Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

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

Dodgers To Sign Trevor Cahill

The Dodgers have agreed to a contract with right-hander Trevor Cahill, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (via Twitter). Presumably, it is of the minor league variety. The John Boggs client began the season with the Braves after coming over from the D-Backs in a late Spring Training trade but was designated for assignment and released after struggling in Atlanta.

Given the length of time that Cahill has been a relatively prominent name in baseball, it seems surprising that he’s still just 27 years of age, but the former Athletics/D-Backs hurler won’t turn 28 until next March. He’s earning a guaranteed $12MM this season in the final year of a four-year, $30MM contract signed with the A’s, but Arizona is on the hook for about $6.5MM of that sum, while Atlanta is responsible for $5.5MM of that sum plus the $300K buyout on his 2016 option. The Dodgers, then, would be responsible only for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum for any time he spends on their active roster. (The Braves, in turn, would be spared that minor portion of the obligation.)

Cahill was a highly effective mid-rotation starter with Oakland and Arizona from 2010-13, averaging 188 innings of 3.72 ERA ball per season to go along with 6.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and the league’s fifth-best ground-ball rate (57.3 percent). A line-drive to the hip shortened his 2013 campaign, though, and in 2014 he saw his control and ground-ball rates both trend in the wrong direction. The wheels quickly came off for Cahill, who has worked to a 5.98 ERA over his past 139 big league innings — a shockingly poor mark considering how recently he was viewed as a cost-controlled rotation asset.

The Dodgers’ interest isn’t entirely surprising, as the team is on the lookout for rotation reinforcements following season-ending injuries to both Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. L.A. will hope that Cahill can sharpen his control and again find the sinker that routinely racked up more grounders than almost any pitcher in the league, though the D-Backs and Braves have both had similar hopes in the past calendar year and ended up paying significant money to part ways with the right-hander.

Blue Jays Acquire Slot Money From Dodgers

The Blue Jays have acquired additional slot money from the Dodgers in a deal that will send Chase De Jong and Tim Locastro back to Los Angeles. Ben Badler of Baseball America first reported that Toronto was acquiring slot money, while ESPN.com’s Keith Law reported the remainder of the swap (via Twitter).

The Jays struck the deal in order to offset some of the $3.9MM that the team just promised to international signee Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The club entered the July 2 period with just $2,324,100 of total pool space, leaving a $1,575,900 gap.

According to Badler, the move will limit the extent to which the Blue Jays have exceeded their pool space, but won’t eliminate it entirely. By spending only 15% or less above the cap, the club can limit its signing limitations to just a single signing period. That, in turn, would require the the team end up with nearly $3.4MM in capacity.

Looking at the individual slots available to each team, the Dodgers’ largest single bonus value was $545,900. The team also possesses $368,700 and $249,000 spending allocations. It seems likely that all three of those are headed to Toronto, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that over $1MM will change hands.

It is worth remembering that the move will also cost the Dodgers money since L.A. has already blown well past its original allocation. Every dollar the team sends away will require it to pay an equivalent amount in overage fees.

In some regards, then, this looks to be another cash for prospects deal. In this case, however, Toronto was not looking just to avoid spending (though it did that as well), but also to avoid a lengthier international timeout.

As for the players involved, De Jong is a long, strike throwing righty. The 2012 second-round pick is repeating the Class A level after a rough year last year, but he’s still only 21 and has produced better results this year (3.13 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9). After being rated by Baseball America as the 11th-best Jays prospect in 2014, he dropped to 17th entering this season, but seems to be on the ascent at present and could still have some projection left, per BA.

Locastro, 22, is primarily a second baseman, though he’s also seen a bit of action at short and the corner outfield. He reached the Class A level this year, and has performed quite well. Over 289 turns at bat, Locastro owns a .310/.409/.421 slash with five home runs and a rather impressive thirty stolen bags (being caught eleven times along the way). He’s struck out just 25 times while picking up 21 walks.

Dodgers To Sign Yadier Alvarez, Other Top International Prospects

The Dodgers have indeed agreed upon a $16MM bonus with Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (links to Twitter). That is expected to be the single largest payout given a single player on this year’s international market. Alvarez is represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council and Rick Thurman, Rafael Nieves and Nelson Montes.

Alvarez popped onto the scene earlier this year with a big fastball and exciting slider. He has drawn some mixed reviews, but obviously the Dodgers are believers. The opportunity to sign Alvarez, among other players, was cited as a primary reason that the organization declined to top the Red Sox’ offer for Yoan Moncada this spring.

In the eyes of Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Alvarez was the best player available on the basis of his mid-to-upper nineties heater, plus slider, and promising change. He also possesses good athleticism and good overall physical tools, leading McDaniel to believe that he has a good chance of harnessing his stuff. Ben Badler of Baseball America expresses more concern with Alvarez’s lack of a track record and current tendency toward being wild, explaining that there is plenty of risk to go with the obvious upside.

Los Angeles has also agreed with outfielder Starling Heredia on a $2.6MM bonus and with infielder Ronny Brito on a $2MM bonus, per Sanchez. Those players, both hailing from the Dominican Republic, also rated amongst the thirty best international prospects available according to most analysts. MLB.com placed Heredia fifth on its list, citing his “raw power and projectable body.” McDaniel had Brito in the 15th place on his board, noting that he has the upside to develop into a prospect on the order of J.P. Crawford if he can pair a useful bat with good speed and fielding ability.

With just these three signings alone, Los Angeles will easily land well over its fairly meager international spending allocation of $2,020,300. Every dollar spent above that mark will be taxed at a 100% rate, meaning the Dodgers are already nearing $40MM in total obligations.

2015-16 International Signing Period Now Open

Today marks the opening of the 2015-16 international signing period, during which so-called “July 2″ prospects can begin inking deals with MLB clubs. Every MLB team has been allocated a series of bonus slots, all of which may be traded, with certain restrictions. Baseball America provides a tally of each team’s total available pool this year. Clubs that spend over their allotment face escalating penalties, ranging from 100% taxes on overages to a two-year ban on $300K+ international bonuses (for going over 15% above the total allocation). This year, the team with the top overall pool allocation — the Diamondbacks ($5,393,900) — is ineligible to spend more than that amount on any single player, and is expected to deal away some of its capacity since it cannot put it to full use. Likewise, the Angels, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees face that limitation due to budget-busting deals in the 2014-15 July 2 period. And numerous additional clubs are expected to incur future signing limitations in the coming signing period. While most of the players subject to the signing rules are a long ways away from the big leagues, there are undoubtedly impact players among them — some of whom could come up in trade talks long before they’re close to the majors.

Here’s the latest on the market, which will gear up quickly, as well as some key resources to get acquainted with:

  • As has been widely expected — and as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reported several months back — the Dodgers are set to sign Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez to a $16MM bonus, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). Passan does caution that it’s best to wait until Alvarez formally signs to declare his market closed. Los Angeles has just over $2MM in spending capacity, meaning that it would start off with a $14MM overage tax on its bill and take on a two-year signing ban for adding Alvarez alone.
  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez just provided one major market shift, reporting that the Giants appear to be in the lead for shortstop Lucius Fox, who landed third overall on Sanchez’s list of the thirty best international prospects available on the market.
  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler provides his final top-thirty prospect list, with detailed scouting reports on all those players ranked as well as notes on the teams favored to sign them. He also breaks down each MLB team’s expected overall approach heading into July 2.
  • Likewise, McDaniel has produced his final pre-signing board, which also includes his own assessments of many of the most highly-regarded names and projections of their landing spots. While Badler rates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. first overall, McDaniel places him fourth, giving the top spot to the aforementioned Alvarez.

Giants The New Favorites To Sign Bahamian Shortstop Lucius Fox

Though the industry expectation has long been that the Dodgers would reel in highly coveted international shortstop Lucius Fox, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez now reports (via Twitter) that the division-rival Giants have leapfrogged the Dodgers as the favorites to land Fox when tomorrow’s signing period kicks off. In fact, according to Sanchez, the Dodgers are no longer even in the race to sign Fox.

Fox, a native of the Bahamas, moved to the United States and attended American Heritage High School in Florida. However, the 18-year-old recently moved back to the Bahamas and petitioned with Major League Baseball to be an international free agent as opposed being subject to the draft. The league approved his request and declared Fox a free agent, making the MVP Sports Group client eligible to sign as an international free agent, beginning tomorrow.

Sanchez ranks Fox third among this year’s class of international prospects — a ranking with which Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel agrees. Ben Badler of Baseball America recently ranked Fox as the No. 4 prospect in this year’s international class. Fox is projected by McDaniel to land a $6MM signing bonus, although it’s certainly possible that the change in likeliest landing spot has come as a result of an increase in the Giants’ willingness to spend.

In Sanchez’s free scouting report, he notes that Fox is considered by some to be a five-tool player and the best athlete in the class. A switch-hitter, Fox has a line-drive stroke and has a knack for putting the ball in play, per Sanchez. Badler notes in his own scouting report (subscription required and highly recommended) that some scouts feel he’ll move to center field. He adds that Fox has little power, but calls him a plus-plus runner with a chance to hit at the top of a big league lineup. McDaniel feels that second base is a possibility as well, but says he should start his career at shortstop and has a real chance to be a regular contributor at any of the three up-the-middle position

East Notes: Encarnacion, Jays, Yankees, Niese

Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion achieved ten-and-five rights yesterday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. It once seemed quite unlikely that the now-32-year-old would ever establish himself enough to earn a no-trade clause, as Davidi explains. Toronto can control Encarnacion next season with a $10MM club option, but his future beyond that remains unclear. “I like this city, I’d love to stay here but it’s not my choice,” said Encarnacion. “They have to decide what they’re going to do, if they’re going to sign me or not. I’m open to be here and to stay here in Toronto.”

Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the east:

  • All indications are that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos “has been busy trying to make something happen for a while now,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto may be willing to give significant value for a truly high-quality player that makes a perfect fit for the club’s overall situation, says Davidi, much as it did in signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. That being said, it seems unlikely that Anthopoulos and Co. will part with its best young talent for a pure rental, the report suggests.
  • Anthopoulos tells reporters that the Blue Jays nearly pulled off two trades in May, but has not come as close since, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports (Twitter links). The GM added that he’ll consider moving prospects for rentals if the price is right, noting that he discussed a deal last summer involving young players Kevin Pillar and Sean Nolin.
  • he Yankees are in a solid position right now, but need to address three pressing questions, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. First, the club need to decide whether and when it will pull the struggling CC Sabathia from the rotation, and whether it will replace him with an outside addition (Sherman suggests Jeff Samardzija as a viable option). Another veteran, outfielder Carlos Beltran, has produced at the plate but not in the field, and Sherman wonders whether he could be a trade option for the Angels to plug in at DH. And New York must also decide how much it is willing to cough up to add the versatile Ben Zobrist, per the piece, if and when he’s made available by the A’s.
  • Meanwhile, across town, the Mets are in no rush to deal Jon Niese, writes Newsday’s David Lennon, who explains that the club still needs innings from him given limitations on its younger starters. Of course, Niese (and his salary) could ultimately be part of a deal — whether to add a bat or future assets. But as things stand, it does not appear that there is much momentum towards any kind of trade. Indeed, per Lennon, the Mets have not even had “serious conversations with two teams (Cubs, Dodgers) that reportedly have interest in the lefty.

Draft Signings: Abdullah, Simcox, Pruitt

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s notable draft signings here, with slot values via Baseball America.

  • Dodgers eleventh rounder Imani Abdullah will sign for $647,500, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com tweets. SB Nation’s Eric Stephen has done some digging on the young hurler, who is fairly new to the mound and did not earn placement on any major prospect lists. He had been set to play for San Diego State University. All but $100K of L.A.’s spending on the projectable righty must be accounted for from its overall bonus allocation. The Dodgers have yet to agree to terms with many of their picks from the first ten rounds, including four of their first five selections (three of whom just finished playing in the finals of the College World Series).
  • The Tigers have agreed to a $600K bonus to land 14th-round pick A.J. Simcox, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports on Twitter. A half-million of that payday will count towards the club’s overall pool limits. The University of Tennessee product is said to be a slick defensive shortstop. Baseball America graded him the 217th-best player available, saying that Simcox has a “line-drive swing” but has shown little in the way of power potential.
  • Another $500K bonus is set to hit the books, this one going from the Blue Jays to 24th-round pick Reggie Pruitt, Callis tweets. The Vanderbilt commit drew some relatively high grades entering the draft, with Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs placing him 146th on his list. MLB.com had the outfielder in the 189th slot on its board, crediting him with outstanding speed while noting that his swing mechanics need work.

Dodgers Interested In Mets’ Jon Niese

TODAY: Niese is just “one of many” arms that Los Angeles has some interest in, Rosenthal writes on Twitter, and there are “no active discussions” ongoing between the Dodgers and Mets.

YESTERDAY: The Dodgers are interested in Mets starter Jon Niese, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Just yesterday, Rosenthal reported that the Cubs have also considered dealing for the left-hander.

Niese isn’t quite a world-beater, but he does hold some value as a back of the rotation option.  So far this year, he has a 4.12 ERA and 6.3 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 14 starts.  Those numbers are a beat behind his career numbers (3.89 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9), but his xFIP of 3.85 this season indicates that he has encountered a bit of bad luck in 2015.

Performance aside, Niese’s contract could have a negative impact on his trade value.  The 28-year-old is scheduled to make $9MM in 2016 plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2017.  As for this year, he’ll earn the prorated portion of $7MM, which is not wholly unreasonable.

After the draft concluded, it was reported that the Mets would turn their attention to dealing a starting pitcher.  With lefty Steven Matz now in the fold, the Mets’ starting pitching situation has gotten even more crowded, and moving Niese could help alleviate that logjam while improving the team’s struggling offense.

Last week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters that despite their recent offensive woes, he sees the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation.

Astros Targeting Cueto Over Hamels

In recent weeks, the Astros have been connected to Phillies ace Cole Hamels, but it doesn’t sound as though he’s their top pitching target.  Instead, it’s Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto that is atop Houston’s wish list, according to sources who spoke with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

One of the main reasons for their preference of Cueto over Hamels is that the Astros are seeking out a 2015 rental or possibly someone whose contract runs for one more year.  With a hefty contract that runs through 2018, Hamels simply doesn’t fit the bill.  Cueto, meanwhile, is only owed the prorated portion of his 2015 salary of $10MM, which is a little over $5MM the rest of the way.  Hamels, meanwhile, is set to earn the balance of his $22.5MM salary for the remainder of this season, $22.5MM in the next three seasons, and a $20MM option/$6MM buyout that can vest with good health and a certain number of innings pitched.

For his part, Hamels recently indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Astros.  Instead, it sounds like Houston has their attention focused on the Reds’ pitching, where other suitors include the Dodgers, Yankees, and Blue Jays, a source tells Drellich.  All in all, Drellich hears that the Phillies have been pumping up the perception of the Astros’ interest as negotiating leverage in talks about Hamels.

The Astros are casting a wide net in their effort to add a solid starter to their rotation to go with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Vincent Velasquez, and Lance McCullers.  In addition to Cueto and Mike Leake, the Astros are doing their homework on A’s lefty Scott Kazmir, Brewers right-handers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

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.