Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors

Los Angeles Angels trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

West Notes: Deadline, D’backs, Gibson, Stewart, Angels

Three clubs in the league’s western division may have the greatest trade deadline regrets, in the opinion of MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince (writing for Sports On Earth). The Athletics have seen their fortunes fade since dealing away Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester, though of course Lester has been outstanding. The Mariners‘ three key additions — Austin Jackson, Kendrys Morales, and Chris Denorfia — have generally failed to hit. And the Dodgers passed on a chance to add an impact starter.

  • Of course, it is eminently arguable that the Athletics‘ underperformance since the deadline is really not a reflection on Cespedes-Lester swap at all, as Tony Blengino of Fangraphs explains. The team has failed to score runs, to be sure, but that is due in large part to the production fall-offs from key first-half contributors like Brandon Moss, Derek Norris, and John Jaso (the latter, in large part, due to injury).
  • The one-year extensions signed before the season by Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and then-GM Kevin Towers contain rollover clauses that provide for automatic re-extensions if they are not dismissed by a certain date, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. (Such an anti-lame duck provision is also a feature of the Blue Jays’ contract with manager John Gibbons.) Player support for Gibson is “all but gone,” sources tell Rosenthal, but he could still be retained by chief baseball officer Tony La Russa.
  • Meanwhile, Rosenthal joins others in reporting that Dave Stewart is the leading candidate to take over as GM. Stewart says he is “very interested” in the position, and his hiring would make it likely that Towers stays on in a senior scouting role, according to Rosenthal.
  • Of course, the status of Stewart’s agency business (Sports Management Partners) would be up in the air if he takes the job. Rosenthal reports that some key clients such as Matt Kemp of the Dodgers have said they would stay on with SMP if the agency continues without Stewart.
  • The Angels‘ run to the AL West crown represents a remarkable turnaround for GM Jerry Dipoto, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. One year after most of his moves backfired, Dipoto has pulled off a series of largely successful trades and signings that helped fuel the team’s success. Most remarkably, perhaps, the team has received solid production from a variety of arms that have generally outperformed expectations.
  • Another remarkable turnaround in Halos land is the working relationship between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia, as Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register writes. Last August, it was even reported that things had deteriorated to the point that one or the other would have to go, though Scioscia shot down the suggestion at the time. Now, Dipoto credits Scioscia with doing an “unbelievable job” at making adjustments and acting on new information — as reflected in the team’s lineup construction and use of defensive shifts.

Outrighted: Ryan Wheeler, Blake Wood, Chris Dwyer

Here are the day’s minor moves …

  • The Angels have outrighted corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Wheeler, 26, was designated on Monday. He has a career .310/.354/.471 slash over three seasons at the Triple-A level, but has yet to find success in limited MLB action.
  • Royals pitchers Blake Wood and Chris Dwyer have cleared outright waivers and accepted their assignments to Triple-A, the club announced on Twitter. The 29-year-old Wood has seen action in parts of four MLB seasons, including 119 1/3 relief innings with the Royals over 2010-11, while Dwyer has enjoyed only a brief cup of coffee last year with K.C.

AL West Notes: Manager Searches, Aiken, Astros

A pair of AL West teams are without permanent managers at the moment, following the Astros‘ firing of Bo Porter and Ron Washington’s abrupt an unexpected resignation from his post with the Rangers. Some new candidates are emerging for the positions, as Mike DiGiovanna tweets that Angels bench coach Dino Ebel is a candidate to fill the void in Houston. Meanwhile, the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher tweets that Rangers first base coach and former big league catcher Bengie Molina is a candidate for both managerial openings. Molina would continue a growing trend of recent big league backstops becoming managers, following in the footsteps of Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Mike Redmond (Marlins) and Brad Ausmus (Tigers).

Here’s more out of the AL West…

  • Angels manager Mike Scioscia spoke highly of Ebel and Molina as future managers to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Of Ebel, he said, “He’s always been an incredible teacher, has a great passion … There’s no doubt that someday he’s going to be a terrific manager.” He offered similar praise for Molina, who served as Scioscia’s catcher when the Halos won the World Series in 2002: “…just has an incredible way of connecting with people, has a great understanding of the pitcher-catcher relationship, understands the offensive part, and I know he’ll eventually get an opportunity.”
  • Josh Hamilton spoke with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News regarding Washington’s resignation and had nothing but praise and well wishes for his former skipper. “He was always very enthusiastic, always on your side and encouraging, so you always want to play for a guy like that.”
  • Commissioner Bud Selig fielded a question on recent rumors that the Astros could still sign Brady Aiken when speaking to reporters, including the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich (Twitter links). Selig himself may have fueled some speculation with recent comments to the San Diego media, but that sounds inadvertent based on his response: “I didn’t mean to create confusion although I guess Ive been known to do that,” said Selig. Drellich notes that it remains “very, very unlikely” that Houston would be allowed to sign Aiken.
  • Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus examines the theory that the culture of losing could have long-term negative impacts on the talent the Astros have already promoted to the Major Leagues. Using an adapted Cox Regression model, Carleton concludes that a player is seven or eight percent more likely to flame out after spending three years in a losing environment. However, he concludes that while the end result may be one extra player flaming out, the Astros could likely recoup that value via the extra money they’ve been garnering in the draft and international signing arenas by the virtue of the poor records. While there could be negative effects, Carleton writes, fixing them likely isn’t worth it from a mathematical standpoint.


2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …

  • Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
  • Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
  • Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
  • Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
  • Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.

Minor Moves: Michael Kohn, Jairo Diaz, Mike Zagurski

Here are the latest minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • Now-former Angels righty Michael Kohn has elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Kohn was designated for assignment earlier this month in spite of his 3.04 earned run average, having struggled to stay in the zone all year.
  • The Angels have purchased the contract of right-hander Jairo Diaz, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  The Halos will need to make another move to create a spot for Diaz on their 40-man roster (Twitter links).  Diaz, 23, has a 3.48 ERA, 11.8 K/9 and 4.25 K/BB rate over a combined 64 2/3 relief innings at the high-A ball and Double-A levels in 2014.
  • The Blue Jays granted left-hander Mike Zagurski his release earlier this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently reported on Twitter. Zagurski signed a minor league deal with Toronto in May and he has a combined 2.08 ERA, 12.3 K/9 and 2.86 K/BB rate over 60 2/3 relief innings with the Jays’ and Indians’ Triple-A affiliates this season.  The southpaw has been largely dominant in the minors over his career but his control issues have caused problems at the Major League level, as Zagurski has a 7.05 ERA, 5.5 BB/9 and 75 strikeouts over 75 1/3 career innings in the Show.

Angels Designate Ryan Wheeler For Assignment

The Angels have designated corner infielder Ryan Wheeler for assignment, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link).  The move created a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Jairo Diaz, whose contract was purchased by the Halos in corresponding move.

A fifth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft, Wheeler was dealt to the Rockies in exchange for southpaw Matt Reynolds in November 2012 and then was claimed off waivers by the Angels last month.  Wheeler has a .233/.280/.335 slash line and three homers in 225 career PA with Arizona and Colorado and hit well for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, slashing .326/.373/.402 in 102 PA at Salt Lake.

Wheeler joins fellow Angel Michael Kohn in “DFA Limbo,” and the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker tells us that four other players (the Royals’ Blake Wood and Chris Dwyer and the Blue Jays’ Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni) are also awaiting resolution.


AL West Notes: Darvish, Rangers, Maeda

The Rangers have officially shut down Yu Darvish for the remainder of the season, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Darvish, who has a 3.06 ERA and 11.35 K/9 in 22 starts, is currently on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. His comment on the decision, per FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro (via Twitter): “It is what it is.”

  • With Darvish out for the remainder of the season, Rangers players will combine to spend at least 1,990 days on the disabled list, says Andro (also Twitter). That number shatters the most days lost last year. In an analysis of injury data published after the 2013 season, Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs found that the Marlins and Braves lost the most time to injury with a little over 1,500 days apiece. Teams averaged about 900 days lost between 2010 and 2013.
  • The Angels are among several teams scouting Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The 26-year-old could be posted over the offseason. He currently has a 2.86 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 148 innings for the Hiroshima Carp.

 


West Notes: Angels, Dodgers, Wieland

So far, the best move of the July trading season has been the Angels‘ acquisition of Huston Street, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes in a piece published before Street’s bad outing Friday. The acquisitions of Street and Jason Grilli have helped stabilize what had been a weak Angels bullpen. Meanwhile, higher-profile acquisitions like the Tigers’ trade for David Price and the Athletics’ deals for Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija haven’t had as great an impact. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Before the White Sox traded Adam Dunn to the Athletics, the Dodgers tried to acquire him to help with their bench, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Dunn’s lack of defensive value would have been a more serious issue in the National League, but his power and patience would surely have been appealing in a pinch-hitting role, especially with expanded September rosters that might have prevented him from having to play much in the field.
  • Joe Wieland will pitch for the Padres Saturday afternoon, and it will be his first start in over two years, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Wieland had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and has had setbacks since then that have delayed his return. “I won’t say it’s going to be quite like my debut, but it’s going to be pretty darn close. Two-and-a-half years is a long time,” he says. Wieland got hurt less than a year after the Padres acquired him (with Robbie Erlin) from the Rangers in a deal for Mike Adams, and he’s only started five big-league games since the trade and for his career.

Angels Exercise 2015 Option On Jerry Dipoto

The Angels exercised their 2015 option to retain general manager Jerry Dipoto, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports.  The decision was made around the All-Star break, though Dipoto didn’t want to publicize it.  The Halos also hold an option on Dipoto for 2016, though no decision has yet been made on that year.  Financial terms of Dipoto’s contract aren’t known.

Since becoming the Angels’ GM on October 29, 2011, Dipoto’s tenure has been marked by several major free agent signings (Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton) and trades (acquiring Zack Greinke, Jason Vargas, Huston Street, David Freese) yet the team didn’t reach the postseason in either of Dipoto’s first two seasons.  Between this lack of success and rumors of discord between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia, there was speculation that Dipoto (or Scioscia) could be replaced last offseason.

Now, with the Angels owning the best record in baseball and looking like World Series contenders, it seems as if Dipoto could remain in Anaheim for a while.  It’s fair to speculate that a deep playoff run will likely get Dipoto that 2016 option or even an extension.

Dipoto, 46, enjoyed an eight-year career as a reliever with the Indians, Mets and Rockies before transitioning to scouting and front office work with the Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks.  He served as Arizona’s interim GM for the last half of the 2010 season after Josh Byrnes was fired.


Indians Claim J.B. Shuck

The Indians have claimed outfielder J.B. Shuck off waivers from the Angels, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter link).  Cleveland will send money back to Los Angeles to complete the deal.

The move is a homecoming for Shuck, who was born in Westerville, Ohio and went to Ohio State.  The Halos designated Shuck for assignment three days ago, and now he joins a Tribe roster that is already pretty deep in left-handed hitting outfielders.  Still, Shuck has experience at all three outfield positions and could be a longer-term option for Cleveland since he’s controlled through the 2018 season.  Shuck has a .272/.316/.344 slash line over 658 career PA with the Angels and Astros.

With Shuck’s situation resolved, check out the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker to follow which players are still in “DFA limbo.”