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Let's take a look at the latest news and notes involving the American League East:
- The Red Sox are open to trade market upgrades in the bullpen and at third base, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- One name on Boston's list of bullpen trade targets is the White Sox's Matt Thornton, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter link). The Braves also have "limited" interest in the left-hander.
- Josh Johnson, set to become a free agent at the end of the season, has seen injury and poor performance affect his value to the point where it is difficult to see the Blue Jays pursue a multi-year deal with him, writes the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. Johnson may be forced to accept a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, assuming he receives one, to rebuild his value for 2014, opines Griffin.
- The Phillies' Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz both could be on the Yankees' radar as they have a scout in Philadelphia today, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.
- The recently-released Miguel Olivo is not on the Yankees' radar, but first baseman Russ Canzler, who was designated for assignment yesterday, might pique their curiosity, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
- Earlier today, the Yankees added first base depth by claiming Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. O's Executive Vice President Dan Duquette told reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, he acquired Eric Thames from the Mariners last week knowing he could lose Ishikawa to another team.
Here are a few trade notes from around the American League:
- As we approach the trade deadline with the Mariners looking more like sellers than buyers, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times took a look back at GM Jack Zduriencik's recent history at the deadline. Beginning with an ill-fated swap of a young Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans and featuring the retrospectively painful Doug Fister deal, the net return to Seattle has not been terribly productive.
- This year, the Mariners could be in a position to deal some relievers. Last night, we took a look at FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal's breakdown of potentially available NL relievers. Tonight, let's look at the AL crop. From the M's, Rosenthal says that veteran lefty Oliver Perez is the most likely to be dealt, with Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen also prime candidates. The latter two, however, will likely command a high price given that Furbush may just be reaching arbitration after this season as a Super Two, while Wilhelmsen will not reach arbitration until after the 2014 campaign.
- Rosenthal also pegs the White Sox and Astros as sellers with attractive bullpen pieces. Chicago could swing a trade for stud reliever Jesse Crain if he can return in time to prove his health; otherwise, both Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom could hold some appeal. (Both of the latter two pitchers come with club options for 2014.) For Houston, meanwhile, the prime trade chip among its relief corps is unquestionably closer Jose Veras, who is cheap, strikes out a lot of hitters, and has been solid in late-inning work this year.
- One other team that should look to the future, according to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, is the Blue Jays. With the club again fading after its recent resurgence, Morosi says Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos faces a "virtually impossible" task to right the ship before the trade deadline. Rather than selling out for this season, says Morosi, the Jays should look to shore up the team's rotation to make a run in 2014 and 2015.
- Sticking with the Jays, Morosi says that Josh Johnson — occasionally noted as a potential trade candidate earlier in the year — has been "perhaps the team's greatest disappointment this year." Johnson currently carries a 4.89 ERA in 53 1/3 innings; his walk rate is below his career average at 3.4 BB/9, though he is striking batters out at a strong 9.1 K/9 clip. At this point, Morosi suggests, Toronto may be best served by shipping Johnson back to the National League rather than looking to try and bring him back next year.
We heard last week that the White Sox had begun to receive calls on their veteran players. Now, rival executives tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the ChiSox are "open for business" and willing to discuss anyone on their roster with the exception of Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
That means that even John Danks, who just last year signed a five-year, $65MM extension with the Sox, could be had in the right deal. The team also has desirable trade chips like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Thornton and Jake Peavy (though he's currently on the DL). Heyman also adds that Jeff Keppinger's name has already come up in conversations, despite the fact that he signed a three-year deal just this past offseason.
Not surprisingly, one executive told Heyman that Adam Dunn will be difficult to move. Dunn is owed $15MM in 2014 and is hitting .194/.303/.460 this season. Another said that Peavy will be tough to find a match for as well. The White Sox will have a high asking price on their co-ace, but teams won't have much time to determine if he's truly healthy.
Another executive told Heyman that the Mets could look at Ramirez as a potential long-term option at shortstop. While he's not hitting for power anymore, Ramirez is batting .280/.308/.345 with 18 stolen bases and outstanding defense, according to advanced metrics like UZR and DRS. He's owed $10MM in 2014 and has a $10MM club option for 2015 on his contract as well.
A few notes from around MLB's Central divisions, where the Indians and Cardinals will enter first place entering Sunday's action …
- The White Sox could look to trade one of their four left-hander relievers if they fall out of contention later in the season, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com, particularly Matt Thornton and/or Will Ohman. Thornton's contract calls for a $5.5MM salary in 2013 and includes a $6MM club option for 2014, while Ohman is a free agent at season's end.
- Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan is becoming a likelier trade candidate with so many relievers suffering injuries, writes Tom Singer of MLB.com. Hanrahan, for his part, is aware of the possibility but hopes to remain in Pittsburgh, mentioning the Bucs' decision not to sell off players at last year's deadline. The right-hander is slated to become a free agent after 2013.
- The Indians seriously scouted Yoenis Cespedes but were never close to signing the outfielder, who eventually inked with the A's, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
- In an interesting piece for the New York Times, Tyler Kepner writes how Reds shortstop prospect Billy Hamilton's blazing speed is indicative of a trend in scouting and player development. With run production declining, speed is once again highly valued. Said Bill Bavasi, Cincinnati's vice president for scouting and player development: "We’re seeing the game go through a renaissance right now. We’re going to see some different bodies playing the game, and a premium is going to be placed on speed, on range and on doing all the little skills that were so important in baseball …"
Most general managers prefer not to rush trades for bullpen help early in the season because relievers are so volatile, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. Olney takes a look at some relievers off to hot starts in his latest Insider-only column. Here are some highlights:
- Blue Jays left-hander Luis Perez has impressed an AL executive after striking out 14 in 12 2/3 scoreless innings to start the season. "He could be a starting pitcher, but to me, he's as good a left-handed reliever as there is in the American League right now," the person said.
- Olney points out that left-hander Matt Thornton is pitching well and notes that the White Sox tried to trade him at last year’s trade deadline and again over the winter.
- MLB executives have told Olney that they aren’t interested in acquiring Brandon Inge because he doesn’t contribute at the plate anymore.
- Olney wonders when the Mets will be able to spend like a large market team and says manager Terry Collins “has done a terrific job” with the current roster.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks every manager in the majors, one through 30. Cafardo's top five skippers in the game for 2012 are Joe Maddon (Rays), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Mike Scioscia (Angels), Charlie Manuel (Phillies), and Joe Girardi (Yankees). Here's more from Cafardo..
- While the Mets were considering releasing right-hander Mike Pelfrey, they likely won’t do that because there should be a trade market for the veteran. The 28-year-old makes $5.6MM on a non-guaranteed deal and the Mets may be able to get something from a club looking for a back-end starter.
- White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton is a player who always draws interest, though other clubs wish he didn’t make $12MM over the next two years. With Hector Santiago and Will Ohman on the team, the closer could again be trade bait.
- The Cubs may eat some money to move outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is scheduled to earn $6.5MM this season. They may have suitors in the Braves, Phillies, and others. A National League scout indicated that Byrd’s name is being mentioned more and more as the end of spring training approaches.
- Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg is available as the O's try to rid themselves of extraneous players and save money. Gregg makes $5.6MM this year, and the Orioles don’t want his 2013 contract to kick in at $6MM if he finishes 50 games in 2012.
- Cafardo expects long-term extension talks between Cole Hamels and the Phillies to move slowly.
- One American League owner said of the Padres, "They’re probably a half-billion to $700MM purchase. And I don’t believe that many, or any, of the finalists for the Dodgers would be interested."
1:53pm: This rumor is bogus, tweets O'Brien.
1:37pm: A potential trade of White Sox lefty reliever Matt Thornton to the Braves is picking up steam, tweets Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. However, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says this one's not happening.
Thornton, 35, posted a 3.32 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.45 HR/9, and 48.8% groundball rate in 59 2/3 innings for the White Sox this year. He's owed $12MM through 2013 on an extension signed in March. It's unclear whether Sox GM Kenny Williams would further deplete his bullpen depth after trading Sergio Santos to Toronto today, but relievers generally aren't crucial to a rebuilding effort.
The White Sox have been looking to trade Matt Thornton since July and are still trying to move him, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Before the 2011 season, the White Sox signed the left-hander to a two-year, $12MM extension that covers the 2012-13 seasons and includes a club option for 2014.
The 35-year-old posted a 3.32 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.45 HR/9 and a 48.8% ground ball rate in 59 2/3 innings this past season. Armed with a fastball that averages 96 mph, Thornton figures to draw interest this offseason, as he did last summer, especially since the free agent market doesn't feature lefty relievers of his caliber. The Yankees, Blue Jays and Rangers are among the teams that may seek left-handed relief this offseason.
The waiver wire is heating up with one week remaining for teams to trade for postseason reinforcements. Here’s a refresher on how August trades work and here are the latest rumors…
- The Indians placed a claim on Jim Thome, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). However, the White Sox, who have a worse record than Cleveland, also placed a claim, so they would have priority over the Indians.
- It appears unlikely that the Giants, who won the claim on Heath Bell, will complete a trade for the reliever, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports (on Twitter).
- Though the Padres would find if difficult to accept a weak offer for Bell, it might beat the alternative of keeping him and potentially paying him big money in 2012, Ken Rosenthal writes at FOX Sports.
- The White Sox placed John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton on waivers, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
- The Giants are a fit for the recently waived Ramon Hernandez, but the catcher will likely be a Type A free agent so a different team could claim him for draft picks, ESPN.com's Buster Olney notes (on Twitter).
- Hoynes suggests the Indians likely claimed one of Thome and Jason Kubel (Twitter link). Unknown teams claimed both Twins sluggers this week.
- The Rockies were one of the teams that put in a claim on David Wright this month, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Though it's unclear which team won the claim, it probably doesn't matter at the moment, since the Mets aren't trading their third baseman. As Renck points out, it's a reminder that the Rockies will be interested if the Mets ever make Wright available.
The American League Central welcomed a handful of new players this week – most notably right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Yet many other trades didn't materialize. Here are the details on some deals that could have impacted the division…
- The Tigers tried to acquire Tommy Hunter from the Rangers before the Orioles obtained him in the Koji Uehara deal yesterday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Tigers did acquire Doug Fister for their rotation.
- The Brewers called on every good left-handed relief option out there, including White Sox southpaw Matt Thornton, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- The Twins talked to the Blue Jays about re-acquiring Jon Rauch, but talks went nowhere, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- The Indians discussed as many as 75 players leading up to the deadline, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (on Twitter).