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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has lots of good stuff in this weekend's edition of Full Count. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
- The Cardinals' promotion of Kolten Wong could be the first step towards the club trading David Freese. Obviously, Freese isn't having a good year, but the free agent market at third base this offseason will be very thin this season and will be headlined by veterans such as Juan Uribe and Michael Young. Freese is under club control through 2015 and while he's not an All-Star, it's easy to see teams making a play for him.
- Mark Reynolds had interest from a number of clubs but he signed with the Yankees because they offered him the best opportunity of any interested club. The Orioles thought about a reunion, but he only would have DH'd against left-handed pitching. The Royals also thought about Reynolds, but they expect Mike Moustakas to come back soon from his calf injury and the Rangers checked in but didn't have an immediate major league opening.
- The Dodgers will be the x-factor in Robinson Cano's free agency and they could be spurred by their recent success to make a play for him. The Dodgers have been indicating that they won't spend like crazy forever and could dedicate their resources to new deals for Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez. However, they could also move one of their surplus outfielders and find the spare cash for the second baseman.
We'll begin a quiet morning in baseball with a few links from the American League …
- Mark Reynolds started his Yankee tenure with a bang, ripping a two-run homer, going two-for-five, and adding another RBI on the evening. As Mark Feinsand and Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News report, Reynolds and his new teammates and manager all seemed pleased with his signing after the game. The Yanks will hope that Reynolds catches one of his patented hot streaks down the stretch this year.
- The Angels' acquisition of young second baseman Grant Green in exchange for Alberto Callaspo is looking better and better in the eyes of MLB.com's Lyle Spencer (via Twitter). Spencer says that Green evidently has the kind of talent that it is worth taking a chance on. After an underwhelming (0-for-15) stint with the Athletics earlier this year, Green has been on fire early in his Angels tenure. In his 36 plate appearances with the Halos, Green has posted a .433/.528/.500 triple-slash.
- For his part, Callaspo's .229/.308/.371 line since joining the A's corresponds to the OPS+ mark (92) he put up in Anaheim this year. With his defensive metrics trending down, Callaspo seems unlikely to put up more than one win above replacement this season (whether measured by Fangraphs or Baseball Reference) for the first time since he became a regular. He will earn $4.875MM next season before becoming a free agent the following year.
The Yankees have agreed to terms with Mark Reynolds, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Heyman indicates that Reynolds will "help with their righthanded power," and indicates he'll be used to spell Alex Rodriguez at third and Lyle Overbay at first. If that's the case, Reynolds would likely play in place of the left-handed Overbay against lefty starters.
The Indians released Reynolds on Monday after he hit .207/.315/.373 in 384 plate appearances this season. Cleveland signed Reynolds to a one-year, $6MM deal in the offseason, and they're still on the hook for the bulk of what's left of that contract — the Yankees will only have to pay Reynolds a pro-rated league-minimum salary.
The 30-year-old Reynolds has 196 career big-league home runs, but has struggled with strikeouts throughout his career. His 223 whiffs in 2009 are the most ever in a season, and he has had two other seasons in the top five all time. As Reynolds has aged, his strikeouts have led to difficulties posting respectable batting averages, and the low averages and weak defense have offset his prodigious power.
Last week we learned that the Marlins never got to the point where they received specific names in trade proposals for Giancarlo Stanton in July. Four high-ranking officials shot down a rumored blockbuster proposal from the Pirates involving Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole in conversations with MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Here's more out of Miami, courtesy of Frisaro..
- It's too early to determine whether the Marlins will attempt to sign Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu, Frisaro says. The team employs two young Cubans – pitcher Jose Fernandez and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria – but Abreu could ask for a deal in the vicinity of six years and $54MM.
- At last in the majors in runs scored, the Marlins are clearly on the hunt for bats to bolster their lineup, according to Frisaro. The Fish have discussed Mark Reynolds, whom the Indians recently requested release waivers for and whom the club considered at last year's Winter Meetings. However, it's thought that he'd be a better fit with an AL team.
- Abreu could be an option this offseason because Miami isn't expected to pursue established players on the free agent market, but the club could also offer pitching prospects in a trade for a power hitter, Frisaro suggests. However, starters Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner are untouchable. The Marlins appear to be targeting a hitting catcher, Frisaro says.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Let's have a look around the American League:
- Angels starter Tommy Hanson has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Jason Vargas, tweets MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Hanson came to the team last November in a deal that sent reliever Jordan Walden to the Braves. While Walden has prospered in Atlanta, Hanson sports an unsightly 5.59 ERA over 67 2/3 innings and has seen his strikeout rate fall from a career-high 9.8 K/9 to 6.9 K/9 this season. Hanson received $3.725MM in 2013, his first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in late May that Hanson was not a likely non-tender candidate, but could price himself into a trade. At this stage, while he won't likely command a major raise, it is reasonable to ask whether Hanson will be tendered a contract by the Angels.
- The Mariners could try to lure Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to Seattle, writes FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The M's have a shade over $33MM on the books for next season, a young core of low-cost regulars already in the stable, and a hole in the middle of the outfield. A return to the Pacific Northwest for the Oregonian Ellsbury could make sense for both sides, Rosenthal suggests. In the midst of a nice bounce-back season at the age of 29, Ellsbury looks to have a strong hold on the number two spot in Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- The Orioles have discussed bringing back Mark Reynolds and will continue to do so, says manager Buck Showalter. As MASN's Roch Kubatko tweets, Showalter did note that "we like our roster." Reynolds would cost nothing more than a roster spot and the league minimum salary, however, since he was placed on release waivers by the Indians earlier today.
- This could be the last season for White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, writes Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald. Konerko has suffered through a down year (for himself and his team), has an expiring contract, and has dealt with lower back issues. Gregor notes that Konerko has previously indicated no interest in holding on "just to chase some numbers," and guesses that he'll ultimately decide to hang it up this fall.
MONDAY: The Indians have requested release waivers on Reynolds for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). Once Reynolds clears waivers, he will be eligible to sign with any team, and his new club will be responsible for only the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
THURSDAY: The Indians have designated Mark Reynolds for assignment, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (on Twitter). Right-hander Preston Guilmet, who had a 1.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 55 1/3 innings at Triple-A Columbus, will be recalled to take his roster spot.
Reynolds, 30, signed a one-year, $6MM contract with Cleveland this offseason after the Orioles declined his $11MM club option and non-tendered him in November. He earned $7.5MM last season, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected Reynolds to earn $8.9MM through the arbitration process, so his contract with the Tribe represented a notable pay cut.
Reynolds sprinted out of the gates at a blazing pace this April, hitting .301/.368/.651 with eight homers on the month. Since May 1, however, the slugger is hitting just .187/.287/.282 with seven home runs in 289 plate appearances. The former 16th-round draft pick has never been able to recreate his 2009 breakout campaign with the D'Backs, during which he hit .260/.349/.543 with 44 homers and 24 stolen bases.
It's been more than two and a half years since Mark Reynolds was traded to the Orioles from the D'Backs, but it was interesting to see each of the key players in the trade pop up in headlines last week. Reynolds was designated for assignment by the Indians, while setup man David Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Reno by the D'Backs.
Those weren't the only names involved in the trade, of course. Arizona also sent backstop John Hester to Baltimore, who sent right-hander Kameron Mickolio to the D'Backs as well. Let's take a look at each player in the deal and how they panned out with their new teams…
- Mark Reynolds: Reynolds was 27 at the time of the trade and just a season removed from the finest year of his Major League career. In 2009, he hit .260/.349/.543 with 44 homers and 24 stolen bases in 155 games. While he led the NL in strikeouts, the breakout campaign led to lofty expectations, of which Reynolds fell very short in 2010. Reynolds followed up his monster season by hitting .198/.320/.433, prompting GM Kevin Towers to ship him to Baltimore. With the O's, Reynolds hit .221/.328/.458 with 60 homers in two seasons before being non-tendered last November. He hit a blistering .247/.352/.532 with 15 homers in the season's final 52 games last year, helping the O's stave off the Rays and earn a Wild Card berth. But in 22 postseason at-bats, he collected just three hits and struck out 10 times. Reynolds' defensive limitations outweighed his power, as Fangraphs pegged him as a below-replacement-level player in Baltimore (-0.2 WAR).
- John Hester: Hester never appeared in a game for the O's, who ultimately released him last season. He batted .254/.324/.341 in 82 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2011 and appeared in 10 more for Norfolk before his release and subsequent signing with the Angels.
- David Hernandez: Hernandez was outstanding for the Snakes in 2011-12, posting a 2.94 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 137 2/3 innings. He picked up 15 saves while filling in as the closer as J.J. Putz was on the DL in those seasons as well. However, Hernandez has seen his command worsen and his swinging-strike rate drop in 2013, leading to a drop in strikeouts. He's also become increasingly homer-prone, which explains the large discrepancy between his 5.59 ERA and 4.17 xFIP. He's controlled for two more seasons after this one, so he has time to sort things out and return to his status as one of the game's best setup men. Hernandez's 3.5 fWAR from 2011-12 ranked seventh among MLB relievers.
- Kam Mickolio: Mickolio was one of the pieces that Baltimore received in the Erik Bedard heist with Seattle, but he never caught on in Baltimore and didn't fare any better with the Diamondbacks. He appeared in just six games for Arizona in 2011, allowing five runs on 10 hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. He was slightly better at Triple-A, where he posted a 4.97 ERA in 58 innings with the Reno Aces. Mickolio, now 29 years old, has potentially revived his career by posting a 2.65 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 over his past 98 1/3 innings of relief. The only problem for Arizona is that he's done it for the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Pro Baseball, as he was released following the 2011 season and signed in Japan.
Overall, the trade looks better for the Diamondbacks than it does the Orioles, even if neither of the key components is a factor in the clubs' current playoff pushes. Baltimore received some added pop to its lineup, but that power came at the expense of Reynolds' poor defense, limiting his overall value to the team. Shedding Reynolds' remaining $13MM in salary was a win for Arizona looks now to have been a victory in its own right, and Hernandez's presence tips the scale in their favor rather decisively, even if he never regains the form he showed in his age 26-27 seasons.
Click here for more entries in the Transaction Retrospection series, and remember that you can use MLBTR's Transaction Tracker to look back on trades and analyze them at any time. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Fellow AL East third bagger Evan Longoria discussed the recent PED suspensions in pointed terms, reports SI.com's Cliff Corcoran. Longoria's most interesting observations, however, relate to the possibility of the players approving (or even seeking) enhancements to the penalties for PED use. "I definitely feel the risk needs to outweigh the reward," said Longoria, who went on to explain that a 50-game suspension was inadequate. "[I]t seems more players are starting to come forward and voicing their opinion negatively about cheating and PEDs," he continued. "If it comes to this offseason or the next, where we have [a] formal meeting [take] place where everybody in the union is there, and we have keynote players in the game today speaking adversely, then policy could get changed. The penalties could get more severe because guys want it out of the game."
- GM Jon Daniels "did his part," according to Rangers manager Ron Washington. As MLB.com's Richard Justice reports, Daniels utilized a blend of aggressiveness and patience in scooping up two players — Matt Garza and Alex Rios — who Justice says were "probably the best" starter and outfielder available.
- If the Orioles are interested in the recently-designated Mark Reynolds, GM Dan Duquette isn't letting on. As Eduardo Encina writes for the Baltimore Sun, Duquette refused to comment on Reynolds, but did note that the O's "have a credible right-handed hitter in Danny Valencia, who is already on the [40-man] roster and would be available to us."
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox are not interested in Reynolds, according to a tweet from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With power-first, strikeout-prone players like Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks already in the BoSox infield mix, the lack of interest from Boston is not surprising.
Here are a few links from around baseball's eastern divisions:
- As expected, the Blue Jays pulled back Mark DeRosa after he was claimed on waivers yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted earlier today. The only team that put in a claim on DeRosa was under .500, making it unsurprising that the Jays ended up holding onto him. As Heyman explains, the club likes his veteran clubhouse presence and cheap 2014 club option ($750k).
- The Indians designated struggling slugger Mark Reynolds for assignment earlier today. His last employer, the Orioles, "do have interest" in bringing Reynolds back if he clears waivers, tweeted ESPN's Jim Bowden. MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli characterizes things somewhat differently, but concurs that the O's "would have some interest" in Reynolds.
- As recently extended GM Mike Rizzo looks to right the Nationals going into next season, perhaps his most important task will be to find a replacement for outgoing manager Davey Johnson. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Diamondbacks coach and longtime Giants third baseman Matt Williams (who Rizzo knows from his days in Arizona) could be among the candidates. According to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times, three other candidates with current or recent ties to the team could also be under consideration: current Astros manager Bo Porter and current Nats coaches Randy Knorr and Trent Jewett.
The Blue Jays' 11-game win streak was snapped tonight at Tropicana Field in a 4-1 loss to the Rays. Jeremy Hellickson delivered seven shutout innings of one-hit ball while James Loney, Wil Myers (in his home debut) and Sam Fuld connected on three straight solo homers in the second inning. One more victory would've given Toronto a new franchise record for consecutive wins.
Here's the latest from around the AL East…
- "If it’s up to me, it’s very unrealistic," that the Rays would leave the Tampa area, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg tells FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, though Sternberg warns that "the decision can be taken out of my hands at some point" by Major League Baseball if the Rays' stadium situation isn't resolved. Sternberg discusses several topics in this wide-ranging chat, from his team's future in Tampa Bay to David Price and Evan Longoria's contracts to even the prospect of MLB returning to Montreal.
- An AL executive sums up the Yankees' decision about trading Phil Hughes as "If he’s good, why trade him? If he’s struggling, what will you get?", according to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (Twitter link). Hughes hasn't pitched well this year (a 5.09 ERA in 14 starts) and will be a free agent this winter, though it has been speculated that the homer-prone Hughes could still be targeted by teams who play in pitcher-friendly stadiums.
- Mark Teixeira received a cortisone shot over a week ago but is "still experiencing soreness" in his right wrist, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including Andy McCullough) in a conference call today. Teixeira's lack of progress renews speculation that he may have to undergo season-ending surgery, though Cashman didn't want to comment on the possibility or possible future moves at first base until more was known about the injury.
- The Orioles are known to be looking for pitching help but since they aren't willing to move any top prospects or core players, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun thinks the O's will have to wait until close to the trade deadline "to see if they can get a bargain" since they currently wouldn't be able to find a true upgrade at their price.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko) that "we would have liked, in a perfect world, to have [Mark Reynolds] back" this season. "I know our guys liked Mark. He's a good teammate, a good guy, an easy guy to manage. We'd like to have had him, but it just didn't work out," Showalter said. Reynolds signed with the Indians last winter and took a .741 OPS and 14 homers into tonight's action, so while the O's could've used Reynolds at DH, they're very set at the corner infield spots thanks to Manny Machado and Chris Davis.