Michael Young Rumors
Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow is likely out for the season due to an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm, a source told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca last night. The issue is likely to be treated with extended rest rather than surgery, Davidi adds. The Blue Jays have since announced that Morrow will be out for approximately six weeks. Morrow, who turns 29 tomorrow, is under contract for $8MM next year and has a $10MM club option for 2015. The Blue Jays are finished this year, as a seven-game losing streak has dropped them to 11 games out in the wild card. Elsewhere in the AL East...
- The Red Sox appear "just as likely to stand pat as they are to add another reliever," writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. He says the team has not stepped up its search despite losing Andrew Bailey for the season, though they continue to monitor the market.
- "We explained to him that this is financial lunacy," agent Seth Levinson said in reference to Dustin Pedroia wanting to approach the Red Sox as early as 2011 about spending the rest of his career in Boston (WEEI's Alex Speier reporting). "Money was never really a factor," explained Levinson, who also said Pedroia chose years over salary partly to avoid becoming a contract albatross.
- Contract offers of more than five years are hard to come by, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, and he understands why Pedroia left "a few extra dollars lying on the table." Longoria did so himself in a pair of contract extensions.
- "There's no glaring place to be doing anything," Rays owner Stuart Sternberg told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times in regard to his club's needs. Still, the team is always looking to upgrade for the present and future.
- Along with the Yankees, the Red Sox are also still intrigued by Phillies third baseman Michael Young, a Major League source tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Having dropped four in a row, the Phillies are eight games out in the NL East and worse off in the wild card.
- Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano "asked for a couple days to think about" a potential trade to the Yankees, president Theo Epstein told reporters including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune yesterday. Adding Soriano would be a "good first step" for the Yankees, writes Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues, but the team still has to address needs at third base and behind the plate.
- Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez, who recently signed with the Orioles for $800K, "struggles against live pitching," according to scouts who spoke to Baseball America's Ben Badler.
ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams. That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column...
- Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars. While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals. "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
- The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick. The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
- Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter. Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said. Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
- We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams. The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
- The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club. Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week. The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
- Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
- Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers. The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
- The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year. The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
- Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder. The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
- The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline. Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him.
- The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching. While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
- In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal. You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."
In a piece for CBSSports.com, Danny Knobler notes that the Yankees are pinning their playoff hopes on strong returns from aging stars like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Knobler opines that a recent comment from GM Brian Cashman ("These guys are trying, but...") is an admission that the current Yankees' lineup may not be good enough to carry the team to the playoffs. Cashman also commented on A-Rod's eventual return, saying his production at third base should be "better than [what] we've gotten from third base, with all due respect." However, in a recent tweet, ESPN's Buster Olney suggests that Rodriguez is likely to spend more time at DH than at third when he rejoins the Yankees. On to tonight's AL East links...
- Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News says Cashman needs to acquire a bat to bolster the team's fizzling attack, but Cashman reports that it's tough to find offense in this year's trade market. "The phone calls are taking place, but nothing to show for it,” Cashman said. “I think if you’re looking for offense, Exhibit A is, name me the bat that’s moved already? It hasn’t. Exhibit B is, look at all the big rumors out there – they’re involving pitchers ... It’s just an offensive offense market." McCarron suggests that the addition of the second wild card slot may be causing more teams to consider themselves contenders later into the season.
- Sources in the Red Sox organization tell Knobler that the team's top priority is relief pitching despite continuing uncertainty about starter Clay Buchholz, who hasn't pitched since June 8 and has no target return date. The Sox began the season with a strong bullpen, but injuries to Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller have thinned out the team's relief corps, leading GM Ben Cherington to acquire lefty Matt Thornton from the White Sox last week. The Sox appear to be content with Koji Uehara as their closer, Knobler observes.
- The Red Sox also continue to monitor the trade market for third basemen, and it's believed they have significant interest in the Phillies' Michael Young, according to Knobler. However, Philadelphia's recent run of success means they don't appear to be in sell mode. The Brewers' Aramis Ramirez is a potential fit, but he's currently on the disabled list with a knee issue and may not return until right at the deadline, Knobler writes. Meanwhile, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who manned the hot corner for much of 2012 for the Sox, continues to post mediocre numbers at Triple-A Pawtucket. However, Knobler says some in the Boston organization continue to hope he'll put things together.
- The Orioles are "tapped out" financially in terms of adding another player via trade, a team-connected source tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Dan Duquette added righty Scott Feldman in a trade with the Cubs earlier this month. The O's aren't in the market for an ace pitcher, and any deal for a DH or outfielder would have to fit the team's limited budget. The Twins' Justin Morneau, who's owed $6MM for the remainder of the year, would be "too expensive," an Orioles source tells Heyman. Instead, O's fans should look for any help to come from within, Heyman says, citing the recently promoted outfield prospect Henry Urrutia and pitcher Kevin Gausman.
The Red Sox have scouted both Alex Rios and Michael Young recently, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Cafardo adds that the team is likely to scout Jake Peavy's next few starts for the White Sox as he returns from the disabled list. In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports that the Yankees and Red Sox are both likely to scout Aramis Ramirez next week when he returns from the disabled list.
Boston's in Rios is somewhat of a surprise, as both Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury have played well across the board, and Daniel Nava is hitting .288/.374/.429 while playing the outfield corners. Nava's OPS has declined in each month this season, however, and he grades out as a poor defender according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and The Fielding Bible. Rios would also present the Sox with a right field option if they wish to move Victorino to center field in 2014, should Ellsbury sign elsewhere (my own speculation).
The Young connection makes sense in light of recent reports that they're looking at upgrades on the left side of their infield. There's said to be "intense" interest in Young from a number of teams, and the Phillies could probably move him even if they don't wish to fully commit as sellers.
Ramirez hasn't hit for much power this season when on the field, but he's hitting .271 with a .359 on-base percentage, which should appeal to both teams. Neither has received much production at the hot corner. He's under control through 2014, but the $16MM salary that he is guaranteed next year could be prohibitive for interested parties.
"Intense trade interest" in infielder Michael Young might compel the Phillies to trade him despite indications the team doesn't plan to sell, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He says the Red Sox and Yankees are among about a dozen teams that have checked in on Young.
I still think Young, a 36-year-old hitting .288/.344/.414, would bring a modest return. Rosenthal says the Phillies have no obvious internal replacement for him, though I wonder if utility man Kevin Frandsen is capable of delivering similar production in a regular role. The Phillies are currently 5.5 games out in the wild card, and seek a center fielder and bullpen help.
Phillies' right-hander Luis Garcia looked the part of a big league pitcher when he made his MLB debut on Wednesday, striking out Ryan Zimmerman and getting a double-play grounder from Adam LaRoche. However, prior to this season he'd been out of organized baseball for two years, working for a moving company and in a barbershop, Todd Zolecki and Stephen Pianovich of MLB.com write. After showing the Phillies a mid-90s fastball and a decent slider, the team assigned him to their high-A club, and he's now pitching out of a major league bullpen. Some more Friday night Phillies links...
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn't expected to make drastic changes to his team as the trade deadline approaches, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Though the Phils remain under .500, the team is playing well lately, having just taken five of seven from divison rivals Washington and Atlanta. A model for the Phillies' approach to the trade market this year might be the 2007 club under GM Pat Gillick, which plugged holes by acquiring infielder Tad Iguchi and pitcher Kyle Lohse for two non-prospects. Gelb also discussed the market for Michael Young, highlighting the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Dodgers and the Orioles as potential trade partners.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com runs down possible trade pieces for the Phillies at the deadline. From conversations with people around baseball, it would seem that Lee is staying put while rival execs see at least a small chance of Jonathan Papelbon being traded. Opinions seem to be split 50/50 on Chase Utley, though there's a strong belief that Young is a goner if they're not in position to contend. Finally, execs could see the club trading catcher Carlos Ruiz if they remain on the cusp of the race or fall further.
- The Phillies signed 11th-round pick Denton Keys to a $350K bonus (plus a $200K college scholarship) that will put them over their bonus pool and force them to pay a luxury tax, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (Twitter links). Because Callis mentions no loss of future draft picks, it seems that the Phils exceeded their pool by 0-5 percent. Any further overage would result in a loss of their 2014 first-rounder. Keys, according to Callis, is a prep left-hander from Colorado whose fastball touches 91 mph. He was committed to Kansas.
Matt Warden of River Ave. Blues completed his 2013 series on potential Yankees' trade targets, highlighting the Rockies' Tyler Colvin, Peter Bourjos of the Angels, the Mariners' Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez, and Logan Morrison of the Marlins. Here's more out of baseball's Eastern divisions...
- The Mets aren't likely to trade Marlon Byrd, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. General manager Sandy Alderson will likely employ the same strategy he did with Scott Hairston last summer. However, one scout told Martino that he's not sure if the team's plan to stand pat is just posturing to drive up trade prices.
- The Phillies would be buyers right now if it were July 31, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters (including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com). Amaro said he doesn't feel he has a replacement for Jonathan Papelbon and needs his closer to contend. However, he also doesn't want to part with young talent, and Zolecki calls the Phillies' situation "fluid."
- The Yankees and Red Sox at one point appeared to be one of the most serious contenders for the Phillies' Michael Young, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. However, the Red Sox's main focus is now on bullpen help. Young isn't opposed to playing in the Bronx, according to King.
- Within that same post, King notes that Howie Frieling, a special assignment scout for the Phillies, was in attendance to watch the Yankees against the Twins last week. The Phils also sent Sal Agostinelli, their director of international scouting, to watch the Yankees on Wednesday.
- King adds that Joba Chamberlain's trade stock is falling, and the Phillies "have questions about what is perceived as the reliever’s immaturity," King says. In addition, one team that was previously interested in Chamberlain told King that they don't plan to make an offer for him because it's believed that the Yankees could eventually release him.
- Marlon Byrd told Daniel Nelson of Mets Merized Online that he'd love to stay with the Mets but understands that he could be shipped to a contender at the deadline. "Sandy Alderson’s going to do anything possible to make this organization the best it can be," Byrd says.
- Orioles prospect Henry Urrutia is "getting closer" to being an option, Buck Showalter told reporters, including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Urrutia entered the season as the Orioles' No. 13 prospect, according to Baseball America, but has likely upped his stock with a big performance at Double-A and Triple-A. The Cuban defector is hitting .365/.429/.536 with seven homers in 280 minor league plate appearances this season.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
WEDNESDAY, 1:27pm: A source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that the Phillies are not among the clubs pursuing Chamberlain.
TUESDAY, 9:05am: The Phillies are amenable to trading infielder Michael Young and have expressed interest in Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz may be available as well, since the 34-year-old is a free agent after the season. He'd make sense for the Yankees, one of few contenders with a clear need behind the plate.
So what's getting in the way of a deal? The Phillies' status as a team on the bubble is one factor, as they have three weeks remaining until the trade deadline to pull closer than their current 7.5 games out. Lack of interest from the Yankees seems to be another -- GM Brian Cashman's interest "has been lukewarm at best," writes Feinsand.
The Chamberlain-Young-Ruiz trade scenario only makes sense if the Phillies are looking for a way to dump Young's salary, as Feinsand suggests, and/or if they also receive a prospect in return. Otherwise, renting Chamberlain in his contract year only makes sense for the Phillies if they're making a push toward contention. That's the general problem with the idea of Chamberlain and Phil Hughes as trade chips for the Yankees: non-contenders have little need for players in contract years. A contender-to-contender deal could work; for example, the Braves were reportedly interested in Chamberlain earlier this month.
Baseball America released its updated rankings of the sport's top 50 prospects, headlined by Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. For Baseball America subscribers, BA's J.J. Cooper also has lists of 10 prospects who missed the top 50 but are still having breakthrough seasons, preseason top-100 prospects who missed the new list, how the thirty preseason top-100 prospects who have already made the Major Leagues are faring and also a look at five organizations who have made strides and five who have struggled.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- The Red Sox still have interest in Michael Young, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets, but "serious names have not been discussed" between the Sox and Phillies in trade negotiations.
- The Cubs have reportedly explored extending Matt Garza's contract but CSN Chicago's David Kaplan doesn't believe it and neither does an American League executive. "Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] know that they have a great asset. They will not cave on what they want in return," said the AL exec. "They will play this thing out until they get what they want. He's too valuable to not trade. When you are in a rebuild you need to move assets to fuel the plan. Garza should help to do that. I'd be stunned if he is a Cub Aug. 1." (Twitter links here)
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty confirmed that he had spoken to Jeff Francoeur's agents at CSE, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter). "He's talking to other clubs as well. [I'm] not sure it's a fit," Jocketty said. Francoeur is known to have drawn interest from at least two other teams since he was released by the Royals. Francoeur could be a right-handed hitting stopgap for Cincinnati until Ryan Ludwick returns from the DL in August.
- Also from Fay, he thinks the strong recent performance of the Reds' bullpen should shift the team's trade deadline focus to hitting instead of relief pitching. Fay opines that the Reds should look to acquire Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, who I'd guess would be too expensive for the Reds' liking (owed roughly $9.35MM through 2014) and is on the DL until August following knee surgery.
- The Mariners have a number of trade chips on the roster but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times feels the team's toughest decisions will concern Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales. On paper the 41-year-old Ibanez is an obvious candidate to be dealt, though Ibanez's popularity on and off the field in Seattle will make the M's consult him before any possible deal. I examined the case for Morales as a trade candidate back in April.
- Every Major League transaction is a complicated process, and they get even more complex when they have to be made quickly. MLB.com's Corey Brock outlines how the Padres had to move fast to replace the injured Yasmani Grandal, which led to a shakeup of catchers at all levels of the organization and a lot of roster juggling that eventually led to Rene Rivera being called up from Triple-A Tucson to Washington for the next day's game.
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.