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The Phillies are “waiting with open arms” to find the right trade for at least one of their big-name veteran players, a major league official tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. That list of big names, of course, includes ace Cole Hamels, though Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley could also be moved, Cafardo writes. Amaro recently told reporters that he’s willing to eat part of Hamels’ contract in a trade if necessary, and that could help bring about a deal for the Phillies. More from today’s column..
- Major league sources tell Cafardo that the tampering investigation brought by Rays owner Stuart Sternberg against the Cubs for their hiring of Joe Maddon was reopened when Sternberg objected to the original verdict. In the end, however, it was found that there was no tampering in the negotiations.
- Marlins GM Dan Jennings thought he had trade possibilities for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was designated for assignment last week. He’s currently in the 10-day limbo period in which he could be traded, claimed, or put on waivers.
- Scouts are still waiting for Red Sox outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig to bust out and it appears Boston is going to play him more to boost his trade value. Cafardo notes that Craig has historically hit well in the month of May.
- The Red Sox are trying to create roster versatility by using players at different positions. Shortstop Deven Marrero is the team’s latest experiment after seeing time at second base. One NL scout isn’t so wild about the concept. “He’s a terrific athlete so he’ll do well at the other positions, but this is the type of guy where you know he’s a terrific shortstop so why mess around with that?” said the scout. “He’s got high confidence as a shortstop and now you’re reducing that confidence level by making him play positions he’s not used to.”
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- A pair of veterans are headed to the Marlins, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). Lefty Travis Blackley and catcher Jesus Flores will join the Miami organization after being cut loose by other clubs earlier in the spring. Blackley, 32, has not seen big league action since 2013 and struggled in a brief stint in Japan last year. The 30-year-old Flores, meanwhile, has never returned to the majors since a five-year run with the Nationals. At Triple-A last year with the Royals, he slashed .230/.299/.373 over 271 plate appearances.
- The Braves have released veteran reliever Matt Capps, according to the International League transactions page. Capps, a former closer for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins, last appeared in the big leagues in 2012. He pitched just 12 minor-league innings in the last two seasons in the Indians system while dealing with shoulder issues, and he had not yet appeared in a game in 2015.
- The Braves have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of utilityman Pedro Ciriaco. To make space on their active roster, they’ve optioned lefty Ian Thomas to Triple-A Gwinnett. With Chris Johnson out with a hand injury, the Braves plan to go with Alberto Callaspo and Phil Gosselin at third base, and Ciriaco could provide extra help at third and elsewhere in the infield. The 29-year-old has a career .270/.299/.372 line in 498 plate appearances over five seasons with the Pirates, Red Sox, Padres and Royals. The Braves signed him to a minor-league deal in October.
Injuries remain perhaps the largest driver of needs in the early part of the season — a topic that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes and I explored in today’s podcast with respect to starting pitching. Let’s have a look at some key injury situations around the game:
- Rehabbing Royals starter Kris Medlen is headed to extended Spring Training to begin throwing against live batters, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. That leaves him on track for a rehab assignment in May. Kansas City has $8.5MM riding on the righty’s ability to return to form after his second Tommy John surgery.
- The Reds are missing two key cogs in backstop Devin Mesoraco and righty Homer Bailey. As Michael Hunt reports for MLB.com, manager Bryan Price says that Mesoraco — still not on the DL despite a 17-game absence from his usual catching duties — is still not ready “to try it out just yet,” adding that Mesoraco is “coming along slowly.” There are longer-term concerns with regard to Bailey, of course, and surgery is said to be on the table. “We’re probably going to know in the next one-to-two days what our plans are with Homer,” Price said. “You spend a lot of time when you make a diagnosis, fact-finding and making sure everything you see is as it appears. That’s been the time consumer, making sure it is what we think it is and finding the best way to treat it.”
- Marlins starter Jose Fernandez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, of course, and recently faced hitters in a live BP session for the first time. You can check out the video of his outing, courtesy of FOX Sports Florida.
- After a pause in his rehab, Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon is preparing for another Double-A appearance in the coming days, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. The issue has not been with his knee, which caused him to hit the DL to start the year, but with tightness in his side. That’s good news for the club, obviously, as is the fact that reliever Casey Janssen appeared in an extended spring game. He is set to begin his own run up through the minors in short order, per Ladson.
- Injured Tigers starter Justin Verlander is set for a third MRI on his right triceps area early next week, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, reliever Joe Nathan underwent his Tommy John procedure yesterday, Fenech tweets, with Nathan saying that it went well. It figures to be a long road back for the 40-year-old, but indications are that he’ll try to return to the big leagues.
10:50pm: Heyman adds, via Twitter, that the Orioles are not in the mix for Saltalamacchia.
10:05pm: The Diamondbacks, Rays and Royals are all discussing Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s unclear if Kansas City’s interest has picked up at all between McCullough’s report and this latest update, though the Rays and certainly the D-Backs would seem to have a bigger need behind the dish. Like MacPherson yesterday, Heyman hears that the Red Sox aren’t in the mix.
4:14pm: The Royals have some interest in Saltalamacchia, but their interest is said to be very preliminary, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). As McCullough notes, GM Dayton Moore was the Braves’ director of player development when Atlanta drafted Saltalamacchia.
APRIL 27: The Marlins have already had contact with five teams regarding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. GM Dan Jennings says that he expects to find a deal for the just-designated backstop.
Among the potential landing spots are the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, one source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). According to other reports, however, Boston is “unlikely” to be interested in adding the 29-year-old, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets, even if it were able to add him for just the league minimum.
Saltalamacchia thrived in Boston, slashing a combined .243/.307/.455 during his four seasons there. Since earning a large free agent payday to join the Marlins last year, Saltalamacchia owns a fairly disapointing .209/.310/.351 line at the plate. That output, while still not bad for a catcher, was not enough to outweigh his lightly-regarded defensive work.
Nevertheless, Salty remains an interesting option for teams looking for a backup or injury replacement (as the above list would indicate). The switch hitter has been much more productive historically against right-handed pitching (.775 career OPS) and makes for a natural platoon mate for any right-handed swinging backstop.
In a rather surprising move, the Marlins announced that they have designated catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment.
Saltalamacchia, 29, is less than a month into the second year of a three-year, $21MM pact with the Marlins. He’s owed $6.16MM through season’s end and still has an $8MM salary remaining in 2016, the final year of his contract. With $14.16MM left on his deal, Saltalamacchia is all but certain to clear waivers if that’s where he’s headed, but it remains possible that the Marlins could move him to another club if they absorb a significant portion of his remaining salary.
Though the remaining salary on his contract and the early juncture of the season make this move unexpected, Saltalamacchia’s bat hasn’t justified the investment which the Marlins made in the 2013-14 offseason. In a combined 468 plate appearances over the past two years, Saltalamacchia has batted just .209/.310/.351 with a dozen homers. Top catching prospect J.T. Realmuto was promoted earlier this month and will be relied upon as the everyday catcher going forward, it would seem.
It’s possible that the Marlins are far enough along in trade discussions that they were comfortable designating Saltalamacchia in order to clear a 40-man spot now. (The Orioles recently did this with Ryan Webb, for example.) It seems odd that they wouldn’t be able to find a taker for Saltalamacchia at $1-2MM per season to spare them some of the cost, but as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes, the team did try to trade Saltalamacchia all winter without any success (Twitter link).
A 3-10 start for the Marlins led to speculation that manager Mike Redmond might be on the hot seat, and after initially declining to comment one way or another on that speculation, team owner Jeffrey Loria endorsed Redmond when speaking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports after last night’s victory. “He’s the manager. Period,” said Loria after watching his team improve to 8-11. “All team go through bad moments. Ours came early. … He did a very nice job last year, and he works hard.”
Heyman goes on to write that Loria insisted that the team isn’t giving any serious consideration to replacing Redmond, who signed a three-year extension through the 2017 season on the final day of the 2014 campaign. He also denied that Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman is or was a consideration at one point, noting that he doesn’t know Backman.
The Marlins have gone 5-1 since the initial report that Redmond could be on the hot seat, and while that’s a small sample of games, it did include a decisive sweep of the division-favorite Nationals, in which Miami outscored Washington 17-4. The Fish also took two of three against the Phillies last week as well.
Reports last week also indicated that GM Dan Jennings and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are both big fans of Redmond, and neither wanted to make a change. It would seem, then, that some combination of the team’s improved play over divisional opponents, combined with a vote of confidence from his top baseball ops executives, has swayed Loria to come around on Redmond. Last week, when asked whether or not Redmond was on the hot seat, Loria declined to comment on his job security, stating, “I’m not interested in palace intrigue. We’ve got games to win — period.”
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- The Orioles will sign corner intfielder Brandon Snyder to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Snyder, 28, had agreed to a deal with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in March. He hit .206/.284/.444 in 141 plate appearances with the Red Sox’ Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate in 2014. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2013 and had previously had cups of coffee with the Orioles and Rangers. The Orioles made him the 13th overall pick in the draft ten years ago.
- The Rays have outrighted Allan Dykstra, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Dykstra playing first base for much of April, but he became superfluous when James Loney returned from the disabled list. The 27-year-old Dykstra hit .280/.426/.504 for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season, drawing 84 walks in 439 plate appearances.
- The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
- The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
- The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
- The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page. Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014. He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
- Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.
Some within the industry believe the Nationals should trade for Jonathan Papelbon and install Drew Storen as the setup man, says Ken Rosenthal with FOX Sports (video link). While there is some concern over Papelbon’s velocity, he’s off to a great start and “never misses his spots.” His $13MM vesting option for 2016 remains an obstacle. Rosenthal notes that the Tigers and Blue Jays are other possible destinations. I agree that these three clubs could all use relief help. To me, it makes more sense for the Nationals to address their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have a tougher path to the postseason, so they could really use the reinforcements now. Here’s more from Rosenthal.
- The Brewers may shift to a rebuilding stance, and teams are in constant contact about Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Another star, Ryan Braun, will be difficult to trade. He’s slumped to start the season. He’s owed $105MM through 2020, and his no trade clause includes every team by the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman credits his analytics department for recommending Chris Young. The outfielder is off to a blazing start with four home runs and a .357/.426/.762 line in 48 plate appearances. The Yankees have become familiar with buying low. They also acquired Chris Capuano, Martin Prado, and Brandon McCarthy at discount prices.
- The Marlins are en route to their fourth consecutive victory, but manager Mike Redmond may remain on the hot seat. As one insider told Rosenthal, once owner Jeffrey Loria gets an idea in his head, “he can’t let it go.” If that’s the case, Redmond will need his team to go on an impressive streak.
The Marlins announced that they have designated left-hander Grant Dayton for assignment. The move frees up a 40-man roster spot for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was selected today when Jarrod Saltalamacchia was placed on the paternity list.
The 27-year-old Dayton was Miami’s 11th-round pick back in 2010 out of Auburn University. Baseball America ranked him among Miami’s Top 30 prospects prior to each of the 2012-14 seasons, ranging from 17th to 25th. Dayton has worked almost exclusively as a reliever over the course of his Minor League career, totaling a 2.63 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 263 innings of work. He’s typically been old for his level, however, and didn’t reach Triple-A until his age-26 season in 2014.
The Dodgers made a big splash last month with two successive signings of Cuban free agents: infielder Hector Olivera ($62.5MM) and righty Pablo Fernandez ($8MM). But as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports, both players still have yet to receive their visas — and, as a result, have not undergone physicals. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman explained that the club could have elected to perform physicals in the Dominican Republic, where Olivera and Fernandez are both residing. But the Dodgers prefer to wait to allow team doctors a personal inspection. All said, it does not appear that there is any reason to doubt that the agreed-upon terms will ultimately be formalized. In the case of Olivera, however, questions about elbow health were an issue that was reportedly addressed in the contract itself, and his past medical difficulties (along with the significant guarantee) raise the stakes of the physical.
- Meanwhile, the Dodgers have managed to pull together quite a productive bullpen this year at rather a low cost, as Dave Cameron explains in a piece for FOX Sports. The club has continued to tinker with that unit, claiming and designating a pair of arms and then dealing for Xavier Cedeno earlier today. Friedman explains that the club is building depth and expects to add Cedeno to the active roster (via Hoornstra’s Tout feed).
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says that he is “not looking at the manager or the general manager right now” as the club looks to turn around an awful start, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Attanasio placed the blame on the fact that many of the club’s players are not matching their career standards. He also defended the organization’s decision to keep its core together and try to compete in 2015, saying that it performed “a huge amount of analysis” in making that call.
- If the Marlins do make a change at manager, Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman is not a candidate, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Miami owner Jeffrey Loria is “actively reviewing” the situation of Mike Redmond as the team tries to shake off a rusty start. Over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan argues that, though the club’s awful opening is obviously disappointing, the expectations never should have been very high at the start of 2015.