Michael Choice Rumors

Indians Acquire Michael Choice

The Indians have acquired outfielder Michael Choice from the Rangers, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com first reported on Twitter. Cleveland will send cash considerations to complete the deal, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.

Choice, 25, was designated for assignment recently to clear space for the Rangers’ acquisition of Will Venable. Once a top-100 prospect, Choice has stumbled since heading to Texas in return for Craig Gentry before the 2014 season.

Given a chance at the big league level last year, Choice put up a .182/.250/.320 slash in 280 plate appearances. While he hit well at Triple-A that year, he’s managed only a .244/.309/.399 batting line this season at the highest level of the minors.

Rangers Acquire Will Venable, Designate Michael Choice

The Rangers have acquired outfielder Will Venable from the Padres in exchange for minor league catcher/outfielder Marcus Greene and right-hander Jon Edwards (who was included as a player to be named later), per a team announcement. In order to clear space on the roster for Venable, the Rangers have designated have designated outfielder Michael Choice for assignment.

Will Venable

Venable, 32, will give the Rangers some additional outfield depth and could immediately step into left field, if Josh Hamilton‘s injury troubles continue. Hitting .258/.318/.378, Venable is in the process of bouncing back from perhaps the worst season of his career — a 2014 campaign in which he batted just .224/.288/.325 in the first campaign of a two-year, $8.5MM extension. He’s earning $4.25MM this season as part of that contract, of which about $1.11MM remains. Venable will be a free agent at season’s end, making him a pure rental for the Rangers as they push to bridge either the three-game gap separating them from the AL West lead or the one-game gap sitting between their team and a Wild Card slot.

Venable’s career numbers (.252/.316/.410) don’t leap off the page, but he has superior numbers against right-handed pitching and away from Petco Park — the stadium which he’s called home for the entirety of his career. He’s a career .257/.323/.425 hitter against righties and a .269/.330/.431 hitter on the road.

Greene, 20, is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent this June. He began the season at the Class A level, where he hit .218/.365/.500 with five homers, 16 walks and 23 strikeouts in 96 plate appearances before suffering his injury. He did not rank among the Rangers’ Top 30 prospects, but Baseball America gave him a favorable write-up upon being selected in the 16th round of the 2013 draft. Per BA, Greene’s best tool is arm strength, but he also comes with raw power upside and a solid makeup.

The 27-year-old Edwards first had to pass through revocable waivers before he could be included in the deal. He has thrown 14 1/3 big league innings over the last two seasons, working to a 5.02 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against a troubling 8.2 BB/9. But he’s been excellent this season at Triple-A, compiling a 1.42 earned run average while striking out 44 batters and issuing just eight walks over 31 2/3 frames.

Choice is a former Top 100 prospect that the Rangers acquired prior to the 2014 season in the trade that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland. Though the 25-year-old has a solid .279/.363/.463 slash line throughout his minor league career, he’s mustered just a .188/.253/.320 slash in 300 plate appearances between the Rangers and Athletics.

For the Padres, this marks the first piece that GM A.J. Preller has traded away. The first-year general manager took some heat from the media for his decision to stand pat at last month’s non-waiver deadline despite facing a significant gap in the division and Wild Card standings. It’s conceivable that this could be the first of a few trades made by the Padres, who also stand to lose Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit (though he does have a club option) to free agency this winter. Of that group, only Upton would be a lock for a qualifying offer, although Kennedy has pitched markedly better as of late. Right-hander James Shields has also cleared waivers and will probably see his name kicked around the rumor mill a bit more before the end of the month.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported on Twitter that Edwards was the PTBNL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rangers Notes: Middle Infield, Padres Starters, Choice

Texas has several irons in the fire. Here’s the latest:

  • The Rangers are fielding strong interest in their middle infield group, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Jurickson Profar is among the names that has been asked about, and Texas has received particularly strong interest in Rougned Odor.The Rangers are not shopping Odor, who is still only 20 years of age and had a solid MLB debut last year. That pair of youngsters is joined in the Texas infield by incumbent shortstop Elvis Andrus and 21-year-old Luis Sardinas. The potential logjam up the middle has yet to materialize with Profar’s recent injury troubles, though the team could feel free to deal from depth depending upon his progress.
  • Meanwhile, the Rangers and Padres are still talking pitching, Sullivan tweets, though Texas has more interest in Tyson Ross than in Andrew Cashner because of the latter’s health concerns and road numbers.
  • San Diego is interested in Profar, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But he says that a straight swap of Profar for one of the Friars’ three best arms (Ross, Cashner, and Ian Kennedy) is not going to get done.
  • Sullivan also notes on Twitter that teams remain intrigued by the upside potential of outfielder Michael Choice, who had a rough 2014, but that clubs looking to plug an immediate hole do not see him as a solution.

Quick Hits: Myron, Beltre, Trout, Free Agent Values

Chuck Myron, lead writer for our sister site Hoops Rumors and occasional MLBTR contributor, has co-written an excellent book called Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft. Authors Myron and Alan Maimon have created a must-read for any baseball fan hoping to understand why so many of the best young players fail to make meaningful contributions in The Show, and so many teams make the wrong choices on draft day. Please check out Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft; we think you'll like it. Note, also, that if you are planning a trip to Florida for Spring Training, you can meet Chuck and Alan at either of two scheduled book signings. The authors will appear at two Barnes & Noble locations in mid-March: in Clearwater on March 14 at 7pm and in Fort Myers on March 15 at 3pm.

Moving on, here are some notes from around the league for your Thursday evening reading…

  • Engel Beltre and Michael Choice will both be fighting for roster spots in Spring Training, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, but Beltre is the favorite to stick due to the fact that he is out of options. The Rangers aren't likely to let him go, and while Choice could help as a right-handed option in a DH platoon, Texas is wary that such a limited role could hinder his development.
  • In an effort to prove Mike Trout's sky-high value without relying on advanced metrics, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs adds the 2013 production of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (using standard stats such as singles, doubles, triples, homers, steals, etc.) and subtracts Mike Trout's numbers. Cameron finds that the result is surprisingly similar to Eric Young's 2013 totals. Because Young was acquired for a replacement-level arm, Cameron suggests that acquiring a partner to match the output is nearly free. In the end, he suggests that Trout is worth more than Choo and Ellsbury combined.
  • In a subscription-only piece, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus looks at how the players he ranked in his Top 50 stacked up to the expected average annual value he laid out prior to the offseason. Anderson concludes that he underestimated the market for back-end starters, setup men and veterans with perceivable upside remaining. Because of that last category, he wonders if names like Asdrubal Cabrera and Chad Billingsley could see larger paydays than many are expecting next winter.
  • Sticking with Baseball Prospectus, Phil Hughes tops a free list of nine players that the minds at B-Pro expect to see show improvement in 2014. Also appearing on the list are Matt CainCC Sabathia and Brett Lawrie, amongst others.
  • WEEI.com's Alex Speier breaks down the numerous Spring Training decisions facing the Red Sox, including homegrown prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. and reclamation project Grady Sizemore fighting for center field (Speier writes that it's Bradley's job to lose). Within the piece, Speier wonders if spring struggles from Middlebrooks would make the Red Sox reconsider their stance on Stephen Drew.

AL West Links: Tanaka, A’s, Astros, Castro

Could the Athletics be stealth contenders for Masahiro Tanaka?  A Major League executive tells Bill Madden of the New York Daily News to "watch out for Oakland" as a suitor for the Japanese right-hander.  "They’ve got as much money as any team and they like doing these big international things — as with their signing of (Yoenis) Cespedes and the fact they were second to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman five years ago," the exec said.  Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com explores the possibility of Tanaka joining the A's and thinks the executive might've just been speculating, but while he feels it's unlikely the A's can outbid the field for Tanaka, Stiglich notes the A's have already made some surprising moves this winter "so no sort of Tanaka speculation should come as a complete shocker."

Here's some more from the AL West…

  • Speaking of Tanaka, ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) opines that "he would be absolutely perfect for" the Astros.  Tanaka is young enough that he'll be in his prime when Houston will theoretically be able to contend, and the Astros can afford to make a big contract offer since they have so few long-term payroll commitments.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks down the question of whether the Astros should trade or extend catcher Jason Castro.  There's clear value to keeping a cost-controlled, power-hitting catcher on one-year deals through arbitration, and yet without an extension, a trade becomes more logical the closer Castro gets to free agency.
  • Trading for outfielder Michael Choice "was the best move made by the Rangers this winter," opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan as part of a reader mailbag.  Sullivan sees Choice as a candidate to help the team in 2014 and take over as Alex Rios' replacement in 2015.  Texas acquired Choice as part of the deal that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland last month.
  • The Rangers drafted Jameis Winston in the 15th round of the 2012 draft and Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News talks to Texas assistant GM A.J. Preller and other club personnel about how serious Texas was about signing Winston and still letting him play football for Florida State.  Winston, of course, is quarterbacking FSU against Auburn in tonight's national championship game and says he aims to be a two-sport star a la Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders.  Winston is next eligible for the MLB draft in 2015.
  • In other AL West news from earlier today, the Mariners will need approval from ownership before going ahead with any more big moves, and the M's signed catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor league deal.

MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post

Gammons On Gardner, Denorfia, Drew

Here are some hot stove items from Peter Gammons in his latest piece for his namesake website, GammonsDaily.com…

  • Gammons adds the Phillies to the list of teams who "have taken a run" at acquiring Brett Gardner from the Yankees.  Philadelphia is one of "at least a half-dozen teams" who have checked in on Gardner — we've seen the Tigers, Reds, Indians, and Giants also linked to Gardner earlier in the offseason.  Both Yankees president Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman have said they admire Gardner's play and aren't willing to move him, though Gammons feels that Cashman "won’t move [Gardner] until and unless [Cashman] has to for starting pitching."  This is just my speculation, but Gammons' phrasing could be a hint that the Yankees could shop Gardner if they fail to land Masahiro Tanaka.
  • The Rangers, Red Sox and Rockies are three of "at least a half-dozen teams" who have asked the Padres about Chris Denorfia.  Colorado's interest has presumably dried up due to their acquisition of Drew Stubbs.  San Diego GM Josh Byrnes isn't willing to discuss trading Denorfia as long as he feels the Padres can be contenders, and Byrnes thinks his club's offseason moves could put them in the playoff mix.  The Rangers also showed interest in Denorfia last July before the trade deadline.
  • Mets assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi recently claimed that his team was happy with Ruben Tejada as a starting shortstop and that the free agent shortstop market wasn't to the Mets' liking, but Gammons hears otherwise from an NL general manager.  The GM believes the Mets are concerned about their inexperience up the middle (Tejada at short, Juan Lagares in center and Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate) and are only seeming disinterested in Stephen Drew as part of negotiations with agent Scott Boras.
  • If Drew re-signs with the Red Sox, Gammons doesn't expect Boston to deal Will Middlebrooks, as the team still values his power.
  • The offseason's most interesting overlooked deal is the Athletics/Rangers swap that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland and Michael Choice to Texas, Gammons opines.  Gentry is a right-handed bat who can spell Coco Crisp in center or replace him in case of injury, and "the A’s think Gentry’s comp is at least Peter Bourjos," Gammons writes.  Choice, meanwhile, gives the Rangers a corner outfield bat who can spell Shin-Soo Choo against left-handed pitching.

Top Prospect Promotions: Choice, Castellanos

As we learn of top prospect promotions over September, we'll try to keep tabs on them in a daily basis. Here are Sunday's promotions:

  • The Athletics are set to bring up outfielder Michael Choice, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser first reported last night. Choice entered the season as the A's second overall prospect as rated by Baseball America, which praised his strength and bat speed. He currently sits as the 92nd overall prospect in the game on Mayo's list. The 23-year-old has delivered a .302/.390/.445 line and fourteen homers in 600 plate appearances over his first season at Triple-A. 
  • The Tigers have officially called up the team's top prospect, with the team announcing on Twitter that it has purchased the contract of outfielder Nick Castellanos. The former third baseman entered the year as a consensus top-50 prospect in all of baseball, and moved up to 11th overall in the mid-season ranking of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. As Mayo explained, the 21-year-old hits the ball to all fields and has solid pop.


Red Sox Close To Acquiring Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy was scheduled to start for the White Sox in Cleveland tonight at 6:05pm central time, but the Sox will instead make history by promoting the Majors' first Brazilian native pitcher, Andre Rienzo, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.  Meanwhile,  GM Rick Hahn will be entertaining offers for Peavy, according to Gonzales.  Gonzales notes that even if Peavy is not traded, the Sox will "get a chance to evaluate Rienzo on the major league stage."  Peavy is definitely not starting for the White Sox tonight, confirms Scott Miller of CBS Sports.  The latest:

Earlier Updates

  • The Diamondbacks don't necessarily have to unload multiple contracts to fit Peavy into the payroll, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, they're still looking at moving Ian Kennedy, who could draw interest from the Angels, given the fact that Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is a former D'Backs executive.
  • Despite interest from the Red Sox, A's, D'Backs, and Cardinals, the sense is the White Sox are coming down on their asking price for Peavy, tweets Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
  • Arizona would be a comfortable destination for Peavy, the righty told reporters including Mark Gonzales today.
  • If the A's are to make a deal for Peavy, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle sees outfielder Michael Choice as the potential centerpiece.  Otherwise, they could add a reliever.  GM Billy Beane says this is the "lowest trade inventory I've seen in years."
  • The D'Backs have emerged as the front runner for Peavy, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
  • The Diamondbacks could make a deal for Peavy if they get a cash adjustment, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, who notes the strong history with Peavy and GM Kevin Towers.
  • The D'Backs may kick the tires again on Peavy, hears Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The White Sox are now listing Peavy for tomorrow's start against the Indians, for what it's worth.
  • The price for Peavy remains a top 50 prospect in a three or four-player package, hears Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman does believe Peavy will be traded, ranking the most likely landing spots as the Cardinals, Red Sox, and A's.
  • There are no current discussions between the Cardinals and White Sox on Peavy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  And the D'Backs say they no longer have interest in Peavy with Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill soon returning, adds Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
  • Yesterday, we heard the White Sox were trying to move Peavy prior to tonight's start.  However, the market for the righty's services became muddled as the Athletics seemingly moved on and the Sox started telling teams they plan to keep Peavy.  Their decision not to start him tonight seems to indicate otherwise.

A’s Notes: Lineup, Young, Cespedes, Nakajima

The Athletics held their A's Fan Fest today with manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane hosting a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:

  • Melvin says second base will be an open competition between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks while Grant Green, the A's fourth-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, will also receive a hard look, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (Twitter links).
  • Melvin plans to continue with the Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon at first base, tweets Lee
  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets the A's will not use any one set lineup because Melvin has multiple options depending on matchups and who's hot. 
  • Melvin views Coco Crisp as the starting center fielder with Chris Young moving around all three outfield spots, Lee tweets.
  • Young says being reunited with Melvin is "like a breath of fresh air." (A's team Twitter feed).
  • Melvin calls Yoenis Cespedes one of most talented players in the league and Beane adds he wouldn't be surprised if the 27-year-old Cuban takes it to another level, Slusser tweets
  • Beane is confident Hiroyuki Nakajima will make a successful transition to MLB, tweets Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com. In fact, Beane joked he will have a tougher transition in dealing with the effervescent Japanese shortstop.
  • Beane expects their top prospect, outfielder Michael Choice, to open the season in Triple-A, unless something unforeseen happens, according to Pratt (via Twitter).
  • The A's are convinced shortstop Addison Russell, last year's first round draft choice, is mature enough to be invited to Spring Training even though it wasn't part of his contract, writes Slusser on Twitter. Slusser adds this is an indication of how much the 19-year-old has wowed the front office.

Quick Hits: Choice, Royals, Feliz, Posey, Lawrie

If you're a fan of top prospects and rookies, then this Quick Hits post is for you. Here are today's links…

  • Oakland's 2010 first rounder, Michael Choice, is wowing scouts in Arizona, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Peter Gammons of MLB Network hears from a trusted scout that Choice has the bat speed, strength and athleticism to become a "monster" (Twitter link). Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old third among Oakland's prospects heading into the season.
  • One GM says the Royals are so deep in talent that they can still be in it in 2013 if a couple of their top prospects miss, according to Gammons (on Twitter).
  • Neftali Feliz has said he's most comfortable closing games, but Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he'll continue stretching the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year out to see if he can make it as a starter, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram (on Twitter).
  • The Giants and last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, agreed to a one-year deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco ChronicleHe tweets that the deal is worth $575K.  That's about $150K more than the Giants had to give him.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Brett Lawrie has looked “very good.” The Blue Jays, who acquired Lawrie for Shaun Marcum over the winter, like the infielder’s work ethic, tools and drive.