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Justin Ruggiano Rumors
JUNE 13: Ruggiano has cleared waivers, and the Mariners have outrighted him to Triple-A Tacoma, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets.
JUNE 4: The Mariners have designated outfielder Justin Ruggiano for assignment in order to clear a 25-man roster spot for backup catcher Jesus Sucre, the team announced (relayed by 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer, on Twitter). Seattle needed to clear a spot on the roster for a catcher after trading Welington Castillo to the Diamondbacks yesterday in the six-player Mark Trumbo trade.
The decision to designate Ruggiano is a somewhat curious one, as the veteran outfielder was acquired from the Cubs this offseason with the hope that he could form one half of a right field platoon along with Seth Smith. Ruggiano’s overall numbers don’t look particularly appealing, but he’s hit left-handed pitching well in 2015, as he has throughout his career. In 43 plate appearances versus lefties this season, Ruggiano is hitting .263/.349/.474 with a pair of homers. That slash line gels with his career marks — a .266/.331/.505 line against southpaws.
Though Ruggiano has not hit especially well as a whole this season, his .214/.321/.357 has been roughly league-average production when accounting for his pitcher-friendly home ballpark (99 wRC+, 97 OPS+). Teammates Rickie Weeks and Dustin Ackley, however, have been markedly worse performers at the dish, with Weeks hitting just .169/.273/.260 and Ackley hitting a mere .190/.231/.331. In terms of defensive value, Ruggiano is better suited to play the outfield than Weeks, who is still learning the position.
Ruggiano is earning $2.505MM this season after avoiding arbitration this winter. He’s under control through the 2016 season and will be arb-eligible once more this offseason if he accumulates a full year of service time in 2015. I’d imagine that Ruggiano could generate some interest in trades, particularly if the Mariners are willing to absorb some of the remaining salary. From a speculative standpoint, the Reds could be a fit, as they are on the lookout for corner outfield options after seeing Marlon Byrd go down with a fractured wrist earlier in the week.
As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News discussed with host Jeff Todd on yesterday’s MLBTR podcast, the Rangers are likely to be tempted mostly by high-quality arms at the deadline. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com opines that Texas may be the Phillies‘ best match in terms of prospects. Seidman speculates that a package centering around Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara — two names previously said by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman to be of interest to Philadelphia — makes sense for Cole Hamels, as the Phillies are “desperate” to add a young catcher and would like an outfielder with some pop. Seidman wonders if including a rejuvenated Aaron Harang or paying a chunk of Jonathan Papelbon‘s contract and including him, too, would entice the Rangers. Of course, all of this boils own to speculation at this juncture, but the Rangers do seem to be a fit given their somewhat unexpectedly strong start. Texas is 28-26 after a win last night, but their ranks 19th in ERA (4.24), 24th in FIP (4.36) and 28th in xFIP (4.51).
More from the AL West to kick off your Friday morning…
- The decision to designate Justin Ruggiano for assignment over Rickie Weeks was not an easy one for the Mariners, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. “The particulars are not something I want to discuss,” manager Lloyd McClendon told Dutton. “Hopefully, this gives (Ruggiano) a chance to catch on with somebody else. It was a very difficult decision.” As Dutton notes, there was going to be an extreme lack of playing time for whoever remained on the roster, following the acquisition of Mark Trumbo. Dutton also points out that McClendon frequently used Dustin Ackley and Willie Bloomquist as late defensive replacements, rather than Ruggiano, perhaps indicating that the Mariners weren’t particularly enamored with his defense.
- Dutton also spoke with Mark Trumbo, the man whose acquisition led to Ruggiano’s DFA. Trumbo said that the news he’d been traded “was a lot to take, initially,” but that when he found out he was headed to Seattle, his mind eased. “I couldn’t have been happier,” said Trumbo. “I’ve loved coming here when I was with the Angels. It’s one of my favorite places in the country — or the world, for that matter.” Trumbo went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and started at first base in his Mariners debut.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle yesterday that he believes Brady Aiken has joined Jacob Nix in not consenting to allow the Astros to draft him again in 2015, as is his right after not signing in 2014. When a Twitter follower asked Drellich whether or not 21st-round pick Mac Marshall, who also did not sign, had done the same, Marshall himself replied on Twitter to say that he had “no hard feelings” toward Houston and has given his consent to be drafted by the Astros again in 2015.
- Josh Hamilton tells Grant that he’s only had a hamstring injury of this significance one other time in his career in 2007 when he put an extreme amount of effort into rehabbing as he first got back into the Majors following four years of drug-related suspensions. Hamilton likely pushed too hard in his rehab in an effort to get back on the field with the Rangers but says he does not regret how he went about his rehab. Grant reports that he has received a platelet rich plasma injection in the injured area that the team hopes will accelerate the healing process.
Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir left today’s start against the Tigers with soreness in his throwing shoulder, and manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game that Kazmir is undergoing an MRI (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Jane Lee). It’s not known at this time whether or not Kazmir will require a stint on the disabled list, but as an impending free agent and a potential trade target, that status of Kazmir is one that could have significant impact on storylines around the game in the coming months. To this point in the season, Kazmir has been brilliant, notching a 2.93 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate in 58 1/3 inning. Kazmir is earning $11MM in the second and final season of a two-year, $22MM contract.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- Following the Angels‘ trade for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Marc Krauss could find himself headed back to Triple-A, but the team could also place Collin Cowgill on the disabled list, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Gonzalez’s notebook post looks at several roster situations for the Angels, including the team’s uncertain second base situation and the injury status of right-hander Mike Morin, who doesn’t sound to be returning anytime soon. Morin will miss “weeks, not days,” per manager Mike Scioscia.
- The Mariners have been operating with a six-man bullpen for a couple of days as a means of delaying the need to make a decision on the team’s veterans, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Delaying a move by even a few days gave the Mariners time to further examine trade possibilities, Dutton notes, but they’ll soon need to add a reliever to the mix. Candidates include Lucas Luetge, Mayckol Guaipe and Kevin Gregg, though Gregg would require a 40-man roster move and force the team’s hand even sooner. Players currently at risk, Dutton writes, are Rickie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. It seems highly unlikely that the Mariners would do something as drastic as designating Ackley for assignment, but if they’re truly exploring trade possibilities, he’d likely have the most appeal of the four players listed by Dutton. One way to buy a bit more time would be to option Chris Taylor back to Triple-A to make room for a reliever that’s already on the 40-man roster.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that there will be no second-guessing on when the team should have brought up top prospect Carlos Correa, regardless of how the season ends. Luhnow says that despite Correa’s gaudy numbers at Triple-A, he’s still benefiting from the time there, as he’s being exposed to more offspeed pitches than ever before and being forced to make adjustments within at-bats. Luhnow said that even in an extreme scenario such as missing the playoffs by one game, there would be too many factors — managerial moves, daily roster decisions, player performances — to say whether or not promoting Correa early would’ve altered the course of the season.
With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…
- Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
- The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
- Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
- Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
- The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
- Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
- Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
- Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
- Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
- Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
- Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.
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The Angels are likely to trade Josh Hamilton before his contract expires, but not before letting him play out at least part of the 2015 season, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Given Hamilton’s production (.263/.331/.414 last year) and contract, his value can’t slip much further, so the Angels might as well wait to see if they can recoup some of that value with a rebound season, Gonzalez suggests. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Hamilton has a full no-trade clause. The Angels reportedly discussed potential Hamilton deals with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, although those talks did not appear particularly likely to result in a trade. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- After reaching a deal with Nick Hundley last week, the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, or they could keep him and go with three catchers (Hundley, Rosario and Michael McKenry), MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Many teams have two catchers but are reluctant to use the backup to pinch-hit, so having three would allow the Rockies to use their spare catchers more liberally. Also, they could have Rosario pick up playing time at first base or in the outfield. Harding adds that the Rockies have “checked in with” Max Scherzer and James Shields this offseason, although, unsurprisingly, they’re not likely to sign either one, and they’ll likely acquire a veteran to eat innings instead.
- Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should form a solid platoon for the Mariners, David Golebiewski writes for GammonsDaily.com. Neither one projects to be anything special if he plays every day, but Ruggiano has a .925 OPS against lefties in the last three seasons, while Smith has an .825 OPS against righties. Those are very strong numbers (even though we should probably expect regression for Ruggiano, and it’s impossible to completely hide any batter from same-handed pitching), and the Mariners should get effective production from right field while they wait for a long-term starter to come along.
The Mariners have reached a deal to acquire outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Righty Matt Brazis is going to Chicago in return, the clubs announced. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports first reported the possible match on Ruggiano.
Though the 32-year-old, right-handed-hitting Ruggiano is not the kind of top-end power option that Seattle was said to be seeking, he is certainly useful in his own right. Last year, he put up a .281/.337/.429 slash in 250 plate appearances, making two of three years in which he has been a solidly above-average bat. He has strong career numbers against left-handed pitching and could be used in a platoon role. MLBTR and Matt Swartz project a $2.5MM arbitration payday for Ruggiano this year.
Brazis, meanwhile, is a 25-year-old righty who reached the Double-A level last year after a solid effort at High-A. At the upper level, he tossed 33 innings of 1.64 ERA ball with 9.3 K/9 versus 2.7 BB/9.
TODAY, 10:34am: The Mariners have discussed Justin Ruggiano with the Cubs, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. The right-handed-hitting 32-year-old had a nice season last year in Chicago, though he would not represent the kind of impact bat that Seattle has been said to be after.
8:06am: If a deal is close, Crasnick says (links to Twitter), it is not for Marlon Byrd of the Phillies, who has not been approached about waiving his no-trade protection against Seattle. Likewise, while the Red Sox have discussed Allen Craig with plenty of other teams, there is “nothing brewing” on him at the moment (and no particular link to the M’s).
YESTERDAY, 10:38pm: A deal involving Desmond is still a possibility, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets.
It remains the case, however, that no reports have directly linked the Mariners to any particular player in this round of rumors.
7:29pm: Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets that he thinks the Mariners will announce a trade within the next two to three days. Crasnick tweets that his sense is that it’s a right-handed hitter who hasn’t been mentioned in much previous speculation, which would rule out Upton.
4:44pm: The Mariners are closing in on a deal to acquire another bat, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). It’s unclear at this time what hitter they’re targeting in this deal, but the Mariners have been linked to several names.
Justin Upton of the Braves has been said to be a possibility in their search for a right field bat, with the club apparently still looking for a right fielder even after signing Nelson Cruz. Seattle has also been linked to Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox and Ian Desmond of the Nationals in recent weeks. I’d imagine that Marlon Byrd could make sense for Seattle as well, and he’s certainly known to be available in trade talks with the Phillies.
The Royals are in the market for a right-handed hitting bat to play right field, but ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the team isn’t in on Boston’s Jonny Gomes or Minnesota’s Josh Willingham (Twitter links). Additionally, Crasnick tweets that he isn’t sure the Royals view Chris Denorfia and Justin Ruggiano as upgrades over Justin Maxwell, who is hitting well in Triple-A.
The Royals don’t feel that Gomes is capable of handling right field, and the same applies to Willingham as well. (As Crasnick notes, Willingham’s July swoon hasn’t helped his value.) Crasnick hears from one AL executive that the Twins would very much like to move Willingham, but they’re simply not getting much interest at this time.
Gomes, Willingham, and Denorfia are all free agents at season’s end, while Ruggiano would remain under team control via arbitration. The Royals were said at one point to have interest in Marlon Byrd, but a report yesterday indicated that they were backing off both Byrd and Alex Rios. The Royals are on Byrd’s limited no-trade clause, and he’d reportedly like the Royals to guarantee his $8MM option for 2016 in order to waive that clause.
If you’re wondering who else could be available, MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently took a look at the trade market for corner outfielders.
If the Pirates can’t land a reliever this week, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that the Bucs could move Edinson Volquez to the bullpen. Volquez, who has hit 98 mph on the gun this season, has been trending down since April. More from the Central Divisions..
- The Cubs have rebuffed inquiries by the Yankees and others for outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and also are expecting to keep the rejuvenated Chris Coghlan, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. They might also look to trade outfielder Nate Schierholtz, but they can put him through waivers in August and make a deal then. Meanwhile, the versatile Emilio Bonifacio is now drawing interest.
- The Pirates are showing interest in Phillies left-hander Antonio Bastardo and outfielder Marlon Byrd, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- A couple of baseball executives think that the Pirates might get into the Jon Lester trade talks with the Red Sox, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- Nick Delmonico, who came to the Brewers in last year’s Francisco Rodriguez trade, was suspended 50-games for a positive drug test, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
- It’ll be hard for the Indians to get real value for Asdrubal Cabrera without eating some of his contract, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Cabrera earns $10MM this season.
With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
- Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
- The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
- Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
- While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
- The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
- Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
- The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
- While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
- The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
- The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.
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