Josh Willingham Rumors

Heyman On Upton, Hanley, Twins, Lannan

Arizona GM Kevin Towers could wait until the offseason to trade Justin Upton instead of moving him within the next eight days. A patient approach makes sense for the Diamondbacks if it allows them to maximize their return, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Here are some more notes from Heyman…

  • One general manager doesn’t know where he’d play Hanley Ramirez on defense. "He's not a third baseman, he's not a shortstop anymore. I wouldn't know where to hide him," the GM told Heyman.
  • The Twins don’t seem interested in trading Josh Willingham, but a long list of teams would have interest if Minnesota makes the outfielder available.
  • John Lannan made a successful spot start for Washington over the weekend, but it’s clear he’s not in the team’s long-term plans. Heyman suggests it’d be best if the Nationals can find a way to trade the left-hander, who earns a $5MM salary in 2012.

Rosenthal & Morosi On Brewers, Victorino, Twins

The Giants are interested in Indians reliever Chris Perez, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported this morning. Here are more notes and rumors from the FOX reporters…

  • The Brewers are not ready to declare themselves sellers, but after losing three straight games to the Reds over the weekend Milwaukee is moving in that direction, Rosenthal reports. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where it’s a tough hill to climb,” GM Doug Melvin acknowledged. The Rangers, Angels, Braves and Nationals are among the teams that have shown some level of interest in Zack Greinke, according to Rosenthal. The 44-50 Brewers could also trade Randy Wolf, Francisco Rodriguez and George Kottaras, among others.
  • The Phillies and Dodgers have discussed Shane Victorino, Morosi reports (on Twitter). However, there’s no momentum toward a deal at this point.
  • The Blue Jays are still looking for a starting pitcher even after acquiring J.A. Happ, Morosi notes (on Twitter).
  • The Twins haven’t put Josh Willingham on the trade market yet, but he’s in high demand, Morosi reports (on Twitter).
  • The Twins are inclined to listen to trade offers for Francisco Liriano, because they could obtain power arms for the future by completing a deal, Morosi reports.
  • MLBTR summarized more rumors from Rosenthal earlier today.

Rosenthal On Hamels, Giants, Brewers

Talks between Cole Hamels and the Phillies will accelerate this week, as the sides consider the possibility of a mid-season extension, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Hamels must decide whether to accept an offer from the Phillies with the trade deadline looming and free agency just a couple of months away. The left-hander is “conflicted” about how to proceed, Rosenthal writes. The Phillies will almost certainly trade Hamels if they don’t sign him to a long-term deal, Rosenthal reports. Here are more notes from around MLB…

  • The Giants’ biggest offensive need might be a right-handed hitting outfielder.
  • A rival executive notes that the Nationals have relied heavily on their bullpen and suggests it’d make sense for Washington to add a starting pitcher this summer.
  • The Twins would want a major return if they trade Josh Willingham, who has a reasonable three-year, $21MM contract.
  • Some teams like Asher Wojciechowski, a right-handed pitching prospect acquired by the Astros from Toronto in last week’s ten-player deal. Overall the trade wasn’t considered a blockbuster, however.
  • Brewers relievers Manny Parra and Kameron Loe are drawing interest.
  • The Phillies might need to include cash if they trade Shane Victorino. Including salary relief could help the team obtain better prospects for the prospective free agent.


AL Central Notes: Castillo, Tigers, Willingham

The White Sox lead the AL Central with a 49-39 record, and they are considering at least one high-profile midseason reinforcement. The White Sox have Zack Greinke on their radar, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today. Here are the latest AL Central rumors, starting in Chicago…

  • The White Sox agreed to sign Dominican prospect Luis Castillo for $450K, the Dominican Prospect League announced. The league release describes Castillo as a "man child" who hits the ball hard and runs well for his size.
  • The Tigers and White Sox are both prioritizing starting pitching in trade talks, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports.
  • The Twins haven't made Josh Willingham off-limits to other teams, but they aren't shopping him, Phil Mackey and Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com report. Willingham, who's in the first year of a three-year, $21MM contract, is "definitely" Minnesota's most valuable trade chip, 1500ESPN.com reports. However, the Twins are enjoying Willingham's production and would prefer not to trade a player so early in a multiyear contract.
  • The Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays and Braves are believed to have some interest in Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano, Heyman reports.

Quick Hits: Sheets, Athletics, Twins

After missing two years due to elbow injuries, righty Ben Sheets made a triumphant comeback start today as a member of the Braves, tossing six scoreless innings against the Mets for the win.  Should Sheets manage a dozen decent starts for the Braves, the minor league signing will stand as a shrewd under-the-radar move by GM Frank Wren.  Today's shrewd, under-the-radar links:

  • "I feel like myself. That's one thing I can say I never felt like in Oakland," Sheets told reporters today including Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Sheets signed a one-year, $10MM contract with the A's prior to the 2010 season despite missing all of '09.
  • "It's just as necessary for the Yankees to have young players with a few years of control as it is for the Twins or the A's," GM Billy Beane explained to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times yesterday.  The A's GM has been trading away players further from free agency lately, but this year Beane's club is surprisingly in the mix for a wild card spot.
  • Scouts from the Yankees, Blue Jays, Braves, Mets, Reds, Padres and Nationals have attended recent Francisco Liriano starts, report Phil Mackey and Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, though some of those clubs may have had other interests.  Slugger Josh Willingham would require a lopsided offer and seems likely to stay put, as we've heard before.  Willingham is signed through 2014 and is interested in staying with the Twins beyond his current contract.
  • Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer had Mike Trout second on his board for the 2009 draft, after only Stephen Strasburg, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News.  The Angels had two consecutive picks at 24 and 25, with the Yankees at 29, and Oppenheimer thought he might get Trout once the Halos took another high school outfielder in Randal Grichuk at 24.  Of course, Angels scouting director Eddie Bane took Trout at 25.  Trout told Harper he's motivated by all the teams that passed on him.
  • The Diamondbacks signed Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler.  BA says Alcantara draws praise for his defense, and the D'Backs had been favored to sign him.  BA ranked Alcantara 18th overall in the July 2nd class.

West Notes: Upton, Colon, Bloomquist, Billingsley

Colorado is the epicenter of scouting activity this afternoon as Cole Hamels starts against the Rockies. The Angels, Dodgers, and Rangers are scouting the Phillie left-hander, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (Twitter links). The Tigers are on hand taking a look at Marco Scutaro, tweets Tracy Ringolsby of Root Sports.  Here's the rest of the news from the AL and NL West with the most recent up top:


Stark On Garza, Orioles, Braves, Phillies, Headley

Arizona general manager Kevin Towers says he’s been impressed by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper from an offensive and defensive standpoint, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. "They can beat you on the basepaths. They impact the game defensively,” Towers said. “They can beat you with key hits or the long ball. They're both very special." Here are Stark’s latest rumors from around MLB…

  • One American League executive says the Cubs are basing their asking price for Matt Garza on last summer’s Ubaldo Jimenez deal. This means it’ll take two controllable, young players with upside to pry the right-hander away from Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein.
  • Other teams say the Orioles are involved in the Garza talks. However, Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy aren’t going to be available in summer trade talks with any club.
  • The Braves are looking for "an impact starting pitcher" and they’ve scouted trade candidate Jason Vargas extensively
  • The Angels are desperate to add a really good bullpen piece and would dangle Peter Bourjos in the right deal, according to rival teams.
  • One executive doesn’t expect Luke Gregerson of the Padres to become available, though there would be heavy demand if San Diego were willing to listen.
  • Another executive suggests the Red Sox could trade Kelly Shoppach and call Ryan Lavarnway up from the minor leagues.
  • The Twins continue to tell teams they expect to hold onto Josh Willingham.
  • The Marlins are telling rival teams they haven’t discussed becoming sellers this summer. The Phillies also seem to want to add, not subtract. The Phils are considering a long list of relievers and have asked the Padres about Chase Headley.
  • The Diamondbacks have “window-shopped” for bullpen depth, Stark writes. Towers says he prefers his current team, now 38-37, to the one that won the NL West a year ago.
  • Stark also reported on the Blue Jays' approach to the trade deadline and you can read the details here.

Heyman On Blue Jays, Soriano, Rays, Span, Headley

The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com…

  • Several teams would target Edwin Encarnacion if the Blue Jays make him available in trades, Heyman writes. However, the Blue Jays’ main priority is putting together an effective and healthy rotation. 
  • Teams see Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs as a designated hitter, not an outfielder, Heyman writes. One general manager says the Cubs could trade Soriano if they absorb all but $2MM of his contract. The Cubs are indeed willing to pay a “very substantial portion” of the $45MM or so remaining on the contract, Heyman writes. One scout suggested the Rays could be a fit for Soriano, who seems willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal to a contender.
  • The Twins are believed to be more willing to trade Denard Span than Josh Willingham, writes Heyman. They do not appear to be actively engaged in talks yet, but they would seek a young starting pitcher in return for Span.
  • The Dodgers are one of several teams inquiring about Chase Headley, writes Heyman. The Padres are willing to listen on their third baseman and Heyman says they will consider intra-division trades.

Twins Seek Pitching

The Twins are looking to add pitching depth to their organization, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. General manager Terry Ryan said he’s not set on acquiring a certain type of pitcher — he’s just looking for outs.

"We don't have enough pitching," Ryan said. "We need pitching, and we need it bad."

The Twins are 29th in baseball with a 5.05 team ERA. Only two teams have obtained fewer innings from their starters and no team induces fewer strikeouts per nine innings (5.8 K/9).

The Twins selected pitchers with seven of their first nine selections in this year's draft and they’ve signed every one of those arms except J.T. Chargois and Luke Bard. Executives from other teams have wondered if the Twins would trade players such as Denard Span and Josh Willingham for young pitching, according to Olney.


Olney On Red Sox, Quentin, Willingham, Pirates

ESPN's Buster Olney shared a number of items (via his Twitter feed) about a variety of hot stove topics and rumors…