- The Royals and Indians are among the teams looking at Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia. Kansas City has a void at third base with Mike Moustakas out for the season, and Valencia is a known quantity, having played for the team in 2014. The Tribe have also received below-replacement level production at the hot corner all season, though Jose Ramirez has played well splitting time between third and left field. Valencia could perhaps be a better fit for Cleveland in left given his rough defensive metrics (-13 Defensive Runs Saved, -26.9 UZR.150) at third base this season, though his bat certainly plays for either the Indians or Royals. Valencia is hitting .333/.381/.552 with 11 homers over 218 PA for the A’s, though that comes with the caveat of a .373 BABIP. The Mets are another team known to have interest in Valencia, though their subsequent signing of Jose Reyes may have addressed their infield needs.
- While Valencia is a right-handed bat, Cafardo notes in another item that “the Royals seem to be in on every left-handed hitter.” K.C. has posted middle-of-the-pack offensive statistics against righty pitching this year and is lacking in lineup balance, though the return of Alex Gordon from the DL should help on both counts. Cafardo implies that Padres outfielder Jon Jay (a left-handed hitter) could be a Royals trade target.
The Royals have announced that they’ve activated Alex Gordon from the DL and optioned fellow outfielder Brett Eibner to Triple-A Omaha. (The move is now reflected in Roster Resource’s Royals Depth Chart.) Gordon had been out since late May with a broken bone in his wrist. He was hitting just .211/.319/.331 before his injury, but given his usual combination of a high OBP and excellent left field defense, he should be a major addition for the Royals, who are currently four games back of the Indians in the AL Central and a half-game back of the Blue Jays for the last Wild Card spot. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Royals, too, are on the lookout for outfield help, and Heyman lists Jon Jay and Melvin Upton Jr. as possibilities, though he does so in a fairly speculative manner. Heyman further splashes some cold water on the Yordano Ventura trade rumors from earlier this month, quoting an anonymous Royals exec: “With starting pitching at a premium, of course we aren’t trading him.”
JUNE 23: Infante has cleared release waivers and is now a free agent, tweets Flanagan.
JUNE 21: The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on Infante, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Infante, of course, figures to clear waivers with ease, as no big league club would be keen on acquiring the remainder of his salary. Once he clears (in 48 hours), he’ll be free to sign with any Major League team, at which point that team would be on the hook for only the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. (That sum would be subtracted from what the Royals owe.)
Infante, 34, has been a major disappointment since signing as a free agent before the 2014 season. Kansas City still owes him the rest of a $7.75MM salary this year and another $10MM down the line, including a buyout of a 2018 option.
Technically, he could sill be claimed or traded, but both seem unlikely. Even a surprise swap would be quite unlikely to save K.C. much cash.
All told, Infante has provided the Royals with a .238/.269/.328 batting line with eight home runs and 11 stolen bases over 1,179 plate appearances. Though he’s been solid enough with the glove and on the bases, it hasn’t come close to making up for the offensive deficiencies. In the aggregate, he has played below replacement level.
That wasn’t the plan when the Royals added Infante, who had just wrapped up a solid 2013 campaign for the division-rival Tigers. Really, it’s a testament to how well the team has performed in the past two seasons that it was able to get by with his marginal contributions. While recent successes have moved the payroll up in the interim, Infante’s signing represented a rather significant commitment for the Royals at the time.
We’ve often discussed the possibility of the team pursuing an upgrade at second, but the final straw ultimately came from within. Surprising 27-year-old rookie Whit Merrifield supplanted Infante, with the presence of utilityman Christian Colon making him expendable.
JUNE 18, 6:36pm: Machado will begin serving a four-game suspension Sunday, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com was among those to report (via Twitter). That will end Machado’s consecutive games played streak at 229. While the superstar infielder isn’t pleased that he’ll sit out four games and Ventura will miss just one start, he didn’t like his chances with an appeal, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Orioles manager Buck Showalter agrees with Machado’s stance, telling reporters (including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com), “A good player doing good things and we won’t have him for four days because somebody hit him with a pitch.”
4pm: MLB has reduced Ventura’s suspension to eight games and he has dropped his appeal, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets.
JUNE 9: Major League Baseball has announced suspensions of Royals starter Yordano Ventura and Orioles infielder Manny Machado. The former gets a nine-game ban, meaning he’ll likely miss only a single outing, while the latter will sit for four contests.
Both players appear set to appeal their punishments stemming from a recent brawl. The melee was sparked when Ventura hit Machado with a pitch, prompting the latter to charge the mound. Both players swung at each other and went to the ground as both dugouts emptied.
The suspensions don’t appear to be major causes for concern for either club, though neither is in great position to deal with a loss at their respective positions. Baltimore is already without shortstop J.J. Hardy, with Machado sliding over from third to cover for him. And the Royals have had plenty of struggles in its starting staff.
This is the second significant set of suspensions relating to on-field fisticuffs in recent weeks. Previously, Rougned Odor led a series of other players from the Rangers and Blue Jays by taking an eight-game suspension (later reduced to seven) for slugging Toronto slugger Jose Bautista.
The Rockies acted decisively on Wednesday of this week, designating Jose Reyes for assignment rather than affording him the opportunity to settle into a bench role upon returning from his suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. Said manager Walt Weiss today in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link): “To bring in Reyes, we were going to lose either [Cristhian] Adames or [Daniel] Descalso. … Adames is a young player who’s a very good player, there’s not a lot of at-bats for him or innings for him right now because we got three potential All-Stars in the infield. … Don’t want to lose him, especially at his age. And Descalso has meant so much to this club and in the clubhouse. He’s one of those guys that’s been the constants of our team, and he’s swinging the bat very very well. … You’re going to lose one of those guys if you bring in Reyes. And Story, certainly is going to be looking over his shoulder if that’s the case. For our club, for the culture of our club and what we’re doing right now and the good thing we’ve got going, I think it was going to be counterproductive. I think it’s the best thing for Jose, too.”
Here’s the latest on Reyes, who figures to be released in the coming days…
- ESPN’s Alex Cora tweeted yesterday that the Royals have looked into Reyes as a second base option following the DFA of Omar Infante, though his colleague Jerry Crasnick later tweeted that while there was a brief inquiry, it may have been little more than due diligence. Both Whit Merrifield and Christian Colon are playing well right now, so there isn’t necessarily a clear need to take a chance on Reyes. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, meanwhile, tweeted that rumors suggesting that the Royals have interest in Reyes were “simply not true.”
- Neither the Yankees nor the Mets have interest in adding Reyes, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Some Mets fans have expressed hope that the team will pursue a reunion with its former All-Star shortstop in the wake of injuries throughout the infield, but Heyman writes that a reunion for the two sides “simply isn’t in the offing” despite a potential need in the infield. Newsday’s David Lennon writes that having spoken to people close to Reyes, a reunion with the Mets would be his preference, and Reyes is willing to move over to third base. That, of course, is largely inconsequential if there’s no interest from the Mets’ side of the equation, and both Heyman and ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin have reported that to be the case since Reyes was designated on Wednesday.
- The Rockies never wanted Reyes in the first place, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today, but his inclusion in last summer’s trade helped to offset Troy Tulowitzki’s remaining salary and allowed the team to add a trio of intriguing of young arms to to its minor league ranks. Colorado has been trying to trade Reyes since last July without success, Nightengale writes, and ultimately his suspension and off-field issues left the team with no choice but to release him. “It’s fair to say it was responsible to the situation and to the organization that we talk through every sort of conceivable situation,” GM Jeff Bridich said following Reyes’ DFA. “We certainly had enough time to do that. At the end of the day, we determined that it was best we part ways — best for the direction of the organization, best for what was going on in the clubhouse and best for Jose.”
There are a lot of notable draft deals to work through from the last two days. Among them:
- Blue Jays second-rounder Bo Bichette announced that he’s signed a deal, which Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets is for a $1.1MM bonus. A son of long-time big leaguer Dante Bichette, the high-school shortstop landed above the $978,600 value at the 66th overall pick. Fellow second-rounder J.B. Woodman inked for $975K, Callis adds on Twitter. An outfielder from Mississippi, he also will deliver some savings to Toronto. The 57th selection came with a $1.124MM slot value. The Jays also added third-round pick Zach Jackson, Callis tweets. The Arkansas righty signed for $540K, leaving the team with $45,100 in savings.
- Another second-round pick who’s ready for a minor league assignment is C.J. Chatham, who goes to the Red Sox for $1.1MM, per MLB.com (via Twitter). Chosen 51st overall, the Florida Atlantic shortstop rated just outside the top 100 per Baseball America. His signing saves the club $132,800 against the slot value.
- The Brewers agreed with second-rounder Lucas Erceg for $1.15MM, Callis reports on Twitter. The Menlo College third baseman rated 47th on the draft board of ESPN.com’s Keith Law. He was taken 46th overall, which came with an allocation of $1,386,900.
- The Twins are in agreement with second-rounder Ben Rortvedt on a $900K bonus, per another Callis tweet. Minnesota saves $241,600 against the slot value while adding the Wisconsin high school backstop. Cotillo tweets that Twins third-rounder Griffin Jax, a righty from the Air Force Academy, has agreed to an at-slot, $645.6K bonus.
- The Dodgers agreed to a $590,800 bonus with second-round pick Mitch White, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. The Santa Clara righty ended up going for over $400K less than the 65th pick’s pool allocation, so Los Angeles can put that money to work in other areas.
- Rays third-round choice Austin Franklin signed for a $600K bonus that falls a bit shy of the $676,200 slot value, Callis tweets. Franklin is a high-school righty out of Florida.
- The Royals have an above-slot deal with third-rounder Khalil Lee, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets, though the exact bonus isn’t known. Taken with the 103rd selection, the Virginia high school outfielder rated 121st on BA’s board.
- The Athletics have locked up third-rounder Sean Murphy for an at-slot, $753,100 bonus, Callis tweets. Baseball America had rated him 63rd among draft-eligible prospects, but Oakland got him with the 83rd pick.
- Bryson Brigman appears to be in agreement with the Mariners for $700K, just under the $708,200 slot value, per a tweet from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. A shortstop from the University of San Diego, Brigman went 87th overall.
- The Giants have given an at-slot, $625,900 bonus to Heath Quinn, Callis tweets. The power-hitting Samford outfielder was taken with the team’s third-round selection.
- The Cardinals signed fourth-rounder Jeremy Martinez, a catcher from the University of Southern California, for $600K, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. That lands over the $421,600 allocation that came with the 136th selection in the draft.
- Brewers fourth-round selection Corbin Burnessigned for a slot bonus of $536,400, Callis tweets. A righty from St. Mary’s, Burnes took the 57th slot on the Baseball America draft chart on the basis of improving velocity and the possibility of sticking as a starter.
- There’s been plenty of talk as of late regarding Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura, with some reports indicating that he’s been offered to other teams in trades and another from MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan in which a team source called the notion “utter nonsense.” Rob Bradford of WEEI.com adds his hat to the mix, writing that as of Monday this week, a source close to the situation told him that Kansas City is not currently shopping Ventura. The Royals, according to Bradford, are reluctant to part with Ventura because of a lack of an immediate replacement for the 25-year-old and due to the friendly nature of his contract.
The Royals announced that they have claimed left-hander Tyler Olson off waivers from the Yankees and optioned him to Triple-A Omaha. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Olson, who had previously been designated for assignment by the Yankees, the Royals have transferred third baseman Mike Moustakas to the 60-day disabled list. (Moustakas is out for the season due to a torn ACL.)
The 26-year-old Olson pitched just 2 2/3 innings for the Yankees this season and struggled, as he’s done in his 27 1/3 innings with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. He’s had an active calendar year on the waiver wire, beginning with the Mariners before being picked up by the Dodgers and then the Yankees prior to today’s move. Olson has a 4.74 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 81 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in his career. The 2013 seventh-round pick out of Gonzaga began his pro career as a starter but was shifted primarily to the bullpen with the Mariners last season. He’s made three starts and eight relief appearances with the Yankees’ top minor league affiliate this year.