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As usual, the relief market promises to be active in the coming days. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports via Twitter, one executive with a reliever to shop cited the Tigers, Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, and Pirates as clubs that are in the market.
Here’s more on possible pen moves:
- While many teams have interest in shoring up their bullpens, many top relief targets might not ultimately be moved, Rosenthal also tweets. He names Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Joakim Soria (Rangers), and Joaquin Benoit (Padres) as quality late-inning hurlers who could stay put.
- The Red Sox have received plenty of interest in both Uehara and southpaw setup man Andrew Miller, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but the pair is not going to be dealt at this point given the club’s recent winning streak, which reached five games tonight.
- Among the most active buyers are the Tigers, who have scouted virtually all the available arms, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Detroit is showing interest in Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, though the team is indeed keeping its eye on a wide variety of possibilities. That includes fellow Philly Jonathan Papelbon, adds Morosi.
- After shipping out their top two targets, the Cubs are receiving the most hits on lefty James Russell, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Two other pen pieces — southpaw Wesley Wright and swingman Carlos Villanueva — are also “in play,” says Wittenmyer.
- Marlins closer Steve Cishek is a recent addition to the rumor mill, though MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro says that Miami has told opposing clubs that they do not intend to deal the righty. The 28-year-old comes with three more years of control through arbitration, though he’ll be well-paid after taking home $3.8MM as a Super Two. Meanwhile, with the Fish hoping to make a run at extending star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton after the season, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald cites a source who tells him that shipping out Cishek could have a negative impact on that effort.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cleveland Indians | Detroit Tigers | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Steve Cishek | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays
A few weeks ago, the Orioles and Athletics discussed a trade that would’ve seen Jim Johnson return to Baltimore, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link). The Orioles were the ones who ultimately decided not to pursue the deal. The A’s have been having trouble finding a trade partner for the struggling reliever, as prior talks with the Marlins also fell through. Johnson wouldn’t have been returning to his old closer role with the O’s, as Zach Britton has been excellent as Baltimore’s ninth-inning stopper this season.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Rival officials see the Cardinals, Mariners and Dodgers as the three teams best positioned to acquire David Price from the Rays, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. In the Insider-only piece, Olney looks at the pros and cons for each club in making a big trade for Price.
- Also from Olney (Twitter link), the concept of a trade for both Price and Evan Longoria has been mentioned by some in the Cardinals organization. There is “zero indication” such a deal has been discussed with the Rays, however, and the idea could well just be idle front office brainstorming.
- Signing Jon Lester to a contract extension may seem like a no-brainer on paper for the Red Sox, yet as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal illustrates, the team is worried by the long list of pitchers who suddenly declined or got injured in their early 30′s.
The Rockies, who have lost four in a row and 11 of their last 15, own the National League’s worst record and the third-worst mark in all of baseball. The franchise faces six key questions, according to the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, including whether to trade Troy Tulowitzki and to overhaul the front office to appease the disgruntled fan base. Saunders doesn’t see either happening because owner Dick Monfort is an extremely loyal and stubborn man. Saunders writes Tulowitzki could force a trade if he is willing to be portrayed as the disloyal, bad guy. Elsewhere in the NL:
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) says it’s time for the Phillies to rebuild and he has seven trade ideas to help make that happen. Bowden suggests the Phillies send Cole Hamels to the Dodgers for center fielder Joc Pederson and left-hander Julio Urias. He would also send Cliff Lee to the Yankees for outfielder Aaron Judge and right-hander Luis Severino.
- Lee’s uncertain health makes trading him a tough call for the Phillies, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. Meanwhile, Gelb points out the Phillies probably couldn’t get a a worse return than what was had in the last three Lee trades. Of the 11 prospects in those deals, only one (Justin Smoak) has been a regular in the Majors.
- The Yankees and Blue Jays are both cool on the idea of a reunion with Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
- Burnett’s contract and performance are reasons why teams looking to bolster their starting rotation should look elsewhere, opines Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Mets‘ phone isn’t ringing off the hook with trade proposals for Bartolo Colon, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
- The Padres won the Huston Street trade as the amount of talent the Angels parted with to acquire the closer is baffling, opines ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider subscription required).
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Bartolo Colon | Cliff Lee | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Huston Street | Joc Pederson | Julio Urias | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp doesn’t necessarily want to be traded, but he would welcome a deal that would allow him to man center field on an everyday basis with a new team, agent Dave Stewart told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports yesterday. Rosenthal notes, however, that GM Ned Colletti is a bit hesitant to part with Kemp’s right-handed bat, as that would leave the team with just one surefire right-handed power threat in the everyday lineup in 2015: Yasiel Puig. (Hanley Ramirez, of course, is a free agent at season’s end.) Another major roadblock is the roughly $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract through the 2019 season.
Here’s more on the Dodgers and the rest of the NL West…
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles now debunks one of his own reports, tweeting that he’s been told the Dodgers are not interested in Jonathan Papelbon. Yesterday, a baseball source told Saxon he expected the club to pursue the Philadelphia closer.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort appeared on 850 KOA-AM radio with Dave Logan and Susie Wargin, and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding provides some highlights from the discussion. Most notably, after Monfort defended GM Dan O’Dowd by saying he judged O’Dowd’s success on more than just the club’s win-loss record, he was asked who should take the blame for the record: “You would have to say it’s [Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations and assistant GM] Bill Geivett,” said Monfort. “He’s responsible for the Major League team. Now, the talent that gets into the Major League team, [that] is the responsibility of scouting and development.” Monfort declined to comment when asked if all of the club’s decision-makers would return next season, but he did say he “stand[s] by the job that everybody does.”
- The San Diego Union-Tribune’s staff runs down the list of each Padres GM candidate and explains the reasons that they have a chance at the job as well as the reason that each could lose out to another candidate. Since the publishing of that article, four candidates have already been eliminated, and the finalists now are Red Sox AGM Mike Hazen, Rangers AGM A.J. Preller, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler and MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng.
- Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Kevin Towers could join the Padres front office as a senior advisor if he his dismissed from his post with the D’Backs. Padres CEO Mike Dee now tells Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Any new hires in the front office will be up to the new GM. Kevin Towers is not a candidate for that position. Thus, any speculation about Kevin rejoining the Padres is just that, speculation.”
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- The Dodgers could potentially look to acquire Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, according to a tweet from Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. A source tells Saxon that he expects Los Angeles to pursue the 33-year-old righty, who is carrying a 1.21 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in his third year in Philly. Long considered one of the worst contracts in baseball, Papelbon’s deal is actually looking less onerous as he continues to produce results and its timeline shortens. On top of his $13MM salary this season, Papelbon is owed $13MM next year and comes with a vesting option at that same rate for 2016. The option would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games next year or 100 total between 2014-15. He has topped 50 games finished in each of the last seven years and is on pace to do so once again.
- Did the Mets waste star third baseman David Wright‘s best years? That is the question posed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who notes that the 31-year-old has battled injuries and is hitting well off of his career pace even after a hot streak. Though the club’s young talent has real promise of delivering a rebound for the franchise, Sherman wonders if everything will congeal while Wright is still a top-end contributor.
- For that reason and many others, Mets GM Sandy Alderson finds himself in something of a delicate position heading out of the All-Star break, as David Lennon of Newsday writes. While the club has pulled itself into shouting distance of the post-season picture, neither does it look like a prime time to buy. Selling players like Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon would not only run some public relations and attendance risks, but could lessen the club’s chances in 2015. On the other hand, standing pat might mean foregoing an opportunity to bolster the team’s talent base and opening payroll space for the coming offseason.
- While the Cubs appear to have a surplus of top position prospects, along with a few talented younger bats at the MLB level, that does not mean that there is any rush to move pieces around, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Not all prospects transition to the big leagues, of course, and in any event most of the team’s better pre-major league pieces appear to offer sufficient positional flexibility that Chicago will have plenty of options in the unlikely event that they all pan out.
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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Ben Zobrist | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Price | James Russell | Josh Willingham | Kansas City Royals | Kurt Suzuki | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Minnesota Twins | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tyson Ross
The National League representative in the World Series will cede the right to home-field advantage as a result of tonight’s All-Star game, which the American League took 5-3. Here’s the latest out of the NL:
- The Mets still do not know whether they attempt to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). Of course, that would presumably also require a decision that the team will pursue contention; New York is seven games back in the NL East at the break.
- If, instead, the Mets turn into sellers, one name that has drawn some attention is hurler Bartolo Colon, but Puma reports that the club has not yet received interest in the veteran righty. The 41-year-old owns a 3.99 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9 through 121 2/3 innings. He is playing on a $9MM salary this year and is guaranteed $11MM for 2015.
- Another popular name in trade circles is Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who also has been rumored as an extension candidate as he enters his final season of arbitration eligibility. Murphy says that the team has not yet engaged him in extension talks, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). At age 29, Murphy owns a .294/.342/.413 batting line with seven long balls and 11 stolen bases.
- Dodgers starter Zack Greinke says that he will be paying close attention to the coming free agent market as he assesses whether to exercise his opt-out clause after the 2015 season, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “What happens with [Jon] Lester and [Max] Scherzer will say a lot,” said Greinke. Though the righty notes that salaries seem to still be on the rise, he also says that he is aware of the fact that teams tend to be “paying more for future performance” than past results. As Shaikin notes, Greinke will have the right to choose between another bout of free agency and the $71MM over three years that he’ll have left on his deal otherwise.
- One notable recent draftee that has yet to sign is Nationals first-rounder Erick Fedde, who fell to the 18th slot (with its $2,145,600 bonus allocation) after undergoing Tommy John surgery. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, there is a growing belief that a deal might not get done. Like several other recent Nats choices whose signings have come down to the wire, Fedde is a client of agent Scott Boras. The high-upside righty wants $3MM, says Kilgore, which he was apparently told he could get by teams picking after Washington. The collegiate junior is said to believe he could still land that level of bonus next year; as Kilgore notes, he will not throw a pitch in the meantime regardless.
- Per the MLB.com draft signing tracker, Washington has saved a total of $358.2K on its remaining selections from the first ten rounds, with second-rounder Andrew Suarez ($987.8K slot) and ninth-rounder Austin Byler ($145.9K slot) still unsigned, and the latter reportedly unlikely to do so. By my math, assuming the Nats sign Suarez at slot value but cannot ink Byler, they could chip in an additional $278,990 (5% above total slot for signed players, which comes with a 75% overage tax) before hitting penalties that would require the sacrifice of a first-round pick next year. Added to the other savings and Fedde’s own slot allocation, that would mean D.C. could pay Fedde as much as $2,782,790.
Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…
- The Dodgers have outrighted first baseman Clint Robinson after designating him on Thursday, according to the PCL transactions page. In the midst of a highly productive minor league campaign (.309/.402/.523 with 14 home runs), the 29-year-old was able to pick up his first three big league hits during a brief stint with the big club.
- Catcher John Buck was released today by the Mariners, the club announced. Buck was recently designated for assignment after struggling to a .226/.293/.286 line in his first 92 plate appearances with Seattle. He signed a one-year, $1MM deal to join the club over the offseason.
- The Giants announced that Brandon Hicks has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Fresno. Hicks was designated for assignment upon Marco Scutaro‘s activation from the DL. While he hit just .162 in 242 trips to the plate, Hicks showed plate discipline (13.2 percent walk rate) and some pop (eight homers) in his time with the Major League club.
Rafael Soriano needs 32 more games finished to cause his $14MM club option to vest, but the Nationals closer says that vesting option or not, he wants to return to Washington in 2015, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. Soriano would need to get up to the 62-finish mark (a career high) to make it, though with the Nats in a tight pennant race, they’ll undoubtedly need their closer as much as possible down the stretch.
Here’s some more news and notes from around baseball…
- Scouts for the Indians have been told to focus their attention on Rays minor leaguers, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports, and Cotillo wonders if this could suggest that Cleveland is revisiting talks for David Price. Cleveland and Tampa discussed a Price trade during the offseason, as Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, that involved Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar going to the Rays. (Tampa Bay also had interest in Francisco Lindor but the Indians consider Lindor virtually untouchable in any trade.) A new trade package, Cotillo speculates, could be Santana/Salazar for Price and a couple of Rays prospects, hence the Tribe’s interest in scouting Tampa’s farm system.
- Also from Cotillo, the Angels made the same three-year, $15.75MM offer to both Joe Smith and Edward Mujica this past offseason and told both pitchers that the contract would go to whichever accepted first. Smith took the deal first and is enjoying a strong season, even moving into the Halos’ closing job. Mujica, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $9.5MM deal with the Red Sox and has struggled to a 5.45 ERA in 34 2/3 IP.
- The Giants are still without agreements for five of their top 10 draft picks, a situation Cotillo believes could be due to the club devoting their time and draft pool resources to signing first-rounder Tyler Beede, who couldn’t negotiate until after the College World Series.
- Despite the number of recent stars to come out of Cuba, teams are still relying on very little or no scouting information when signing these players, Danny Knobler writes for Bleacher Report. Knobler’s piece explores the future of the Cuban talent pipeline while also delving into the limited data the White Sox and Dodgers, respectively, had when signing Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig to major contracts.
- While the Royals‘ farm system is still considered strong, it is short on prospects ready to help at the Major League level, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Thanks to a few thin drafts, the prospect package sent to Tampa Bay in the James Shields trade and the fact that many of their top prospects of recent years are already in the bigs, “between Omaha and their [Double-A] club, there’s nobody that looks like they’re going to jump up soon as a significant piece,” an AL executive said.
17-year-old Dodgers lefty Julio Urias wowed observers at the Futures Game, leading to chatter about the possibility that he could make his big-league debut as soon as next year, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. “This guy’s got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18,” says Dodgers scouting director Logan White. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers will promote Urias that soon — he’s currently at Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga, and he’s only pitched 52 1/3 innings because the Dodgers are concerned about overworking him. But his stuff (he can touch 97 MPH) and composure are impressive beyond his years. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Braves badly need lefty bullpen help and particularly like the Red Sox‘ Andrew Miller, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Luis Avilan‘s struggles on Sunday are an example of the problems the Braves have had, O’Brien writes — Avilan entered in a 10-4 game in the eighth and faced three batters, giving up a single and two walks. By the time the inning was over, it was 10-7, and a blowout had suddenly become a save situation. Miller, who has struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings for Boston this season, would be a big upgrade. The Braves also like James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, O’Brien writes.
- The Braves should release second baseman Dan Uggla, writes Mark Bradley of the Journal-Constitution. The $19MM the Braves owe Uggla through 2015 is a “sunken cost,” and the Braves won’t be able to find a team willing to trade for him. Uggla is hitting an execrable .162/.241/.231 in 145 plate appearances this season. Uggla received only 15 plate appearances in June and only has three so far in July. The Braves also suspended him for a game on Sunday for being late arriving at Wrigley Field Saturday.
- A.J. Burnett wants to stay with the Phillies, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “I’m not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren’t going the right way,” says Burnett. “If that happens, then it happens, but I’m not looking to move on. This is my team.” Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, and says he isn’t sure how he would respond if the Phillies asked him to waive it.
- The rash of pitcher injuries this season might affect the salaries of free-agents-to-be like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Recent injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia and the questionable or disappointing contracts of pitchers like Justin Verlander and Johan Santana show how risky long-term deals for star pitchers can be. Scherzer and Lester have performed well this season, but other pitchers’ recent histories might affect the market this winter.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington wants Andrew McCutchen to be a Pirate for life, although he’s realistic about how difficult McCutchen will be to keep, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “We truly hope Andrew McCutchen retires as a Pirate. That is going to be incredibly challenging to do, but that is our long-term goal,” says Huntington. The Bucs already control McCutchen through 2018 at bargain rates — his yearly salary through his age-31 season never exceeds $14.5MM.