Milwaukee Brewers Rumors

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

Blue Jays Interested In Francisco Rodriguez

The Blue Jays have contacted the Brewers about closer Francisco Rodriguez, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. The Jays are also seeking a starter.

That the Jays would have interest in Rodriguez is no surprise. With the Brewers off to a 25-44 start, K-Rod seems likely to be on the market this summer, and the Blue Jays have been connected to other top relievers, like Jonathan Papelbon and Tyler Clippard.

Rodriguez is in the midst of a strong season in which he’s posted a 1.13 ERA, 9.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. His peripherals don’t quite support such an outstanding ERA, but he remains one of the game’s more reliable closers, and he could surely bolster the Jays’ bullpen, which is currently headed by Brett Cecil, Roberto Osuna, Liam Hendriks, Aaron Loup and Steve Delabar. Rodriguez makes $3.5MM this season and will receive $7.5MM ($2MM of which will be deferred) next season, with a $6MM option or $2MM buyout for 2017.


Draft Signings: Marshall, Hillman, Blankenhorn, Davila

It’s time to get caught up on some draft signings. Slot values courtesy of Baseball America.

  • The Giants have agreed to a well-above-slot, $750K bonus with fourth-round pick Mac Marshall, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. You might remember that Marshall was taken in the late rounds last year by the Astros, who fell short of a rumored last-minute attempt at a deal with him as they tried to work things out with Brady Aiken. Marshall had been set to play for LSU, but ultimately ended up in Junior College so that he could re-enter the draft.
  • Second-rounder Juan Hillman inked with the Indians, the club announced. The deal is for $825K, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cleveland also announced several other signings, including third-rounder Mark Mathias and fourth-round pick Tyler Krieger. MLB.com rated Hillman the 52nd-best player available, noting that the prep lefty is the son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Gordon. ESPN.com’s Keith Law had the highest grade on Hillman, ranking him 31st heading into the draft on the basis of his excellent feel and command at a young age.
  • Twins third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn gets a $650K bonus, Callis tweets. The high school third baseman was taken 80th overall, which came with a $754K slot allotment. Baseball America rated Blankenhorn 75th on its board, citing his athleticism, nice swing, and overall solid tools. Minnesota also added fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage for an above-slot $760K bonus, also per a Callis tweet. His signing was previously reported, but not the bonus amount, which lands well above the slot value of $517,900.
  • The Royals went over $300K above slot ($431,100) to sign high school lefty Garrett Davila, Callis tweets. He receives a $746K bonus after entering the draft rated within Law’s top 100 list. His fastball is not a very impressive offerin at present, but he has an above-average curve and still has some growing to do.
  • Javier Medina, the third-round pick of the Rockies, gets $740K to forego his commitment to the University of Arizona, Callis reports on Twitter. The 77th overall pick came with a $789,700 allotment, so Colorado will pick up some savings to add a pitcher who shows more feel than pure stuff, per Baseball America.
  • Pirates third-round selection Casey Hughston lands a $700K bonus that lands $107,300 above the slot value, per Callis (via Twitter). The Alabama outfielder has good all-around tools in addition to plus raw power, MLB.com wrote in raking him 95th among available players. Pittsburgh fourth-rounder Jacob Taylor, a righty from Pearl River Community College, has agreed to a $500K bonus, Callis tweets. That represents a $60.6K bump over the slot value for the 127th overall pick.
  • The third-round pick of the Tigers, Dallas Baptist pitcher Drew Smith, announced that he has signed (h/t to MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Callis reports on Twitter that the live-armed college righty will take home the slot value of $575,800.
  • The Braves have agreed to a $550K deal with third-round pick Anthony Guardado, Callis tweets. That signing saves the club $106,300 against the slot value of the 89th pick. Callis calls the high school righty a true pop-up prospect, and indeed he did not receive much pre-draft attention.
  • Fourth round pick Demi Orimoloye will sign for a $450K bonus, according to Callis (on Twitter), just shy of the $456,600 allotment for the 121st pick. The Canadian outfielder (who was born in Nigeria) drew rave reviews from BA, which rated him 41st heading into the draft based upon his loud tools and tall ceiling. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done, it seems, but Orimoloye looks to be a nice risk for the Brewers at this price tag.
  • Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.
  • The 11th-round pick of the Mets, lefty Jake Simon, has agreed to a $400K bonus, Callis tweets. $300K of that money will count against New York’s overall pool, as any amount over $100K does for players taken after the tenth round.

Minor Moves: Wang, Wilson, Ramirez, Crabbe

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

  • Brewers lefty Wei-Chung Wang cleared outright waivers and has been assigned to the club’s Class-A affiliate, the team announced. Milwaukee carried Wang all last year on its major league roster to keep him trough the Rule 5 process, but needed a 40-man spot when third baseman Matt Dominguez himself became a 40-man casualty of the Astros. Wang’s struggles at the High-A level (5.93 ERA in 60 2/3 innings) led the club to expose him to an outside claim.
  • Rays backstop Bobby Wilson has accepted an assignment with the club after being outrighted, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The veteran defensive stalwart played in 24 games for the big league club earlier this year, and figures to be a good bet to return at some point. He has never produced much at the plate, and this year was no different: Wilson has slashed just .145/.203/.145 in 59 plate appearances.
  • Right-hander J.C. Ramirez cleared outright waivers after being designated for assignment and has been outrighted to Triple-A Reno by the Diamondbacks, tweets Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. Removed from the roster to create a spot for Allen Webster, the 26-year-old Ramirez had worked to a 4.11 ERA with an 11-to-4 K/BB ratio out of the Arizona bullpen this season. This marked his second stint with the big league club and his first since 2013. In 39 1/3 career innings at the Major League level, Ramirez has a 6.18 ERA. He’s worked to a 3.82 ERA in 125 Triple-A innings.
  • The Diamondbacks also dealt righty Tim Crabbe to the White Sox for cash or a player to be named later, the club announced (via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, on Twitter). Crabbe, 27, has spent all of the past three years in the upper minors and has recently converted to relief pitching exclusively. He owns a 5.50 ERA over 34 1/3 innings this year at Triple-A, with 8.7 K/9 but a rough 6.0 BB/9.


Draft Signings: Nash Walters, Cody Poteet

Here are today’s notable mid-round signings (slot values courtesy of Baseball America)…

  • Brewers third-round pick Nash Walters received an over-slot $800K signing bonus, tweets MLB.com’s Jim Callis. The prep righty out of Texas has an 88-93 mph sinker and a projectable 6’5″ frame, per Callis. Walters rated as the 332nd-best prospect in the 2015 draft on Baseball America’s Top 500, and their scouting report notes that he didn’t begin pitching until 2014, making him quite raw but full of athleticism and potential on the mound. BA felt that Walters might’ve been best-served to honor his commitment to Texas A&M but added that a team might pay for his upside, which the Brewers have done, going $136K over-slot on him.
  • Right-hander Cody Poteet signed for the full slot value of $488.7K of the No. 116 slot at which the Marlins selected him, Callis tweets. BA ranked Poteet 190th in the draft, labeling him as an enigmatic prospect due to being used in a variety of roles. The scouting report from BA says Poteet has starter stuff, with two usable breaking balls when he’s pitching well. He doesn’t always control them well though, and his 90-92 mph fastball played up in a relief role, hitting 94.

Minor Moves: Chris Nelson, Jack Hannahan

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s minor moves right here …

  • The Brewers have released infielder Chris Nelson from its Triple-A affiliate, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on Twitter. That move coincides with the club’s recent claim of fellow third baseman Matt Dominguez. Nelson, 29, has bounced around quite a bit since a promising run with the Rockies in 2012. This year, he owns a .202/.256/.290 slash in 133 plate appearances at Colorado Springs.
  • Korea’s LG Twins recently added Luis Jimenez as a replacement for fellow former big leaguer Jack Hannahan, who was placed on KBO waivers, according to Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News. Hannahan was playing rather well after missing time early due to injury — he owns a .327/.410/.523 slash — so it isn’t entirely clear what precipitated the move. As Yoo notes, the team is struggling, and Jimenez will earn a $350K salary (whereas Hannahan was playing for $1MM). It remains to be seen where Hannahan, 35, will end up, but presumably a return to North America is not out of the question.

NL Central Notes: Cards Investigation, Dominguez, Wang, Schwarber

Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters that it’s too soon to know how the league will handle today’s stunning news that the FBI is investigating the Cardinals for possible involvement in last year’s Astros computer system breach. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle was among those to report, Manfred declined to wade into the details of the matter and stressed that the federal government, not the league, was conducting the investigation. “To assume that the investigation is going to produce a particular result with respect to the Cardinals, let alone to jump to a word like cyber attack, we don’t know that those are the facts yet,” he said. “There is an ongoing investigation. We’ve been fully cooperative. Obviously any allegation like this, no matter how serious it turns out to be, is of great concern to us but it’s just too early to speculate on what the facts are going to turn out to be and what action, if any, is necessary.”

Here’s more from the NL Central:

  • Adding Matt Dominguez through a waiver claim gave the Brewers options at third base both now and in the future, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 24-year-old has an impressive pedigree, of course, and certainly has some upside for a team that’s all but out of it in 2015. But there is a more immediate concern, too: Aramis Ramirez could be dealt this summer, notes Haudricourt, and he’ll need a replacement if moved. Of course, the club also is in need of a future replacement with the veteran set to retire, and a look at the controllable Dominguez certainly makes sense.
  • Of course, adding Dominguez meant that the Brewers had to expose lefty Wei-Chung Wang to waivers, which Haudricourt explains was a tough move to make. Milwaukee carried Wang on the active roster for all of 2014 just to take a shot on his future, but he was struggling badly this year at the Class A level. As Haudricourt explains, Wang is earning a relatively robust $300K salary (a larger salary cut from his 2014 MLB earnings was not permissible), which may be a deterrent — as is the fact that a claiming team would need to dedicate a 40-man spot (though Wang does have options).
  • Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber is expected to have a very short first taste of the big leagues, in large part because he is likely not ready to spend regular time in the field. But that’s probably also a good thing in the long term, given that Chicago continues to give Schwarber time behind the plate rather than giving up and choosing instead to acclimate him to the corner outfield. In fact, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the club is increasingly bullish on Schwarber’s chances at sticking as a backstop. “We’re more convinced now than ever that he’s going to catch and catch a long time in the big leagues,” said Epstein.

Brewers Claim Matt Dominguez, Designate Wei-Chung Wang

The Brewers announced that they have claimed third baseman Matt Dominguez off waivers from the Astros (Twitter links). To clear room on the 40-man roster, they’ve designated left-hander Wei-Chung Wang for assignment. Dominguez has been optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs by the Brewers.

The Astros designated Dominguez for assignment last week in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for the promotion of top prospect Carlos Correa. In doing so, Houston effectively pulled the plug on one player for whom they very recently had high hopes in order to give a chance to a new young player. Dominguez was never as highly regarded a prospect as Correa, of course, but he frequented Top 100 prospect lists from 2009-12 as a member of both the Astros and Marlins organizations.

It’s easy to forget that Dominguez, who has spent parts of the past four seasons in the Majors, is still just 25 years of age. The Marlins first brought him to the Majors at just 21 years old and eventually traded him to Houston in the deal that sent Carlos Lee to Miami. Dominguez made a late-season appearance in Houston in 2012 and served as the team’s everyday third baseman in 2013-14.

That first season with an everyday gig proved to be his best to date, as he batted .241/.286/.403 with 21 homers. Despite the questionable OBP skills, Dominguez offered power and solid defense at third base, per DRS, producing 2.2 rWAR in his age-23 campaign. That’s a solid year, especially when considering his inexperience, but he took a step back in 2014, hitting just .215/.256/.330. That was concerning enough for Houston to bring in Luis Valbuena and Jed Lowrie in the winter, leaving Dominguez at Triple-A, where he continued to struggle (.251/.289/.371).

For the Brewers, though, they have little in the way of MLB-ready replacement options following the 2015 season when Aramis Ramirez retires. While Dominguez is far from a sure thing to provide them with above-average production at the hot corner — hence the DFA — he gives Milwaukee an experienced option with a good deal of team control remaining. Dominguez is all but a lock to be controllable through the 2019 season, as he’d need 110 days of MLB service to be eligible for free agency following the 2018 season, and there are only 111 days of the season remaining after tonight’s games.

With Ramirez’s name popping up in trade rumors as of late, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Dominguez eventually received an audition at the Major League level in the current season. That could theoretically push him into Super Two status and make him arbitration eligible this offseason, but his lack of recent offensive production would probably result in a relatively modest salary — especially when juxtaposed with Ramirez’s current $14MM price tag.

The 23-year-old Wang was a Rule 5 pick by the Brewers in 2013, and the team carried him on the roster through the entire 2014 season to avoid losing him, so the decision to designate him and again risk losing him was likely a tough pill to swallow. The Taiwanese southpaw pitched just 17 1/3 innings last year and yielded 21 runs, but given the fact that he was selected from the Pirates’ Rookie-level affiliate, those struggles shouldn’t be a stunning outcome. This season at Class-A Advanced, Wang has posted a 5.93 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 60 2/3 innings.


Brewers Sign Cody Ponce, Nash Walters

The Brewers have announced the signings of second-rounder Cody Ponce and third-round pick Nash Walters, both right-handed pitchers. The club also confirmed the signing of first pick Trent Clark.

Ponce’s 55th overall slot came with a $1,108,000 allocation while the pick used to take Walters was valued at $646,300. According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, it appears that Ponce has agreed to a slot bonus while Walters’ deal will pay him close to his allocated amount.

Draft pundits were all in accord on Ponce, a Cal Poly Pomona hurler, with his pre-draft ratings ranging from 32nd to 36th overall. Baseball America credits his big frame, improving stuff, and good athleticism. BA says that a high-80s cutter-slider offering is Ponce’s best, noting that he profiles as a starter with four usable pitches.


Brewers Sign Trent Clark

JUNE 15: Clark has just put pen to paper on a contract, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports on Twitter. He will receive a bonus of $2.7MM, landing about $7,300 over slot, Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets.

JUNE 11: The Brewers are “99 percent of the way” to a deal with first-round pick Trent Clark, scouting director Ray Montgomery tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The deal will award Clark a bonus that will land “slightly above” the pick’s slot value.

Clark, chosen 15th overall, recently wrapped up his senior season at Richland High School in Texas. The left-handed-swinging youngster previously committed to play collegiately at Texas Tech.

Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs ranked Clark as the seventh-best player available, calling him the “best pure hitter in the draft” and explaining that he could potentially both stick in center and learn to harness his good raw power. Other pundits agreed that Milwaukee did well to land Clark where they did, with ESPN.com’s Keith Law and Baseball America rating him the 10th overall draft prospect. Law is among those who believe Clark may need to shift to the corner outfield, where he’d obviously have less ultimate upside, though he does not figure to be reliant on the glove to have value.

BA also graded Clark with plus speed, making for an impressive overall tool set. If there is an offensive critique, it involves Clark’s unconventional grip and swing, as MLB.com noted in placing him in the 12th spot on its board, though his track record is extensive enough that it doesn’t appear to be much of an issue. Indeed, Montgomery had high praise for the team’s biggest new addition, calling Clark “a prodigal hitter.”

It appears that a physical is the only real hurdle left in finalizing agreement, with sources telling McCalvy that only minor details remained to be ironed out.


NL Central Notes: Cubs, Soriano, Ramirez

The Cubs have shifted from developing players to playing for the win, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The eye-opening moment came last week when manager Joe Maddon removed closer Hector Rondon from the ninth inning of a 5-4 game. Now the club is going with a closer-by-committee approach – a familiar tactic from Maddon’s days in Tampa Bay. Maddon himself confirms that he prefers to have a set closer – it makes his job easier. However, doing the best thing for the club is a positive wake up call for the entire roster.

Here’s more from the senior circuit’s central division:

  • Maddon says that recently signed reliever Rafael Soriano may not reach the majors until around the All-Star break, tweets MLB.com’s Bruce Levine. Before he can shake off the rust in the minors, Soriano must obtain a visa. As we learned on Friday, the reliever can opt out of his deal if he’s not on the active roster by the All-Star Game. He’ll earn a pro-rated $4.1MM base salary with up to $4MM in incentives. Additional visa delays could have implications for his salary and opt-out clause.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez does not have a no trade clause, but he’s not letting trade rumors affect him, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Ramirez has hit just .223/.263/.406 on the season. He had his best game yesterday, bopping three doubles and driving in five RBI. Ramirez plans to retire after the 2015 season so it’s reasonable to assume he’s open to finishing the season with a contender. He has recently been tied to the Mets, but New York is looking for either a clear upgrade at third base or a versatile player. Ramirez will need more games like yesterday to fit the bill.