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The Padres can control Tyson Ross for another three seasons, but to justify the rising cost, they’ll need more games like the gem he delivered yesterday, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. Through 21 starts this season, the All-Star owns a 2.70 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. Here’s more out of the Western divisions..
- Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that “Chase Headley is free agent at the end of the year, so we are acting accordingly.” Hinch also indicated that several teams are interested in the third baseman.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he started working on the Huston Street deal right after the June draft about six weeks ago.
- Dipoto went on to add that the Angels are not likely to do any more deals this month unless there is an injury to a starter (link). However, the Halos will remain in “feeler mode” just in case.
- The Astros have a major perception problem, writes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider sub. req’d). Between the Brady Aiken situation, their handling of George Springer, and the widespread belief that they tanked the 2013 season, many are questioning Houston’s game plan.
- The fact that the Angels could control Huston Street for 2015 was a key factor in trading for him, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. “Were it not for the fact we had the ability to control Huston for a year and two months, it would have been far more difficult to justify giving up the type of package we gave up to get him,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
- Angels reliever Joe Smith doesn’t mind ceding the closer’s job to Street, DiGiovanna writes. “If they think it’s better for the ballclub, I’m all for it. I signed my life away, so to speak, last off-season. I came here to win,” he says. “If they think he can help this club, bring it on.”
- From the Padres’ perspective, the deal increases the likelihood that Chase Headley will be traded this month, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus writes (subscription only). The inclusion of second baseman Taylor Lindsey in the deal likely bumps Jedd Gyorko to third base. Gyorko had a disastrous start to his season is no sure thing himself, of course, but the Street trade makes the Padres’ future infield at least a little clearer.
- The Padres did quite well in the deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cites another team’s GM who sounds excited about R.J. Alvarez (“could be a future closer“) and Jose Rondon, in particular, even though he doesn’t like Lindsey as much.
Stewart, 29, hit .176/.222/.382 in 72 plate appearances for the Angels. He also collected 84 plate appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake, slashing .208/.310/.361. The Angels signed the former Rockie and Cubs to a minor-league deal in January.
The Angels have officially agreed to acquire All-Star closer Huston Street from the Padres, as first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links). It is a four-for-two deal, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted.
In return for Street and 2013 sixth-round draft choice Trevor Gott, San Diego will receive second base prospect Taylor Lindsey, who entered the year as the Halos’ top-rated prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, as well as 23-year-old righty R.J. Alvarez, who BA ranked fourth among Angels prospects. Two other minor leaguers are also headed to San Diego: rising shortstop prospect Jose Rondon and righty Elliot Morris.
Street has been one of the most effective late-inning relievers in baseball this year. In his age-30 season, Street owns a 1.09 ERA backed by 9.3 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9. He also sports a 42.5% groundball rate that is his best mark since his rookie year of 2005. While Street’s earned run mark is propped up somewhat by the fact that he has a remarkable 100% strand rate, ERA estimators also like his work thus far (2.90 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, 2.46 SIERA).
Street’s contract, of course, makes up a good portion of his appeal, and also presumably opened up a broader market for his services. He is owed only the remainder of his $7MM salary this year and comes with a $7MM club option for 2015. That manageable commitment arguably made him the most attractive closer acquisition candidate on the market this year — at least, that is, unless and until the Red Sox make Koji Uehara available. It appears that the Angels decided it was worth parting with a larger prospect haul to add Street, and do so now, rather than waiting to pursue one of the more expensive relief options that might have been had, such as Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies.
For the Angels, Street represents fourth reliever added in the last month, joining Joe Thatcher, Jason Grilli, and the since-released Rich Hill. Street will presumably bump Joe Smith out of the closer role that he has occupied since deposing Ernesto Frieri, who was of course dealt for Grilli. Of course, Smith — who inked for $15.75MM over three years before the season — has been every bit as good as Street this year (2.32 ERA with 9.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 58.1% groundball rate).
The other piece of the deal for Los Angeles, Gott, had been throwing at Double-A after earning a mid-season promotion. The 21-year-old has just a 4.63 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 6.9 BB/9 through 11 2/3 frames at that level, but had worked to a 3.16 mark on the back of 8.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 through 31 1/3 High-A innings. Gott did not rank among San Diego’s thirty best prospects entering the year in the eyes of Baseball America.
San Diego looks to have achieved a strong return for Street. Lindsey, 22, was taken in the sandwich round of the 2010 draft and landed in the 93rd overall spot on Baseball America’s top-100 prospect list. His calling card is his unconventional but effective left-handed bat. He profiles as an average runner and fielder, according to BA. In his first season at Triple-A, Lindsey owns a .247/.323/.400 slash with eight home runs and seven stolen bases.
Though it is generally unwise to look too far ahead with prospects, it appears that Lindsey is close to earning a shot at big league playing time and makes for a nice fit with San Diego. With Chase Headley set to hit the open market this coming offseason (if he is not traded earlier), Jedd Gyorko could slide to the hot corner with Lindsey slotting in at second. (Of course, 2011 San Diego first-rounder Cory Spangenberg is also filtering up the system as a keystone option, though his prospect sheen has dimmed in recent years.)
For his part, Alvarez has dominated upon being promoted to Double-A for the 2014 campaign. Exclusively a reliever, he has allowed just one earned run in 27 innings of work, striking out 12.7 while walking just 3.3 batters per nine. That performance supports Baseball America’s scouting report from before the season, which praises Alvarez for his big fastball and power slider. Indeed, according to BA, the Friars may have picked up their closer of the future by dealing their closer of the past, as Alvarez has 9th-inning upside.
In the meantime, presumably, Joaquin Benoit will step into San Diego’s closer role. He has been outstanding, with a 1.86 ERA and 10.5 K/9 versus 2.1 BB/9, since signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal (with a $8MM club option for 2016). The veteran could still be dealt, Rosenthal tweets, but San Diego will “raise the bar” on its demands having already shipped out its incumbent closer.
As for Rondon, a 20-year-old from Venezuela who was rated the Halos’ 12th-best prospect coming into the year, Baseball America says he has a good hit tool and approach, but lacks any power to speak of. He is not much above average on the bases and is a good, but not spectacular fielder who could become a second baseman or utility player as he moves forward. Of course, the youngster has only raised his stock with a strong .327/.362/.418 slash in 324 plate appearances at the High-A level this year. With half a year in the books, Rondon had already jumped to 5th among Angels prospects on MLB.com’s ranking.
Morris, 22, was a fourth-round selection last year for Los Angeles who signed for a $387.3K bonus. He has moved up to the High-A level in his second season as a professional, and owns a 4.17 ERA through 45 1/3 innings with 7.9 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9.
9:47pm: A deal is being finalized to send Street to the Angels, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
9:18pm: The sides are indeed close, with second base prospect Taylor Lindsey expected to be part of the return to San Diego, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Medicals have been exchanged, Rosenthal adds, which is obviously one of the final steps to a swap.
9:15pm: A deal could happen tonight, with talks currently at a “sensitive” stage, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (via Twitter).
5:30pm: “Nothing is imminent” between the Angels and Padres regarding Street, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
5:16pm: The Angels are one of several teams in on Street, and no deal has been finalized, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles has indeed looked like a good fit for the 30-year-old righty. Certainly, he has more than justified his $7MM salary this year, with a 1.09 ERA on the back of 9.3 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9. That also makes his $7MM club option for 2015 look quite attractive.
You probably will not be surprised to learn that Angels star Mike Trout has once again been rated the game’s most valuable asset by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Though he now comes with a long-term financial commitment, Trout has also promised away three more seasons of club control and remains highly underpaid for his services. Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks also made a leap, moving into the third overall slot on Cameron’s top fifty; the entire series is, of course, well worth a read.
Here’s the latest from the game’s West divisions:
- Mariners outfielder (and former second baseman) Dustin Ackley has drawn significant trade interest, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Clubs are interested in a chance at a turnaround from a player who was once one of the game’s top prospects, notes Heyman. With Robinson Cano etched in stone at second and Seattle looking to upgrade its production in the corner outfield, Ackley could theoretically be included as part of a package or dealt away to create roster space.
- The Mariners plan to be on hand to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo in his upcoming showcase, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Of course, that does not mean that Seattle is in a unique position, as GM Jack Zduriencik explains. “Any time there’s someone out there showcasing, we’re going to have somebody there,” said Zduriencik. “This would be no different, but most other clubs will have somebody there as well.” Of course, the M’s are a particularly interesting team to watch with regard to Castillo given the team’s need for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.
- The Giants are considering bringing in just-released second baseman Dan Uggla, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports on Twitter. While Marco Scutaro is back on the active roster, it may take some time to determine whether he’ll be a regular, healthy contributor. Indeed, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an appearance on the Sports Virus Podcast that it is “not a real optimistic situation” for Scutaro to hold down the club’s second base job.
- Veteran starter Tim Hudson told Shea at the All-Star break that he and the rest of the club would welcome the addition of an impact player, especially a bat to bolster the lineup. There “wouldn’t be a guy in the locker room” who “wouldn’t be for it,” said Hudson.
- The Padres have not reached out to the Diamondbacks to discuss a possible new role in the organization for current Arizona GM (and former San Diego GM) Kevin Towers, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. “I know and like him,” said executive chairman Ron Fowler. “He has had a great relationship with many people in all areas of the Padres’ organization. That said, we have not asked for permission from the D’backs to talk to Kevin. I don’t know how this story got started.”
It has been a busy day as the league returns to action out of the All-Star break. Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball …
- First baseman Carlos Pena has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Pena, 36, was designated for assignment yesterday after a rough start to his tenure in Texas.
- Veteran backstop Yorvit Torrealba has requested and been given his release from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old has a .256/.315/.379 career MLB triple-slash over 13 seasons of work. He has only seen time at the Cubs’ rookie-league affiliate this year since signing last month.
- The Angels have signed hurler Chris Volstad to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Volstad, a towering righty, has a 4.94 ERA over parts of six MLB seasons, working mostly as a starter until a stint last season with the Rockies. He had been pitching for the Korean Doosan Bears this season, working to a 6.21 ERA over 87 frames with just 3.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
- Free agent righty Jeremy Berg has signed a minor league pact with the Cardinals, also via the MLB transactions page. Berg, 28, has yet to pitch in the big leagues and owns a 4.43 ERA in 256 innings at the Triple-A level. He had spent his entire career in the Angels organization.
- The Phillies released right-hander Barry Enright today, according to the International League transactions page. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily in his most recent stints at the major league level, and carries a 5.58 ERA through 101 2/3 Triple-A innings this season with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
- The Brewers have inked catcher Hector Gimenez to a minor league deal and assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Gimenez spent some time as the White Sox’ backup catcher in 2013 but posted just a .191/.275/.338 batting line in 80 trips to the dish. He’s a lifetime .216/.280/.330 hitter in 100 big league plate appearances and is a veteran of 12 minor league seasons. He’ll provide some minor league catching depth for Milwaukee.
- Outfielder Casper Wells has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, the club announced on its web site. Once a nice fourth outfielder for the Mariners, Wells’ stock has dropped after hitting just .126/.186/.147 for the White Sox, A’s and Phillies in 2013. He began the year with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate but batted just .197/.290/.230 in 69 PA with Iowa before being released.
- The Brewers have also acquired outfielder Josh Fellhauer from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, the team’s player development department announced (on Twitter). A former seventh-round pick, the 26-year-old Fellhauer was hitting .239/.338/.313 in 155 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’ll also report to Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers.
The Angels and first-round pick Sean Newcomb have agreed to terms, according Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the exact figure is a $2,518,400 signing bonus. That number was the maximum amount of money the Halos could allot to Newcomb without exceeding their bonus pool. Newcomb was advised by and is now a client of the Legacy Agency.
The 6’5″, 240-pound Newcomb was electric for the University of Hartford this season, posting an 8-2 record with a pristine 1.25 ERA and a 106-to-38 K/BB ratio in 93 1/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .162 against him in 2014, albeit in a relatively weak college conference.
Newcomb fell to the Halos with the 15th overall pick — a spot at which the Angels assumed the left-hander would be off the board, scouting director Ric Wilson told DiGiovanna. Newcomb’s No. 15 overall slot comes with a value of $2,475,600, according to Baseball America, meaning he received about $42K over slot to sign with the Angels.
The Angels probably weren’t the only ones surprised to see Newcomb on the board with their pick. Keith Law of ESPN ranked Newcomb as the No. 7 prospect in this year’s draft, while Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com ranked him ninth, and Baseball America ranked him 11th. Law notes that many will compare him to Sean Manaea — another big lefty with good velocity from a weak conference. Newcomb’s upside might not be quite as high, Law writes, but his fastball consistently touched 96 mph, and his command improved in 2014 as well. BA notes that his breaking pitch varies between curveball and slider, but most scouts think his curve will be the better pitch. BA and Law both feel his changeup can be an average third offering, though he hasn’t used it often to this point.
The Angels are closing in on a deal with first-round pick Sean Newcomb, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times hears the same and spoke on the record with Newcomb’s advisor, Greg Genske of the Legacy Agency. “We’re certainly working toward a deal,” Genske told DiGiovanna. “It probably gets done. We’re pretty close, but nothing has been finalized.” Tomorrow afternoon at 5pm ET is the deadline for teams to sign their 2014 draft picks.
The 6’5″, 240-pound Newcomb was electric for the University of Hartford this season, posting an 8-2 record with a pristine 1.25 ERA and a 106-to-38 K/BB ratio in 93 1/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .162 against him this season.
Newcomb fell to the Halos with the 15th overall pick — a spot at which the Angels assumed the left-hander would be off the board, scouting director Ric Wilson told DiGiovanna. Newcomb’s No. 15 overall slot comes with a value of $2,475,600, according to Baseball America.
According to the Baseball America Draft Database, the Angels have $2,518,800 remaining to sign Hartford without exceeding their bonus pool (they’ve already signed picks No. 2-10). Of course, they can still exceed their pool by less than five percent and be subject only to overage taxes. If they exceed their bonus pool by more than five percent they would lose their first-round pick in the 2015 draft (in addition to paying a 100 percent overage tax). The maximum amount that the Halos can give Newcomb without losing future picks, per BA, is $2,807,500 — roughly 13 percent greater than his slot value.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:
- The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
- One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
- Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
- The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
- The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
- Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.
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