Kyle Lohse Rumors
The NL Central has morphed into one of the game's toughest divisions, with three teams ticketed for October baseball in the form of the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates. Here are some notes on the division's non-playoff teams...
- Kyle Lohse picked up a $350K bonus tonight for reaching the 190-inning mark, tweets Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Lohse signed a three-year, $33MM contract in Spring Training and has delivered nearly 200 innings of a mid-3.00 ERA for the Brewers.
- Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes that the Cubs' 2014 rotation is beginning to take shape, and Jake Arrieta has cemented a spot for himself among the team's core of starting pitchers with his solid performance after coming over from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade. Manager Dale Sveum told Rogers the only uncertainty in the rotation, in his mind, circles around the No. 5 spot. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson will join Arrieta in the rotation next season.
- Speaking of Sveum, David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune opines that the right thing for Cubs president Theo Epstein to do is bring his manager back for the 2014 season (subscription required). Firing Sveum with one year left on his contract would send the wrong message, writes Haugh. He's been given little Major League talent to work with and has done nothing to embarrass the organization.
For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the postseason. The Buccos and Reds each clinched playoff spots tonight, though it remains to be seen if those two clubs will face each other in the Wild Card game, or if one of them can catch the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis all won on Monday, so the Cards retained their two-game lead.
Here's the latest from both the NL and AL Central divisions...
- Bruce Chen loves pitching for the Royals and wants to re-sign the team this winter, the veteran southpaw tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Chen said that he hasn't yet sat down with agent Scott Boras to determine his market and that the Royals "haven’t talked to me" about a new contract, but Chen said he hopes to pitch for at least another four or five seasons. The 36-year-old has a 3.13 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.30 K/BB ratio in 109 1/3 IP this season, making 13 starts and 19 appearances out of the bullpen. Dutton shared some more Royals items earlier today.
- Paul Konerko won't decide on his playing future until after the season, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine. Konerko has been toying with the idea of retirement all season, though he has reportedly told friends he intends to play in 2014.
- Norichika Aoki earned a $250K bonus upon making his 140th start of the season tonight, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. This ups Aoki's salary to $1.5MM for the season, and he can earn $0.5875MM for playing in one more game this year. The Brewers have already gotten a huge bargain from Aoki's original two-year, $2.5MM contract and they hold a $1.5MM team option on the outfielder for 2014.
- In other Brewers contract news from McCalvy, right-hander Kyle Lohse will earn a $350K bonus on Wednesday when he retires his first batter and reaches the 190-inning mark for the season.
- John Axford is "open to discussing something with the Cardinals" about a new contract this offseason but for now is just looking forward to the postseason, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Axford has posted a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 IP since joining the Cards three weeks ago but he could be a non-tender candidate due to his high arbitration number. Axford is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and will earn a raise on his $5MM salary, plus he has two more arb years remaining after that as a Super Two player.
The NL Central features a pair of matchups this afternoon each at a different end of the spectrum. The division-leading Cardinals are hosting the Pirates and lead Pittsburgh by one-half game while the Brewers and Cubs are at Wrigley Field battling to avoid the cellar. The Brewers sit in fourth place by only one game. In other news and notes from the NL Central:
- The first place Cardinals can thank their deep farm system (especially in terms of pitching reinforcements) for their place in the standings, but it has had a ripple effect throughout the entire system, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Bernie Miklasz, Goold's colleague at the Post-Dispatch, agrees the Cardinals' young talent has been a tremendous resource; but, with Allen Craig nursing a sprained foot, the club will turn to a grizzled playoff veteran: David Freese.
- The Brewers have a glaring hole at first base with seven different players starting there this season, but Juan Francisco's audition to win the job for 2014 hasn't gone well, opines Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Since a two-home run, four-RBI game against the Rangers on August 14, Francisco has slumped with only seven hits in 44 at bats (.159), two RBIs, and 23 strikeouts.
- In an recent online chat, Rosiak explained trading either Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse this offseason wouldn't make sense because it would create more holes in a rotation which already doesn't have enough proven arms.
- Within that same chat, Rosiak can envision the Brewers cutting ties with Rickie Weeks citing the recent examples of Bill Hall, Jeff Suppan, and Randy Wolf. Rosiak notes those three cases occurred in the final year of their contracts, which is what Weeks is entering in 2014.
- Right-hander Daniel Bard, claimed on waivers by the Cubs last Wednesday, threw his second bullpen session today, but there is still no timetable for him to see any game action, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "It’d be nice to see but it’s his timetable and we’ll evaluate and we’ll find out how he’s doing and how he’s feeling," said manager Dale Sveum. Bard is eligible for arbitration this winter.
- Earlier today, the Cubs designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment to create roster space for right-hander Scott Baker, who is making his first MLB appearance in two years.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports released his latest Full Count video today. Let's take a look:
- Discussing the Phillies' ongoing negotiations with Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Rosenthal notes that that delays of this kind typically develop after a team finds a problem with a player's physical. If there is cause for concern, the Phillies could incorporate protective language into the contract or sign Gonzalez to a smaller deal than the six-year, $48MM pact that was reported last month.
- Recent Red Sox acquisition Jake Peavy told Rosenthal that he was prepared to move money around in his contract to facilitate a trade from the White Sox to the Cardinals, or any other team that asked him to do so. However, the Cardinals never made an offer for Peavy.
- Rival executives suggest to Rosenthal that the Nationals' waiver claim of David DeJesus may have been a mistake. The quality of prospect that the Nats obtain from the Rays for DeJesus could hint at the impetus behind the deal, Rosenthal says.
- The Braves were the team that claimed Kyle Lohse after the Brewers placed him on waivers earlier this month, and hoped to use him as a replacement for the injured Tim Hudson. However, the Brewers opted not to try to work out a deal. They may attempt to move him in the offseason, however, as the two years and $22MM remaining on his deal could be attractive in the weak free agent market.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Kyle Lohse was claimed on trade waivers but pulled back by the Brewers after Milwaukee deemed that there wasn't a potential match for a trade (Twitter link). Lohse will not be traded now, as the Brewers would lose the right to pull him back if they tried to pass him through a second time.
The 34-year-old Lohse has a 3.23 ERA with 5.8 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate in 139 1/3 innings for the Brewers in 2013. He signed a three-year, $33MM contract with Milwaukee late in Spring Training and is owed $11MM in 2014 and again in 2015. That salary seems more than a fair price to pay for Lohse, whose 2013 numbers are nearly identical to his overall numbers since the onset of the 2011 campaign (3.14 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 in 538 2/3 innings). As such, he's likely to have more trade value to the Brewers this offseason when they can negotiate with any team in the Majors.
News that Lohse was on revocable waivers broke yesterday at the same time it was learned that Dan Haren had also been placed on waivers. So far, only three players have reportedly cleared waivers: Michael Young, Jimmy Rollins and Adam Dunn.
Here is Thursday's rundown of names that have been placed on revocable trade waivers...
- Kyle Lohse: The Brewers placed Lohse on waivers yesterday, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The claiming period for him ends tomorrow. The 34-year-old Lohse is enjoying another fine campaign in his first season with Milwaukee. He's pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 5.8 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate in 139 1/3 innings on the season. Lohse is owed $11MM in each of the next two seasons and is earning $11MM this season as well. However, $7MM of that total is deferred to 2016-18, so he's technically only owed $1.136MM of this year's $4MM guarantee. Lohse's cost isn't exorbitant, but an additional $22MM for his age-35 and age-36 seasons may give some teams pause.
- Dan Haren: Knobler also tweets that the Nationals placed Haren on waivers today. Washington was clearly expecting more when they signed Haren to a one-year, $13MM contract this offseason. The former ace has just a 5.14 ERA, though he's posted a strong 8.0 K/9 rate with his usual elite command (1.7 BB/9). Haren has been bitten by the homer bug, allowing an NL-leading 21 bombs this season. Haren's past five starts have showed promise, though. He's sporting a 2.40 ERA in that time with 32 strikeouts against eight walks in 30 innings. Most importantly, he's surrendered just two homers in that time. He's owed just under $3.7MM for the remainder of the year.
3:12pm: Gallardo left today's start early due to an injury, limping off the mound. The Brewers described the injury as left hamstring tightness.
11:09am: "We're not going to move him," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in regard to affordable right fielder Norichika Aoki. Melvin noted that most of the players being traded are in their contract years; Aoki has a $1.5MM club option for 2014.
Melvin also told Haudricout he's not motivated to move Kyle Lohse, nor is he engaged in trade talks about today's starter, Yovani Gallardo. Melvin isn't in active talks for any of his relievers, either, including Mike Gonzalez. "Teams have to make offers," said Melvin who did acknowledge having one offer on the table for a pitcher, which he does not expect to lead to a deal.
After a look at the AL East earlier this morning, let's turn our attention out west ...
- While the Athletics are looking to buttress their 4-game division lead by buying at the deadline, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that the club is finding supply to be limited. "Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year," says GM Billy Beane. Second base and starting pitching are the needs atop Oakland's wish list, team sources tell Hickey. In spite of the rotation's solid performance to date, Hickey says a trade could allow the team to utilize Brett Anderson in a bullpen role when he returns from injury. Citing Beane's apparent willingness to take on some relatively significant salary obligations, Hickey lists Jake Peavy (White Sox), Edinson Volquez (Padres), Bud Norris (Astros), and Kyle Lohse (Brewers) as potential targets.
- After adding starter Matt Garza, the Rangers are looking at dealing for an outfielder, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Currently, says Heyman, Alex Rios of the White Sox is the most likely candidate for Texas. Heyman further notes, however, that the club could look to wait out the market in the hopes that players like Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, or the Giants' Hunter Pence become available, with Pence being the most likely among those to change hands. Texas has also considered Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Marlon Byrd of the Mets, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, though Heyman notes that those options would rank below Rios in terms of impact.
- The Astros' Mark Appel is the highest-rated player from the recent amateur draft on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's updated Top 100 prospects list. As Mayo explains in his overview of the changes to the list, the top overall choice leads a group of eight recently-drafted players to crack the top 100. Houston is tied with the Red Sox with the most total players to make Mayo's list, with eight apiece. In terms of a simple weighting metric that Mayo calls "Prospect Points," the 'Stros have the most overall prospect value in baseball in high-end prospects, followed closely by the Twins. Though the Astros passed on top overall prospect Byron Buxton in last year's draft, its strategy enabled it to land the players currently checking in at number nine (Carlos Correa) and number sixty-five (Lance McCullers) instead.
3:02pm: Clubs that have spoken with the Braves get the sense that they won't trade for a starter, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Braves are adamant in their stance on not trading top prospects and are more focused on the bullpen. Stark adds that the Braves also aren't "roaring down the Bud Norris trail," as he lacks the big game experience that the Braves prefer when acquiring a pitcher.
FRIDAY, 12:15pm: The Braves are more focused on front-line starting pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana than they are on Norris, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Peavy's 118-pitch outing yesterday, which was scouted by the Braves, helped to quell some of the hesitation surrounding his health, Bowman adds. The Braves aren't interested in Yovani Gallardo, according to Bowman, but they may contact the Brewers regarding Kyle Lohse's availability.
Norris, 28, has a 3.93 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 126 1/3 innings for the Astros this season. He carries a significant platoon split, as lefties have rocked him at a .306/.365/.494 clip. Despite his struggles against lefties, Norris has drawn interest from multiple teams, including the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants and Dodgers throughout the summer.
2:37pm: In the wake of Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury last night, the Braves will consider making a trade to upgrade their rotation, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journa-Constitution. O'Brien was among the reporters who spoke with general manager Frank Wren today, who told the media:
“A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind since last night. It’s created a lot more (trade) discussions, there’s no question.”
It wasn't long ago that the Braves looked to have an enviable surplus of starting pitching with Hudson, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen in the rotation and a returning Brandon Beachy on the horizon. However, the team has seen Maholm and Medlen struggle tremendously lately, and Maholm is slated to miss his next three starts with a sprained left wrist. The Braves feel that Beachy is ready to return, and rookie Alex Wood presents another option, but he didn't escape the fifth inning today. Wood lasted just three frames in his only other start for the Braves this season.
Wren and his top assistants will convene over the weekend to discuss their options, O'Brien writes. That group will try to determine if there's a starting option on the market who can improve the team significantly without costing too much in terms of young talent. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wren, like most general managers, is waiting to see if the asking prices on available starters drops as the deadline nears. O'Brien adds that the Braves are not in the mix for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Earlier today it was reported that the Braves will be one of the many teams scouting Jake Peavy's start against the Tigers in Chicago. The team also remains in the market for a left-handed reliever to fortify its bullpen after losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery.
The Cubs continued their trajectory as baseball's most active team on the trade front this morning when they officially traded Alfonso Soriano and $17.7MM to the Yankees in exchange for right-hander Corey Black. The deal saves the Cubs roughly $6.8MM and brings a power arm that was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft into their system. Here's more on Soriano and the rest of the NL Central...
- Soriano told Gordon Wittenymyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes another team would've beaten the eight-year, $136MM contract he signed with the Cubs back in 2006. At least one team told Soriano's agent to give them a chance to beat any offer, but Soriano decided that he wanted the opportunity to join the storied history of the Cubs and bring a championship to Chicago.
- While Brewers GM Doug Melvin recently turned away an inquiry on Kyle Lohse, another Brewers-connected person implied to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that Lohse could be had for the right package of prospects.
- Within that same piece, one GM provided a long list of reasons that Yovani Gallardo isn't drawing interest. Gallardo's velocity is down, he's owed $15MM through 2014 and he also comes with off-the-field baggage in the form of a DUI arrest earlier this season.
- The Pirates announced today that Jason Grilli has a flexor strain in his right arm. He is not a candidate for surgery, which is good news for the Bucs, but he will still miss four to eight weeks. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Pirates become more active in the bullpen trade market.
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon that he has had a lot of conversations but nothing substantial. The Reds would like to add a right-handed bat but feel they can wait until Ryan Ludwick returns from the disabled list. They have a similar stance on waiting for Johnny Cueto, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.