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Josh Willingham Rumors
Former White Sox exec Dave Wilder received a two-year federal prison sentence today for his role in taking kickbacks from international signings, as first reported by Larry Yellen of FOX 32 (via Twitter). From December 2004 through February 2008, investigators said that Wilder orchestrated a kickback scheme in which he and other White Sox scouts artificially inflated the value of international players, signing them to bonuses beyond their value and taking a cut for themselves, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. In total, there were kickbacks involved with 23 signings, according to the federal investigation. The White Sox released a statement calling the scandal a "painful betrayal". The good news for the White Sox is that Wilder was ordered to pay the club roughly $441K in restitution, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Here's more out of the AL Central..
- An unknown team claimed Twins outfielder Josh Willingham off waivers, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports that it wasn't the Indians. The Indians negotiated with Willingham when he was a free agent before the 2012 season. Willingham wound up signing a three-year deal with the Twins after the Tribe would only go to two.
- Hoynes adds that while Willingham won't be coming to the Indians, the recently DFA'd Jason Kubel could be of interest to them. The Tribe liked Kubel when he played for Minnesota and there were reports that they claimed him on waivers in August of 2011, right around the time they acquired Jim Thome from the Twins.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan confirmed that Minnesota will receive cash from the Royals in the Jamey Carroll trade, tweets Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. The Twins had the choice of cash considerations or a PTBNL in the swap.
The Athletics should consider claiming outfielder Jason Kubel, InsideBayArea.com's John Hickey argues. The Diamondbacks designated Kubel for assignment Tuesday afternoon. After losing Josh Reddick to a wrist injury, the A's are short an outfielder. Their current plan is to slide Brandon Moss to the outfield and have Daric Barton play first base, but Hickey thinks it might be better to keep Moss at first and play Kubel in an outfield spot instead. He notes that exchanging Barton for Kubel would be a defensive downgrade, however, and it's questionable how much more offense Kubel might provide. He hit .220/.288/.324 for the Diamondbacks this year, and would have to make a significant rebound in the direction of his 2012 form to be an upgrade. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Josh Willingham of the Twins says August waivers are "no big deal," Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (via Twitter). The Twins placed Willingham on recovable trade waivers earlier today, raising the possibility (even if it isn't an incredibly likely one) that Willingham could be dealt. Willingham tells Miller he's in no hurry to leave Minnesota. The outfielder is hitting .214/.348/.393 this season.
- It's still not impossible that the Twins could trade Justin Morneau. But Morneau is a free agent after the season, so even if the Twins dealt him, they could bring him back for 2014. That decision could be based on how often they want Joe Mauer to play first base, 1500ESPN's Phil Mackey argues (on Twitter). Mackey argues that, in any case, the Twins shouldn't consider more than a one-year deal for Morneau, who appears to be past his prime and doesn't stack up particularly well against other first basemen.
- Scott Boras, who represents the Nationals' Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, half-jokingly says he prefers "12-year deals" for his players, MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko reports. "I'm more into 12-year deals for young players," says Boras. "The M.O. is that you want to keep within the franchise, you want him there for a long time and you want to be there for the fans and be a marquee for them. … You're going to have to do something different if you're going to be a team of distinction." Boras was in Washington for the Nationals' game against the Marlins, and he seemed to be talking about Harper, although he did not name him directly.
Here's Tuesday's list of players who have been placed on revocable trade waivers…
- Ervin Santana — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Ervin Santana has been placed on waivers. He instantly becomes one of the most desirable pieces on waivers, but the Royals are likely not inclined to move him. Santana, 30, has a 3.21 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in what has been a tremendous rebound campaign with the Royals. He's owed about $2.23MM this season and is a free agent at season's end. However, Kansas City is still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot and will be making Santana a qualifying offer following the season, so a return would likely have to overwhelm them.
- Francisco Rodriguez — Rosenthal's tweet also reported that K-Rod has been placed on waivers by the Orioles. This is likely nothing more than a procedural move, as he's been solid for the O's, and they're just 2.5 games back from a Wild Card spot.
- Wesley Wright, David DeJesus — Rosenthal also noted that the Rays have put both of their most recent waiver pickups back on waivers. However, in a second tweet he cautions that DeJesus needn't be worried this time, as the Rays are merely putting all of their players through waivers as a procedural move right now, which explains Wright's placement as well.
- Josh Willingham — Peter Gammons of the MLB Network tweets that the Twins have placed Willingham on waivers. Minnesota was expecting big things out of Willingham following a 35-homer season in 2012, but knee injuries diminished his production at the plate and he ultimately underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early July. Since being activated on Aug. 9, he's batting just .177/.316/.371 with a pair of homers and six doubles. Willingham's walk rate (13.4 percent) and power (.179 ISO) remain strong, but his strikeout rate is up (26.7 percent) and his average is down due to a decrease in line drives and an increase in pop-ups. He's owed roughly $1.3MM for the remainder of the season and is owed $7MM in 2014 — the final season of a three-year, $21MM contract.
- Earlier today, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that Marlon Byrd, Pedro Feliciano and John Buck of the Mets were all on waivers, and at least one trade is likely. Byrd was claimed by an unknown NL team shortly thereafter.
For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer. You can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers.
- The Twins are receiving lots of calls on Perkins but still telling teams they won't trade him, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The team is also receiving interest in Willingham, despite the fact that he's currently on the DL.
- Berardino writes that Willingham is drawing interest, and one rival talent evaluator told him he could see a scenario where Willingham is dealt. GM Terry Ryan spoke to the media about trade chips last night, adds Berardino. While he didn't mention Willingham's name, he referenced the recent trade of Jesse Crain and a previous trade the Twins had made with injured players: "We did that once with the Dodgers, way back in the day, so it can be done."
- An August trade of Morneau is a more likely outcome than a deadline deal, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Rangers are a long shot to make a run at Morneau, the Orioles have cooled on him and the Pirates have other targets atop their wish list at this time.
- The Pirates, Orioles and two unidentified teams make up the market for Morneau at this time, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers don't appear to be a fit, as they're seeking a right-handed bat, and the Yankees are content with Lyle Overbay as a lefty swinging option at first base.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are willing to eat some of the remaining $4.6MM on Morneau's contract if it means receiving a decent return.
- Reports from earlier today stated that Morneau wasn't a fit with the Orioles due to his contract and lack of production.
While earlier reports have said that the Twins are likely to trade longtime first baseman Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP isn't drawing significant interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Multiple teams that make sense as landing spots are "cool to the idea" at this time, Heyman writes.
The Rangers and Yankees prefer to focus their efforts on acquiring right-handed bats. The Orioles could use an extra bat, but they don't want to pay the $6MM remaining on the final year of Morneau's six-year, $80MM contract. ESPN's Jim Bowden recently connected the Rays and Pirates to Morneau, but Heyman says the Pirates "aren't heavily involved yet," and the financial element is a deterrent to the Rays as well.
Twins-connected sources tell Heyman there's almost no chance that Josh Willingham will be dealt, and closer Glen Perkins is likely to stay as well. The southpaw told Heyman over the All-Star break: "I'd love to be part of the future. And from what I gather, [the Twins] feel the same." Even Kevin Correia, halfway through the first season of a two-year, $10MM deal, doesn't sound likely to be dealt at this time, according to Heyman's contacts.
The Twins may have lost a trade chip today when they placed Josh Willingham on the disabled list. The outfielder told reporters, including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link), that he expects to miss the next four to six weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery.
Playing through the knee injury, Willingham's 2013 season hasn't been nearly as productive as his 2012 was, though he's still done a good job drawing walks. After a career-best 35 homers last season, Willingham is hitting .224/.356/.398 with 10 homers. As recently as four days ago, it was reported that the Twins had begun to receive calls on Willingham. Those trade hopes are likely dashed now, and given his modest $7MM salary in 2013 and 2014 — he's midway through a three-year, $21MM contract — it's unlikely that he'd clear waivers in order to be eligible for an August trade once healthy.
The latest out of the American League Central…
- Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com spoke with a league source who confirmed Jon Heyman's report from earlier this week that the White Sox are open for business, with the exception of Chris Sale and Paul Konerko. Hayes' source said that in the event the Sox were to make Sale available, he'd fetch an even larger haul than the Padres received for Mat Latos.
- The Twins have begun to receive phone calls on Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Morneau is a free agent at season's end, while Willingham is owed $7MM in 2014.
- The Twins will not be in attendance for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's showcase in Tijuana tonight, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link). The Twins have seen Gonzalez "a ton" already, he adds, noting that his price tag makes him a long shot for Minnesota.
- Indians minor league right-hander Dillon Howard has been suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Howard was the Tribe's second-round selection in 2011 and ranked as the team's No. 25 prospect prior to the season, according to Baseball America.
The Royals made this a special Father's Day for 21 dads as the team invited the players' fathers to travel with them on their current road trip to Tampa and Cleveland. Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports the idea was the brainstorm of the Royals' senior director of travel Jeff Davenport, who borrowed the idea from NHL teams, and was approved quickly by GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost. The idea came as a shock to some of the dads including the father of infielder Elliot Johnson, Robert. "Elliot told me about it and I had to call him back three times to make sure I got this story right — I said, 'You've got to be kidding me. All I have to do is get to Kansas City and they're going to put me on a plane and fly me along with you and not charge me anything? And I'm going to get in a hotel and eat with you guys and hang out with you?" The trip hasn't been without incident. Robert Johnson admitted he had an argument with Hall of Famer and new Royals batting coach George Brett over – what else – Elliot's hitting. In other news and notes from MLB's Central divisions:
- After struggling for most of the season, Yovani Gallardo has now tossed 14 consecutive scoreless innings. With the Brewers in last place and Gallardo controlled affordably through 2015 ($11.25MM in 2014 and a 2015 club option worth $13MM), the right-hander's name has popped up as a trade candidate (including by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes two weeks ago) and he has heard the talk. "We'll see what happens," Gallardo told reporters including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "It's definitely a little bit different. It's the first time I've been in a situation like this — not to say that anything is going to happen." McCalvy reports Gallardo can block trades to ten teams, but Gallardo acknowledges even he doesn't know the identity of all of them.
- While the Brewers don't anticipate Corey Hart returning from offseason knee surgery until after the All-Star break, at the earliest, GM Doug Melvin will not rush first base prospect Hunter Morris to the Majors, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Melvin told Haudricourt service time considerations aren't part of the decision-making process, "He needs to play more at Triple-A. We just want to make sure he's ready before making a move like that." The Brewers entered the weekend last in the NL at first base with a .493 OPS and 14th with four home runs and a .275 slugging percentage.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Kevin Correia will be the most asked about players as the Trade Deadline approaches (Twitter link).
- Twins closer Glen Perkins will also be sought after by teams looking to bolster their bullpen, including the division rival Tigers. Ryan, however, told Bowden he has not had any conversations with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and would rather have Perkins pitch for him than against him (Twitter link).
- Yesterday, the White Sox announced the signing of seventh-round draft choice Trey Michalczewski. Today, Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted the prep third baseman will receive a $500K bonus, which is $323.4K above the recommended slot (per Baseball America).
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that MLB is working to address the lack of African-American participation in baseball, both on the field and in the stands. While the RBI program [Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities] has seen more than 200 of its kids drafted to major league teams, Cafardo writes that it hasn't sparked the kind of interest that leads to a kid getting his friends together and playing an informal game at the park. Here's more from today's column..
- The feeling is that if the Twins aren’t in the race in early July, Josh Willingham would become available. “He’s a power righthanded bat that any contender could stick right in the middle of their lineup and get outstanding production,” said one National League GM. “You’d have to give something up, but he’d be worth the expenditure. He can really hit.”
- Scouts and GMs say Chase Headley could be the most sought-after player at the trade deadline. Part of it is that the Padres star plays third, is a good hitter, and teams in contention believe he would really thrive if he played for a winner.
- The Pirates really wanted shortstop Jose Iglesias in the Joel Hanrahan deal as their scouts felt he would eventually hit. For now, it looks like his offense has improved. “The Pirates really wanted a young shortstop they could build around and Iglesias was the guy they earmarked,” said one baseball executive. “The jury was out by some teams’ evaluations on him, but there was no denying his defense and no denying that he had a chance with the bat as he matured. Maybe that time has come.”
- One scout who watched the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate recently gave high marks to the club for their haul in last year's mega-deal with the Dodgers. "If Ben Cherington never makes another trade he can rest assured that the two kids he got from the Dodgers [Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa] have tremendous arms." The scout added that he would like to see the Red Sox continue to extend De La Rosa as a starter.
- There’s a feeling among Astros personnel that Chris Carter, who was acquired from the A’s, could emerge as a 30-home run guy. Carter has been hot after a 1-for-19 start to the season.
Here's the latest on Philadelphia's offseason dealings, courtesy of CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury…
- Before the Phillies acquired Ben Revere from the Twins, they attempted to also get Josh Willingham in either the same trade package or in a separate deal.
- The club is still in the market for a corner outfielder. The Phillies "have seriously considered" signing Ichiro Suzuki and "have long liked" Cody Ross.
- Any further upgrades may have to come via the free agency market since the Phillies don't have much prospect depth aside from possibly at catcher. Salisbury notes that Tommy Joseph, the most well-regarded of the team's young catchers, "probably isn't going anywhere."
- The Red Sox approached the Phillies about a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies said that Lee wasn't available. I can't blame the Phils for turning that offer down; even if they did want to move Lee, he would fetch far more on the trade market than just one year of Ellsbury, who hits free agency next winter.