Milwaukee Brewers Rumors

Milwaukee Brewers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Pirates Acquire Aramis Ramirez

The Pirates and Brewers have announced a trade that will send third baseman Aramis Ramirez to Pittsburgh in exchange for minor league right-hander Yhonathan Barrios and cash considerations. The Pirates are reportedly taking on $3MM of the $5.74MM that remains on Ramirez’s $14MM salary.

[RELATED: Pirates Working On Trade For Reliever]

"<strongThe Pirates have a clear need for infield help after losing both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer to significant injuries that will keep each on the shelf for another four and six weeks, respectively. Offseason signing Jung Ho Kang figures to man shortstop full time for the foreseeable, with Ramirez serving as the Pirates’ everyday third baseman until Harrison is healthy. At that point, Ramirez could either become a part-time option at third and/or platoon partner for Pedro Alvarez at first base. Another option for the Bucs, though, would be to keep Ramirez at third base and shift the highly versatile Harrison to right field, which would likely cut into the playing time of the struggling Gregory Polanco.

Ramirez got off to a brutal start to the season, posting just a .404 OPS through his first 17 games. However, since that time, Ramirez has looked more like himself, batting .270/.327/.477 with 10 homers in 245 plate appearances. He’s been particularly productive in the month of July, hitting a mammoth .352/.422/.500.

Ramirez, who initially came up with the Pirates and has spent his entire career in the NL Central, has said that he intends to retire at season’s end, and he reiterated that fact following today’s trade, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The veteran added that reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008 in his final season, though, would mean a lot to him. Interestingly, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes (also on Twitter) that today marks the 12-year anniversary of the initial trade that sent Ramirez from Pittsburgh to the division-rival Cubs.

Turning to the Brewers’ side of the deal, the 23-year-old Barrios began his career as an infielder but converted to the mound full-time in 2013. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated him as the club’s No. 30 prospect heading into the season, writing that he sits 94-98 mph with his fastball and has touched 100 mph at times. Barrios, McDaniel noted, has a low effort delivery for a reliever and is still learning to pitch, so there’s some upside with him. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper calls Barrios a lottery ticket (Twitter link), noting that he has a big arm but lacks quality secondary pitches in addition to having “iffy control.”

Barrios, a native of Colombia, sports a 2.68 ERA in 40 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, though he’s not missing many bats. Barrios has averaged 4.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 2015. He missed more bats in 2013 and 2014, however, and given his velocity, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see those strikeout numbers eventually come around.

NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra first reported that Ramirez was headed to Pittsburgh in a trade (via Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Pirates were taking on $3MM of Ramirez’s salary (also via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.  This post was initially published 7-23-15 at 4:40pm central time.


Minor MLB Transactions: 7/22/15

Here are some recent minor moves from around the game:

  • The Mariners have acquired Triple-A reliever Tyler Knigge from the Phillies in exchange for cash, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Twitter. Knigge, 26, was a 12th-rounder back in 2010 that has advanced as far as Triple-A. He’s spent time there in both 2014 and 2015, working to a 4.89 ERA with 5.5 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 70 innings. His numbers at Double-A and Class-A Advanced were markedly better.
  • Braves reliever David Carpenter was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Carpenter — not to be confused with the former Atlanta reliever and current Nationals reliever of the same name — has worked 3 2/3 innings in the bigs this season and 46 2/3 innings at the Major League level as a whole. He’s struggled to a 5.40 ERA, though the 27-year-old has a more palatable 2.73 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over the life of his minor league career.
  • The Dodgers recently released righty Ryan Buchter after he opted out of his deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 28-year-old notched a stellar 1.65 ERA with 39 strikeouts against 16 walks in 32 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season.
  • And the Rays released infielder Vince Belnome, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. The 27-year-old Belnome has been solid throughout most of his Triple-A tenure, but he’s slumped to a triple-slash of just .169/.293/.225 in 191 plate appearances this season.
  • The Brewers announced yesterday that they’ve signed lefty Jeremy Horst and released right-hander John Ely. Horst, 29, saw a fairly significant amount of Major League action from the 2011-13 seasons with the Reds and Phillies. He has a career 3.32 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 in 72 2/3 innings. Horst began the season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, where he tallied a 1.64 ERA with 42 strikeouts against 16 unintentional walks in 38 1/3 innings. As for Ely, the now-29-year-old Ely logged 115 2/3 innings with the Dodgers from 2010-12 but hasn’t appeared in the bigs since. Injuries have played a role in his absence from the league, but he also struggled to a 7.42 ERA in 13 1/3 innings between Rookie ball and Triple-A this season.

2016 Competitive Balance Lottery Results

The Reds have drawn the first competitive balance selection in the 2016 draft, as Cash Kruth of MLB.com reports. While the precise draft slots remain to be determined, Cincinnati will pick after the conclusion of the first round (including compensation choices).

Here is the order of the selections, which were determined by lottery between the clubs that fell among the ten smallest markets and/or the ten smallest revenue pools league-wide. Other teams that participate in revenue sharing are also eligible, but only for the second round.

Round A (selections occur after first round)

1. Reds
2. Athletics
3. Rockies
4. Diamondbacks
5. Marlins
6. Pirates

Round B (selections occur after second round)

1. Padres
2. Indians
3. Twins
4. Brewers
5. Orioles
6. Rays

These results mean that the Cardinals, Royals, and Mariners failed to receive a pick despite being eligible. With some restrictions, the picks can be traded — and increasingly have been in recent seasons. You can take a look at this year’s draft results and slot values to get an idea of the range of selections (and drafted players) that the most recent competitive balance awards ultimately represented.



Brewers Declined Extension Overtures From Jonathan Lucroy

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy indicated today that he was rebuffed by the team when his representatives raised the possibility of a second extension last offseason, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. The 29-year-old first mentioned that “a little bit of talk earlier in Spring Training … really didn’t go anywhere” in an appearance on 105.7 The Fan (audio link).

Expanding upon those comments in a chat with McCalvy, Lucroy said that he came to the team with “a proposal that would have kept me here for the rest of my career, most likely.” After submitting the offer in January, said the veteran backstop, he was informed that the team was not “interested in doing anything at this point in time.” Lucroy is represented by Sports One Athlete Management.

Lucroy agreed previously to a five-year, $11MM extension that has turned into one of the game’s more valuable contractual assets for Milwaukee. Since putting pen to paper before the 2012 campaign, Lucroy has compiled a .291/.353/.455 slash with 46 home runs while contributing outstanding work behind the dish. Though he has been off to a slow start this season after missing time early on, he’s begun hitting again over the month of July.

Under the deal, which was struck when Lucroy was more a solid youngster than the outstanding player he’s become, Milwaukee can control its franchise backstop for two more seasons (through his age-31 campaign) for just $9.25MM. The last year of that contract, 2017, consists of a $5.25MM club option.

While many teams have doubled down on cheap early extensions to grab more control at attractive rates, it seems that the Brewers were pleased with their existing commitment. There are many possible reasons for that, of course, including Lucroy’s age and unknown contractual demands as well as the amount of time remaining to discuss another agreement.

Certainly, it would not be fair to assume that Milwaukee’s apparent lack of interest in another extension indicates any particular inclination towards dealing Lucroy. We’ve heard numerous reports suggesting that Milwaukee is not looking to move him despite its place in the standings, and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted today that “multiple top prospects” would need to be offered for the team to even consider such a move.


Heyman On Cueto, Uribe, Wilson, Brewers, Niese, Pirates, Gallardo

In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”

Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):

  • The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
  • While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
  • Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
  • The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
  • The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
  • While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
  • Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.

Central Notes: Cueto, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Garza, Cubs

At least one executive of a club with interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto saw significant concern in his latest outing, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Though he only allowed four hits and two runs, Cueto walked six and lasted just four innings, marking his second consecutive start of five innings or less. He also generated a season-low three groundball outs. Given Cueto’s status as one of the premium rental trade pieces on the market, and some pre-existing injury questions, his next appearance could be one to watch.

Here’s more from the game’s central divisions:

  • We heard yesterday that the Tigers were gearing up to sell, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes on Twitter that multiple GMs tell him they have yet to be informed that Detroit will sell. Per Rosenthal, it’s still up in the air whether the Tigers will move quality veteran assets such as David Price and Yoenis Cespedes.
  • The Pirates are not only looking at possible shortstop acquisitions but continue to seek an addition at first base, Stark tweets. Pedro Alvarez has provided only average offensive production while struggling mightily with the glove. Of course, the first base trade market is not exactly overflowing with obvious upgrade candidates.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti says his team plans to be an “opportunistic” and “open-minded” participant on the trade market, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. One thing the team likely won’t do, however, is deal from its array of quality, controllable starting pitchers. “We are not motivated at all to do that,” said Antonetti.
  • The Brewers will welcome back righty Matt Garza from the DL tonight, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. That means he ought to have two starts to show his health and regain some trade value, though Garza’s big contract makes him a viable August trade piece as well (since he’d very likely clear waivers).
  • The Cubs got promising news on the injury front, as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports (Twitter links). Backstop Miguel Montero has only a sprained left thumb, rather than something more serious, though he is still set to rest for two weeks before being evaluated again. And minor league infielder Javier Baez may appear in game action this week. That makes the high-upside prospect a more viable trade piece if the Cubs decide to pursue a significant upgrade.

NL East Notes: C. Johnson, K. Johnson, Parra, deGrom, Prado

The Braves have been determined to deal away Chris Johnson for some time, and the third baseman tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he hopes to find a new home. “I’ve been called in the manager’s office,” said Johnson. “[Manager Fredi Gonzalez] has told me they are trying to move me. I want to be moved, and they want to move me. Hopefully, something gets done.”While saying he’s enjoyed his time in Atlanta, Johnson emphasized that he is interested in receiving a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere. Obviously, the Braves are looking to shave off as much of Johnson’s contract as possible. Under the extension he signed early in the 2014 campaign, he is due roughly $19.99MM (including $2.52MM for this season and the buyout of a 2018 option).

A bit more on the Braves and their division…

  • Kelly Johnson has parlayed a minor league deal into a critical role on the Braves, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Johnson credits first-year hitting coach Kevin Seitzer with helping him to shorten his swing and improve his overall approach at the plate. Of course, as a veteran on a one-year deal with a losing team, Johnson’s name may pop up over the next few days as a trade candidate; I listed him and three others Braves when looking at the trade market for third basemen earlier today.
  • The Mets continue to be intrigued by Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They’re also looking at Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, though multiple reporters (most recently Marc Carig of Newsday, who also reported interest in Parra late last week) have characterized that type of high profile acquisition as a long shot. Parra, Heyman notes, is drawing quite a bit of interest around the league.
  • Peter Gammons relays an anecdote from the 2012 trade deadline that could have vastly reshaped the current state of two franchises. When the Red Sox and Mets were discussing a trade for veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach, Boston initially asked about right-hander Jacob deGrom, who had recently undergone surgery. (deGrom was never projected to become the ace that he presently is, of course, and he had just undergone surgery.) However, after talking it over with his minor league evaluators, GM Sandy Alderson and the Mets passed. The two sides eventually lined up on a deal that sent right-hander Pedro Beato to Boston.
  • Marlins third baseman Martin Prado tells Zach Buchanan and Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic that he’s not concerned with the possibility that he could be traded for the third time in the past year. Prado says there’s no sense in thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is going to happen again,” and he’s instead focused on helping his teammates out. He’s candid when addressing the current state of the Marlins, however. “We’re in a pretty bad situation here,” says Prado. “I’m just trying to bring good energy for my teammates and my team. That’s all I can do right now.”

Twins Monitoring Market For Catchers

The Twins are “closely monitoring” the market for catchers, including the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Derek Norris, Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

It’s not certain at this time how available each of those names might be, but Berardino writes that the Braves are open to trading Pierzynski, which comes as no surprise when considering that he’s a 38-year-old veteran playing on a one-year deal for a club that is seven games back in its division. One can imagine that the Tigers, who as of last night are reportedly planning to be sellers at the trade deadline, would be open to moving free-agent-to-be Avila.

Pierzynski has a $2MM base salary in 2015, of which roughly $841K remains. His contract also contains incentives based on games started behind the plate. To this point, he’s already earned $100K for reaching 60 starts, and he’ll earn an additional $50K for his 65th, 70th, 75th and 80th starts at catcher. He’ll earn $100K every fifth start from 80 through 100, allowing him to max out at $2.7MM. He’s hitting .280/.316/.432 with six homers this season, and it’s also worth noting (as Berardino points out) that the Twins reportedly made Pierzynski a two-year offer to return to Minnesota prior to the 2014 season. He instead chose to sign with Boston.

Minnesota’s plenty familiar with Avila, whom they’ve watched behind the plate for the Tigers dating back to 2009. However, he’s earning a not-insignificant $5.4MM this season and has played in only 34 games, hitting .192/.333/.293. Avila’s career behind the plate has been threatened by concussions, and as a club that is more than familiar with the ill effects of concussions (see: Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Corey Koskie), the Twins may desire more certainty.

Both Norris and Lucroy would represent long-term upgrades over incumbent Kurt Suzuki as opposed to mere rentals. Norris is under club control through 2018 and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, but he’s also struggled in his transition from Oakland to San Diego. Norris has followed up a .270/.361/.403 line in 2014 with a .231/.278./.401 line in 2015. He’s certainly hitting for more power — he has a 38 point increase in his ISO, and his 11 homers already top last year’s 10 — but his walk rate and average have plummeted. Norris’ line-drive rate is down from 18.7 percent to 12.9 percent, which, paired with an increased strikeout rate, helps to explain the dip in his average.

Lucroy could very well be the prize of the catching market. He’s a premium defender in terms of both controlling the running game and pitch framing, and he’s also produced a .291/.353/.455 batting line dating back to 2012. His production has been slowed this season, in part by a fractured toe sustained earlier in the year. However, he’s hitting .274/.335/.382 dating back to June 1, and two of his three homers this season have come in the past eight games. Lucroy’s contract, though, is perhaps the most appealing part about a potential acquisition; he’s earning $3MM in 2015 before a $4MM payday in 2016 and a $5.25MM club option for the 2017 season.

That Minnesota is seeking an upgrade behind the plate is reasonable, considering the difficulty that Suzuki has had at the plate since signing a two-year, $12MM extension on July 31 last year. Suzuki had an excellent first half in Minnesota, but it was largely BABIP driven, and he closed out the year hitting .248/.290/.366. This year’s been even worse for the former A’s/Nats backstop, as he’s hitting just .227/.283/.303, making him one of the least effective bats in baseball. He’s also caught just 19 percent of attempted base stealers — 13 percent below the league average. The Twins, though, value the comfort that the pitching staff has with Suzuki, his clubhouse presence and his durability.Those positive traits, of course, would still be in play were he to transition to a backup role, even if only for the remainder of the 2015 season.


AL Central Notes: Tigers, Ramirez, Twins, Gomez

The time has come for the Tigers to enter the sellers’ market, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Names like David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Rajai Davis, among others, should be marketed over the coming 10 days in an attempt to avoid a lengthy rebuild in the Motor City. However, Morosi notes that there’s more to the likely trades of veteran players than just a one-year selling cycle. Rather, he writes this could very well represent the beginning of a new philosophy for the Tigers. Sources tell Morosi that Christopher Ilitch (son of owner Mike Ilitch) has taken a greater influence over the Tigers’ business operations than his father, whose focus has shifted to the construction of a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings. As such, the Tigers’ aggressively escalating payroll may take a step back in the coming years. However, the team can avoid a lengthy rebuild by acquiring strong packages for stars Price and Cespedes. Specifically, he wonders if the Dodgers would part with a combination of Grant Holmes, Jose De Leon and Cody Bellinger for Price, while speculating that names such as Brett Phillips and Vincent Velasquez could be in play if Houston makes a run at Cespedes.

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • The Tigers have a brief window to change the front office’s mind on becoming a seller, writes MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Each of their next nine games will come against teams with negative run differentials, he points out. However, Iott also notes that if GM Dave Dombrowski is to extract maximum value for Price and/or Cespedes, he’ll need to begin laying groundwork for trades sooner than the final two days of the non-waiver trading period. The implication there, seemingly, is that it’s possible Dombrowski has already begun to do so, or will begin shortly, and could receive an offer he must take before Detroit has a chance to turn the tide.
  • Morosi tweets that Indians infielder Jose Ramirez could make for an intriguing trade candidate in the next 10 days. He has a strong defensive reputation in the minors, and Ramirez is also enjoying a strong season at the plate in Triple-A. However, he’s blocked by Francisco Lindor, who rated as one of the best prospects in all of baseball prior to his debut. Ramirez hit .265/.307/.353 in 280 plate appearances with Cleveland’s big league club from 2013-14, but he slumped to .176/.243/.235 in 173 PAs this season before Lindor took the reins at short. Ramirez has played more second base than short in the minors, and some scouts feel he’s better suited there than at shortstop, but one can imagine clubs with needs at either middle infield spot showing interest.
  • Twins top decision-makers got together on a conference call last night to discuss the club’s top need heading into the trade deadline, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. However, there’s somewhat of a divided camp among the Twins’ brass right now. That’s not particularly surprising, considering that despite their second place standing in the AL Central, the Twins could use upgrades in the bullpen, behind the plate and at shortstop.
  • Berardino does note (Twitter link), however, that despite some reports connecting the Twins to a reunion with Carlos Gomez, Minnesota isn’t particularly interested in reacquiring its former center fielder from the Brewers. The Twins do have nice outfield depth, with Byron Buxton nearing a return from the DL, Aaron Hicks hitting and fielding well in 2015 and the likes of Torii Hunter, Eddie Rosario and Oswaldo Arcia to fill out the rest of the outfield.

Mets Notes: Cuddyer, Conforto, Trade Targets

The Mets are currently squared off with the Nationals in a key mid-season match-up. Despite entering the series just two games back in the division, New York faces a lot of scrutiny due to its scuffling offense.

Here’s the latest:

  • Michael Cuddyer‘s knee problems are an increasing concern for the Mets, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports. If one final effort at managing the pain proves unsuccessful, Cuddyer will likely hit the DL. An extended absence from the club’s major offseason acquisition would only increase the team’s already pressing need for offense.
  • Of course, any missed time from Cuddyer will also increase calls for the team to promote well-regarded outfield prospect Michael Conforto. But as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports, that move remains unlikely. There is at least some consideration being given to a call-up, but the club does not believe that the second-year professional is the answer it is looking for right now. As Mike Puma of the New York Post explains on Twitter, the lack of viable alternatives at the Triple-A level means it is necessary to entertain the thought if Cuddyer has to go on the DL.
  • All said, it seems as if GM Sandy Alderson is looking more for complimentary pieces than “one transformational bat,” according to Carig (Twitter links). That is reflected, to some extent, in the identity of the young players that internal and external executives see as being viable trade pieces. Per Carig, New York has little stomach for moving its most prized pre-MLB position talent (Conforto and shortstop Amed Rosario), but might be willing to deal well-regarded youngsters (and top-ten MLB.com organizational prospects) Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Jhoan Urena, and Matt Reynolds (among others).
  • There are any number of outfielders that could be available to the Mets, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that one name to consider is Ryan Raburn of the Indians. Per Sherman, Cleveland is interested in picking up younger bats if it moves Raburn and/or fellow part-time Indians outfielder David Murphy. While the Mets prefer the idea of adding a Ben Zobrist-type super-utility player or a left-handed-hitting player capable of manning center — Sherman mentions Gerardo Parra — Raburn may be a more practicable target given his manageable salary and likely reasonable prospect cost.