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Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.
Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda may or may not fully blossom into a star, but his breakout year has at least forestalled any need for the club to go out and find a new first baseman, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Here’s more from the NL East:
- Both the Angels and Royals have considered attempting to deal for Mets righty Bartolo Colon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter links). At present, however, neither possible suitor is in strong pursuit, with dollars being a major deterrent and the sides not necessarily seeing eye to eye on a return.
- The Phillies will likely give Miguel Gonzalez a September call-up, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gonzalez has thrived recently in the upper minors in a relief role, but that transition away from the rotation means that Philadelphia will need to act quickly to reap any value from the 28-year-old’s three-year, $12MM pact.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton says that he is still not certain that he wants to commit to a long-term deal with Miami, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. While the club now features a fairly interesting, younger roster with some future promise, Stanton noted that “five months doesn’t change five years.”
- The Braves have shut down reliever Jonny Venters after he came up with a sore elbow when he tried to increase his velocity, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. The southpaw, who had been attempting to return from his second Tommy John procedure, earned $1.625MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility (the same figure as his first) after missing all of 2013. A non-tender certainly appears to be a reasonably likely scenario after the year.
Alex Gordon says he plans to exercise his $13.25MM player option with the Royals for 2016, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. Gordon is in the midst of a four-year, $37.5MM deal that covered, or covers, the 2012 through 2015 seasons.
Assuming Gordon continues to produce next year, exercising the option would be a highly unusual decision. Declining the option would allow Gordon to become a free agent after 2015, and he’ll head into the 2016 season as a 32-year-old. If he exercises the option, he could leave lots of money on the table. His numbers the last four seasons (he’s hitting .282/.357/.446 this year while providing plenty of defensive value in the outfield, resulting in 5.6 fWAR so far) indicate that he’s worth far more than $13.25MM.
Exercising the option would also cause Gordon to hit free agency at an older age, reducing his potential for a lucrative long-term deal. McCullough writes that Gordon compares favorably to Hunter Pence, who received a $90MM deal from the Giants, and reports that executives throughout the game feel Gordon should be able to get five years and $75MM-$90MM if he declined the option and hit the market after the 2015 season.
Gordon is represented by Casey Close, who did not comment on Gordon’s option. “Casey’s not the boss of me,” says Gordon. “I’m sure he’ll have things to say and whatnot. But when it comes down to it, it’s my decision.”
GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers don’t expect to be able to find improvements from outside the organization to improve their offense down the stretch, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. “[T]he reality, is I don’t know where you’re going to find a bat to help your lineup. Runs are tough right now. It’s hard to find hitters right now.” Trades in August are difficult to complete due to waiver rules, and it doesn’t sound like the Tigers will be making any. Dombrowski also confirmed that Andy Dirks‘ hamstring injury will keep him out the rest of the season. Here’s more from around baseball.
- The Royals feel they need a pinch-runner, so outfielder Terrance Gore is likely to be promoted to the big leagues once rosters expand in September, even though he’s not on their 40-man roster, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. The 23-year-old is hitting just .225/.292/.262 in 305 plate appearances this year, most of them spent with Class A+ Wilmington. He does, however, have 44 stolen bases and has only been caught seven times.
- Top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris is another potential callup, MLB.com’s Jamie Ross writes. “You could see him. No guarantees, but you might,” says Jays manager John Gibbons. The 21-year-old has zoomed through three levels this year, most recently striking out a ridiculous 32 batters in 16 2/3 innings with Triple-A Buffalo.
- Both the Nationals and Indians are happy so far with their deadline swap of Zach Walters and Asdrubal Cabrera, Bill Ladson and Daniel Popper of MLB.com report. Cabrera has played strong defense at second base in Washington, while Walters is off to a strong start in 35 plate appearances with Cleveland, hitting .212 with a .257 OBP, but with a terrific .576 slugging percentage even before homering tonight.
The Indians have announced that 1B/DH Nick Swisher will be out for the next eight to ten weeks after having surgery on both knees. That would suggest he’s out for the rest of the season. Swisher was in the midst of a disappointing season in the second year of his $56MM deal with Cleveland, hitting .208/.278/.331 in 401 plate appearances. Here’s more from the AL Central.
- GM Rick Hahn says the White Sox haven’t yet decided whether they’ll promote 2014 third overall draft pick Carlos Rodon once rosters expand in September, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. If they do promote him, they could use him as a starter. The White Sox recently promoted Rodon to Triple-A Charlotte after pitching well in four appearances for Class A+ Winston-Salem.
- We still can’t get a clear read on the 2013 James Shields / Wil Myers trade between the Royals and the Rays because some of the secondary players involved haven’t yet reached their potential, Rob Neyer of FOX Sports writes. For example, the Rays received minor league infielder Patrick Leonard in the deal, and he’s currently hitting .293/.372/.470 in 476 plate appearances for Class A+ Charlotte (the Charlotte team based in Florida, not the Triple-A team mentioned above) as a 21-year-old. Also, 25-year-old Mike Montgomery, another Rays acquisition, has gradually improved at Triple-A.
Over the last three years, the Orioles have consistently walked away with more victories than models would predict (whether based on forecasts or observed game action), but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that random variation is still the most likely explanation. You’ll need to read the full piece, but in essence, Cameron says that the O’s outperforming streak is probably not attributable to some skill or special insight, but is rather an outlier that falls within the expectations of the models that predict win-loss record.
More from around the game:
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer indicated that the team is focused on building out its big league staff in the near term, as Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. “We know we have to have balance,” said Hoyer. “That’s going to be our main area of focus.” With several of Chicago’s touted young position players beginning to make an impact at the MLB level, many have suggested that the organization could become a big player on next year’s free agent market — especially to fill out a rotation that is now without Jeff Samardzija.
- Designated hitter Billy Butler reiterated recently that he is still hopeful of remaining with the Royals, Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City reports. In spite of a recent hot streak, his $12.5MM club option for 2015 seems a bit steep. “After the season, we’ll see what happens,” said Butler. “We’ll know five days after the World Series what will happen. But even if they decline, it doesn’t mean they won’t offer me something else. I hope that’s the case.”
- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg’s comments about Darin Ruf‘s playing time reveal a continued flaw in the organization’s decisionmaking, argues David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. “The situations he’s been in the last couple of years here, not being able to have a string of at-bats, it’s hard to really get a gauge still,” Sandberg said of Ruf. But while consistent playing time would appear to offer a means of evaluating the outfielder/first baseman, Sandberg said “that’s the tricky part about making lineups and also trying to win a game.” As Murphy opines, this line of thinking suggests that the organization is still focused primarily on winning meaningless games this year, rather than setting up the organization for future success.
While many clubs are averse to making trades within their own division, the Twins and Royals showed little hesitation to do so last night when Minnesota traded Josh Willingham to Kansas City in exchange for right-hander Jason Adam. The Twins, in fact, seemingly have little qualms about dealing to division rivals. Within the past five years, they’ve traded Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, Delmon Young to the Tigers and acquired Carl Pavano from the Indians. They also flipped Jim Thome back to Cleveland and Jamey Carroll to the Royals for players to be named later/cash considerations. Of course, most of these are fairly minor trades, but the Pavano trade and the Liriano trade have had lasting effects on the organization (Minnesota acquired Eduardo Escobar in the Liriano deal).
Here’s more on the most recent intra-division trade and the rest of the AL Central…
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and second baseman Brian Dozier about Willingham’s departure. Gardenhire said the move was tough for the clubhouse to swallow, while Dozier called Willingham his mentor and best friend. As Berardino points out, Willingham currently has the eighth-most games of any active player that has never made a postseason appearance. Berardino was also among the reporters on hand to speak with Willingham himself in the Twins’ clubhouse following the announcement of his trade (All video links).
- Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer began an excellent series by taking an in-depth examination of the Indians‘ analytics department and the contributions they make to the baseball operations department. Director of analytics Keith Woolner has been with the team since 2007 and has seen the Indians add two other analytics experts to his side based on the value they felt Woolner added. “There’s a lot of conversations out there, most of which never amount to anything,” Woolner said, “but you don’t know which ones are going to come to fruition, so you spend a lot of time evaluating a bunch of possibilities … so that when that one comes along, you have the information in place so that [GM Chris Antonetti] can make the best decision.”
- Justin Verlander tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that he had the “worst” stuff of his career in Monday night’s disastrous one-inning start. Verlander, who will undergo an MRI on his shoulder, said he’s nervous to learn the results, but his shoulder has been bothering him for a while of late. In a second piece, Iott looks at the sudden dearth of pitching for the Tigers, with Verlander ailing and Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria hitting the DL. Iott points out that Detroit, which already has two rookies in its rotation for the time being, will have a pair of double-headers later this month, which could cause them to dip even deeper into a shallow pool of talent. While Iott doesn’t write this, it’d be surprising to me if GM Dave Dombrowski wasn’t actively looking to acquire further bullpen and/or rotation depth.
7:08pm: Rodriguez has been placed on unconditional release waivers, tweets McCullough.
6:43pm: To clear a space for the just-acquired Josh Willingham, the Royals have removed Wilking Rodriguez from the 40-man roster, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. It is not yet clear precisely what transaction effected his removal, but presumably Rodriguez was designated for assignment.
The 24-year-old righty saw his first MLB action this year, throwing two scoreless innings of relief for Kansas City. After spending most of his time as a starter with the Rays organization, Rodriguez shifted to a pen role in the upper minors for the Royals after struggling with shoulder issues and joining the club as a minor league free agent. Over 26 2/3 frames at Double-A and Triple-A this year, he owns a 2.36 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9.
The Royals have acquired Josh Willingham from the Twins, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). The Twins will receive right-hander Jason Adam, per Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).
Willingham was claimed by Kansas City off revocable waivers, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The veteran outfielder is owed $1.836MM for the last 48 days of the season, Berardino further tweets.
The right-handed hitter, 35, is set to reach free agency following the season and will therefore be a pure rental for the Royals. He has posted a .210/.345/.402 slash with 12 home runs through 278 plate appearances on the season after spending time on the DL early on. His production has not matched up to his high-level numbers over 2006-12 (.847 OPS), but they are a step up over a disappointing 2013 campaign.
Willingham brings some much-needed pop to a Royals lineup that has struggled to score runs at times. He is expected to see many of his plate appearances out of the designated hitter spot, per a tweet from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, sharing time with the lefty-swinging Raul Ibanez. Of course, Willingham is also capable of playing the corner outfield, though he has historically been regarded as a well-below-average performer on the field.
The return for Willingham is not insignificant, which is a fair achievement for Minnesota given that the pending free agent was claimed (leaving the Twins without leverage to deal with multiple trade partners). Adam, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2010. He has scuffled somewhat in the upper minors as a starter (5.13 ERA in 242 1/3 Double-A innings), but has had some success at Triple-A this year in a relief role (2.35 ERA over 15 1/3 frames). Baseball America rated him Kansas City’s 9th-best prospect coming into the year, saying he has a solid heater and average slider but will need to develop a go-to third offering (change or curve) in order to succeed against lefties at the next level. MLB.com also rated him in the ninth slot among KC prospects entering the year, but dropped him to 16th in its mid-season update. Ultimately, Adam represents a controllable depth piece for a Minnesota club that already picked up young starter Tommy Milone earlier this summer.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Though Daniel Nava has yet to be placed on waivers, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, he’s already begun to draw trade interest from the Royals and Tigers as the AL Central frontrunners each search for a bat to add to their lineup (Twitter link).
The 31-year-old Nava is hitting just .248/.327/.310 this season, but he carries a significant platoon split and would likely see his overall numbers improve were he to face only right-handed pitching. Nava is a switch-hitter by trade, but his lifetime .207/.287/.300 batting line as a right-handed hitter is unimpressive, to say the least. However, he boasts a .289/.384/.422 triple-slash in his career as a left-handed hitter and is slashing .276/.360/.346 from that side of the dish in 2014. Beyond that, Defensive Runs Saved is a fan of his career work at both outfield corners. Ultimate Zone Rating doesn’t like his glove in left field but has been positive regarding his work as a right fielder.
The Royals could look at Nava as a upgrade (both offensively and defensively) over veteran Raul Ibanez, who has batted a paltry .193/.233/.386 in 60 plate appearances since returning to the team. While Nava’s struggles from the right side make it seem counterintuitive to suggest that he could form a platoon with Nori Aoki, Kansas City could make such an alignment work. Nava could receive the bulk of playing time against right-handed pitching because Aoki, despite being a lefty swinger, has much better career numbers versus southpaws. He’s hit lefties at a .337/.410/.404 clip in 2014 and a .311/.363/.396 clip since jumping from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues.
Detroit’s interest in Nava isn’t entirely surprising, given the fact that Andy Dirks sustained a setback in his rehab from back surgery last week (as reported by MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Dirks reportedly strained his left hamstring, and the Tigers aren’t sure when exactly he will be able to get back into games. As such, Nava presents a solid option against right-handed hitters with solid corner outfield defense — a skill-set not dissimilar to that of Dirks. He could pick up some of Torii Hunter‘s at-bats against right-handed pitching, as the veteran outfielder has seen his numbers against right-handers decline (along with his once highly regarded defense). Hunter is hitting just .257 with a .294 OBP against righties this year, though his .438 slugging percentage and 181 isolated power mark against them are both plenty respectable.
As it stands, the Royals would have first crack at Nava on waivers, as they’re a half-game behind the Tigers in what has become a surprisingly tight AL Central race. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Nava would make it to either club, as he would first need to go unclaimed by the Rangers, Astros, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, Rays, Indians, Yankees, Blue Jays and Mariners — in that order — to reach either AL Central contender. Nava will be arbitration eligible for just the first time this winter and is under control through the 2017 season, so it’s certainly possible that a different AL club would have interest in claiming him. The Indians, for example, who are just five and a half games back in the division, could claim Nava simply to block their rivals from acquiring him. There’d be little risk for Cleveland, given Nava’s modest $557K salary in 2014.