Michael Taylor Rumors

Trade Notes: Taylor, Cueto, Cards, Indians, Rangers, White Sox

The Nationals and Athletics have matched up on trade deadline rentals (and other deals) with some frequency of late, and the clubs have reportedly discussed both Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard this year. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, nothing has gained significant traction as of yet. Oakland has expressed interest in young Nats outfielder Michael Taylor, who has found himself playing a significant role on the club this year as a fill-in for Denard Span (to start the year) and Jayson Werth (currently on the DL). The A’s have also asked about the Nats’ young arms, per Rosenthal, who argues that the Taylor ask suggests that Oakland GM Billy Beane could be looking to “operate as both a buyer and seller” this summer. From my perspective, looking to add an unpolished but big-league-ready and controllable piece like Taylor is to be expected, whether or not Beane thinks his club has enough time to get back in contention this season. I’d also add that the Nats seem unlikely to move Taylor with Span set to hit free agency after the season.

Here are some more notes on the trade market:

  • The Yankees are getting a good look at Reds starter Johnny Cueto, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. New York has sent a scout to watch both of Cueto’s last two starts, per the report. Of course, they surely are not alone in dedicating attention to the player who could be the best arm available this July.
  • Though he doesn’t call for a trade directly, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the flaws in the Cardinals bench alignment. In particular, utility infielder Pete Kozma has struggled badly at the plate for some time. And the team’s resources have been stretched somewhat with Mark Reynolds needed to fill in for the injured Matt Adams. Certainly, as the team looks to fortify itself for a stretch run and hopeful post-season berth, reserve players could be on the wish list.
  • The Indians remain in a somewhat uncertain position in a tough AL Central; entering today’s action, the team remains four games under .500 and eight back in the division. In an appearance on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link), Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti certainly sounded more like a buyer. “We’re still learning about our team,” he said. “We’re still trying to find out where we’ll need to supplement.”
  • In his own recent MLB Network Radio spot several days ago (via Twitter), Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained that he is preparing to take a hard look at the trade market. “If someone out there can help us, we have to be open-minded,” said Daniels. “We’ll evaluate our own guys first and go from there.” As both of these executive quotes indicate, one somewhat underappreciated factor in the slow onset of serious trades is the fact that many clubs are interested in obtaining an extended look at multiple internal options — all while seeing how other teams’ players are performing — before deciding whether to part with assets.
  • The White Sox are in an even tougher spot than their division rivals from Cleveland, but GM Rick Hahn emphasized that the team is still focused on crawling back into contention, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “The organization still absolutely believes in this team,” Hahn said. “The focus on the ballgames and the belief we will win ballgames is there.” Of course, as Levine rightly notes, the best way to get back in the hunt — improved performance — is also the optimal means of building trade value. Hahn went on to explain that he had no interest in giving public insight into the team’s strategic thinking. “Do we have thoughts on potential moves to reinvigorate the 2015 club and put us in a better position to contend going forward? Absolutely,” said Hahn. “As for the timing or the nature of those moves, that is not something that we will lay out in advance.”
  • ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark lays out his top ten targets, rating Cole Hamels of the Phillies as the biggest trade piece. One executive tells Stark that Hamels has probably increased his value over the first few months of the season, though of course he is out right now with what is hoped to be a relatively minor hamstring issue. Teams that have had contact with the Phils are indicating that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still insisting on young players that possible buyers have said they’re not willing to move. One source tells Stark that a “more creative” approach will be needed to get something done. Amaro has obviously taken a lot of heat for his handling of the team’s trade chips, though at this point it is probably best to withhold judgment; after all, Hamels is a somewhat unique trade commodity given his large but manageable contract, and a bidding war remains a plausible scenario.

NL Notes: Cubs, Nationals, Strasburg, Heyward, Gosewisch, Giants

Earlier, we discussed a report from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times indicating that the Cubs will be players if Ben Zobrist is marketed. In that piece, he also discusses the team’s need for pitching. Chicago is “in the mix” for Rafael Soriano and could also be interested in Diamondbacks lefty Oliver Perez. Discussing the team’s summer plans, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein hinted that the club will be looking hard at additions — as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago said he expected on last week’s MLBTR podcast“We’re trying to balance short- and long-term interests,” said Epstein. “But we’re in a situation [in which] we have a fairly competitive team right now, and we have some needs. So you don’t ignore that. You keep it in mind. But at the same time you can’t just go out and unilaterally add.”

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated that he believes the club can get by with internal options like Michael Taylor and Tyler Moore while Jayson Werth recovers from a fractured wrist, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. The left-handed-hitting Clint Robinson could also see time. My own guess is that another lefty bat could be acquired if the right player becomes available, but that the team will not be aggressive unless the need becomes more apparent. It’s worth recalling, too, that Matt den Dekker is still available at Triple-A, with Nate McLouth still a possible candidate to return later in the year.
  • Stephen Strasburg left tonight’s start for the Nationals after just five batters. As Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links), Strasburg is said to have suffered a left trap muscle issue of some kind. The righty, who has struggled uncharacteristically, said that his neck tightened up so much that he had trouble turning his head. While it does not appear that there is any concern with arm issues, Strasburg’s general difficulties and neck and back issues are certainly an increasing problem for him and the club.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says he does not have any retrospective qualms over his acquisition of outfielder Jason Heyward, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Heyward has shown some signs of life after a rough start, but the outstanding early performance of Shelby Miller stands in stark contrast at present. “I think whenever you make those kind of deals, there are reasons behind it,” Mozeliak explained. “And at the time, we felt that we had to do something. Not only looking at how we want this club to be put together, but we did not feel like there might be any other opportunities that would meet the type of criteria we’re looking for.” 
  • Though he has not yet been evaluated, injured Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch says a radiologist that looked at the MRI on his knee believes he may have a torn ACL, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. Certainly, that would mean a disappointing end to the year for the 31-year-old, who has struggled at the plate in his opportunity at a starting role. Arizona has called up recent signee Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will presumably take a good portion of the time behind the dish.
  • Several Giants players have upcoming opt-out dates, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. Righty Kevin Correia can become a free agent on the first of June, while third baseman Casey McGehee can opt out on June 5.

NL East Notes: Span, Utley, Hamels, Johnson, Familia

The Nationals activated Denard Span from the disabled list and inserted him into the starting lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Phillies, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. To make room for Span on the roster, Michael Taylor was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse despite slashing .271/.314/.500 in 51 plate appearances this season. “He is one of our future players and needs to play every day,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in explaining the reasoning behind Taylor’s demotion. “We got to see Michael Taylor become a player for us right in front of our eyes. I thought he handled himself brilliantly with some youthful mistakes. The ability level is there. The usefulness of putting it to a Major League setting was there and he took to it very well.

Elsewhere in the NL East:

  • The Phillies have told teams over the past year Chase Utley will not waive his no-trade clause, but ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in an Insider piece (subscription required) the second baseman, facing a long rebuild in Philadelphia, may have a change of heart like former teammate Jimmy Rollins. Olney also notes rival evaluators believe Cole Hamels wants out of Philadelphia, as well.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn’t too concerned with Jim Johnson being roughed up in his last two appearances (four runs, six hits, and two home runs allowed) and will keep the right-hander in the role of the 8th inning setup reliever, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ll see how it plays out,” said Gonzalez. “But from what I saw in Spring Training, and other than these two outings here, I think he’s been fine. We always have a tendency to say what’s the matter with a guy as soon as he gives up something.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, closer Jeurys Familia will remain in that role when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black join the club after completing their rehab assignments. “Certainly, right now Jeurys Familia has pitched well enough,” Collins said. “He is that guy until those other guys show us they’re ready.” Collins adds, in a perfect world, Parnell would be the closer with Black and Familia slotted for the 8th and 7th innings, respectively. Black’s return may be delayed as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the right-hander will undergo a MRI of his shoulder/neck area.


NL Notes: Cubs, Taylor, Caminero

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the team is likely to start the season with three catchers, ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers writes. Having Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo all start the season with the team does limit Joe Maddon’s tactical possibilities somewhat, but Epstein says that Maddon supports having three catchers. Having three would also allow the Cubs to be somewhat more flexible in using their catchers to pinch-hit, and would give the team depth in case of an injury. Rogers notes, though, that common sense suggests the Cubs would still consider trading Castillo if the right offer came along, and that the Cubs might be trying to improve their negotiating position by giving the impression they’re not desperate to deal Castillo. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • With Denard Span out with after having core muscle surgery, top Nationals prospect Michael Taylor is making a strong case to be on the team’s Opening Day roster. But there are reasons to wonder about his readiness, Nats Insider’s Mark Zuckerman writes. Taylor is hitting .324/.324/.765 in 34 plate appearances this spring, but he’s struck out 11 times without walking. Taylor exhibited similar issues in his 43 plate appearances in the big leagues last year, and he has limited experience at Triple-A, so sending him there might be best for his development.
  • Reliever Arquimedes Caminero, who the Pirates acquired in a minor deal with the Marlins in February, is very likely to make the Bucs out of camp, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Caminero is out of options and has been very impressive this spring, striking out 12 batters in eight innings with a fastball that reaches into the high 90s. Caminero says the Bucs have helped him improve his delivery. “(They are) just simplifying things that were there that I didn’t notice much and now I’m noticing,” says Caminero. “I’m just going easier in my mechanics. I was trying to throw too hard. … I feel more confident. I’m hitting my target more often.”

Minor Moves: Michael Taylor, Kevin Vance

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • White Sox outfielder Michael Taylor has retired at age 29, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. Once a well-regarded prospect in the Phillies and Athletics systems and a top-50 prospect leaguewide, Taylor took only 114 career plate appearances at the Major League level. He did put up a fairly productive .278/.369/.441 slash over six seasons and more than 2,500 turns at bat at Triple-A, but never forced his way into the big league mix.
  • The D-Backs have inked right-hander Kevin Vance to a minor league deal, tweets agent Joe Rosen. The 24-year-old was a 19th-round pick by the White Sox out of Connecticut in 2011 and has worked to a 3.69 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 268 1/3 innings of work throughout his minor league career to date. Baseball America ranked him 19th among ChiSox farmhands prior to the 2013 season, noting that his fastball/curveball combination could eventually land him in a Major League bullpen.

Minor Moves: Urbina, Korecky, Whelan, Fuenmayor

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, via Baseball America’s Matt Eddy on Twitter.

  • The Mets have released Juan Urbina, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (via Twitter). In five years with the Mets, the 21-year-old left-handed pitcher failed to pass Low-A ball. While he generally posted strong strikeout rates in limited work, he walked nearly the same number of hitters. The once-prospect signed for $1.2MM in 2009 and is the son of former big leaguer Ugueth Urbina.
  • The Phillies have signed outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Darin Mastroianni to minor league deals. Bogusevic last appeared in the big leagues in 2013 and spent last season hitting .260/.349/.411 in 311 plate appearances for Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins system. Mastroianni appeared briefly for the Twins and Blue Jays in 2014 but spent most of the season with Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .267/.349/.369 in 393 plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays have re-signed righty Bobby Korecky. The 35-year-old had a strong season in the Buffalo bullpen, posting a 1.97 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 64 innings.
  • The Athletics have signed righty Kevin Whelan, who briefly appeared with the Tigers in 2014 and a 2.70 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 43 1/3 innings with Triple-A Toledo.
  • The Royals have signed 24-year-old corner infielder Balbino Fuenmayor, who hit .347/.383/.610 in 413 plate appearances with Quebec in the Canadian-American Association, earning BA’s Indy League Player Of The Year award. The Blue Jays released Fuenmayor in 2013.
  • Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish, White Sox outfielder Michael Taylor and Phillies shortstop Andres Blanco have all elected free agency. All three players were recently outrighted.
  • The Tigers have re-signed third baseman Mike Hessman. The 36-year-old Hessman has gotten few chances in the big leagues, but he’s still a feared slugger in the International League, where he hit 28 home runs and batted .248/.330/.500 in 2014. The veteran has 417 career minor league home runs, including 307 at the Triple-A level.

Royals Claim Moises Sierra From White Sox

The Royals have claimed outfielder Moises Sierra off outright waivers from the White Sox, according to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (Twitter link). Additionally, the Sox have outrighted outfielder Michael Taylor to Triple-A Charlotte.

The move comes at a somewhat unexpected time for the Royals, who are in the midst of the World Series, but Sierra will add to the team’s outfield depth for the 2015 season. The 26-year-old batted .276/.311/.417 with a pair of homers in 135 plate appearances for the White Sox this season after they claimed him on waivers from the Blue Jays. Sierra has played mostly right field in his career, and while defensive metrics didn’t like his work with the Blue Jays, both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating gave him positive reviews in a small 372-inning sample this season. Sierra has less than two years of Major League service and can be controlled through the 2019 season if Kansas City sees fit.

Taylor, 28, at one time ranked as high as the No. 29 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, but his career stalled after a few promising seasons at the Triple-A level. Taylor was one of three players, along with Travis d’Arnaud and Kyle Drabek, traded by the Phillies to the Blue Jays in exchange for Roy Halladay. Toronto traded him to Oakland for Brett Wallace (another top prospect who ultimately did not pan out), who eventually flipped him to the White Sox in a minor deal for right-hander Jake Sanchez. Taylor is a career .167/.254/.216 hitter in 114 big league plate appearances, though he sports a .278/.369/.441 batting line at Triple-A.

With these moves, Chicago’s 40-man roster is down to 37, Merkin notes.


Minor Moves: Rapada, Gimenez, Cabrera, Taylor

We'll keep track of the day's minor moves here:

  • The Mariners have signed lefty Clay Rapada and added him to the roster at Triple-A Tacoma, according to Rainiers announce Mike Curto (on Twitter). Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported (via Twitter) that Rapada was working out for the team. The left-hander has a 4.06 ERA in 94 big league innings but has never been able to hold down a consistent big league job despite dominant numbers against left-handed hitters; Rapada has held lefties to a minuscule .164/.255/.231 batting line in his career. However, righties have roughed him up at a .345/.464/.611 clip.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock, according to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant (Twitter link). Gimenez, who has been outrighted previously, has 72 hours to accept or reject the assignment. He was claimed off waivers by the Rangers last week but quickly designated for assignment when the club promoted Daniel McCutchen to the Majors.
  • The Cubs have outrighted reliever Alberto Cabrera to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). The 25-year-old righty was designated on Saturday. 
  • Outfielder Michael Taylor has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 28-year-old will take up residence in Sacramento for the fifth straight year since joining the Oakland organization.
  • Brian Bogusevic has accepted an outright assignment from the Marlins, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). Bogusevic, a 30-year-old outfielder who was acquired over the offseason for Justin Ruggiano, could have elected free agency since he has previously been outrighted.
  • The Red Sox have released outfielder Scott Cousins, Cotillo also tweets. Cousins, 29, has seen bit action in parts of four MLB seasons. The news was first reported yesterday by Mike Andrews of SoxProspects (via Twitter). According to Andrews, longtime minor leaguer Juan Carlos Linares was also among the players cut loose from the Boston system.
  • Pitcher Armando Galarraga is working on securing a visa after receiving an offer from the Taiwanese club Brother Elephants, his agent tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Cotillo tweeted earlier this morning that the former big leaguer was close to a deal to move to Taiwan. In 542 career MLB innings, Galarraga has a 4.78 ERA  with 5.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
  • Outfielder Dave Sappelt has been released by the Phillies, tweets Cotillo. Sappelt himself said on Twitter that he appreciates the club carrying him while undergoing offseason surgery. The 27-year-old has seen limited action in three big league seasons.
  • The Astros have outrighted reliever Raul Valdes to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. Though he lacks an extensive MLB track record at age 36, Valdes still has an intriguing recent stat line and looks to be a good bet to see time in Houston at some point. His ERA was a ghastly 7.46 last year, but he put up 9.5 K/9 (against just 2.1 BB/9), good for a 3.10 SIERA. Valdes posted numbers more line with those peripherals in 2012 and even during limited action this spring.
  • Likewise, Hiroyuki Nakajima has been outrighted to the top affiliate of the Athletics, also via the PCL transactions page. The move is not surprising, given that Nakajima had only been added to the 40-man in the first place to fill it up to allow for the team to designate Taylor for assignment, according to a report from John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter).

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Athletics To Designate Michael Taylor For Assignment

The Athletics will designate Michael Taylor for assignment, Taylor told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The move comes as no surprise, as it was reported on Thursday that Taylor would not make the club and he is out of options.

Taylor is a once-hyped prospect who, at age 28, has never really seen much time at the MLB level. After a strong effort this spring, he figures to draw some interest from around the league.


AL West Notes: Harden, Boesch, Franklin, Taylor

Longtime Athletics starter Rich Harden is still pursuing his throwing program and is planning to hold a mid-season showcase, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Over 624 1/3 innings in seven seasons with the A's, the 32-year-old threw to a 3.65 ERA. Here are a few quick notes out of the AL West:

  • Angels outfielder Brennan Boesch has a March 30 "soft out" in his deal, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. In essence, the clause requires the club to add him to its 25-man roster or allow him to go to any other team that is willing to do so. The 28-year-old has enjoyed a strong spring, putting up a .278/.350/.472 line in 40 plate appearances.
  • Mariners infielder Nick Franklin has been spending some time working in the outfield, and says that he is simply "trying to be versatile," reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. The 23-year-old has been a hot subject of trade speculation, as he lacks a regular spot in the Seattle infield and could appeal to a variety of clubs. But his focus is on getting to the bigs with his current organization. "Some way, somehow I want to get on the field, whatever it takes," said Franklin. "What am I going to do, wait around for someone to get hurt?"
  • Athletics outfielder Michael Taylor has learned that he will not make the Opening Day roster, reports Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. As the 28-year-old is out of options, he figures to be dealt or plucked off of the waiver wire, though a move has yet to be made. Once a top prospect, Taylor has certainly put his best foot forward this spring with a .274/.348/.532 line and three long balls in 69 plate appearances, though he has struck out 17 times while drawing six walks. Last year, in 481 trips to the plate at Triple-A, Taylor had a .281/.360/.474 triple-slash with 18 home runs.
  • The division has two new additions from this morning, as the Mariners added starter Chris Young and the Astros claimed outfielder Alex Presley.