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With multiple teams on the lookout for bullpen help, left-hander Antonio Bastardo is drawing some significant trade interest, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Sources tell Salisbury that the Royals are very interested in Bastardo, while the Tigers, Pirates and Blue Jays are all in the mix as well. All four teams have scouted each of Philadelphia’s past two games (Salisbury notes that the Tigers are also believed to be keeping an eye on Jonathan Papelbon).
The 28-year-old Bastardo makes sense as a trade chip for the Phillies, whose large commitments to veterans and willingness to include no-trade clauses and vesting options in their contracts has left them with few pieces that are both movable and desirable. Bastardo is both of those, however, as he’s owed just $2MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. He’s also had good results this season, having compiled a 3.27 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate. Bastardo has been effective against both left-handed hitters (.616 OPS) and right-handed hitters (.634 OPS) throughout his career.
The Reds have also been connected to Bastardo this month, and the Braves have been known to be seeking a southpaw for their bullpen as well (though the usual intra-division caveat applies). Interested teams do have some alternatives, including James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, and possibly Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.
Despite the fact that the Royals recently went through a stretch of 18 losses in 27 games, GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that manager Ned Yost’s job is safe. Perhaps more pertinent to MLBTR faithful is that Moore tells McCullough his 49-50 ball club will not be sellers at this year’s deadline. Moore says that he doesn’t blame the players, coaches or anyone but himself: “I look at myself, and what I can do, and what we can do as a baseball operations department to improve our team. … We’re going to keep pushing until the standings say we’re done.”
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- The Royals scouted the Phillies twice this week already, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury notes that Antonio Bastardo performed well in front of Kansas City evaluators, who are on the lookout for bullpen help.
- Joel Hanrahan is a “long shot” to pitch in the Majors this season, reports Lynn Henning of the Detroit News (Twitter link). The Tigers, who signed Hanrahan for a guaranteed $1MM base salary in May, have been hopeful that he will eventually fortify their late-inning relief corps, but they’ve also been linked to numerous bullpen arms, suggesting that they may not be counting on much from the former Pirates All-Star.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while it may have been a planned promotion, the timing of Francisco Lindor‘s promotion to Triple-A is “as subtle as a brick to the head.” The Indians announced Lindor’s promotion to Columbus shortly after Asdrubal Cabrera left Monday’s contest with an injury, and while Lindor likely wouldn’t be the immediate replacement, there’s little doubt that he’s seen as Cabrera’s replacement next year. Hoynes also notes how poorly timed a DL stint would be for Cabrera, as it would hurt the team’s chances to stay in the AL Central race while also costing them a potential trade chip.
- The two White Sox players that are generating the most interest in trade are John Danks and Dayan Viciedo, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The Yankees have reportedly had some discussions with the South Siders about acquiring Danks as of yesterday afternoon. Danks has a six-team no-trade clause, with only four contenders on the list, according to yesterday’s report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. He can block deals to the Orioles, A’s, Nationals and Blue Jays.
There was some action on the shortstop front for the Indians today, as starter Asdrubal Cabrera left the game with lower back spasms, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). That would appear to be a minor injury, but the news coincided with the club’s decision to promote top prospect (and fellow shortstop) Francisco Lindor to Triple-A, as Hoynes tweets. Cleveland has indicated, however, that the move was unrelated. Of course, Cabrera has often been mentioned as a trade candidate — at season’s end if not at this year’s deadline — due in large part to the continued rise of Lindor, his presumed successor.
Here’s more out of the AL and NL Central:
- With the Royals focusing on adding a corner bat, one possibility that the club has considered is Alex Rios of the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Rios does have a six-team no-trade clause which, according to Cot’s on Contracts, includes Kansas City. His $13.5MM club option for next season is not cheap, but could potentially take the place of Billy Butler‘s own $12.5MM option if the latter is dealt or has his option declined.
- The Twins appear to be prepared to sell, according to a report from MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. “We’re in a tough spot right now and we’ve been in a tough spot for four years,” said GM Terry Ryan. “So you have to listen. And that’s what we do.”
- One prime trade candidate for the Twins is outfielder Josh Willingham, who is slashing .209/.357/.399 with eight home runs in 207 plate appearances as he prepares to hit the open market after the season. Two clubs to watch as possible suitors are the Reds and Pirates, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
- The Cardinals received some promising news on righty Michael Wacha, who could begin throwing again in two weeks after seeing improved MRI and CT scan results, reports Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An early September return still appears the best case scenario, according to GM John Mozeliak. But Wacha’s health will not dictate the club’s trade deadline plans. “They’re independent of each other,” said Mozeliak. “That’s still something we can explore in the next eight to ten days.”
- One oft-discussed option for the Cardinals is veteran Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who once seemed close to being moved but could now be held as Boston looks to make a late surge. St. Louis is still keeping Peavy on their “back burner,” a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), who notes that Peavy has put together three consecutive solid outings.
There were plenty of scouts on hand for the Phillies‘ matchup tonight, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (links to Twitter). Among the players presumably being eyed were starter Cliff Lee, fresh off a lengthy DL stint, and southpaw reliever Antonio Bastardo. Clubs with representatives on-hand included the Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, Angels, Royals, Giants, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners, though Crasnick adds that all were not necessarily looking at Lee in particular. The return start for Lee did not go well for the veteran lefty, as he surrendered 12 base hits (11 singles and one long ball) and six earned runs to go with three strikeouts and a walk over 5 2/3 innings.
Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:
- The Phillies are telling clubs that starter Cole Hamels is not available, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Hamels looks to be the best trade piece on the club’s current MLB roster, but Philadelphia may well prefer to keep the 30-year-old as it attempts to avoid a total rebuild.
- The Yankees appear on Lee’s twenty-team no-trade list, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lee also listed New York on last year’s version of his slate of clubs to which he can decline to be dealt.
- For the Braves, the trade deadline is likely to bring aid to the bullpen and bench, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A left-handed reliever has long been on the club’s list, and Bowman says that the club might also look to add a bench bat that would improve the team’s anemic pinch-hitting results. As Bowman notes, Jordan Schafer and Ryan Doumit have both largely been ineffective in that role.
- The Rays now seem more likely than ever to take the decision whether to deal David Price right up until the trade deadline, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “I think they take it down to the wire,” an executive told Sherman. “That allows them to make sure they know who they are while making a couple teams sweat to the end that one of their competitors are going to get him. … It wouldn’t surprise me if Price actually ends up a July 31 decision.”
- Meanwhile, the Orioles are looking at a broad array of options to bolster their club, reports MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli. In particular, the club is looking at both starting and relief arms, and has indicated to at least three clubs that righty Miguel Gonzalez could be moved. One of those teams is the Padres, who of course hold one of the better available starters in Ian Kennedy. A.J. Burnett of the Phillies is also on Baltimore’s radar, as is Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, though Ghiroli says that Colorado was asking for top prospect Kevin Gausman to be included. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that executive vice president Dan Duquette remains hesitant to part with the club’s best prospects, and could ultimately take things down to the wire to get the right deal. (That, of course, was the strategy that Baltimore employed in this year’s free agent market, though last year the club started buying somewhat early at the deadline.)
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Here are some recent minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- Two minor league signings were posted today by the Athletics, as the club landed righty Tim Alderson and outfielder Zeke DeVoss, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Alderson, a 25-year-old former first-rounder and top-100 prospect, has seen his career stall. He has struggled to a 6.12 ERA in 50 relief innings this year for the Orioles’ top affiliate. DeVoss, just 24 years old, was a third-round pick in 2011 but failed to progress this year for the Cubs.
- The Angels have outrighted infielder Ian Stewart to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. He was designated for assignment two days ago. It is not yet clear whether Stewart has accepted the assignment. (He has the right to choose free agency because he has previously been outrighted.)
- The Brewers shifted right-hander Jim Henderson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day, the club announced via Twitter. Henderson’s 40-man roster spot will be filled by righty Jeremy Jeffress, who contract was selected by the Brewers in a corresponding move.
- The Giants signed righty Mitchell Boggs, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Boggs had a 9.50 ERA, 18 strikeouts and 17 walks over 36 relief innings for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate this season before being released earlier this month. A reliable contributor for the Cardinals’ bullpen from 2010-12, Boggs developed major control issues last season, and the Giants are now his fourth organization in a little over a year’s time.
- The Royals released right-hander Ramon Troncoso, the club announced last week. Troncoso signed a minor league contract with K.C. in March and produced a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and an even 3.0 K/BB rate over 44 IP with Triple-A Omaha. Troncoso pitched 30 relief innings for the White Sox in 2013, his first taste of big league action since 2011.
- The Phillies released utilityman Rusty Ryal, according to Matt Provence, media relations director for Triple-A LeHigh Valley (Twitter link). Ryal, 31, appeared in 134 games with the Diamondbacks from 2009-10 and hasn’t been back to the majors since, playing in the minors for five different organizations since. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies in June.
Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons appeared on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show (audio link) to discuss a host of Red Sox topics earlier today, and in doing so he touched on quite a few Red Sox issues, as well as some issues pertaining to other teams around the AL. Here are some highlights from the interview, and readers can check out full quotes from Gammons in the transcription provided by WEEI’s Ryan Conor…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is torn as to whether or not he should buy or sell at this year’s trade deadline. He’s had scouts looking at top prospects around the league, but the upcoming road trip will do a lot to determine their course of action. Gammons notes that he may even have to consider dealing Jon Lester if the team truly isn’t going to work out a new deal with him.
- The Rays’ recent surge in the standings has them holding off on selling pieces, Mariners sources told Gammons. Seattle thought they were closing in on a deal for Ben Zobrist, but they’ve since been told that the Rays plan to wait until the final 48 hours prior to the deadline before determining a course of action.
- One GM who contacted the Red Sox about Koji Uehara told Gammons that Cherington seems disinclined to even discuss the possibility of trading his closer. The Sox want to bring Uehara back in 2015 and have him close.
- Uehara hasn’t even been generating the most interest, Gammons hears. That distinction goes to Andrew Miller, who has “by far” been the subject of the most inquiries in Boston’s bullpen.
- Gammons hears that Lester told teammates that he’d have signed in Spring Training if the team had offered even one dollar more than Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105MM contract. The Red Sox maintain that their four-year, $70MM offer was merely a starting point, not a final offer, as they didn’t want to start at $110MM and end up in “Max Scherzer” territory (referring to the six-year, $144MM which Scherzer rejected).
- That Scherzer offer, however, may be what Lester ultimately secures as a free agent, Gammons said. Two general managers have told Gammons that they expect Lester to sign for at least that much on the open market. “There’s a lot of money out there,” said one GM.
- Gammons can see the Sox pursuing James Shields on the free agent market, but he notes that it’s more important for the team to cast a wide net rather than have just one contingency plan for Lester. He lists Cole Hamels as another alternative, though he points out how difficult it would be to acquire Hamels, as Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would need to hit a home run on the deal after failing to acquire useful pieces from the Cliff Lee-to-Seattle deal and some other missteps.
- Gammons feels that Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Rubby De La Rosa and Henry Owens are probably all untouchable in trades at this point.
The Royals‘ recent slide has dropped them below the .500 mark and, with so many teams ahead of them in the playoff race, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron believes K.C. should cut its losses and trade James Shields. There seems to be little chance Shields will re-sign with Kansas City this winter, so the Royals could get more prospect value by dealing him now than they would by getting a single compensation pick if and when he left in the offseason, Cameron opines.
Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…
- Dayton Moore doesn’t seem to be in sell mode, nor does he necessarily seem to be close on any trades as per comments made to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi. “I’m not going to give up on our team….We need the group of players we have to produce. We believe they will,” the Royals GM said (Twitter links).
- The Royals had a scout watching the Rangers/Blue Jays series over the weekend, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News believes the right-handed hitting outfielder-needy Royals could’ve been there to watch Alex Rios. Of course, Rios suffered a sprained ankle during the first inning of Saturday’s game and hasn’t played since. The sprain isn’t believed to be too serious, yet even a minor injury can’t help Rios’ trade value.
- The Twins will attend Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for scouts on July 26, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link). There is “no sense yet of real interest” from Minnesota, according to Wolfson, and the decision will ultimately come down to how high the bidding gets for the Cuban outfielder’s services.
- Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn’t expect the Indians to be major players at the trade deadline, either as buyers or sellers. The Indians are still in the hunt for both the AL Central lead and a wild card spot so they won’t be selling any notable players, but “it would be a shock if they added any high-priced talent.”
The Indians need steadier performances from their starting pitchers, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have pitched well, but beyond that, the Indians’ rotation is in question. Help might be on the way from the minors — T.J. House and Danny Salazar are set to return to the team this week, with House (who last pitched in the big leagues just ten days ago) pitching for the Indians on Monday and Salazar Tuesday. Also, Justin Masterson is currently in the midst of a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus. Indians GM Chris Antonetti said last week that he believed in the team’s starting pitching and would be unlikely to trade for more unless it represented an obvious upgrade. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- The Royals have interest in Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. It’s not clear, however, whether the Royals will be buyers at this point — their recent slide has left them at 48-49, seven games back in the AL Central and four games out of the last Wild Card spot.
- The Blue Jays are interested in outfielder Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Morosi tweets. Denorfia has not hit well this season (.243/.293/.327 in 244 plate appearances), but he’s hit very well against lefties in his career. Like Padres teammate Chase Headley (in whom the Blue Jays have also shown interest), Denorfia is a free agent after the season.
The Rangers believe they can be competitive in 2015 and therefore won’t be trading players like Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Even with a number of talented young infielders in their system, they don’t want to trade Andrus, who is an important figure in their clubhouse. They will, however, consider dealing Joakim Soria and Alex Rios. The Tigers have shown interest in Soria, and the Mariners, Blue Jays, Giants or Royals could all be fits for Rios. Reliever Neal Cotts could also fetch a nice return for Texas. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Cubs, White Sox, Braves and Giants all have interest in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Sanchez notes that Castillo has received comparisons to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kenny Lofton. All teams throughout MLB are likely to be represented at Castillo’s showcase next week.
- The Tigers have asked about the availability of reliever Brad Ziegler, but the Diamondbacks are likely to keep him, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi. Ziegler has pitched well this year and is under contract for $5MM in 2015, with a reasonable option on his services the following year.
- Billy Butler believes the Royals should pick up the $12.5MM 2015 option on his contract, but if they don’t want to, he’s willing to renegotiate so he can stay in Kansas City, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. “My numbers throughout my contract suggest they should (pick it up),” says Butler. “Maybe not the way I’ve necessarily played this year, but that’s the reason you play a full 162 games. … That’s the reason why you have a track record.” Butler has struggled this year, with a .272/.324/.354 line in 383 plate appearances that’s well below his career norms.
- The Padres’ trade of Street shows about what they’ll expect in return for Joaquin Benoit, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Since most teams would not want Benoit to be their closer, though, the price would have to be somewhat lower than it was for Street.
- The Pirates and Royals both scouted starting pitcher Ian Kennedy last night, Rosenthal tweets. The Pirates are looking for starters and relievers, Rosenthal notes.
- The Blue Jays are part of an “ongoing dialogue” regarding Chase Headley, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Morosi tweets. The Jays have shown interest in Headley in the past.
- The Padres are likely to trade outfielder Chris Denorfia, Morosi tweets. Denorfia, like Headley, is a free agent this coming offseason, so it makes sense that the Padres could have interest in trading them both.
- In case you missed it from the Yankees notes post, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reports that the Padres are not likely to trade Andrew Cashner, who was terrific this season before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Cashner is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.