- Righty Kris Medlen hopes to return to the Royals in 2017, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports on Twitter. The former standout hurler struggled badly in limited action this year, and hasn’t pitched since May owing to shoulder issues. That makes it an easy decision for the team to pay him a $1MM buyout rather than picking up his $10MM option, but something else could be worked out if Kansas City sees cause for optimism. “I feel like I’m not done yet with this team,” said Medlen. “I feel like I owe them something.”
5:42pm: Minnesota actually already sat down with Picollo, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. The meeting occurred when the Royals were in town, and took place with the blessing of K.C. GM Dayton Moore.
2:13pm: The Twins intend to interview Royals vice president/assistant general manager J.J. Picollo in their search for a new president of baseball operations, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Picollo has been mentioned in speculation prior to this point, but this appears to be the first definitive link between the two sides. It’s unknown if the Twins have received permission to conduct the interview just yet, but Heyman calls it a “given” that permission will be granted. Indeed, the Royals have given Picollo permission to pursue previous GM openings, most recently with the Phillies — an opening for which he was a reported finalist before Philadelphia’s hiring of Matt Klentak last offseason.
Picollo joined the Royals back in 2006 as the team’s director of player development and has steadily risen through the ranks in the Kansas City organization. He also spent seven years in the Braves’ player development ranks, rising from area scouting supervisor to assistant director of player development to director of minor league operations. General manager Dayton Moore, unsurprisingly, would not comment to Heyman on the possibility of one of his top lieutenants interviewing for the Twins’ vacancy, with Moore instead simply stating that Picollo is a “tremendous leader” and a “big part of our success.” The George Mason University grad, who was drafted three times and had a brief career in the Yankees’ minor league ranks in the early 90s, has long been heralded as a candidate to run his own baseball operations department someday.
Picollo joins Cubs senior vice president of player development Jason McLeod among known candidates for the Twins’ top baseball ops position. Last night, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Twins have already begun conducting interviews and have shown an inclination for an analytically inclined leader, though they’re not ruling out the possibility of hiring someone with a more traditional scouting background. The Twins are also reportedly interested in Cubs assistant GM Shiraz Rehman and Cubs pro scouting director Jared Porter.
The Giants aggressively pursued Royals closer Wade Davis in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Davis’ name came up in many pre-deadline rumors, but the chances of the Royals parting with him evaporated when the right-hander landed on the disabled list with a flexor strain July 31.
Acquiring Davis undoubtedly would have been costly for San Francisco, though there’s no word on whether any of its trade chips intrigued Kansas City enough to make a deal possible. To cite one report, the Royals were seeking premier pitching prospect Lucas Giolito from the Nationals in return for the lights-out reliever.
A healthy Davis likely would have helped the Giants’ playoff odds – which have been shrinking throughout the season’s second half – more than deadline pickup Will Smith has. In dealing pitching prospect Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac to Milwaukee, the Giants paid a hefty price for Smith, who has since yielded six earned runs on 11 hits in 9 2/3 innings. However, the left-hander has impressed with 12 strikeouts against four walks and hasn’t allowed a run in the seven innings he has amassed since Aug. 18.
The Giants’ team-wide woes began well before the deadline. Since going 57-33 prior to the All-Star break, the club has recorded a dreadful 18-32 mark. At 75-65, the Giants are now in second place by four games in the National League West, a division they once led comfortably, and hold a tenuous grip on a wild-card spot. It hasn’t helped matters that San Francisco’s bullpen has been without its best option, Derek Law, since late August because of an elbow strain. Law should return next week, and it’s possible he’ll emerge as the Giants’ closer down the stretch. Santiago Casilla held that role until manager Bruce Bochy took it away from him Friday.
Looking ahead to the offseason, the Giants and Royals could once again resume talks centering on Davis, who returned from the DL on Sept. 2. Kansas City would have to be willing to listen, of course, and the reigning World Series champions could eschew moving him in favor of taking another run at a championship in 2017. The Royals are unlikely to make the playoffs this year and will face questions on whether to shop Davis, among several other veterans on soon-to-expire contracts, in the offseason. Davis has a $10.5MM club option for next season, the final year of his deal.
- Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain was back in the lineup this evening after sitting out several contests due to a sprained hand, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). It “doesn’t feel good” to swing, said Cain, who nevertheless managed to reach three times on a hit and two walks. Per skipper Ned Yost, the club will keep running Cain out so long as he can tolerate playing, with hopes that his glove, legs, and savvy at the plate will make up for any limitations with the bat. Asked by MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter link) whether he had caused any further damage by playing with the injury, Cain offered a somewhat resigned response: “It’s already torn. So I don’t know if it made it worse, unless I get another MRI.”
The Royals have designated outfielder Reymond Fuentes and righty Nick Tepesch for assignment, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star tweets. Their 40-man spots will go to outfielder Daniel Nava and hurler Kevin McCarthy, whose contracts were selected. Infielder Christian Colon was also recalled to the majors.
Fuentes, 25, has seen action in 13 major league games this year, reaching base at a useful .364 clip but delivering only one extra-base hit. Over his 272 plate appearances this year at Triple-A, he’s slashing just .254/.325/.317, though he has swiped 17 bags in that span.
As for Tepesch, this represents yet another trip through DFA limbo this year. He has also been with the Rangers, Dodgers, and Athletics this season, working almost exclusively at the highest level of the minors. All said, Tepesch has compiled a 3.96 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 116 innings at Triple-A this year after missing all of 2015 due to injury (he ultimately underwent thoracic outlet surgery).
K.C. recently acquired Nava from the Angels. He is expected to function mostly as a bench bat to face right-handed pitching. Though he’s a switch-hitter, Nava has historically fared rather poorly against southpaws.
Meanwhile, McCarthy will get his first taste of the majors. The 24-year-old, a 16th-round pick in the 2013 draft, posted a 3.04 ERA in his 68 innings of upper-minors pitching this year, with 7.8 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.
- For now, “the most logical scenario” between the Royals and Edinson Volquez is that the club will issue Volquez a qualifying offer that the righty will decline in search of a multi-year contract elsewhere, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star writes as part of a reader mailbag piece. It may seem odd that the Royals would risk issuing a one-year, $16.7MM deal to a 33-year-old with a 5.02 ERA through 166 2/3 innings, though the starting pitching market is so thin that Volquez may indeed be able to find a longer-term commitment. If Volquez leaves, Dodd figures K.C. will pursue inexpensive free agent starters, or possibly look for a higher-caliber arm by trading one of its core roster players.
- The Royals are planning to activate All-Star closer Wade Davis from the disabled list on Friday, writes Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Davis might’ve been activated prior to Wednesday’s contest, he notes, but a rainout at Triple-A earlier this week delayed his final rehab appearance and, thus, his return to the active roster. Davis has been out since July 31 due to a forearm strain, and the Royals’ fortunes have certainly changed since that injury. At the time of Davis’ placement on the disabled list, he was an oft-rumored trade candidate for a Royals team that had fallen quite a ways out of contention in the American League Central and in the AL Wild Card hunt. However, despite lacking one of the game’s best relievers for more than a month, Kansas City has gone 20-8 since Davis was placed on the disabled list. They’re now 6.5 games back in the division and just three games out of the second Wild Card spot in the AL.
- While Davis is returning, the Royals will lose right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to the disabled list, Dodd notes within that same piece. Wang is being placed on the 15-day DL due to tendinitis in his right biceps. While Wang’s numbers don’t stand out (4.22 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9), he’s yielded just two runs in his past 11 innings while working in a multi-inning role. Kansas City is hopeful that he’ll be able to return in the minimum 15 days, though expanded September rosters give Kansas City the luxury of taking things a bit slowly with his recovery.
The first three two and a half weeks of August yielded only a few minor trades, featuring pickups by the Mariners (Arquimedes Caminero and Pat Venditte), a swap of veteran infielders (Erick Aybar and Mike Aviles) and the Marlins adding some left-handed depth to their ’pen (Hunter Cervenka). Since that time, several names have changed hands, though, including Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Ellis, Dioner Navarro, Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Nava, Marc Rzepczynski and Erick Aybar. A trade sending veteran outfielder Coco Crisp to the Indians should be announced on Wednesday as well.
Before diving into the names, a few items bear repeating. The majority of Major League players will be placed on trade waivers this month, with most instances going unreported. There are undoubtedly players (quite a few of them, most likely) who have already cleared waivers but have not been reported to have done so. Players can be traded into September, as well, but only those traded on or before Aug. 31 will be eligible for the postseason with their new teams, so there’s some urgency for contending clubs to complete deals by month’s end. And, of course, for those who aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of waiver trades, MLBTR published a full explanation of how August trades work earlier this month. Onto the known names…
- Ryan Braun (link): Although Braun has slashed an excellent .315/.377/.551 with 24 homers and 14 steals through 454 plate appearances this season, his pricey contract enabled him to slip through waivers. Braun, 32, is owed $76MM through 2021, and any team acquiring him would likely need Milwaukee to pick up a sizable chunk of his contract, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. That doesn’t seem to bode well for the possibility of a trade this month.
- Ervin Santana (link): Santana, 33, is due $13.5MM per year through 2018, which makes him a fairly expensive investment, but he’s in the midst of another fine season. The righty has been among the few bright spots for the last-place Twins, having recorded a 3.54 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.38 BB/9 in 147 1/3 innings. Given that he cleared waivers, the Twins might have to eat some of Santana’s contract if they wish to move him for a decent return. However, Minnesota reportedly needed to be “overwhelmed” to deal Santana in July, and it’s doubtful their bullish opinion of him has changed since then.
- Ryan Howard (link): It seems as if any possibility of a Howard trade has gone out the window with his time with the Phillies drawing to an increasingly pleasant end. But he does still deliver more pure power than most hitters — albeit almost exclusively against righties — with 19 long balls in less than half a season worth of plate appearances.
- Matt Wieters (link): Not only is Wieters expensive ($15.8MM salary this year), but he’s also underperforming both offensively and defensively. Thus, with fellow backstops Kurt Suzuki and Brian McCann having already cleared waivers, it’s no surprise that Wieters did, too. Regardless of his struggles, Wieters is the starting catcher for a playoff contender with no better in-house option in place, making a trade involving the impending free agent all the more unlikely.
- Scott Kazmir (link): Kazmir is owed $16MM in each of the next two seasons, but he has the ability to opt out of his deal after this year. Kazmir’s run prevention (4.41 ERA) has been a letdown in 132 2/3 innings this season, although he has recorded an outstanding K/9 (9.02) to go with a 3.32 BB/9 and a superb 15.2 percent infield fly rate. The positives weren’t enough for anyone to claim Kazmir, though, and it’s doubtful the injury-riddled Dodgers will move out a healthy starter in the middle of a playoff race.
- James Shields (link): The right-hander was previously a high-end option that every team would’ve loved to slot into its rotation. At 34, he’s now pitching like a DFA candidate. The White Sox, who acquired Shields from the Padres earlier this year, owe him $10MM per season through 2018. Thanks largely to a plummeting strikeout rate and a propensity for allowing HRs, Shields has run up a 7.62 ERA in 69 2/3 innings with Chicago. Overall, he has a 5.98 ERA in 137 frames this year. While Shields is on track for a 10th straight 30-start season, there’s no point in trading for someone who isn’t at least keeping his team in games every fifth day.
- Nick Markakis (link): The negatives seem to outweigh the positives with Markakis, who’s on a $10.5MM salary through 2018 and doesn’t bring the offensive value to the table that he used to. Since leaving Baltimore for Atlanta last year, the right fielder has hit .285/.360/.384 with a mere 12 HRs in 1,200-plus plate trips. The average and on-base percentage are clearly pluses. Fact is, though, a corner outfielder who has little power, doesn’t grade well defensively and isn’t all that cheap isn’t too appealing.
- Mitch Moreland (link): Moreland is amid his third straight 20-homer season and isn’t overly expensive ($5.7MM salary) in the last year of his contract, so it wouldn’t have been shocking had someone claimed him. Instead, the lifetime .251/.316/.481 hitter got through waivers and looks likely to remain with World Series-contending Texas for the rest of the season.
- Matt Kemp (link): Once an MVP-level player, the 31-year-old Kemp has fallen off thanks to defensive issues and a decline at the plate. As a roughly league-average hitter on a $21.5MM salary through 2019, he was fully expected to go unclaimed had the Braves placed him on waivers. They did, and that’s exactly what happened. Atlanta’s on the hook for $18MM per year of Kemp’s money for the duration of his contract. The Padres, his previous team, make up the difference. For any deal to happen, the Braves would likely have to eat a hefty portion of that cash.
- Joakim Soria (link): The 32-year-old Soria has become increasingly homer prone and displaying some concerning control issues in 2016, so it’s not surprising that no team risked claiming the remaining $19.72MM that he is owed through the completion of the 2018 season. Soria’s 92.8 mph average fastball is actually a career-high, and his strikeouts and ground-ball rate both remain sound, so perhaps he could be moved if Kansas City were to eat some of the remainder on that deal.
- Eric O’Flaherty (link): Once a powerhouse out of the Braves’ bullpen, O’Flaherty’s second stint with Atlanta hasn’t gone nearly as well. He’s never fully regained his form after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, and his ERA in 2016 rested just shy of 7.00 when word of his clearing waivers broke. His $1.75MM salary wouldn’t be prohibitive were he pitching well, but even opposing lefties have roughed up O’Flaherty this season, and he’s been positively obliterated by right-handed opponents.
- Kurt Suzuki (link): The Twins’ catcher was reported to have cleared waivers just yesterday. Unlike a number of players that clear waivers in the month of August, Suzuki is relatively affordable, making it something of a surprise that no teams placed a claim on him. While he’s not regarded as a highly skilled defensive backstop, he’s hitting .281/.321/.431, which is quite a step up from the league-average catcher (.242/.311/.380). He doesn’t walk much, but he’s also very tough to strike out (12.9%), and he was owed just $1.54MM through season’s end when he reportedly cleared on Aug. 16.
- Brian McCann (link): It’s no surprise that McCann cleared waivers, as he’s owed a hefty $34MM beyond the 2016 campaign. McCann’s offensive production has wilted a bit in recent weeks, and while his .232/.333/.404 batting line and 15 homers are still solid marks for a catcher, it’s tough to imagine the Yankees moving him without absorbing a fair amount of the money that remains on his contract. Also standing in the way of a potential deal is the fact that teams looking for catching help beyond this year have a fair number of choices on the upcoming free agent market.
One final note: outfielder Jeff Francoeur (link) and catcher Carlos Ruiz (link) were both reported to have cleared waivers as well, but each has already been traded to a new team, with Francoeur going to the Marlins and Ruiz going to the Dodgers.
The Royals have acquired outfielder Daniel Nava from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash, the club announced. Nava will head to Triple-A Omaha.
Nava, 33, has spent the last month at the highest level of the minors after previously losing his roster spot with the Halos. He posted a meager .235/.309/.303 batting line over 136 plate appearances at the major league level, battling injuries along the way.
Things have pointed up since Nava reported to Triple-A, though, as Nava has compiled a .333/.390/.427 slash in 105 trips to the plate. That looks more like the peak 2013 big league numbers that Nava posted with the Red Sox.
While a return to his brief but plenty useful career-best campaign would be a lot to ask for, Kansas City is surely hopeful that Nava can provide a solid bench bat once rosters expand in a few days. The switch hitter has traditionally fared much better against right-handed pitching, so he’d most likely be utilized from the left side almost exclusively.
Wade Davis is making progress on his way back to the Royals, as he’s set for an inning of action at Triple-A, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. Kansas City has thrived without their 30-year-old closer, but that doesn’t mean his return doesn’t come with anticipation. The defending World Series champs have clawed their way back into the postseason picture — no surprise for this group — but still sits four games out of Wild Card position and need every advantage that can be found.
Here’s more from the American League:
- The Mariners optioned outfielder Nori Aoki to Triple-A tonight as part of a series of roster moves, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times was among those to tweet. While he has struggled for much of the year, Aoki has actually been quite useful at the plate in August with a .338/.392/.426 batting line for the month. But Seattle needed fresh arms, and so took advantage of the ability to remove the veteran from the active roster for the time being. He’ll surely be back shortly with rosters expanding in a few days.
- Orioles outfielder Adam Jones left tonight’s action with what the team is calling a hamstring strain. That could be a big problem for the O’s, who not only need Jones’s bat in the lineup but don’t have any ready replacements on their depth chart. But skipper Buck Showalter says that he doesn’t believe Jones will require a DL stint, as Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com tweets.
- Earlier today, the Orioles designated righty Logan Ondrusek off of their active roster. Unlike a typical DFA, the move simply puts the player on ice while he is passed through optional assignment waives. The procedural step was taken to enable the team to reinstate lefty T.J. McFarland from the DL.
- The Angels have hired a new amateur scouting, adding former Cardinals cross-checker Matt Swanson, as ESPN.com’s Keith Law reported on Twitter. Los Angeles has continued to experience change in the upper levels of its player intake and development departments, which is no surprise given that GM Billy Eppler only took the helm last October.
- Just like their AL West rivals, the Athletics are engaged in a complicated ballpark situation, though their’s may be trending away from their current digs at the O.Co Coliseum. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross recently provided a look at the latest on the search for a new site, with quiet majority owner John Fisher said to be looking closely at a spot in Oakland’s Howard Terminal that is the preferred spot of mayor Libby Schaaf.