Tom Gorzelanny trade, is back in Pittsburgh after a two-year absence.

NL Central Notes: Pujols, Cubs, Ascanio, Hall

Tim provided updates on all six NL Central teams earlier in the day, but plenty more news is emerging from baseball's biggest division. Here's the latest, including a follow-up on Jose Ascanio

  • Though the Cardinals probably wish that Albert Pujols and Cubs GM Jim Hendry hadn’t exchanged a heavily scrutinized public hug, they aren’t overly concerned with it, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (on Twitter).
  • The Pirates recalled Ascanio and placed Michael Crotta on the DL with right elbow inflammation, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The team had to decide whether to add Ascanio to the roster or risk losing him to another team, since he's out of options.
  • As MLB.com's Brian McTaggart explains, the Astros will have to clear up roster space when Jeff Keppinger returns from the disabled list. Bill Hall could slide into a utility role, or the Astros could part ways with him. Including the buyout on next year’s mutual option, about $2.5MM remains on Hall’s deal.

NL Central Links: All Six Teams

The Cardinals lead the NL Central by one game over the Reds.  A link for each of the six teams:

  • The $680MM deal to sell the Astros to Jim Crane's group "could be completed as early as next week," report Zachary Levine and Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.  Ownership of the club could be tranferred to Crane "as early as July," they write.  Crane is believed to prefer having an agreement in place before the June 6th draft, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • Pirates reliever Jose Ascanio's rehab period ends today, reports Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the team must decide whether to add the out of options righty to the 25-man roster or risk losing him to another team.  The 26-year-old has been battling shoulder and elbow injuries, but MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch wrote Monday that adding him to the big league bullpen is the most likely move.
  • You read yesterday about the hug heard 'round the Midwest, as Cubs GM Jim Hendry embraced Albert Pujols before the game at Wrigley.  The hug means next to nothing; as CSN's Patrick Mooney points out, Hendry has tons of connections throughout the industry.  Still, it can't hurt to note that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts shook hands with the free agent to be as well.
  • Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has begun an "open-ended convalescence" in the words of Joe Strauss' source, as he recovers from shingles.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter says La Russa "will miss the rest of the team's current road trip and perhaps significantly more time."
  • Despite allowing five runs and nine hits in six innings, Brewers offseason acquisition Shaun Marcum picked up his fourth win yesterday.  Marcum is showing no ill effects from his springtime shoulder stiffness; his 4.17 K/BB ratio ranks sixth in the NL.  With a strong season I can see him getting close to $10MM for 2012, his final arbitration year.
  • Aroldis Chapman won't be sent to the minors to work out his issues, Reds manager Dusty Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  The hard-throwing lefty has allowed at least one run and two walks in each of his last three appearances.

Cubs Send Infante and Ohman To Braves

UPDATE: 12-4-07 at 10:05am: Rosenthal confirms this baby, noting that the Cubs freed up a few mil for other pursuits.

FROM 12-4-07 at 9:23am:

According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Radio 1000, the Cubs have sent lefty reliever Will Ohman and infielder Omar Infante to the Braves for righty reliever Jose Ascanio.  Ascanio closed a bit for the Braves’ Double A affiliate last year; he turns 23 in May.  He seems to have strong groundball tendencies.

Infante (acquired for Jacque Jones) and Ohman were a bit redundant on the Cubs’ roster.  They already had Scott Eyre and perhaps Sean Marshall coming from the left side out of the pen. And they’ve got plenty of middle infielders in Ronny Cedeno, Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot, and Ryan Theriot.

Who knows how this one will play out, but the Braves filled a couple of needs more cheaply than they might’ve on the open market.  Ohman makes $1.6MM next year; Infante should be under $2MM.