Matt LaPorta Rumors

Indians Notes: Brantley, Branyan, Choo, Sizemore

Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com discusses some Tribe topics in a fan mailbag

  • Castrovince thinks Michael Brantley will be in Cleveland by midseason, as the Russell Branyan signing was made with an eye towards postponing Brantley's major league service clock.  A strong first half of the season for Branyan could get the veteran traded, thus creating regular playing time for Brantley in left field and Matt LaPorta moving to first.
  • Speaking of veterans being dealt, Castrovince says "it's hard to imagine Jake Westbrook, Kerry Wood and Branyan remaining with this club beyond the 2010 season, and Jhonny Peralta's future here is also in question."
  • We've heard about Shin-Soo Choo's looming conflict with his South Korean military service and how it may affect his playing career.  Castrovince argues that a compromise (such as Choo postponing his service until after his career is over) would work best for both the player and the government.  Castrovince notes that the South Korean government might not want to be seen as forcing one of the country's sporting heroes away from playing major league baseball.
  • In the wake of Choo switching agents from Alan Nero to Scott Boras, Castrovince reported in a separate blog post that another Nero client in Cleveland (Asdrubal Cabrera) "has no plans" to change his representation.  Castrovince also notes that Boras has his eye on Indians prospect Carlos Santana and is "pursuing him hard."
  • In another article, Castrovince discusses Grady Sizemore's future with the Tribe.  He believes that Sizemore's contract is structured well enough that "the Indians find it difficult to imagine a scenario in which they'd be compelled to deal him to another club in either of the next two years."

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Pirates, Twins, Beltre, Giants

On New Year's Day 49 years ago, the stadium on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Trumbull Boulevard in Detroit was officially renamed Tiger Stadium. The then 49-year-old park had previously been known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium. Tiger Stadium would serve as the home of Detroit's ball club until the 2000 season, and was demolished completely in 2009.

Here's a look at what's being written around the baseball blogosphere…

  • Bucco Fans takes a look at what could have happened if the Pirates had kept their 2008 roster together.
  • Twins Overlook runs down Minnesota's top seven prospects, led by outfielder Aaron Hicks.
  • Meanwhile, Nick's Twins Blog examines the current state of the Twinkies' starting rotation.
  • The Bottom Line looks at how signing Adrian Beltre could affect the big picture in Boston.
  • DRaysBay compares Matt Joyce to Matt LaPorta, and finds that the gap between the two may not be as big as you think.
  • Jorge Says No! looks at the potential risk and reward of the Mark DeRosa signing.
  • El Lefty Malo guesses that the Giants will wait to see how Jonathan Sanchez's arbitration case turns out before deciding on whether or not to move a starter for a bat. 
  • Pinstripes Published suggests David DeJesus as a possible left field solution for the Yankees. 

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Olney’s Latest: Atlanta’s Potential Trade Partners

ESPN.com's Buster Olney chimes in with some players and teams that could matchup in a trade with the Braves, who could dangle Javier Vazquez and/or Yunel Escobar as bait. Most of the rumors are just Olney's own speculation, but let's round 'em up anyway.

  • The Red Sox have liked Escobar for a while, but don't match up very well for a trade.
  • Olney mentions that Jacoby Ellsbury might be the only fit since JD Drew is owed a ton of money and Jason Bay will be a free agent after the year, but that wouldn't work for  Boston since they would then need to find another centerfielder.
  • Olney speculates that the Red Sox could use their young pitching to engage a third team in a trade, mentioning that Matt LaPorta, Shin-Soo Choo and Corey Hart could be a good fit.
  • Boston could eat some of the money left on Julio Lugo's deal to give Atlanta a stop-gap shortstop should they deal Escobar.
  • The Red Sox are not interested in Jeff Francoeur.
  • If Milwaukee and Atlanta discussed a Vazquez-Hart swap, the Brewers would likely have to kick in another piece.
  • The Twins could offer one of their many outfielders in exchange for Escobar. Delmon Young might not be enough to entice the Braves, but Michael Cuddyer or Denard Span could be.
  • The Dodgers would love to add Vazquez to their rotation, but Juan Pierre probably wouldn't be enough given his lack of power.
  • The A's could package Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera, both free agents after the season, for Escobar, who would step in as Oakland's shortstop of the future.


Gammons’ Latest: Red Sox, Washburn, DeRosa

In his latest blog post at ESPN.com, Peter Gammons writes that "unless someone comes up with a Justin Smoak, Matt LaPorta or Brett Wallace," the Red Sox will hold on to Brad Penny and enjoy the depth. He says no one will offer up a prospect like that for a few months of Penny.

Here's the rest of Gammons' rumors:

  • Takashi Saito is the pitcher on Boston's staff most likely to be traded.
  • Jake Peavy and Erik Bedard "probably won't be tradeable before Aug. 1" because of their injuries.
  • Jarrod Washburn could be had.
  • The Red Sox have talked to the Angels about infielder Maicer Izturis, but the talks haven't gone anywhere
  • Mark Mulder "made considerable progress refinding his delivery after one session with pitching coach Rick Peterson."
  • The Mets are looking for an outfield bat. They made a run at Mark DeRosa, but wouldn't discuss Bobby Parnell.
  • The Cardinals wouldn't discuss Jason Motte or Chris Perez in exchange for DeRosa.
  • The uncertain situation surrounding the Cubs' ownership will likely prohibit any major additions.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Peavy, Braves, Penny, Francoeur

On this date 20 years ago, Mike Schmidt announced his retirement 42 games into the season. He was still voted to the National League All-Star team, but did not play. Schmidt retired with a career line of .267/.380/.527, 548 home runs and 10 gold gloves. As we approach the 50-game mark of the '09 season, teams are starting to recognize needs and make changes. Let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…

  • The Fightins make a case for the Phillies going after Jake Peavy.
  • When Sid Slid highlights players the Braves might be able to target in a trade, including Luke Scott, Josh Willingham and Brad Hawpe.
  • Center Field Gate takes a look at a Manny Delcarmen-Nick Johnson swap from a Nats perspective and finds things not to like.  Nats GM Mike Rizzo said the rumor was a fabrication, anyway.
  • The Bottom Line puts together a list of catchers the Red Sox might target in a trade involving Brad Penny or Clay Buchholz.
  • Capitol Avenue Club says it is time for the Braves to shake things up and moving Jeff Francoeur is the key.
  • The Ghost of Moonlight Graham sees a Matt LaPorta for Michael Bowden trade as good for both the Red Sox and Indians.
  • DC Sports Plus takes a look back at the Nationals' recent draft history.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com. If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here, and followed on Twitter here.


Graffanino Designated For Assignment

According to an MLB.com press release, the Indians have designated infielder Tony Graffanino for assignment.

The move essentially cleared roster space for highly touted outfield prospect Matt LaPorta, who was acquried from the Brewers in last year's CC Sabathia trade.  Graffanino, 37 in June, was 3-for-23 in seven games with the Indians this season.  He could get a shot elsewhere as a utility infielder.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Giles, Dodgers, Indians, Fielder

Ken Rosenthal has a new Full Count video up over at FOX Sports. Here’s the highlights:

  • The Red Sox wanted to use Brian Giles in right field against certain right-handers, and shift J.D. Drew over to center field for those games. Giles blocked the trade for family reasons, according to Rosenthal, despite the chance at an increased pay day and an opportunity to play in the postseason.
  • Rosenthal says that while the Dodgers are under pressure to re-sign Manny Ramirez, there may be more pressure to sign Casey Blake after this season. Rosenthal points out that Blake is batting .333 in his first 16 games in Dodger blue, and the Dodgers traded away their best young third baseman in Andy LaRoche in order to get Manny. The Dodgers aren’t sold on Blake DeWitt as a long-term option.
  • Rosenthal feels that the Brewers are now less likely to shop Prince Fielder in the offseason, though he points out they could fetch quite a nice haul of Major-League-ready talent if they shopped Fielder as an alternative to Mark Teixeira. Rosenthal feels that J.J. Hardy is a much better bet to be shopped though, as Alcides Escobar could be used to replace him in 2009.
  • Rosenthal wonders if, given Kelly Shoppach’s emergence, the Indians could try to trade him for a top-end starter. Rosenthal offers two scenarios for Cleveland: Trade Shoppach and sign Jason Giambi, or keep Shoppach, sign Orlando Hudson, move Victor Martinez to first base. Both scenarios have the same goal of adding offense and allowing Matt LaPorta to remain in the outfield.

Week in Review

Here’s a look back at the biggest stories MLBTR covered for the week of July 6 – 13:

  • The Brewers completed a deal for C.C. Sabathia, sending Matt LaPorta and other prospects to Cleveland in return. Sabathia’s looked great so far, and LaPorta’s already making an impact in the Indians minor league system. Looks good for both teams right now if you ask this guy.
  • The Cubs answered their division rival quickly, landing Oakland ace Rich Harden along with Chad Gaudin in exchange for Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, and Josh Donaldson. Harden was brilliant in his debut. I think this could be another win-win trade, if Harden stays healthy.
  • It was once again made clear that no one has interest in Barry Bonds, even at this juncture of the season. Seems like we’ve heard this once or twice before…
  • It was a long time coming: The Mariners released Richie Sexson. Could the Yankees be interested?
  • With likely season-ending injuries to both Eric Byrnes and Moises Alou (possibly career-ending in Alou’s case), both the D’Backs and Mets are in the market for corner outfielders. Raul Ibanez should be appealing to both clubs, though the Mariners may not be interested in trading him, Jim Riggleman says. Carlos Beltran voiced his support of acquiring Ibanez. I personally don’t see why Seattle wouldn’t pull the trigger, but I’m not a Major League GM, I suppose.
  • Tim updated both the first base and catcher markets in the Trade Market Series.
  • The Twins had internal discussions on Adrian Beltre. A third base upgrade would certainly be nice, but they’re not known for making big moves at the deadline. Could Bill Smith change that reputation in his first year as GM?

Sabathia To Brewers Trade Official

Let’s round up today’s C.C. Sabathia links in a fresh post.

  • The Brewers’ trade for ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia is official.  As a reminder, the Indians will receive Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, and maybe Taylor GreenPaul Hoynes says Michael Brantley could end up the player to be named later instead of Green.  Ken Rosenthal suggests Lorenzo Cain may also still be possible.  MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo analyzes the prospects received by the Indians.
  • Here’s an interesting link.  This is apparently the blog of agent Joshua Kusnick of Double Diamond Sports Management.  Among others, Kusnick represents Cain, Brantley, and Green.  He says Green hasn’t been informed of anything but seems more likely to be included than Brantley.
  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan calls the package of players an "OK haul."
  • ESPN’s Keith Law agrees, suggesting that Mark Shapiro should’ve held out for a higher probability return.  He sees Bryson as the key to the deal.  The 20 year-old is a projectable live arm.
  • Joel Sherman says the Brewers aren’t done – they want to add a late-inning reliever as well.
  • Indians owner Paul Dolan explains the Sabathia trade in a letter to fans.
  • Rosenthal has details of other teams’ attempts to acquire Sabathia.  He says the Dodgers wanted the Indians to package Sabathia with Casey Blake.  Surprisingly, the Yankees were "very heavily involved."  They did not want to give up Phil Hughes, however.
  • Most articles seem to assume that the Brewers have no chance of signing Sabathia.  I agree that it’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  We’ve read repeatedly that Sabathia does not intend to chase every last dollar.  What if he loves Milwaukee and he leads the team deep into the playoffs?  The Brewers could let Ben Sheets and Eric Gagne leave and put that money toward a competitive five-year Sabathia offer.  It’s not out of the question.

Brewers Close To Acquiring C.C. Sabathia

10:11pm: Haudricourt has names.  He says the Indians are getting LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, and maybe Taylor Green.  Green could end up in the deal as a player to be named later.

Also, Rosenthal has commentary on the deal, explaining that "in baseball’s new-world order, prospects are power."  The ability to draft brilliantly could trump payroll as a competitive advantage.

7:59pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney chimes in, citing sources that say the teams have agreed in principle to a deal.  Sabathia himself sent a text message to ESPN’s Amy Nelson implying the same.  All signs point to Sabathia making his Brewers debut on Tuesday, with an official trade announcement tomorrow.

By the way, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has sources saying LaPorta and Green are in the deal.

6:29pm: MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince talked to Indians GM Mark Shapiro, who said "it is definitely not a done deal."  We don’t know whether that comment refers to the standard physical, or something more.  Meanwhile, Scott Miller says the deal is all but done.

6:05pm: Haudricourt says the Indians and Brewers have reached an agreement on a Sabathia trade.  The Brewers will send LaPorta and two lower level minor leaguers to Cleveland for the southpaw ace.

5:53pm: Haudricourt checks back in, stating that a deal is nearly complete. The Brewers will send LaPorta and two other minor leaguers in exchange for Sabathia. One of them could likely be Class A third baseman Taylor Green, but the other will not be Lorenzo Cain, Mat Gamel, or Alcides Escobar. Cain has been promoted to Class AA Huntsville, likely to take LaPorta’s place on the roster.

The Brewers are insisting that the deal be closed tonight, in order to allow Sabathia to arrive in Milwaukee in time to make his next scheduled start on Tuesday.

5:41pm: LaPorta is absent from tonight’s game in AA Huntsville; Alcides Escobar is not. Definitely a sign that LaPorta could be on the move and a deal is getting closer to completion.

4:50pm: Tom Haudricourt tells us that the Brewers and Indians are still in "heavy negotiations." Haudricourt notes that with the Indians having a day off tomorrow, it makes an ideal time for a press conference to announce a big move. Additionally, he reiterates that the Brewers should try to get the deal done in time to have Sabathia make his next scheduled start in a Brewers uniform.

3:54pm: Jon Heyman weighs in on the impending Sabathia deal, stating that the Indians have been trying to pry top shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar away from the Brewers as well. Heyman re-affirms that the Brewers would like a deal complete as soon as possible, in order to get two starts from Sabathia – one Tuesday and one Sunday – before the All-Star Break.

No mention of the unconfirmed report of the deal being completed from Heyman just yet.

3:15pm: Anthony Castrovince from MLB.com takes Rosenthal’s rumor one step further, citing a "Major League source," that says a trade with the Brewers and Indians for C.C. Sabathia has been "completed." If correct, the trade is indeed centered around Double-A outfielder Matt LaPorta, though the other two prospects are not yet named.

Further updates as soon as they are available.

1:58pm: Ken Rosenthal writes that the Dodgers are officially out of the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes, meaning that the Brewers could be extremely close to securing a deal to bring the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner to Milwaukee.

Rosenthal says that the Rays and Phillies are still in the race, but are also likely unable to top the Brewers’ offer, centered around Class AA outfielder Matt LaPorta. Rosenthal points out the Indians’ strong need for power in the future and LaPorta’s 20 HR and 66 RBI in AA Huntsville. According to Rosenthal, Cleveland will also receive two more prospects from Milwaukee in the current offer. Taylor Green and Lorenzo Cain were mentioned previously on MLBTR.