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The Twins should look to the Cardinals, Braves, and A’s as role models, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Like the Twins, those three clubs are middle class franchises, yet they also consistently succeed against the top payrolls in baseball. Mackey highlights a few traits to emulate. Minnesota should seek to supplement their upcoming prospects with affordable trade and free agent acquisitions. They can’t be afraid to trade a player at the height of his value (Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau come to mind). It also wouldn’t hurt to avoid bad contracts and exploit platoon hitters like Trevor Plouffe.
- While Mackey highlights Plouffe as somebody the Twins could platoon, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks the club should trade him before the waiver deadline later tonight. Plouffe was considered a bridge to top prospect Miguel Sano, who missed this season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but now the club can get similar offense and better utility from Eduardo Escobar. Danny Santana, who Souhan considers the Twins shortstop of the future, could move from center field to shortstop with Escobar shifting from short to third base. Lastly, Aaron Hicks could get another shot at the big leagues before Byron Buxton blocks him.
- Bartolo Colon is still expected to remain with the Mets through the trade deadline, tweets Matt Ehalt of the North Jersey Recorder. As Ehalt notes, things could change between now and the end of the day.
- Jarred Cosart has an “extra chip on his shoulder” following his trade from the Astros to the Marlins, reports Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel. Cosart has helped to keep the Marlins long shot playoff hopes alive with a 1.64 ERA in five starts. Based on the pitcher’s comments, he was a little irked by the surprise deadline deal. Miami received quite a bit of criticism for the package they sent to Houston (Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick, and a 2015 competitive balance pick), but pundits will sing a different tune if Cosart continues to dominate opponents. Looking at his peripherals, Cosart’s short term success seems to depend on a 1.91 BB/9 that’s roughly half his typical walk rate.
The Yankees have acquired pitcher Chaz Roe from the Marlins, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Cotillo also notes that the Marlins will receive cash in return. Roe appears likely to join the Yankees’ big-league club.
The 27-year-old righty has pitched the entire season for Triple-A New Orleans, posting a 3.66 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief. His only big-league experience came in 2013, when he pitched 22 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks, posting a 4.03 ERA with a respectable 9.7 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. He was a first-round pick by the Rockies in 2005.
Throughout the Pirates organization, the first base position has become the home of players who have struggled at other positions, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Of course, it’s not unusual for players at more demanding defensive positions to have to move to first base, but what’s distinctive about the Pirates’ case is the precise reasons players are moving to first. At the big league level, Pedro Alvarez is moving across the diamond because of inexplicable problems making routine throws to first. And in the minors, Stetson Allie moved to first (with a stop at third base) after flaming out as a pitcher, while catcher Tony Sanchez has experimented with the position after troubles throwing out basestealers. The Pirates’ future at first base, though, might belong to another prospect, Josh Bell, who’s learning the position for a more straightforward reason — with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco set to man the Pirates’ outfield for the next several years, there might not be room for Bell there. Here’s more from the National League.
- The August trade deadline is quickly approaching, and the Phillies still don’t appear likely to deal A.J. Burnett or Jonathan Papelbon, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. Both players are owed significant money beyond this season. Whatever happens, Salisbury notes that Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Cesar Hernandez and top prospect Maikel Franco, at least, are expected to be among the Phillies’ September call-ups.
- The Marlins‘ fire sale following the 2012 season is beginning to pay dividends, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. In particular, the massive deal that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto has returned Henderson Alvarez and Adeiny Hechavarria, plus Jake Marisnick, a key piece in the deal that brought Jarred Cosart last month. “Our owner, Jeffrey Loria, took a lot of heat for [the trade with Toronto],” says Marlins executive Michael Hill. “But we really felt we needed to reset who we were and who we were going to be moving forward.” Their young outfield has rounded into form, with Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna complementing superstar Giancarlo Stanton, and the Marlins can add to an already exciting young core with the return of Jose Fernandez sometime early next season.
As David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Braves left-hander Jonny Venters, who has spent the entire season rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery, has received the devastating news that he has re-torn his left ulnar collateral ligament and will require a third Tommy John surgery if he is to continue his career. Venters says that he will address reporters Friday to further comment on the unfortunate news. O’Brien lists Jose Rijo and Jason Isringhausen as a rare pair of examples of success following a third Tommy John operation.
More from the National League East…
- The Mets worked out Cuban third baseman Pavel Quesada and shortstop Roberto Carlos, reports Mike Puma of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Quesada, said to be a third baseman with some pop, was the more impressive of the two, according to Puma’s sources. The 28-year-old Carlos, on the other hand, was described as a “work in progress” that needs to improve the strength of his throwing arm.
- Although the Marlins are hanging on in the playoff race — they’re five and a half games out of a Wild Card spot — president of baseball operations Michael Hill tells MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro that a last-minute trade is unlikely. However, that doesn’t mean that the team will be going young in the month of September. With a postseason berth still a possibility, Hill notes that the team is less inclined to go with young players in order to give them experience when a veteran could give them a better chance at winning in a given situation. For this reason, top prospect Andrew Heaney may not get a September callup, Frisaro notes.
- “He looked like a totally different guy than in Spring Training,” an American League scout told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer when discussing Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. A National League scout told Gelb, “He’s a solid setup guy for me.” The Phillies are very pleased with the progress they’ve seen since Gonzalez’s injuries in Spring Training made the team’s $12MM investment look questionable. Gonzalez, who is likely to receive a September callup, has a 2.36 ERA in 34 innings since shifting to a relief role and has risen to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He’s flashed a 95 to 98 mph fastball and could factor into the bullpen as a setup man coming out of Spring Training next year.
It remains to be seen whether the Mets will pull off a deal for veteran starter Bartolo Colon, whose fate will be one of the most-watched storylines over the next few days. Over at Fangraphs, Mike Petriello questions why there has seemed to be such little demand for the righty, concluding that he is likely worth his $11MM salary for next season and could well be an important last-minute upgrade for a contender.
Here’s more from the east …
- Recent Red Sox signee Rusney Castillo has obtained a work visa in surprisingly short order and is now clear to play, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen whether Boston will expose him to MLB action this year, but that is now a possibility with about a month left to go in the regular season.
- The Yankees continue to move forward in a fairly high-stakes attempt to rehab Masahiro Tanaka for a return this year, with success meaning a top-end arm down the stretch and failure potentially meaning a delayed resort to surgery. As George A. King III reports for the New York Post, Tanaka continues to pass hurdles, with colleague Ken Davidson writing that today’s simulated game was a significant step towards a return.
- Recent acquisitions of the Yankees – including Martin Prado, Stephen Drew, and Chase Headley — could hint at a broader strategic shift, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. All of those players have seen action at multiple positions, and Sherman argues that New York could well commit more resources to depth and versatility going forward, essentially putting additional cash behind the strategies of the Athletics and Rays.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton said that some have misconstrued his recent comments regarding his contractual situation, as Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports. “There is no answer to what my future is,” he said, explaining that some have over-interpreted his words in either direction. Nevertheless, planned offseason extension discussions are sure to lead to immense scrutiny and speculation.
- Cole Hamels was just the latest Phillies player to publicly show up manager Ryne Sandberg in some manner, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com explains. Though the skipper downplayed the incident and said he has control of his clubhouse, Salisbury paints a picture of a tense situation in Philadelphia. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes, this on-field drama is playing out in the midst of broader leadership questions with the club. Martino says that the “fiercely loyal organization” is facing a difficult choice between that loyalty and the evident need for accountability.
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda may or may not fully blossom into a star, but his breakout year has at least forestalled any need for the club to go out and find a new first baseman, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Here’s more from the NL East:
- Both the Angels and Royals have considered attempting to deal for Mets righty Bartolo Colon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter links). At present, however, neither possible suitor is in strong pursuit, with dollars being a major deterrent and the sides not necessarily seeing eye to eye on a return.
- The Phillies will likely give Miguel Gonzalez a September call-up, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gonzalez has thrived recently in the upper minors in a relief role, but that transition away from the rotation means that Philadelphia will need to act quickly to reap any value from the 28-year-old’s three-year, $12MM pact.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton says that he is still not certain that he wants to commit to a long-term deal with Miami, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. While the club now features a fairly interesting, younger roster with some future promise, Stanton noted that “five months doesn’t change five years.”
- The Braves have shut down reliever Jonny Venters after he came up with a sore elbow when he tried to increase his velocity, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. The southpaw, who had been attempting to return from his second Tommy John procedure, earned $1.625MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility (the same figure as his first) after missing all of 2013. A non-tender certainly appears to be a reasonably likely scenario after the year.
Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is now being represented by the Boras Corporation, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. According to MLBTR’s Agency Database, Ozuna had previously been represented by the Kinzer Management Group.
As Ozuna isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, it’s probably no surprise that Frisaro reports that Miami hasn’t discussed a contract extension with the 23-year-old outfielder. The cost-conscious Marlins may not want to make a notable financial commitment to Ozuna unless they can get some kind of a bargain over his arb years, and Scott Boras’ track record would seem to make such a team-friendly deal unlikely.
Ozuna’s first full season in the majors has been a successful one, as the 23-year-old has posted a .261/.316/.440 slash line, a 110 wRC+, 18 homers and 56 runs scored in 448 PA. He’s also been solid in center field, exhibiting a strong throwing arm and saving eight runs according to the Defensive Runs Saved metric.
MLBTR’s Agency Database contains agent information for more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: email@example.com.
The Mets have not yet tried sending Bartolo Colon through revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. One reason this is significant is because Colon would represent one possible upgrade for an Angels team that just lost Garrett Richards to what appears to be a significant knee injury. It’s unclear whether Colon would be claimed by another team before getting to the Angels. He’s pitched fairly well this year, despite his age, and he’s set to make a reasonable salary of $11MM in 2015. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- At least so far, the David Freese / Peter Bourjos trade has worked out fairly well for the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Freese got off to a slow start but has hit well since June, while Fernando Salas has been steady out of the Angels’ bullpen. Meanwhile, Bourjos hasn’t hit well in a part-time role with the Cardinals (although he continues to provide defensive value), and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk has spent most of the season at Triple-A.
- Calls for the Marlins to trade Giancarlo Stanton may have been premature, writes Rosenthal. Next season, Stanton will still only be 25 and under control through 2016, and the Marlins will have a healthy Jose Fernandez. They might also get more help from young hitters Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, so they could contend in 2015. While they likely won’t be able to sign Stanton long term before he becomes eligible for free agency following the 2016 season, they might be able to simply wait to trade him, perhaps for established players rather than prospects.
- Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner will make his first start since June 18 on Saturday in Arizona, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. On his way back from a shoulder injury, Cashner pitched five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A El Paso Monday. Cashner has emerged as one of the top starters in the National League in the past two seasons, and he had a 2.76 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings this year before he got hurt.
Rob Manfred will make a fine commissioner, notes Peter Gammons of Gammonsdaily.com. Among the many reasons are his familiarity with the issues of the game. Those include upcoming PED news, growing dissent between small and large market clubs, and the upcoming legal battle between the Orioles and Nationals over MASN revenues. Gammons concludes that the game would benefit most if the owners put some effort into helping Manfred settle into the job.
- The Marlins have a seriously bad reputation when it comes to dealing away their stars in fire sales. According to Gammons, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria knows that a big brand can go a long way to improving attendance. With Lebron James back in Cleveland, Giancarlo Stanton is the top name in Miami sports. This is the reason why the Marlins have rebuffed all offers for Stanton.
- The Rockies are on the hook for a combined $167MM between Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. This trade deadline included rumors that the club would consider dealing one or both of their stars, but their season ending injuries will probably prevent any offseason deals. Gammons notes that the rarefied air in Colorado can make recovery difficult.
- One talent evaluator compares Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a center field capable Ron Gant. The Yankees are among the biggest players for Castillo, but they have to contend with a hefty luxury tax penalty. Because Alex Rodriguez will be back on the books, the Yankees will pay a tax in the range of 40% to 50% if they add Castillo. As Gammons notes, a $50MM contract would come with a $20MM to $25MM tax.
- The league is concerned about two things related to Cuban imports. The defection process is morally troubling, as it supports human trafficking. The other issue is the diet of Cuban players. The stress fractures that have sidelined Jorge Soler and Jose Iglesias could be related to calcium deficiency. According to one insider, his team will be monitoring the “bone structure and diet” of their Cuban acquisitions.
Despite reports that Terry Collins is likely to reprise his role as Mets manager in 2015, Joel Sherman of the New York Post gets the sense that a change of skipper is a definite possibility in Queens. Sherman writes that the final six weeks are critical to determining whether or not Collins will return. He explains that the Mets’ upper management believe that plate discipline and power are the key to scoring runs, but the Mets rank 26th in walks in the second half and dead last in the Majors in walks this month. Those trends will have to change, writes Sherman, in order for Collins to remain. As it stands, there is a slight lean toward bringing Collins back, he states, but Sherman feels that Collins needs to demonstrate to his bosses that he is able to consistently emphasize the organizational philosophy.
More from the NL East…
- The Mets face several questions around the diamond, but one area that previously looked like a question mark has been resolved, MLB.com’s Tim Healy writes. Travis d’Arnaud‘s play since returning from Triple-A has been more than enough to solidify him at the position going forward, and Collins offered high praise for the 25-year-old backstop, stating that over the course of a full season, the numbers will dictate that d’Arnaud “is the real deal.” Collins adds that the Mets have gone from batting d’Arnaud eighth and regularly pinch-hitting for him to making him their everyday five-hole hitter, and they’re comfortable with him in that role.
- Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera is happy in his new setting, but he tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that his preference in the long run is to play shortstop. Says Cabrera: “…I just have to see after the season and wait. I like to play short. That’s the position I like to play more. I’m just going to see who wants me to play short, who wants me to play second, and figure it out from there.”
- It’s safe to say that the Marlins‘ Rafael Furcal experiment didn’t work out. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the veteran infielder, signed this offseason to a one-year deal that guaranteed him $3MM, will undergo hamstring surgery and miss the remainder of the season. The 36-year-old appeared in just nine games for the Fish and batted a paltry .171/.216/.229 in 37 plate appearances.