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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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Michael Morse Rumors
Here's the latest from the City of Brotherly Love…
- The Phillies intend to avoid more expensive free agents like Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann in favor of "mid-level" free agents, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. The Phillies are wary of how much it would cost to sign Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran or Curtis Granderson even though they like all three players.
- Also from Salisbury, the Phillies have discussed signing Franklin Gutierrez, Marlon Byrd, Joaquin Benoit, Joe Smith and Bronson Arroyo.
- GM Ruben Amaro told reporters (including Salisbury) that the team could wait to see what kind of a market there is for Roy Halladay's services before deciding whether or not to pursue the former Cy Young Award winner. “We’re keeping our eyes open on him. We’re not sure how the market is going to develop for him. But we haven’t ruled out bringing him back," Amaro said.
- The Phillies have "long-standing interest" in Mike Morse and see Morse as "a potential Jayson Werth-like late bloomer," CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman writes. Despite this interest, Morse could just be a backup plan for the Phillies if they can't sign a more higher-profile hitter.
- Carlos Ruiz could make a decision about his next contract soon, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link). We heard earlier this week that the Phillies wanted a quick decision from Ruiz so they could figure out their catching situation.
- If Ruiz doesn't re-sign, Morosi tweets that John Buck could be a more realistic backup plan for the Phillies than A.J. Pierzynski. Not only would Buck be cheaper, Philadelphia is in need of right-handed bats.
- Trading Domonic Brown and bringing back Ryan Madson are two of the topics addressed by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki as part of a Phillies-centric reader mailbag.
With some of the most interesting and attractive trade and extension candidates in the game, and coming off of a season in which major, mid-season, veteran acquisitions failed to deliver a post-season appearance, the Orioles' off-season could be busy and creative or relatively quiet. Some notes out of Baltimore:
- The O's announced that Manny Machado's sscheduled surgery was successful. Surgeon Neal ElAttrache pegged the recovery period at the long end of the four to six months that was previously reported, however, which would almost certainly keep Machado on the pine to start the season. Executive VP Dan Duquette emphasized that this timetable was "conservative,"CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff reports, but also noted that the club will not push the rehab process.
- Baltimore's payroll is higher than many fans realize, Dubroff further writes. The club's mid-season additions bumped things up significantly, reaching the same neighborhood as the Reds.
- Dubroff also takes a useful look at the team's future commitments, noting that the club will probably end up paying nine players about $70MM after accounting for some substantial arbitration paydays.
- Indeed, that figure could even be higher. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz says that closer Jim Johnson and breakout star first baseman Chris Davis will merit $10.8MM salaries, with backstop Matt Wieters checking in just under $8MM. The $100MM line will come up rather quickly if the club seeks to return veteran free agents like Brian Roberts, Scott Feldman, and Nate McLouth. A big-name free agent probably isn't in the offing, Dubroff says, particularly if Duquette signs up Davis or Wieters to long-term pacts.
- In a separate article, Dubroff reports that the Orioles are likely to non-tender Nolan Reimold this offseason and try to re-sign him to an incentive-laden contract. The team likes Reimold's upside, but he just turned 30 and has appeared in only 286 games — 104 of which came in 2009. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a modest $1.2MM salary for Reimold, but it's hard to argue that he deserves that guarantee after his injury troubles.
- A source tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) that pending free agent Mike Morse will undergo arthroscopic surgery Wednesday at the Mayo Clinic to shave down a bone outgrowth in his left wrist. The 31-year-old will be able to resume some activities within four weeks and his left wrist should be healed within six to eight weeks.
Zach Links and Steve Adams contributed to this post.
As the Athletics get ready for Game 5 against the Tigers, owner Lew Wolff is embroiled in a different battle with the Giants for the right to move his team to San Jose. Wolff goes way back with commissioner Bud Selig, but that won’t play a major role in the proceedings. “Well, we were in the same fraternity,” Wolff told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “but Bud was there to get an education. I was there to have a good time. Bud was involved in so many intramural events, there wasn’t a game or sport he missed. Of course, he was a spectator. I don’t remember him playing any of it.” More from around baseball..
- The Orioles believe that Mike Morse‘s injury “pre-dated” their summer trade with the Mariners, but it’s not an issue they’re pursuing, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Morse is a pending free agent this winter after posting a combined slash line of .215/.270/.381 with 13 homers this past season.
- The Mariners‘ have a long list of managers that they might pursue this winter, but Joe Girardi is not among them, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While they surely believe that Girardi is a strong skipper, they know that they won’t be able to compete with the allure of the Yankees or Cubs openings. Three names believed to be on the list are A’s coach Chip Hale, Giants coach Ron Wotus, and newly-minted Phillies third base coach Pete Mackanin.
- A high-ranking Mets official told the Star-Ledger’s Jorge Castillo that scouts came away “impressed” with Jose Dariel Abreu’s power after watching him in Santo Domingo last week.
- There is no telling how the NL East will shake out, but the Braves could be contenders without making a single offseason move, opines Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
- The Rockies announced today that Jorge de la Rosa had his option picked up for 2014, but the pitcher says that he was already assured that it would be exercised last week, writes Rafael Rojas Cremonesi for MLB.com.
The Yankees have begun discussions with manager Joe Girardi as his three-year contract is set to expire, but Mark Gonzales of the Chicago-Tribune reports that the Cubs may be willing to top any offer the Yankees make (subscription required). According to Gonzales, Girardi's annual salary may soar over the $5MM mark, and he could exceed his previous three-year guarantee as well. Here's more out of the AL East…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with nine executives who believe that the Rays will trade David Price this offseason. Sherman points out that Price's $10MM salary could approach $15MM (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $13.1MM), and the Rays have previously dealt Matt Garza and James Shields with two years of team control remaining. Now that they are among the league's best teams each year, the Rays must add top talent via trade instead of at the top of the draft, Sherman adds. The Rangers, Cubs and D-Backs were popular guesses for landing spots among Sherman's panel of nine executives.
- Stephen Drew would love to return to the Red Sox and went so far as to say that he'd like to finish his career in Boston, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Bradford outlines a scenario in which Drew could remain with the Sox, though it would require shifting Xander Bogaerts from shortstop to third base and moving Will Middlebrooks across the diamond from third base to first base.
- The Orioles aren't expected to pursue Mike Morse in free agency this offseason, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko opines that Morse could be a bargain, however, noting his limited leverage coming off a .215/.270/.381 season and pointing to Morse's monster production in 2011 (.303/.360/.550). Kubatko adds that the Nationals tried to trade Morse to the Orioles at last year's Winter Meetings, but the Nats weren't interested in parting with right-hander Jake Arrieta at the time. Arrieta eventually went to the Cubs in this summer's Scott Feldman deal.
With the post-season eligibility deadline at midnight tonight, the August revocable waiver trade market is coming to a close. We just saw a big trade go down with Justin Morneau heading to Pittsburgh, and could still see more action over the afternoon and evening. One situation to keep an eye on is the possibility of the Red Sox going after a reliever, although the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham tweets that nothing is in the works for Boston at the moment.
In the meantime, let's round up some links on the recently completed deals:
- The Orioles ultimately found Michael Morse to be "a little better fit" than Josh Willingham, GM Dan Duquette told reporters including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, leading the team to pull the trigger on his acquisition. "Morse has a big, physical presence and has some power, and hopefully he can bounce back and have a good month," said Duquette. "He has experience and he's been to the playoffs. Those are all good things."
- Morse's former manager with the Nationals, Davey Johnson, noted that he "shudder[s] to think" about the impact Morse could have hitting in Camden Yards, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. "That ballpark is made for him," said Johnson. "He's that right-center hitter, and that's the jet stream. He's a good fit there."
- The Cardinals and Brewers were talking all week about a deal and swapping names before settling on the trade that sent reliever John Axford to St. Louis, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Manager Mike Matheny explained: "There's a lot of experience there, a lot of upside. It's hard to forget that two years ago this guy was one of the top relievers in the game."
- Don't look for any more players to depart Milwaukee via trade, according to a tweet from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. GM Doug Melvin says that the team is likely to stand pat after nabbing a player to be named later and clearing some cash in the Axford deal.
- After picking up struggling outfielder Jason Kubel, the Indians now face the question of how to use him. As Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, manager Terry Francona praised GM Chris Antonetti for "trying to help us," but did not seem clear about how Kubel would be deployed. Francona says he first needs "to see how healthy [Kubel] is for the outfield," but did indicate that the 31-year-old could see some time at DH, sharing duties with fellow lefty Jason Giambi. "We love having G [Giambi] do what he does, but he can't do it every day," Francona explained. "It will be nice to have another bat here. If he gets hot, or gets a couple of big hits, it certainly isn't going to hurt anything." Of course, as low-average, low-speed, power-first, defensively-limited left-handed hitters, Kubel and GIambi seem somewhat redundant at this point if one of them does not regularly play in the field.
The Orioles made a pair of waiver claims with the hopes of bolstering their lineup this week, and Friday they were able to convert on one of them by acquiring Mike Morse from the Mariners in exchange for outfield prospect Xavier Avery. Both teams have announced the trade via press release.
Morse, 31, came to the Mariners in a three-team trade that sent John Jaso to the A's and prospects A.J. Cole, Ian Krol and Blake Treinen to the Nationals. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik had high hopes in re-acquiring Morse after the right-handed hitter mashed his way to a .296/.345/.516 line with 64 homers in 346 games from 2010-12. However, Morse has been a disappointment in Seattle. He slugged six homers in the season's first nine games but is now hitting just .226/.283/.410 with 13 homers overall. He's missed time this season with a broken pinkie finger as well as a severe quad strain.
Morse, who was claimed by the Orioles on Wednesday, is a free agent at season's end, so he is strictly a rental. He's earning $6.75MM this season, meaning that he has approximately $1.1MM remaining on his contract. While Morse has experience as a corner outfielder and first baseman, he's regarded as one of the game's worst defensive outfielders by both Ultimate Zone Rating and The Fielding Bible.
The Orioles also placed a claim on Minnesota's Josh Willingham, but the two sides couldn't work out a deal due to the Twins' high asking price for their left fielder. The Twins reportedly asked for top left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, causing the O's to balk and turn their attention to Morse.
Avery, 23, is currently ranked as Baltimore's No. 10 prospect, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. He entered the season ranked seventh among Orioles prospects according to Baseball America. The former second-round pick is hitting just .237/.312/.312 in 333 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, though he opened the year with a respectable .300/.391/.406 line in 186 Double-A plate appearances. Avery has stolen 29 bases in 37 attempts across the two levels, which matches up with Mayo's report that Avery's speed is his best tool. Mayo writes that he's good enough from a defensive standpoint to play center and could be an everyday player if his offense improves. BA echoes that statement, noting that Avery has strong hands and good bat speed but lacks pitch recognition and is too aggressive at the plate.
Avery made his Major League debut for the Orioles last season, batting .223/.305/.340 with a homer and six stolen bases in 94 plate appearances.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the Orioles had traded for Morse (Twitter links), and Peter Gammons of the MLB Network was the first to break the news that Avery was headed to Seattle (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
12:15pm: The Twins asked the Orioles for multiple pitching prospects in exchange for Willingham, according to Kubatko. Prized lefty Eduardo Rodriguez was among Minnesota's targets. The 20-year-old Rodriguez ranks as the No. 86 prospect in baseball at this time, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
9:42am: The Orioles have been highly active on the waiver market this week, claiming both Josh Willingham of the Twins and Mike Morse of the Mariners. Morse is far likelier to end up with Baltimore it seems, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that a Willingham trade is "not happening at this point" because of the Twins' lofty asking price. Kubatko says the Orioles and Mariners are still actively trying to work out a deal for Morse, though.
Willingham is under contract for 2014 at just $7MM and belted 35 homers for the Twins last season, so it's not a surprise to see them asking a lot even in a down season for Willingham. Despite his low batting average, he's still posted strong OBP and ISO numbers. Morse is a free agent at season's end and owed just over $1.1MM for the remainder of the 2013 season. There have been reports indicating that he's likely to be moved, as he no longer has a place in the Mariners' organization. He hasn't played in either of the team's two games since being claimed by the Orioles.
With the clock ticking on the August revocable waiver trade market, here are the latest updates …
- Outfielder Michael Morse, who is suited up but not in the lineup for the Mariners tonight, is "almost certain" to join the Orioles in the immediate future, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The O's claimed Morse earlier today, giving the teams two days to work out a deal (or for Seattle to pull Morse back or allow Baltimore to assume his contract without compensation). As Baker explains, Morse no longer appears to be in the team's future plans, leaving little reason for the club to hold onto him. Just over $1MM remains on Morse's $6.75MM salary for this season.
- The Padres pulled back third baseman Chase Headley after he was claimed on waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While that news is hardly surprising, given that Headley was reportedly placed on waivers back on August 20th, it does confirm that Headley did not clear waivers and will no longer be available this season. Headley, who will be entering his final season of team control, has failed to repeat his strong 2012 season but remains an attractive player going forward. Heyman notes that the Pads are expected to explore a multi-year extension with the 29-year-old over the coming off-season, and estimates that he could command a five-year, $75MM deal.
- The Red Sox could look to pick up a right-handed bullpen piece before Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Manager John Farrell said that he is not concerned about the pen, but added that "if there's someone out there that makes sense for us to acquire, we might see that." On the other hand, Britton notes, a returning Clay Buchholz will likely allow the club to move righty Ryan Dempster to the bullpen. You may recall that Dempster once served as the Cubs' closer back in 2005-2007.
- While the Orioles have been busy making waiver claims, the Pirates have been the most aggressive team over the course of August, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the club recently added Marlon Byrd and John Buck, making further acquisitions seem unlikely. On the other hand, the Bucs are reportedly still interested in first baseman Justin Morneau.
Mariners outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse has been claimed off revocable trade waivers by the Orioles, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Morse is the second notable player claimed by Baltimore in as many days – last night they had the winning claim on the Twins' Josh Willingham.
Morse, 31, has struggled this season, posting a .226/.283/.410 slash line with 13 homers in 307 plate appearances. It's a significant dropoff for Morse, who boasted a career .295/.347/.492 line heading into this sesaon.
The 70-61 Orioles are in need of an offensive upgrade as they look to make their playoff push. They're not likely to leapfrog the Red Sox and Rays for the AL East crown, but they are just 4.5 games back of the A's for the final Wild Card spot. In total, Baseball Prospectus' number crunch gives them an 8.8% chance of making the postseason.
Here's Monday's list of players that have been placed on revocable trade waivers…
- Yovani Gallardo — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) reports that Gallardo has been placed on waivers by the Brewers. The starter drew interest this summer as a player who could help not just for 2013, but beyond, as he is under contract for $11.25MM next season with a $13MM club option for 2015. Gallardo is having a down year, but he has had two strong starts against the Reds this month since coming off of the DL. For his career, Gallardo owns a 3.76 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
- Mike Morse — Rosenthal also reports that Morse was placed on waivers by the Mariners. Morse's teammate, Kendrys Morales, was claimed off of waivers earlier today, giving Seattle two bats to dangle to interested clubs. Will either player be moved? We can surmise that the M's held on to impending free agents like Morse, Morales, and Raul Ibanez with the idea of retaining them beyond this season. On the year, Morse owns a .227/.282/.414 slash line with 13 homers in 301 plate appearances – down from his career line of .285/.338/.480.
- Heath Bell — Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Bell, 35, has been placed on waivers. He came to the Diamondbacks from the Marlins this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the A's. Bell has rebounded, to an extent, from a rough 2012 season that saw him post a 5.09 ERA in his only season with the Marlins. He's pitched to a 3.88 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. His HR/FB ratio is at a sky-high 17.2 percent, which has bloated his ERA. xFIP predicts that with a league-average HR/FB rate (roughly 11 percent), Bell would have an ERA of 3.05. His K/BB numbers and the fluky nature of high HR/FB rates suggest he's in for some improvement in the ERA department, but he's under contract for $9MM this season and again in 2014. The Marlins are picking up $8MM of that salary, but he'd be an expensive acquisition. I'd expect Bell to clear waivers.
- Javier Lopez — Heyman also tweets that the 36-year-old Lopez has been placed on waivers by the Giants. Lopez has a masterful 1.99 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a monstrous 64 percent ground-ball rate. He drew significant interest from multiple teams prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean reportedly had exorbitant asking price at the time, seeking top prospect Danny Salazar from the Indians in exchange for Lopez. A free agent at season's end, Lopez is owed roughly $813K over the remainder of the year and seems likely to be claimed.
For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer. You can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers. Zach Links contributed to this post.