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The Cubs are a bit lacking in starting pitching depth following the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but lefty reliever James Russell suggested one name to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that could help alleviate the problem: his own name. “There’s still not a doubt in my mind that I could [start],” said Russell, who was drafted as a starter. Russell acknowledged that he may not get the opportunity to start with the Cubs, because they may prefer to keep him in a relief role or because they may trade him this week. He adds that he’s stated his case with the front office multiple times to return to the rotation, and he’d be open to doing so again with another club if they felt he could handle the role.
More from the game’s central divisions …
- The Royals have at least some interest in both Mets starter Bartolo Colon and Phillies hurler A.J. Burnett, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino had noted yesterday that there was no action on Colon. Though it is not yet clear how serious the interest is, the club likes both righties. One major issue for Kansas City, of course, is payroll, and Martino adds that the club may not be in a position to take on the salary (and significant future obligations) owed to Colon and Burnett. New York is said to be amenable to paying $2MM of Colon’s tab, but he is earning $9MM this year and comes with a guaranteed $11MM salary next year. Burnett, meanwhile, is making $7.5MM this year (in addition to a $7.5MM signing bonus) and comes with an option that will likely turn into a $12.75MM player option.
- Emilio Bonifacio isn’t letting himself worry about the possibility of being traded by the Cubs, but Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago spoke to one NL official who feels that the utilityman would be a perfect last-minute addition on Thursday before the deadline. Rogers notes that if Bonifacio is traded, it could lead to a much-anticipated call-up for Javier Baez, wish Arismendy Alcantara manning center through season’s end and Baez taking over at the keystone. Currently, Bonifacio splits time between second and center.
- The Pirates remain on the lookout for a left-handed reliever, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Pittsburgh has been rumored to have interest in severable available southpaws, including Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies and Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Royals are interested in Andrew Miller but aren’t currently pursuing Jonny Gomes, Major League sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Multiple reports have previously connected the Royals to Gomes, but it appears their interest has waned for the time being. Miller, of course, is being pursued by many teams due to his dominant numbers and relatively inexpensive salary. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end but could alter the composition of a bullpen and be a vital postseason piece. Miller tells Bradford that if he’s traded, he’ll harbor no hard feelings toward an organization with which he has “loved” his time. “I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to an end in the next couple of days, but if it does it won’t spoil it for me,” said Miller. “If it does I’m certainly not going to burn a bridge on the way out of town.” Earlier this morning, K.C. was also linked to John Lackey.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Despite reported interest from the Yankees, the White Sox might have a difficult time moving John Danks, a source tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Anybody who throws 200 innings in the big leagues is worth his weight in gold,” the source said. “But I don’t think his weight is worth $30 million worth of gold.” Van Schouwen’s source feels that the Sox would let Danks go if he were to be claimed on waivers next month in order to free themselves of his remaining salary obligations.
- As for Chicago’s other tradeable pieces, Van Schouwen notes that Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo have limited markets due to contractual obligations (Dunn) or poor performance (the others). Alexei Ramirez would fetch a nice return, but the ChiSox don’t have an in-house replacement for the 32-year-old.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the Indians‘ current situation and feels that the team could sell some veterans without hurting their chances in the Wild Card hunt. Justin Masterson has underperformed, and Asdrubal Cabrera has been decent at best, but both have drawn trade interest, Hoynes reports. He suggests calling Oakland and San Francisco about Cabrera to peddle him as a second base option. Ultimately, the Indians could benefit from relying more on names like Jose Ramirez, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister than their declining stars, Hoynes writes.
- Glen Perkins made no effort to hide his feelings on whether or not the Twins should extend Kurt Suzuki when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the weekend: “That would be the ideal. I think everyone else would agree. Not even just pitchers. He’s fit in this clubhouse great, too, with everybody.” GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he’s been happy with Suzuki’s contributions, though he acknowledged that Suzuki rates poorly in terms of pitch-framing. Berardino noted that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Giants had scouts in attendance at Twins games over the weekend.
- In more Twins news, Ryan is sending assistant GM Rob Antony on the team’s current road trip to Kansas City and Chicago while he settles in with VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and special adviser Wayne Krivsky to work out deadline deals, writes La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Ryan acknowledged the team’s position as sellers, telling Neal: “As long as it stops in the near future, then it is worthwhile. … This isn’t what anyone signed up to do. Nobody wants to watch a club get into late July and be in a position where you don’t have a chance.” Neal lists several Twins trade candidates, including Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Brian Duensing and Casey Fien.
The Red Sox are currently weighing offers on Jon Lester and Andrew Miller, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. However, as of late last night, there was a less than 50 percent chance that the Sox trade Lester, and the same holds true for Miller based on current talks. Edes’ source did note that he anticipates offers for each lefty will improve as the deadline draws nearer.
Regarding the club’s reported interest in Matt Kemp, Edes does hear that the Sox would consider Kemp, but a lot of money would need to be heading Boston’s way. At this point, talks with the Dodgers haven’t even gotten to the point where names have been swapped. (Weekend reports indicated that a Lester/Kemp framework would be possible if the Dodgers included other pieces.) The Dodgers have told some teams that they’d prefer to hang onto Kemp, but a source insisted to Edes that Kemp is still in play.
The Dodgers do like Miller as well, and reports last night indicated that they’re in on John Lackey also. Those reports indicated that Boston is “getting hit hard” on both Lackey and Lester, and Edes has another team to add to the Lackey mix: the Royals. Kansas City makes plenty of sense for Lackey, given the fact that he has a club option at the league minimum next year (triggered by an injury clause in his contract). That has to hold great appeal for the Royals, who have noted payroll limitations. The remaining $5.25MM on his 2014 salary, however, could be problematic.
After a glance at the Mets earlier this evening, here’s a look at other items out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are eyeing controllable pitchers and they’re thought to be considering A’s lefty Tommy Milone, D’Backs’ lefty Wade Miley, and Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Of course, if their three-game set against the Nationals doesn’t go well, they could wind up going the other way and selling.
- Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is no longer an option for the Royals and talks have stalled with the Mariners, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Byrd will only waive his no-trade clause if his 2016 option is exercised.
- The Phillies are talking with multiple clubs about Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo and there’s a lot of action on both, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
6:10pm: The Blue Jays announced that they have acquired Danny Valencia from the Royals in exchange for Hendriks and Kratz. Valencia, 29, posted a .282/.328/.382 slash line in 119 plate appearances for KC this season. The veteran split 117 games between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk in 2013. In 170 plate appearances last year for the O’s, he had a .304/.330/.553 slash line to go with eight homers. The 29-year-old has seen scattered MLB action since a mediocre stint as the Twins’ everyday third bagger in 2011.
5:51pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports confirms that Kratz is headed to Kansas City (Twitter link).
5:46pm: The Royals and Blue Jays have agreed to a trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Right-hander Liam Hendriks is heading to Kansas City in the deal, and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that catcher Erik Kratz is expected to be joining the Royals as well.
The 25-year-old Hendriks was once considered one of the Top 10 prospects in the Twins organization, but he made his rounds on waivers over the past season after failing to translate his excellent Triple-A numbers to the Major Leagues. Hendriks allowed nine runs in 13 1/3 innings for the Jays this season and has a 6.06 ERA in 169 1/3 innings throughout his big league career. The Aussie right-hander has a strong 3.23 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 362 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level. Baseball America tweets that he was impressive at the Triple-A All Star Game this season — a team that he was named to after posting a brilliant 2.33 ERA in 18 minor league appearances this year.
Kratz, who turned 34 last month, is expected to help the Royals at the big league level. The former Phillies backstop has seen limited time with the Blue Jays in 2014, slashing .198/.226/.346 with three homers. Low batting averages and plus pop have been the story of Kratz’s big league career, as he’s hit just .216 with a .271 OBP in 501 plate appearances but boasts a solid .181 isolated power mark (slugging minus batting average). Kratz is a career .268/.342/.474 hitter in 1618 Triple-A plate appearances. He has consistently rated as a strong pitch-framer and pitch-blocker, and he’s gunned down 32 percent of attempted base stealers in his big league career.
4:11pm: The Mariners and Braves are the two teams pursuing Denorfia most heavily right now, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
11:04am: The Padres have received a lot of interest in outfielder Chris Denorfia and a trade is likely to happen “sooner rather than later,” sources tell Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. The Giants, Mariners and Blue Jays are all interested, and the Royals have also talked to the Padres about a possible move, and could get in on Denorfia if they can’t acquire Alex Rios or Marlon Byrd.
San Francisco and Seattle are new names connected to the Denorfia sweepstakes, and like the Jays and Royals, both teams would be helped by a right-handed hitting outfield bat. Denorfia could form a platoon with Gregor Blanco in center for the Giants, as Angel Pagan‘s injury status is still up in the air, or Denorfia could potentially platoon in left field with Tyler Colvin with Michael Morse seeing more time at first (if Brandon Belt‘s concussion continues to linger). The Mariners have also been linked to Byrd, though since the M’s are one of the four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list, Denorfia could be easier to obtain.
Denorfia is a free agent this winter, and the 34-year-old hasn’t helped his value by hitting only .244/.295/.321 over 266 PA this season. That total includes a .644 OPS against left-handed pitching, though Denorfia has an .810 career OPS against southpaws.
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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Hill | Adam Ottavino | Addison Reed | Alex Rios | Andrew Miller | Arizona Diamondbacks | Boston Red Sox | Brad Ziegler | Burke Badenhop | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Denorfia | Cincinnati Reds | Cliff Lee | Colorado Rockies | Craig Breslow | John Danks | Jon Lester | Jonny Gomes | Josh Collmenter | Justin Ruggiano | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | LaTroy Hawkins | Marlon Byrd | Martin Prado | Matt Belisle | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Stephen Drew | Texas Rangers | Troy Tulowitzki
Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Dodgers have signed Barry Enright to a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter). Across four big league seasons, Enright has made 26 starts and five relief appearances, posting a 5.57 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for the D’Backs and Angels.
- Veteran outfielder Andres Torres left the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox and is looking for an opportunity with a National League team, SB Nation’s Joon Lee reports (Twitter link). Torres enacted an out clause in his minor league deal with Boston, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter). Torres ended up making 95 PA in the Sox system, hitting .275/.298/.473.
- The Royals released catcher Jesus Flores, according to the Pacific Coast League website’s transactions page. Flores inked a minor league deal with K.C. in March and posted a .698 OPS over 150 PA with Triple-A Omaha this season. The 29-year-old appeared in 311 games with the Nationals from 2007-12 and spent last season in the Dodgers’ and Rays’ farm systems.
- The Angels released southpaw Justin Thomas, who has signed a $160K contract with KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). This is Thomas’ second taste of international baseball, as he made three starts last year for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. Thomas posted a 5.99 ERA over 20 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake City after signing a minor league deal with the Angels in January.
- The Dodgers released right-hander Juan Abreu, the team announced. Abreu posted a 7.11 ERA over 6 1/3 relief innings at Triple-A this season after signing a minor league pact with L.A. during the offseason. The righty has 6 2/3 Major League innings to his name (with a 2.70 ERA and 12 strikeouts), all with the Astros in 2011.
- The Nationals released right-hander Ryan Perry, the club announced. Picked 21st overall by the Tigers in the 2008 draft, Perry posted a 4.36 ERA and 132 strikeouts (against 84 walks) over 169 1/3 relief innings with Detroit and Washington from 2009-12.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
“There’s a growing expectation from rival execs that Jon Lester is going to be traded before [the July] deadline,” ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link), and the Dodgers are seen as the likeliest candidate to add the Red Sox left-hander. Los Angeles has shown interest in Lester, though there were conflicting reports yesterday about whether the two sides had actually seriously discussed a trade.
Here’s some more news surrounding the defending World Series champs…
- The Royals, Dodgers and Nationals are the latest known suitors for reliever Andrew Miller, according to ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes and Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. (Edes reported the Royals’ interest while Gammons reported on the two NL teams.) Boston is known to be shopping Miller, with the Braves and Pirates also amongst the clubs checking in on the lefty. Miller has posted an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 14.5 K/9 and 5.0 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 relief innings for the Sox this season.
- Also from Gammons, several other teams were interested in Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, the two ex-Giants prospects obtained by the Red Sox in the Jake Peavy trade. Two different rival executives told Gammons they tried to get Hembree as a future set-up man, while Escobar’s stock was higher before he began his tough season at Triple-A.
- In a piece full of notes and observations about the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe is baffled that Lester and the Sox seemed so mutually interested in a contract extension yet now Lester could be a trade candidate. “Why the Sox seem almost eager to chase away one of their cornerstone players is a mystery,” Abraham writes, predicting that if Lester hits the open market, he’ll sign elsewhere since another teams will spend big for the southpaw.
- Also from Abraham, he opines that the Red Sox should extend Miller rather than trade him, stay away from Matt Kemp in any trade talks with the Dodgers and release struggling reliever Edward Mujica.
Here’s the latest out of Fenway:
- Boston has fielded interest in Jon Lester from the Dodgers, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The sides have not made much headway, however. Los Angeles has long been said to be chasing another starter, and appear to have the kind of top-end prospects that would greatly entice the Sox (if they are willing to part with them).
- The Royals have watched outfielder Jonny Gomes all week as they look for a right-handed hitting corner outfield bat, says Edes. Meanwhile, as Edes reports in another piece, the Pirates are among the clubs taking a close look at the Boston pen. As he notes, and as our trade market pieces (righties; lefties) reflect, Boston has many potentially available arms.
- The Red Sox are taking a pragmatic approach at the deadline, principal owner John Henry tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. “Deals are always driven by value,” said Henry. “The value of this season is quickly declining in comparison to next year and beyond.” Henry said that the club’s poor offense has been “painfully evident,” noting that, “even running the bases, as measured by external stat geeks, we’ve been the worst in the league.” Though GM Ben Cherington advised Henry before the All-Star break that the club was still likely the best in the division, in spite of its poor record, the front office began preparing then for the possibility of hitting the trade deadline without a realistic shot at contention.
- Mike Carp explained (and confirmed) his reported request for a trade, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports. Though his batting line has been poor, his playing time has also been rather sporadic. “It hasn’t been a shocker. I’ve been very blatant where I stand from the get-go about it,” Carp explained. “I need the opportunity to play. I need the opportunity to get some at-bats. There really hasn’t been an attempt made here and I just feel like there would be a better situation at this point.”
- In assessing whether to deal Lester, the Red Sox should take heed of the Yankees’ decision not to trade Robinson Cano last year, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The situations bear many similarities, Sherman, explains, and it would be a mistake for Boston to let one of its homegrown core players leave with only a compensatory draft pick to show for it. Lester’s could bring back quite a nice haul, leading Sherman to suggest the club ought to deal him unless it is determined to re-sign or extend him. In a similar vein, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opined yesterday that dealing Lester makes eminent sense if the team is not committed to bringing him back.
- Trading Lester, I would suggest, could make it somewhat more palatable to later sign him to a market-rate contract. If he could bring back a legitimate prospect haul that has some promise of near-term big league impact, it would not only increase the value of paying for a top-end arm but would offset to some extent the expected negative value of the later years of a hypothetical Lester contract. In some ways, that could be the best scenario for all involved, and Lester has said he is amenable to re-signing if he is dealt. It is certainly true that such an option sometimes appears more achievable than it may truly be, and anything can happen once a team moves a player off its roster. But perhaps that is something to keep an eye on in Lester’s case.