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Which Rule 5 Picks Are Still With Their New Teams?

There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…

  • Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season.  As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
  • Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
  • Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
  • Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
  • J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
  • Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
  • Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
  • Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
  • Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call.
  • Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
  • Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
  • David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015.
  • Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.

AL West Notes: Angels, Astros, L.J. Hoes, Athletics

As the Angels continue to hover around the .500 mark, internal tensions have arisen, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It appears that the particular issue that has led to some discord involves the respective roles of the front office and field staff regarding the use of data in on-field decisionmaking. Of course, GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia have had some well-publicized differences of opinion in the past, and Rosenthal suggests that there are signs of a new rift.

Here’s more from the AL West:

  • The Astros have a variety of difficult 40-man decisions upcoming, as they did last year when they ultimately left Delino DeShields Jr. unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes (in a piece we cited yesterday regarding the club’s pitching needs). That could seemingly drive a deal or two this summer or in the future. GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledges the roster pressure, but rejects the idea that he’ll move valuable assets solely for that reason. “Yeah, I mean, you could argue that we have a lot of guys to protect, and we’re going to leave some unprotected, so why not turn that into something we can use right now? It’s a fair argument,” Luhnow said. “At the same time, we’re looking for the best 25 players, and we never know if that’s going to come from those guys that need to be added to the 40-man (roster) down the road or now. You have to balance the short term and the long term. We’re certainly going to be open to trading players. Whether they’re already on the 40-man or have to be added to the 40-man this offseason to ease the logjam a little bit, we wouldn’t trade someone just to ease it.”
  • Per Drellich, one Astros 40-man occupant who could conceivably be dealt is L.J. Hoes, who is currently playing at Triple-A. The Orioles have some interest in Hoes — who they shipped to Houston as part of the Bud Norris deal a while back — as well as Alex Presley, who is not on the 40-man. Likewise, the Angels are “thought” to be giving some consideration to Hoes, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 25-year-old Hoes has slashed an excellent .335/.417/.466 over 255 plate appearances at Fresno this year, with eleven stolen bases and three long balls.
  • Athletics GM Billy Beane is still considering his trade deadline options, as Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com reports. Oakland had been on a nice run before being swept by the Royals over the weekend. “Time will tell, it’s an important time period,” said Beane. “Despite having played better in the last couple weeks, we’re still in quite a hole. Any definitive direction would be decided by how we do moving forward.” If the club does ultimately pull the trigger on a sell-off, Beane suggested that he may be inclined to seek younger assets to bolster the club’s prospect pool. “At some point, if we consider going another direction,” he said, “we’re probably best served to take a [look at] depth and rebuild our farm system. That’s the currency for us. We fully expected [the farm system] i not to be at its peak because we’ve traded a lot of players.”

Angels Looking To Trade For Hitting

The Angels are in the market for a big bat and have inquired about several players with other teams, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter link).  The best fit, as Morosi notes, would be a left-handed hitter with a good OBP and who has the ability to play left field or designated hitter.

The Halos entered today’s action with unimpressive rankings in most of the major offensive categories, runs scored (22nd), on-base percentage (23rd) and OPS (23rd).  The Angels have a cumulative wRC+ of 95, meaning that despite monster seasons from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the club is still creating five percent fewer runs than the league average.  Aside from Trout and Pujols, David Freese‘s modest 102 wRC+ represents the only other above-average wRC+ for any Angels regular.

Left-handed bats such as Ben Revere and Adam Lind have been linked to Anaheim in trade rumors already.  Lind would certainly fit as a DH/1B who punishes right-handed pitching, while Revere is hitting .293/.330/.383 over 306 PA for the Phillies and brings some speed and left field defensive value.  The Angels may be offering pitching in the form of C.J. Wilson or some of their second-tier pitching prospects.



Today’s Outrights: Erik Kratz, Edgar Ibarra

Here are the latest outright assignments, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Red Sox have outrighted catcher Erik Kratz to Triple-A, according to the MLB.com official transactions page.  The move concludes a busy week for Kratz, as he was claimed off waivers from the Royals last Sunday and then designated for assignment on Thursday.  Kratz has only appeared in four games this season (all with Kansas City), as he has spent time on the DL and also generally had a hard time getting into games given Salvador Perez‘s heavy workload behind the plate.
  • The Angels outrighted left-hander Edgar Ibarra off their 40-man roster, club director of communications Eric Kay tweets.  The southpaw was already pitching at Triple-A after being optioned back to Salt Lake earlier this month.  After ten minor league seasons, the 26-year-old Ibarra finally made his Major League debut, allowing a run in four relief innings for the Angels over two games.  Ibarra has posted a 4.20 ERA, 2.07 K/BB rate and 8.0 K/9 over 686 1/3 career minor league innings.

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Pitching Market Notes: Wilson, Bucs, Yankees, Dodgers

The starting pitching market is beginning to take shape around the league. Let’s have a look at the latest reports:

  • As the Angels try to remain patient with their lack of production from many lineup spots, they remain in the market for bats and “have dangled” starter C.J. Wilson, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos would also consider moving prospect arms, per the report, though the team is not interested in parting with the best of the bunch: Andrew Heaney, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis. Wilson, who is playing on a $18MM salary this year and is owed $20MM for next season, has worked to a 3.92 ERA with 7.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 96 1/3 innings.
  • The Pirates are looking at both the Red Sox and Phillies as they consider adding a starter, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Pittsburgh is also interested in a first base upgrade, per the report. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported recently on the Bucs’ interest in Clay Buchholz, though he noted that it seems unlikely that Boston will deal away the righty with two reasonably-priced option years still left on his deal. Philadelphia is sending a scout to take a look at the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, says Biertempful, who suggests that Aaron Harang could conceivably make sense to add rotation depth.
  • At least as of yesterday afternoon, the Yankees “were not on [Cole] Hamels,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Nevertheless, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, New York could ultimately feel it necessary to add a high-quality arm. Sherman ticks through some options, noting that there is “nothing active ongoing with the Reds” and suggesting that Jeff Samardzija could be a prime target if the Yankees decide to pursue a starter.
  • The Dodgers had a top scout (Galen Carr, per Sherman) on hand to watch Hamels pitch at Yankee Stadium yesterday, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported. That outing likely did not do much to commend the lefty, but obviously the club will be looking at a much broader body of work in assessing whether to move on Hamels.

Rays Acquire Marc Krauss From Angels

The Rays have acquired first baseman/outfielder Marc Krauss from the Angels in exchange for righty Kyle Winkler, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). Krauss will head straight to the active roster, with utilityman Nick Franklin being optioned to clear roster space.

The left-handed-hitting Krauss was designated and outrighted by the Angels earlier in the year. He was off to a rough .143/.211/.286 start over 38 plate appearances at that time. Krauss came to the Halos over the offseason in a waiver claim from the Astros.

Krauss has always hit well in the upper minors, and that has been no different this year. Over 195 trips to the plate, he owns a .289/.415/.453 slash with four long balls.

The former second-round pick has split his big league time between first and the corner outfield, but has mostly played on the grass in the minors. He has seen action in parts of three seasons in the majors, taking 392 plate appearances and posting a cumulative .603 OPS.

Winkler, 25, has not yet advanced out of the minors. He has mostly pitched in a relief capacity as a professional. This year, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, Winkler owns a 1.46 ERA over 12 1/3 frames with 10.9 K/9 against just 0.7 BB/9, though the bulk of the positive numbers came at the lower of those levels.


NL Notes: Turner, Dodgers, Axford, Phillies

Cubs righty Jacob Turner has been shut down after his elbow “flared up,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). Turner had made two promising rehab starts at Double-A, and was looking like a possible rotation or pen option in the near term for Chicago. The club claimed the former top prospect off waivers last year from the Marlins and exercised his $1MM option for 2015.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Despite their recent offensive woes, the Dodgers see the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters, including Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Friedman says he sees reason to believe that the club’s run production will get back on track, and also likes that the organization has several relievers advancing back from injuries. The rotation, though, looks somewhat thin at the back end. While the team may still get some innings out of Brandon Beachy, who is working back through a rehab stint, it is currently relying on Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias, both of whom have struggled to continue their surprisingly excellent work from earlier in the year.
  • Rockies righty John Axford has put up strong results for the club, and Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes that he could either become a useful trade piece or be looked at as an asset to be retained. Axford comes with one more year of control via arbitration, effectively providing the club an option year, though he’ll figure to be in line for a nice raise on his $2.6MM salary this year as he continues to rack up saves. Groke notes the possibility of an extension, and club GM Jeff Bridich says that “moving ahead with Axford for future seasons is something we would at least consider.” From my perspective, the smarter play would be to see what Axford will fetch on the trade market and tender him a contract if a strong offer can’t be found. He has been quite good, even if peripherals don’t quite support his 1.31 ERA, with a career-best 60.7% groundball rate that is surely particularly attractive to the club. But extending a reliever is always risky business, particularly when the name in question is 32 years old and has a track record of inconsistent results.
  • When he formally joins the Phillies, reported new executive Andy MacPhail could spend some time evaluating the baseball operations department before deciding whether to make any changes or additions to the front office, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. One possibility, per a source, would be for MacPhail to try to bring on Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak in some capacity. The young executive got his start with the Orioles when MacPhail was in charge there. Klentak was a guest on the MLBTR Podcast’s third episode, back in October.

AL West Notes: Beltre, Hamels, Astros’ Draft, Skaggs

In a surprising decision, the Rangers have activated Adrian Beltre from the disabled list and reinserted him into the cleanup spot, the team announced. Beltre has been on the DL since June 2 with a thumb injury, and as recently as last Thursday, he told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that he was not even capable of swinging a bat. It would seem unreasonable to expect that Beltre is 100 percent, and Sullivan even tweeted that he’s in “total shock” to see Beltre come off the DL so soon. Asked by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) about managing expectations for Beltre upon his return, GM Jon Daniels replied by saying, “He’s a freak. Freaky players do freaky things.” Righty Jon Edwards was optioned to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for Beltre, and top prospect Joey Gallo has shifted from third base to left field to accommodate Beltre’s return.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Earlier this morning, Grant examined some of the obstacles that stand between the Rangers and a potential Hamels trade. For one, he notes, both Chi Chi Gonzalez and Gallo have been so impressive in their big league debuts that they’re likely more untouchable than they were as prospects. (I’ll interject to point out that Gonzalez’s 10-to-12 K/BB ratio is worth at least some concern, though it’s an admittedly small sample.) Beyond that, Hamels’ salary would be difficult to take on without significantly bumping payroll, and candidates with notable salaries that could theoretically be moved to offset the $23.5MM annual sum are currently injured (e.g. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison). Grant also points to the need for a right-handed bat and bullpen reinforcements. The eventual return of Holland, Harrison and Martin Perez may give the Rangers’ rotation the boost it needs, Grant speculates, but there are no such looming upgrades for the ‘pen or lineup.
  • Daniels told Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he expects to be a buyer next month and spoke about the inconsistency he’s had in his bullpen. “Everyone in that bullpen has done it for periods in the big leagues, but we are inconsistent there,” Daniels told Engel. “There are good arms with plus-stuff, and when they are on, they are good. But that is an area we have been inconsistent.”
  • The Astros are getting closer to finalizing agreements with No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman and No. 37 overall pick Daz Cameron, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Nothing will be announced in the next day or two, but GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he’s hopeful of having a pair of signings to announce during the upcoming homestand, which begins on Thursday. As Drellich notes, Cameron’s signing figures to be the final one, as he will sign well over slot.
  • Though the Angels said from the get-go that Tyler Skaggs wouldn’t pitch in 2015 following Tommy John surgery last August, the left-hander tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he thinks he can help the team this year. Skaggs said he’d be happy to pitch out of the bullpen if there’s no room in the rotation, though clearly whether or not he throws for the big league club in 2015 is not his decision to make. Fletcher writes that it might be more likely that Skaggs will pitch in the instructional league, if he pitches at all this year.

Cubs Canvassing Market For Starting Pitching

The Cubs’ need for starting pitching is well known, but it remains somewhat unclear how much flexibility the team has in addressing it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Chicago would optimally add a controllable-but-established arm, per the report.

Of course, cost-controlled starting pitching is among the game’s most sought-after commodities, so they won’t be alone in that search. The club appears to be looking at a broad range of options as the trade deadline comes into focus, as a source tells Wittenmyer that Chicago has cast a wide net.

The Cubs have reached out to a number of clubs, among them the Mets and Angels, in search of a match. Interestingly, per the report, one prospective swap was disrupted when young infielder Javier Baez suffered a broken finger a few weeks back.

Pursuing an upgrade certainly seems a reasonable strategy. With Tsuyoshi Wada down for an unknown amount of time after leaving his last start early, the team can turn back to Travis Wood, though that duo has been underwhelming. Jacob Turner is working his way back to health and could soon be available, but he has much to prove at this stage of his career.

It remains conceivable that the Cubs could look to acquire a serviceable, short-term veteran to add innings, but the possibility of a more significant addition remains tantalizing. While Baez appears to be on the table, at least if he can get back on the field in time, Wittenmyer says that the club does not appear inclined to move its blue chip assets to strike a deal.

Adding impact pitching without parting with top prospects is obviously a tall order, though we have increasingly seen teams utilize their wallets to facilitate deals. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein indicated that the team’s overall financial situation has not changed significantly, with the club’s current budget already determined by “anticipating some of the new revenue streams, new revenues and expenses as well.” Of course — and this is my speculation — Chicago may have more capacity to take on future obligations.