Kendrys Morales Rumors
11:10pm: The Rangers are not currently pursuing De Aza, Morosi tweets.
7:17pm: The Rangers have also set their sights on Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, and Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales to fill a need for a right-handed bat, baseball sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. Unlike Rios, Pence and Morales are only signed through the remainder of this season. It's also worth noting that while the White Sox are sure to be sellers, that's not the case with San Francisco or Seattle.
4:01pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Rangers are also interested in Alejandro De Aza. The 29-year-old De Aza is hitting .275/.332/.437 with 12 homers and 11 steals. He is controlled through the 2015 season and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason after earning $2.08MM in 2013.
Since the Garza trade, reports have indicated that the Rangers are in the market to add another hitter (Todd Wills of ESPNDallas.com reporting). Rios is of particular interest to the Rangers because of their fear that Nelson Cruz could receive a suspension similar to the one Ryan Braun received on Monday. Rios would also provide GM Jon Daniels with a solution to right field in 2014, should Cruz sign elsewhere as a free agent.
Rios, 32, is batting .278/.333/.442 with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases on the season to go along with solid defense in right field. He's capable of playing center in a pinch (he hasn't played there regularly since 2011) and is earning $12.5MM in both 2013 and 2014. His contract also contains a club option for $13.5MM with a $1MM buyout. He's also drawn interest from the Red Sox and the Pirates, among other teams.
While the Mariners recently looked to be clear sellers in this year's trade market, the team's recent eight-game winning streak and offensive explosion looks to have changed their position. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that teams who have checked in on the Mariners have been told they're not sellers at this time (Twitter link).
No team has scored more runs than the Mariners this month, which is an encouraging sign for a team whose rotation is fronted by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. The Mariners have a number of veterans on one year deals, including Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse, Joe Saunders, Oliver Perez, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay, many of whom were frequently mentioned as trade candidates.
Heyman tweets that in particular, there's little belief that Seattle would move Morales, as they plan on extending a qualifying offer to him at season's end. He's been terrific for the M's since coming over from the division rival Angels this offseason, hitting .282/.341/.466 with 15 homers.
Recently, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times noted that general manager Jack Zduriencik wasn't planning on being aggressive at the trade deadline because the franchise needed to show some progress to fans and couldn't afford another 90-loss season. Obviously, that's doubly true for Zduriencik himself, as his job has been rumored to be in jeopardy. At the time that piece was written, Stone thought Perez would certainly be moved, and added that the Mariners could make small trades of Brendan Ryan and Endy Chavez. It appears now that the Mariners, who are 8.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, will hold steady.
The Giants have lost left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt for four-to-six weeks after a MRI revealed a moderate strain of muscle and tendon in his left groin, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Jose Mijares will absorb most of Affeldt's innings, but CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly writes the Giants could, if history is any guide, look to acquire another lefty reliever. Baggarly notes it was nearly three years ago to the day Affeldt injured his oblique and GM Brian Sabean acquired Javier Lopez, an under-the-radar move which paid dividends as the Giants won the World Series. In other news and notes from MLB's West divisions:
- While Affeldt's injury may change the calculus slightly, Baggarly, within that same article, sees the Giants continuing their quest for starting pitching. Manager Bruce Bochy loves Jake Peavy, but the two teams have not discussed a deal and the Giants don’t have the quantity or quality of trade chips to get a seat at the table, according to Baggarly.
- Ex-Giants closer Brian Wilson is expected to begin showcasing his arm for teams within the next few weeks and the Giants have asked Wilson's representative to include them in the process, reports Schulman. Wilson underwent his second Tommy John surgery 15 month ago.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti doesn't expect to make any franchise-altering deals prior to the Trade Deadline, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. "I don't know that that player is out there," Colletti said. "When I call around teams, there's not a lot of names of position players being discussed. I'm not sure if there's a market out there on the sell side."
- Earlier today, we learned the Dodgers are prepared to offer Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez something in the neighborhood of $50MM over five years. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, however, tweets sources have told him the Dodgers' interest in the Cuban right-hander is not as fervent as has been portrayed.
- Manager Eric Wedge doesn't think the fourth-place Mariners, winners of six straight, will be active at the Trade Deadline, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. "Unless it's something that raises the bar, I don't think we're going to do anything," said Wedge. "We're not going to move somebody just to move somebody." The Mariners have several veterans on one-year deals, who could be appealing to contenders, including left-handed reliever Oliver Perez, left-handed starter Joe Saunders, outfielder Raul Ibanez, first baseman Kendrys Morales, and shortstop Brendan Ryan.
- Two years ago, the Dodgers had agreed to deals with both the Tigers and Red Sox for Hiroki Kuroda, but the right-hander invoked his no-trade clause to veto each trade. Through his interpreter, Kuroda provided FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal his rationale for refusing to join a team in the playoff hunt: if you only play for a team in August and September, it is not as meaningful as being with a club from Spring Training until the end of the season.
Over the weekend, the Astros locked up second baseman Jose Altuve to a low-risk four-year, $12.5MM extension that carries a pair of club options at $6MM and $6.5MM. All told, Altuve can be controlled through the 2019 season if the Astros choose, and those six years would cost a total of $25MM. Here's more out of the AL West...
- In light of Altuve's extension, Brian T. Smith and Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle note that a position change is a possibility for top prospect Delino DeShields Jr., whose path to the Majors as a second baseman is now blocked. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft, DeShields is hitting .290/.388/.399 with 30 steals in 71 games this season at high Class A. Last season, he swiped 101 bases in 135 games. General manager Jeff Luhnow said for the time being, DeShields would finish the season as a second baseman.
- The Rays are believed to have checked in on Mariners bats such as Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in the most recent edition of his Stock Watch column. He speculates that the Yankees and Rangers would also make sense as potential trade partners for Seattle.
- From that same piece, Heyman adds that Joe Saunders is likely more available than either Morales or Ibanez. After a brutal start to the season, Saunders has a 2.37 ERA over his past nine starts. The Mariners are currently deciding when to begin a sale, says Heyman.
Here's a look at the latest news from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..
- Mariners reliever Oliver Perez has drawn interest from the Orioles, Braves, and other clubs, according to Heyman. Perez has reinvented himself as a bullpen arm in the last two years with the Mariners, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 across 63 innings in Seattle. Competing execs note that Perez is more cost-efficient in terms of prospects and cash than a guy like Matt Thornton. The veteran would cost another team the prorated portion of his $1.5MM for the rest of the year.
- Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez could also bring a strong return to General Manager Jack Zduriencik & Co and the Rays are among the clubs that have inquired on their hitters. However, parting with them would cause them to go into a free fall and also adversely affect the top prospects on the big league roster. For his part, Jack Z isn't anxious to move anyone. "We'll see how this week goes. I'm not going to be the aggressor,'' the GM told Heyman earlier this week. "I'm not shopping anyone.''
- Seattle people have been wondering if the Yankees might call about Morales thanks to their rash of injuries. The Rangers could also come calling.
- A Mariners person said they've gotten calls on injured center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, but his injury history hurts his value. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has drawn interest and the Red Sox have had interest in the past, but Zduriencik is said to be hesitant to trade him since he's under control for a few more years. Brendan Ryan, who is no longer the starting shortstop, could also be of interest to someone as a defensive specialist in the infield.
- Opinions are mixed, but one rival executive tells Heyman that Phil Hughes could fetch quite a bit in a trade. Another rival exec quipped that the Bombers might trade Joba Chamberlain for a pine-tar rag. We learned earlier today that the Yankees are aggressively pushing both pitchers.
Baseball America released its updated rankings of the sport's top 50 prospects, headlined by Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. For Baseball America subscribers, BA's J.J. Cooper also has lists of 10 prospects who missed the top 50 but are still having breakthrough seasons, preseason top-100 prospects who missed the new list, how the thirty preseason top-100 prospects who have already made the Major Leagues are faring and also a look at five organizations who have made strides and five who have struggled.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- The Red Sox still have interest in Michael Young, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets, but "serious names have not been discussed" between the Sox and Phillies in trade negotiations.
- The Cubs have reportedly explored extending Matt Garza's contract but CSN Chicago's David Kaplan doesn't believe it and neither does an American League executive. "Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] know that they have a great asset. They will not cave on what they want in return," said the AL exec. "They will play this thing out until they get what they want. He's too valuable to not trade. When you are in a rebuild you need to move assets to fuel the plan. Garza should help to do that. I'd be stunned if he is a Cub Aug. 1." (Twitter links here)
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty confirmed that he had spoken to Jeff Francoeur's agents at CSE, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter). "He's talking to other clubs as well. [I'm] not sure it's a fit," Jocketty said. Francoeur is known to have drawn interest from at least two other teams since he was released by the Royals. Francoeur could be a right-handed hitting stopgap for Cincinnati until Ryan Ludwick returns from the DL in August.
- Also from Fay, he thinks the strong recent performance of the Reds' bullpen should shift the team's trade deadline focus to hitting instead of relief pitching. Fay opines that the Reds should look to acquire Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, who I'd guess would be too expensive for the Reds' liking (owed roughly $9.35MM through 2014) and is on the DL until August following knee surgery.
- The Mariners have a number of trade chips on the roster but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times feels the team's toughest decisions will concern Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales. On paper the 41-year-old Ibanez is an obvious candidate to be dealt, though Ibanez's popularity on and off the field in Seattle will make the M's consult him before any possible deal. I examined the case for Morales as a trade candidate back in April.
- Every Major League transaction is a complicated process, and they get even more complex when they have to be made quickly. MLB.com's Corey Brock outlines how the Padres had to move fast to replace the injured Yasmani Grandal, which led to a shakeup of catchers at all levels of the organization and a lot of roster juggling that eventually led to Rene Rivera being called up from Triple-A Tucson to Washington for the next day's game.
The Astros are 5-16 against the Athletics, Mariners and Rangers this season, but are 7-3 against the Angels following their four-game sweep of the Halos in Anaheim. After last night's defeat, Angels manager Mike Scioscia held a closed-door team meeting and told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that "it seems like these four games, a switch flipped off" for his club. "A series like this certainly can bring the frustration back into the team. We can't let that happen," Scioscia said.
Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Angels are likely to be buyers or inactive at the trade deadline, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines. Gonzalez would "be shocked" to see the Halos start selling significant talent at the deadline since he doesn't believe they would give up on the 2014 season as well, plus, "the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton contracts don’t really let you go into rebuild mode."
- The Mariners have no need to pursue an extension with Kendrys Morales now since they'll have leverage on him in free agency this winter, Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog writes. If the M's make Morales a qualifying offer after the season, Cameron thinks Morales' market will be very thin since no team was willing to sacrifice a first-round pick as compensation for such a limited player; Adam LaRoche's free agency from last offseason is cited as a comparable. I profiled Morales as a possible trade candidate back in April, but he is hitting well enough (.299/.364/.491 entering today's play) that Seattle may see him as a long-term answer in their lineup if he keeps it up for the rest of the season.
- Many Mariners fans are calling for manager Eric Wedge and/or GM Jack Zduriencik to be fired, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times argues that club president Chuck Armstrong or CEO Howard Lincoln could be ultimately responsible for the Mariners' struggles. "Under the Armstrong/Lincoln regime, this organization has pretty much been run into the ground over the past decade — except for their ability to turn a profit, which the M’s have done almost every season, good, bad, or worse," Stone writes.
- Jeff Baker tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that the Rangers and Yankees the "main two" suitors for his services last offseason, though "a lot of teams knocked on the door." Baker signed with Texas in January, before the Yankees' need for corner infield help became so dire.
- Cavan Biggio is projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second of Thursday's draft but his famous father isn't putting any pressure on the Astros to pick his son with the 40th overall selection. "I just didn't want the organization to feel they had to take my son because he's my son. I didn't want my son to feel the Astros took him because he's my son," Craig Biggio tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire. "I stayed away from it, and Jeff [Luhnow] and I have an excellent relationship. We haven't discussed it all, but he knows my feelings where I'm at." The elder Biggio works as a special assistant to Astros GM Luhnow.
After the Mariners moved in the fences at Safeco Field and acquired several veteran bats in the offseason, it has to be disheartening for the team and their fans that the M's are again struggling at the plate. The Mariners are near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, carrying an overall team slash line of .233/.296/.371 heading into Friday's action.
The offensive slump can't be blamed on at least one of those newcomers. Kendrys Morales hit .253/.354/.422 with three homers though his first 96 PA, roughly on pace with the .787 OPS he posted with the Angels in 2012 though this season Morales has hit for less power and reached base more often. He's been one of the bright spots in the Seattle lineup but if the M's can't pull themselves together, Morales could be expendable come the July trade deadline.
Morales was acquired by the Mariners in December in a one-for-one swap with the Angels that sent Jason Vargas to Anaheim. It was a logical move for both teams as the Angels needed space at DH and the Mariners had an excess of starting pitching given the number of young arms in their system. Morales was a short-term investment for the M's since he is only under contract through this season, earning $5.25MM in his last year of arbitration eligibility. That's a very good price for a solid bat, and if Morales is a deadline pickup, a trade suitor would owe the switch-hitter just $1.75MM over the last two months of the season.
Here are some of the teams that could be a trade fit with the Mariners...
* Rockies. While Morales has played some first base since his return from the leg injury that cost him almost the entirety of the 2010-11 seasons, he is best suited for a DH role. An NL team might not want to risk playing Morales in the field every day, but if the surprising Rockies stay in the NL West race, they could acquire Morales and only use him against right-handed starters. Colorado has the right-handed hitting Jordan Pacheco to use against southpaws as Morales only has a career .714 OPS against lefty pitching. Todd Helton (currently on the DL) is also still in the mix at first for the Rockies but the club can't expect much from their former franchise player given his recent injury history.
* Giants. Brandon Belt's struggles have left the Giants thin at first base, but I see Morales as very much a longshot fit for their needs.
* Tigers. If Victor Martinez still hasn't returned to form by midseason, Detroit might look to improve their designated hitter spot. Scott Boras, Morales' agent, could be a factor in such a trade given his good relationship with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.
* Rays. Tampa Bay is another offensively-challenged team that has Wil Myers waiting in the wings for a call-up to play right field and Luke Scott on a minor league rehab assignment. Morales would be an upgrade over Scott at DH and, since Morales' remaining salary would be in the $1.75MM range, he'd fit into the Rays' limited payroll.
* Orioles. Nolan Reimold has been getting the majority of the DH at-bats with Wilson Betemit out until June. The O's could be in the market for an upgrade but it's doubtful given that a healthy Betemit hits right-handers well enough to make Morales redundant.
It could be argued that the Mariners should not only keep Morales but also pursue an extension with him, given that the 29-year-old is one of the team's few productive bats. Scott Boras clients, however, generally go to free agency and you wonder if Morales would want to remain at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field over the long term. Besides, the M's could always deal Morales at the deadline and then pursue him again as a free agent in the offseason. Trading Morales in June or July would net the Mariners a decent prospect or two as they may already be looking to reload for 2014.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports Images
Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements -- those worth less than $4MM -- right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.
Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB...
- The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM). Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
- The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter). Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
- The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
- Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
- The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
- The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
- The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
- The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
- The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
- The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter). Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
- The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
- The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter.
- The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
- The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
- The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.
- The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).
Two AL West rivals have agreed to exchange prominent players in a deal that will address major needs for both clubs. The Mariners and Angels have agreed to a trade that will send Kendrys Morales to Seattle for left-hander Jason Vargas, the Mariners announced.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto had been hoping to obtain an innings eater for Morales, and that's precisely what he's getting in Vargas. The 29-year-old has completed at least 192 innings in each of the past three seasons. He pitched 217 1/3 innings this past season, posting a 3.85 ERA with 5.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 40.2% ground ball rate. He joins a rotation that will include Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson. Garrett Richards now projects as the team's sixth starter.
Vargas will go to arbitration for the third and final time this offseason and remains on track to hit free agency one year from now. MLBTR projects a 2013 salary of $7.4MM for Vargas, a CAA Sports client.
Vargas, a fly ball pitcher like Weaver, will have a fleet-footed outfield of Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton covering lots of ground behind him. Mark Trumbo now projects as the Angels' designated hitter. Though Bourjos and Trumbo also surfaced in trade rumors after the Angels signed Hamilton, it now seems likely that they'll stay put.
Morales, who is also one year away from free agency, projects to earn $4.8MM in 2013. He'll add some offense to a Mariners lineup that finished last in the American League in runs scored in 2012. The 29-year-old posted a .273/.320/.467 batting line with 22 home runs and 26 doubles in 522 plate appearances for the Angels this past season after missing the entire 2011 campaign with a leg injury.
The addition of Morales could cost Justin Smoak playing time, assuming the Mariners find a way to get Jesus Montero into the starting lineup most days. The Mariners' rotation will include Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan and, potentially, promising young arms such as Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen. It's possible GM Jack Zduriencik will add a veteran arm, MLB.com's Greg Johns suggests (on Twitter).
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com first reported the trade (on Twitter). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.