Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors

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

Angels Designate Marc Krauss For Assignment

The Angels have designated outfielder/first baseman Marc Krauss for assignment, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link).  The transaction opens up a spot on the Halos’ 40-man roster for the newly-acquired Kyle Kubitza.

Originally selected in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Diamondbacks, Krauss was dealt to the Astros as part of the Chris Johnson trade in 2012.  Krauss hit .200/.274/.341 with 10 homers over 354 plate appearances for the Astros during the 2013-14 seasons.  Los Angeles claimed him off waivers from Houston last month.  Krauss, 27, has an impressive .278/.375/.479 slash line and 78 homers over 2262 minor league PA.

Krauss is one of 10 players currently residing in “DFA Limbo,” as per the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.


Angels, Braves Swap Minor Leaguers

5:57pm: The Braves announced that they have traded Kubitza and right-hander Nate Hyatt to the Angels in exchange for left-hander Ricardo Sanchez.

4:49pm: The Angels are close to acquiring third base prospect Kyle Kubitza from the Braves, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links). Per Gonzalez, the Halos will land Kubitza without parting with anyone on their Major League roster. Earlier today, Gonzalez reported that the Halos were prioritizing adding a third base prospect in trades.

Kubitza, 24, ranks 10th among Braves prospects, per Baseball America and 16th according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. In 529 plate appearances at Double-A last season, Kubitza batted .295/.405/.470 with eight homers and 21 stolen bases.

Baseball America describes Kubitza as a “fiery” player with a smooth line-drive stroke, some of the best plate discipline in the Braves organization and one of the strongest infield arms in the game. Both MLB.com and BA note that Kubitza’s swing can get a bit long, which leads to a high strikeout rate and prevents him from fully realizing his power potential in a game setting. His acquisition is significant for the Angels not necessarily for their 2015 club, but for their long-term future, as David Freese is a free agent next offseason and former top prospect Kaleb Cowart‘s development appears to have stalled.

Hyatt, also 24, was a 13th-round pick in 2012 and repeated Class-A Advanced this past season with much-improved results the second time around. After posting a 3.86 ERA with 10.6 K/9 but a troublesome 5.8 BB/9 in 2013, Hyatt dropped his ERA to 2.71 and posted a similar strikeout rate (10.4 K/9) with markedly better control (3.9 BB/9) in 63 innings. He’s a pure reliever, never having started a game as a professional.

In Sanchez, the Braves have acquired a player that ranked second among Halos farmhands, according to BA, but is years away from contributing at the Major League level. Sanchez is just 17 and spent last season pitching in the Arizona Rookie League, posting a 3.49 ERA with a 43-to-22 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings (nine starts, three relief appearances). The Angels signed him for a $580K bonus out of Venezuela in July 2013.

BA and MLB.com both praise Sanchez’s smooth, effortless delivery and note that his curveball is his best pitch, projecting to be a plus offering. Despite his age, Sanchez’s fastball is in the 94 to 95 mph range, and he already appears to have a feel for a changeup, based on the pair of scouting reports. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets that Sanchez has the most future value of any player in this trade and calls it a nice acquisition for an improving Braves farm system.

Sanchez is a high-ceiling acquisition, but his age is yet another indicator that the Braves do indeed appear to be focusing on 2017, when their new Cobb County stadium will open. The Angels, meanwhile, acquire a player in Kubitza that can step into the lineup in 2016, if not sooner in the event of an injury in the infield this season.


Free Agent Notes: Beachy, Scherzer, Angels, Beckham, Toritani

Right-hander Brandon Beachy is mulling over six offers and hopes to make a decision by Friday of this week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Beachy has thrown for seven teams over the past 10 days, according to Cotillo. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are not one of the teams with an offer out. The 28-year-old Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves in December due to the fact that he underwent his second Tommy John surgery last spring. Any club that signs Beachy to a one-year deal would have the right to control him via arbitration, though a team certainly could offer a second year option or even two guaranteed years as a means of enticing him. In 267 2/3 innings at the Major League level, Beachy has a 3.23 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 (all with the Braves).

Here are some more notes on free agents, including the top name on the market…

  • There’s no timetable on a decision for Max Scherzer, agent Scott Boras tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Boras told Beck that Scherzer is an ownership-level decision, and as Beck points out, Boras has worked out deals with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch for both Prince Fielder and Johnny Damon in years past — both of which came late in the offseason. Nonetheless, Detroit appears to have a full rotation, and their long-term payroll outlook is already questionable. I personally have a hard time envisioning a reunion between the two sides.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters tonight, including Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he isn’t pursuing any free agent pitchers, and that includes both Scherzer and James Shields. The Halos have speculatively been mentioned as fits for both, although as we’ve pointed out here in the past, that seems to be a stretch given their desire to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold.
  • DiGiovanna also notes (Twitter link) that a reunion with Gordon Beckham now looks unlikely for the Angels“We’ve built up quite a bit of infield depth,” Dipoto told reporters. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was also on hand, and he tweets that Dipoto said the team is “playing it by ear” regarding Beckham. Fletcher, too, feels that Beckham will sign elsewhere.
  • Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani was on the Mets‘ radar briefly last month, but the team no longer has any intention of pursuing him, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. This report only further support the widespread belief that Wilmer Flores is ticketed for the Amazins’ Opening Day shortstop gig. As for Toritani, he’s been connected to the Blue Jays and Padres as well, though neither seems to have particularly serious interest at this juncture.


Angels Sign Cuban Infielder Roberto Baldoquin For $8MM Bonus

JANUARY 6: The Angels tonight officially announced the signing of Baldoquin.

DECEMBER 20: Baldoquin has passed his physical. The deal is done, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (also Twitter) adds that there is still some paperwork to be filed before the deal is official.

DECEMBER 9: Baldoquin has arrived in the United States, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times).  The team hopes to have Baldoquin’s physical completed and the signing finalized by next week.

NOVEMBER 4: The Angels have reached an agreement with 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin on a record-setting $8MM bonus, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The agreement is pending a physical and the $8MM bonus is the most ever for an amateur player under the current international signing rules.

Baldoquin called his agreement a “dream come true” in speaking to Sanchez, going on to state, “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I’m ready for the next part of my journey.”

Baldoquin has three seasons of professional experience playing with Las Tunas in Serie Nacional, Sanchez writes, and he also appeared on the Cuban National 16-and-under team when he was eligible. Baldoquin left Cuba in February and has been training in the Dominican Republic. He can play both third base and the outfield, Sanchez adds.

Because Baldoquin was subject to the international signing bonus, the Angels have now clearly shattered their international bonus pool. By adding Baldoquin, the Halos are subjecting themselves to a 100 percent luxury tax on any dollars spent over their $2.383MM bonus pool, and they will also be ineligible to sign any player for more than $300K in either of the next two international signing periods. They can, however, spend as aggressively as they wish for the remainder of this signing period, which runs through mid-June. At this point, because they’ll already have been hit with the max penalties, the only further penalties they will incur will be the 100 percent on any further dollars that are spent on international free agents.

Information on Baldoquin is sparse, but Sanchez lists him at 5’10”, and interested fans can take a look at this 10-minute video compilation from YouTube that shows the right-handed hitter taking batting practice, fielding grounders, throwing across the diamond from third base and turning double plays as a shortstop with the help of a few workout partners.

At just 20 years of age and with only three seasons of experience in Serie Nacional, Baldoquin seems like a clear candidate to begin his Angels career in the minor leagues, even though the team has traded Howie Kendrick this offseason. Grant Green and Josh Rutledge are likely to man second base in Anaheim barring a further trade, though neither has a track record of much success in the Majors. Should one of them establish himself as an everyday option at second, another spot for Baldoquin could open in the near future anyway; David Freese are controlled only through the following season, while Erick Aybar is controlled through 2016.


Details On Ryan Howard’s No-Trade Clause

That the Phillies are interested in dealing away first baseman Ryan Howard and some portion of his contract is well-known. Howard, of course, is in the middle of a huge extension that still includes two years and a guaranteed $60MM (including a $10MM buyout of a $23MM club option in 2017). That contract includes a “most favored nation” clause that allows Howard to match the no-trade terms in Cliff Lee‘s deal, under which the player is permitted to designate all but nine clubs for no-trade protection.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports the details on Howard’s current list of competitors. The nine teams to which Howard cannot prevent a trade are the Tigers, Royals, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, and Red Sox. Crasnick suggests that the teams listed are not particularly strong potential suitors for Howard, as most are either small-payroll clubs and/or lack a present need for a player of Howard’s ilk.

The list seems curious from a strategic perspective, in my view, since it includes only American League clubs. The prevailing sentiment around Howard seems to be that he might have some limited trade value as a designated hitter and left-handed bench bat, but it appears exceedingly unlikely that any National League team would have interest in adding him as a regular first baseman. And payroll is not likely to prevent any teams from pursuing Howard, as Philadelphia is expected to eat most or all of his remaining salary regardless of where he is dealt.

If anything, it could be that the list is simply made up of the American League teams that Howard would most like to play for. His money is earned, after all, and it is unlikely that he would be able to exert enough leverage to convince an acquiring team to provide him with some added benefit in exchange for waiving his no-trade protection. (The notion of demanding a guarantee of his option, for instance, seems far-fetched.) Rather than using the NTC as a means of opening the door to extracting concessions, then, the reported list seems to suggest that Howard is open to being dealt to a place where he is wanted and where he would like to play.

Reading the tea leaves for intent is only so possible and so useful, of course. And the bottom line remains the same: nine of the fifteen A.L. clubs can add Howard without receiving his permission.


Quick Hits: Kusnick, Guerrero, Harang, Hart, Royals

In a revealing piece, Medium.com’s Joe Lemire profiles MLB agent Josh Kusnick’s rare birth defect and the life-threatening complications he faces to this day. Kusnick — the agent for Michael Brantley, Jeremy Jeffress, Steve Clevenger and Adrian Nieto, among others — was born with a defect called bladder exstrophy, which has led to 42 surgeries in his life despite the fact that he is just 32 years of age. Though Kusnick faces constant trips to the hospital, he remains in contact with his players while there, Brantley tells Lemire, and he even once negotiated a minor league deal for client Philippe Valiquette from his hospital bed. Lemire writes that Kusnick delayed his 43rd surgery in order to attend the 2014 Winter Meetings. I had the pleasure of meeting Josh at the meetings in San Diego and, along with the rest of MLBTR, would like to wish him the best of luck in his next operation on Wednesday of this week.

Here are some more notes from around the game…

  • Though he won’t be eligible to sign until July 2, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has already drawn significant interest from the Mets, Blue Jays and Angels, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His father, of course, is the same Vladimir Guerrero that won an MVP with the Angels in 2004 and made nine All-Star teams in a 16-year career that saw him bat .318/.379/.553 with 449 home runs.
  • The Braves made a similar offer to the one-year, $5MM contract that Aaron Harang signed with the Phillies early in free agency, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). However, at the time, Atlanta was told that Harang had other offers for more money and more years.
  • Former Orioles and Indians GM Hank Peters, who passed away at the age of 90 this weekend, took a big gamble on John Hart, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Peters plucked Hart — then a third base coach with managerial aspirations — off the diamond and gave him a front office gig because he felt strongly about Hart’s ability to evaluate players. Hart discusses the transition with Hoynes as well as his role in architecting the 1989 Joe Carter trade with the Padres. Hart assisted Peters in that deal prior to taking the GM reins himself and insisted that the trade couldn’t be made without acquiring both Sandy Alomar Jr. and Carlos Baerga — two critical components to the Indians’ 1995 World Series appearance.
  • The Royals have announced the retirement of longtime assistant general manager Dean Taylor. Taylor’s front office career began with the Royals back in 1981, as he worked his way from administrative assistant to assistant director of scouting. Taylor’s other stops around the game include working as an assistant GM during the Braves’ excellent run in the 1990s as well as Brewers GM from 2000-02. Taylor returned to the Royals in 2006 and spent the final eight seasons of his career there. Josh Vernier of FOX Sports Kansas City tweets that assistant GM J.J. Picollo will assume Taylor’s duties as vice president/assistant GM, and director of player development Scott Sharp has been promoted to assistant GM as well.

James Shields Expected To Get Nine-Figure Deal

James Shields is expected to get at least five years and $100MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Two executives tell Rosenthal that Shields already has a $110MM offer in hand. As Rosenthal notes, however, rumors of an $110MM offer don’t mean that Shields will ultimately sign for that much or more. For example, there were rumors of a $65MM offer for Chase Headley, who ultimately settled for less from the Yankees.

It’s still not clear who will sign Shields. The Marlins and Diamondbacks feel Shields is out of their price range, Rosenthal writes, and the Giants, Padres and Red Sox don’t currently seem highly motivated, either. And the Royals, who have spent on several players already this offseason, don’t appear likely to re-sign Shields. It’s possible that one or more of those teams has more interest than it’s letting on, however. Rosenthal also suggests the Tigers, Yankees and Angels as possibilities, although Shields hasn’t been closely connected to any of those teams.

Mark Polishuk recently polled MLBTR readers about Shields’ likely destination, and the results reflect the uncertainty that seems to exist throughout the industry. Less than 20% of you feel the Giants will sign Shields, followed by the Red Sox, Yankees, and “Other,” which got over 10% of the vote, even with 13 teams in the poll.


Cafardo On Shields, Zobrist, Uggla, Papelbon, Aoki

The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.

In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:

  • It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
  • The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
  • Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
  • Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
  • Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.

 


West Notes: Hamilton, Rosario, Mariners

The Angels are likely to trade Josh Hamilton before his contract expires, but not before letting him play out at least part of the 2015 season, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Given Hamilton’s production (.263/.331/.414 last year) and contract, his value can’t slip much further, so the Angels might as well wait to see if they can recoup some of that value with a rebound season, Gonzalez suggests. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Hamilton has a full no-trade clause. The Angels reportedly discussed potential Hamilton deals with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, although those talks did not appear particularly likely to result in a trade. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • After reaching a deal with Nick Hundley last week, the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, or they could keep him and go with three catchers (Hundley, Rosario and Michael McKenry), MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Many teams have two catchers but are reluctant to use the backup to pinch-hit, so having three would allow the Rockies to use their spare catchers more liberally. Also, they could have Rosario pick up playing time at first base or in the outfield. Harding adds that the Rockies have “checked in withMax Scherzer and James Shields this offseason, although, unsurprisingly, they’re not likely to sign either one, and they’ll likely acquire a veteran to eat innings instead.
  • Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should form a solid platoon for the Mariners, David Golebiewski writes for GammonsDaily.com. Neither one projects to be anything special if he plays every day, but Ruggiano has a .925 OPS against lefties in the last three seasons, while Smith has an .825 OPS against righties. Those are very strong numbers (even though we should probably expect regression for Ruggiano, and it’s impossible to completely hide any batter from same-handed pitching), and the Mariners should get effective production from right field while they wait for a long-term starter to come along.

AL West Notes: Angels, Rangers, DeShields, Montero

The Angels employ a young quartet of analysts in their baseball operations department, and the four young executives took some time to talk about the work they do with the Orange County Register’s Pedro Moura. Jeremy Zoll, Jonathan Strangio, Nate Horowitz and Mike LaCassa (whose ages range from 24 to 28) discuss their efforts, which include seeing if trends translate from college to minor league ball and grouping players by swing path and testing splits for trends. Manager Mike Scioscia spoke with Moura as well regarding the team’s increased usage of information: “As we’ve organized and analyzed numbers better, it’s helped us, primarily on the defensive front. It’s also helped with some lineup issues or determinations. I think our decisiveness was noticeable last year.” GM Jerry Dipoto said that each of Zoll, Strangio, Horowitz and LaCassa is future GM material and offered high praise for his young lieutenants.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • New Rangers special assistant Michael Young sat down with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News to discuss his new role with the team. Among the topics they discussed were Young’s involvement in the hiring of manager Jeff Banister — Young particularly praised Banister’s communication prowess — and the problems with the 2014 club. Young said that in addition to injuries, the Rangers lacked leadership with their best players out, which sometimes led to a poor collective approach to the daily grind of a 162-game season.
  • In a piece for Baseball America, the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Jeff Wilson writes that Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields Jr. will be given an opportunity to make the Rangers‘ Opening Day roster as a backup center field option. GM Jon Daniels tells Wilson that he likes “the combination of now and the future” with DeShields, whom he can envision getting some time in left field in addition to backing up Leonys Martin. DeShields’ work ethic has been questioned in the past, but Wilson writes that the Rangers feel the environment fostered by Banister will help turn that around.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told reporters today, including the Tacoma News Tribune’s Bob Dutton, that he isn’t concerned about adding a backup first baseman to serve as a safety net in the event that Logan Morrison is again injured in 2015. “We’re going to work real hard with Jesus Montero in spring training,” Zduriencik said. “We’ve talked about the strides he’s made this winter. We’ll see if he’s a player or not. That’s going to be up to him, and we’ll see what happens.” Dutton also mentions Brad Miller as a backup possibility at first, although Zduriencik didn’t list Miller specifically.