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The National League Central saw a change atop its leaderboard as the Brewers fell out of first place for the first time since April 5 after a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Nationals. It could be temporary pending the outcome of the Cardinals’ game with the Dodgers tonight. Here’s the latest from the NL Central:
- Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty has several of his inner-circle baseball operations people on the road with him and is eyeing some additions, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen this month. “I’d like to add a bat,” Jocketty said, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “We just haven’t found anything that attracts us yet. It may not happen before the 31st.” Jocketty went on to say if the Reds acquire a bat, the preference would be for the player to play multiple positions.
- With Brandon Phillips on the disabled list, the Reds GM was asked about pursuing the recently released Dan Uggla. “We haven’t discussed that yet,” Jocketty said (as quoted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “I haven’t talked to our scouts that saw him. I don’t know. We’re going to meet tomorrow and go over some stuff.“
- In a chat with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter), Jocketty made it clear he’d like to acquire a middle of the order bat he could put into the Reds‘ lineup right away, not an injury risk type player. When asked about Rays‘ second baseman Ben Zobrist (link), Jocketty said, “That’s a good name. That’s all I’ll say.”
- The Reds have interest in the Phillies‘ Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
- The Cardinals‘ top Trade Deadline priority should be starting pitching and not a replacement for the injured Yadier Molina, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The Cardinals‘ due diligence with David Price is reminiscent of their pursuit of Matt Holliday in 2009, tweets Strauss’ colleague at the P-D, Derrick Goold (Twitter links).
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin has downplayed the prospects of making a major deal before the Trade Deadline citing the lack of playing time for a bat and the limited impact a reliever can have because of the few innings they pitch, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the ask is still high on the trade market, but the club has the payroll flexibility to make a move. “It’s the basic law of supply and demand,” Huntington said. “There’s not a lot of teams that are looking to sell, and there are a lot of teams looking to buy. There’s not a ton of players out there who are significant upgrades. There are some guys you think can be, so as a result asking prices higher than you’d like. It’s a balance of what do you give up for projected current wins for projected future wins.“
Zach Links contributed to this post.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.
- The Brewers (via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy on Twitter) have announced that pitcher Kevin Shackelford has been outrighted to Double-A Huntsville. The Brewers designated Shackelford for assignment when they claimed Irving Falu earlier this week. Shackelford pitched well this year for Class A+ Brevard County but has struggled at Huntsville, posting a 6.35 ERA with 3.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 28 1/3 innings there.
- The Marlins announce that they’ve selected the contract of IF/OF Jordany Valdespin, optioned Justin Bour to Triple-A New Orleans, and moved Rafael Furcal to the 60-day disabled list. After a poor 2013 season with the Mets, Valdespin signed a minor league deal with the Marlins, then hit .270/.374/.437 in 265 plate appearances at New Orleans.
- The Braves have purchased the contract of lefty Chasen Shreve from Double-A Mississippi and optioned Luis Avilan to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. The Braves have struggled with lefty relief, and Shreve posted a 2.48 ERA with 12.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 at Double-A.
- The Tigers have released catcher Ronny Paulino, according to MiLB.com. Paulino had appeared in 13 games for Triple-A Toledo in 2013 before receiving a 100-game PED suspension this offseason. He has not yet played this season. The former Pirates starting catcher has also appeared in the big leagues with the Marlins, Mets and Orioles, last playing in the Majors in 2012.
- The Tigers announced that they have purchased the contract of P Drew VerHagen, who is slated to start one game in Saturday’s doubleheader against the Indians. To clear space for VerHagen on their 40-man roster, the Tigers moved reliever Joel Hanrahan to the 60-day DL. VerHagen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, had pitched 110 1/3 innings for Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.67 ERA, 5.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.
It has been a busy day as the league returns to action out of the All-Star break. Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball …
- First baseman Carlos Pena has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Pena, 36, was designated for assignment yesterday after a rough start to his tenure in Texas.
- Veteran backstop Yorvit Torrealba has requested and been given his release from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old has a .256/.315/.379 career MLB triple-slash over 13 seasons of work. He has only seen time at the Cubs’ rookie-league affiliate this year since signing last month.
- The Angels have signed hurler Chris Volstad to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Volstad, a towering righty, has a 4.94 ERA over parts of six MLB seasons, working mostly as a starter until a stint last season with the Rockies. He had been pitching for the Korean Doosan Bears this season, working to a 6.21 ERA over 87 frames with just 3.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
- Free agent righty Jeremy Berg has signed a minor league pact with the Cardinals, also via the MLB transactions page. Berg, 28, has yet to pitch in the big leagues and owns a 4.43 ERA in 256 innings at the Triple-A level. He had spent his entire career in the Angels organization.
- The Phillies released right-hander Barry Enright today, according to the International League transactions page. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily in his most recent stints at the major league level, and carries a 5.58 ERA through 101 2/3 Triple-A innings this season with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
- The Brewers have inked catcher Hector Gimenez to a minor league deal and assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Gimenez spent some time as the White Sox’ backup catcher in 2013 but posted just a .191/.275/.338 batting line in 80 trips to the dish. He’s a lifetime .216/.280/.330 hitter in 100 big league plate appearances and is a veteran of 12 minor league seasons. He’ll provide some minor league catching depth for Milwaukee.
- Outfielder Casper Wells has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, the club announced on its web site. Once a nice fourth outfielder for the Mariners, Wells’ stock has dropped after hitting just .126/.186/.147 for the White Sox, A’s and Phillies in 2013. He began the year with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate but batted just .197/.290/.230 in 69 PA with Iowa before being released.
- The Brewers have also acquired outfielder Josh Fellhauer from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, the team’s player development department announced (on Twitter). A former seventh-round pick, the 26-year-old Fellhauer was hitting .239/.338/.313 in 155 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’ll also report to Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers.
The Cubs are receiving some trade interest in Starlin Castro but don’t expect to trade him this month, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1. That lines up with a tweet from Newsday’s David Lennon earlier this week, when Lennon noted that Castro isn’t expected to be dealt in 2015, and the Cubs may slide him over to third base in 2015. That would be a surprise, given the organization’s wealth of third base prospects, although such a move would clear a spot for Javier Baez.
Here’s more on the Cubs and the NL Central…
- For what it’s worth, Baez made his first professional appearance at second base in last night’s Triple-A contest, as first noted by Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register last night (on Twitter). Getting Baez some looks at second base could also clear a path for him, though the Cubs have been wowed by the early returns on fellow top prospect Arismendy Alcantara. Suffice it to say, the Cubs’ infield depth is flat out enviable.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin spoke to reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, and discussed the trade deadline. Melvin noted that he will have his ears open, but he isn’t fixated on the idea that making an acquisition is necessary for his team to reach the postseason. He cited a lack of availability of quality first basemen and the eventual returns of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson when asked about perceived needs in the ‘pen and at first. Said Melvin: “If you can add, you add. But I like our team.”
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was a guest on the Baseball Tonight podcast with Buster Olney today and discussed the Cardinals second-half needs. While he says the absence of Yadier Molina should be the team’s biggest issue, a quieter concern is how many innings they get from the rotation. Of the team’s current starters, only Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright have shown the ability to pitch deep into games. Cardinals starters other than Lynn and Wainwright have averaged just 5 1/3 innings per start.
- Goold also says the Cardinals know that at some point, they have to make some kind of move to address their outfield surplus. Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, James Ramsey and Oscar Taveras are all potential long-term pieces, and the team also has Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Allen Craig as center field/right field options. Dangling Grichuk, Piscotty, Ramsey and Taveras will get them in the conversation for a number of pitchers, he adds.
- Goold thinks the Cardinals would be willing to at least discuss the possibility of sending Taveras to Tampa in a Price trade (though he doesn’t mention specific confirmation of that fact), but such a deal might be contingent on St. Louis securing an extension with Price. Talks between the two sides would be interesting, Goold notes, because the sides value players and value team control so similarly. Olney speculates that Price would be open to an extension with the Cards, noting the proximity of St. Louis to Price’s native Nashville.
Falu spent about three weeks in the San Diego organization after he was claimed from the Brewers in late June. Now, he’ll head back to Milwaukee, where he signed over the offseason after 11 seasons with the Royals. On the year, Falu has just three hits in 35 MLB plate appearances but owns a .306/.364/.361 triple-slash (with seven stolen bases against six unsuccessful attempts) over 170 trips to the plate at Triple-A. He’ll be headed back down, as the club announced that he has been optioned.
Shackleford, 25, made it onto the club’s 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. But after dominating High-A hitters earlier this year, he has struggled to a 6.35 ERA through 28 1/3 Double-A frames with just 3.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. (In 29 1/3 innings at the level last year, he managed a 0.92 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.)
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Mitch Lively has opted out of his contract with the Giants and inked a minor league deal with the Nationals, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). He can opt out of his new contract on September 1, Cotillo adds. The 28-year-old had spent virtually all of his career in San Francisco, though he has yet to make a big league appearance. He began working as a starter last year after six years throwing exclusively from the pen. At Triple-A this season, Lively owns a 5.08 ERA through 90 1/3 frames (including 15 starts and seven relief appearances), with 8.0 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9.
- The Brewers have signed catcher Hector Gimenez after his recent release by the Blue Jays, tweets Cotillo. The 31-year-old switch-hitter has seen only limited MLB action, but has been fairly productive in the upper minors in recent years. That has not held in 2014, however: in 127 plate appearances with Jays and White Sox affiliates, he owns a .177/.260/.292 triple-slash.
- The Red Sox have acquired lefty Ryan Verdugo from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations, Kansas City announced on Twitter. The 27-year-old has only one MLB start under his belt — it did not go well — and has spent most of the last four seasons in the upper minors. Through 46 2/3 frames over 9 starts this year, he owns a 4.24 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
Brewers shortstop Jean Segura has left the team after learning of the death of his nine-month-old son Janniel, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. There are few details about what happened, although Brewers manager Ron Roenicke notes that Segura’s son had been sick. “It’s tough,” says Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. “After I leave last night, I can’t wait to come home and hug my kid and sleep with my kid. It’s hard to imagine. It’s painful. It’s not my kid, but I feel like it.” We at MLBTR send our deepest condolences to Segura and his family after this tragedy.
- Brady Aiken and the Astros still don’t see eye-to-eye over the pitcher’s injury status, Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a long feature. The Astros have dropped Aiken’s bonus offer from $6.5MM to $5MM over an issue with his elbow, but Kenney quotes Aiken’s high school coach and trainer, who both say he’s healthy. The issue, as Kenney points out, might be that interpreting an MRI is more art than science — a player can appear healthy and yet have abnormalities in his MRI, and yet it isn’t easy to tell which abnormalities are significant and which ones aren’t.
- Despite the aftereffects of a PED suspension and a fall into the cracks of the qualifying offer system, the Orioles‘ Nelson Cruz didn’t spend the offseason worrying about where he would end up, Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun writes. Instead, he took comfort in spending the offseason in his home country of the Dominican Republic. “It feels natural,” Cruz says. “Everything is more calm [in the U.S.] You have more peace. But I miss my people.”
We just took a quick look at the NL East; here’s the latest from the rest of the National League:
- The Brewers will once again recall top prospect Jimmy Nelson, this time to take the rotation spot of the struggling Marco Estrada, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported yesterday (via Twitter). Nelson, who entered the year with 27 days of service, received a one-game callup earlier in the year. Now, it seems he could be in the bigs to stay. At this point, he will not be able to accrue sufficient service time to qualify for Super Two status.
- With the Pirates bullpen showing some signs of wear, the club will be on the lookout for relief help in addition to starters, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. One possibility, says Biertempfel, is Huston Street of the Padres. Though he figures to require a substantial return, Street would potentially slot in as the club’s closer with Mark Melancon returning to an 8th-inning role. Pittsburgh has also recently scouted the Red Sox, who have several arms that could appeal.
- The Dodgers have now sat center fielder Andre Ethier twice in a row against righties, leading Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com to wonder whether the club will look for an alternative. Scott Van Slyke, who has been in the lineup, does not look like a long-term solution in that role, so Saxon suggests that top prospect Joc Pederson could potentially receive a nod. If that happens, says Saxon, the club may well “fell compelled” to deal one of the team’s four highly-paid outfielders over the summer.
- Here’s the latest on the Padres‘ GM search, which the club hopes to wrap up by mid-August, according to a tweet from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. The team will ultimately sit down with about a dozen options, then call back a few for a second interview. Today, the club announced, MLB senior VP for baseball operations Kim Ng had an interview. Meanwhile, internal possibility A.J. Hinch has told the Pads that he does not wish to be considered, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
The Athletics announced that they have acquired minor league right-hander Rodolfo Fernandez from the Brewers for the No. 57 international bonus slot, which carries a value of $339K.
The Brewers have been rumored to be on the hunt for some additional bonus money, as they’ve agreed to terms with Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara on a $3.2MM bonus but have an international bonus pool of just over $2.6MM. This new move boosts their overall bonus pool $2,950,800, which is still $249,200 short of Lara’s reported bonus. That means that their agreement with Lara would still result in an overage of 8.4 percent, which would be enough to prevent them from signing a player in next year’s signing period for any more than $500K.
While MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has since listed Lara’s signing bonus, even that $149,200 overage would still result in a 5.05 percent overage. The Brew Crew needs to keep the overage under five percent in order to avoid restrictions on their spending next season, so it seems likely that the team will pursue further bonus slots in order to come in under that number. Further trades will have to be completed before Lara’s signing is officially announced, as teams cannot acquire additional bonus money once they have already exceeded their signing pool.
Fernandez, a 24-year-old Cuban right-hander, has a 2.87 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings at Low Class A this season. He didn’t rank among Milwaukee’s Top 30 prospects, per Baseball America or the team’s Top 20 prospects, per MLB.com. The trade serves as another example of teams moving international bonus money for relatively marginal returns.
Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Brewers have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league deal, the club’s player development department announced on Twitter. Clark had been hitting .297/.380/.498 at Double-A for the Mets before he was released recently. He will take the roster spot of Hunter Morris, the club’s tenth overall prospect coming into the year (per Baseball America), who was DL’ed after breaking his arm.
- Veteran righty Luis Ayala has been released by the Blue Jays, according to the International League transactions page. The reliever had been working at Triple-A. As MLBTR’s Zach Links reported at the time of the signing, Ayala did not have the right to opt out of his deal. Though he worked to a 2.90 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 31 innings last year for the Braves, Ayala has not had an opportunity to throw in the bigs yet this season. Through 17 innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he owns a 5.29 ERA (7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)
- The Braves officially acquired minor league right-hander Andrew Robinson from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, as per a Houston media release. Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported yesterday that the trade was imminent.
- The Cubs released left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports (Twitter link). The Cubs signed Sanchez to a minor league deal in December but the southpaw has been injured for most of the season and only pitched 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Iowa. After being traded from the Giants following the 2011 season, Sanchez’s numbers ballooned to the tune of an 8.73 ERA over 78 1/3 IP with the Royals, Rockies and Pirates in 2012-13.
- The Royals have signed infielder Paul Janish to a minor league deal, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Janish opted out of his previous minors deal with the Rockies on Tuesday. Janish provided some good defense but only a .572 OPS in 1206 PA with the Reds and Braves from 2008-13, and he spent all of his season with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
- The Blue Jays have released outfielder Brett Carroll, as announced via Twitter by the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Carroll posted only a .438 OPS in 63 Triple-A plate appearances after signing a minor league contract with the Jays in February. Carroll appeared in 173 games with the Marlins from 2007-10 and had cups of coffee with the Brewers and Nationals in 2011-12 before spending 2013 with the Pirates’ Triple-A franchise.