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The Twins have claimed outfielder Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Braves, tweets LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. The team has confirmed the transaction and announced a corresponding 25-man roster move will be made before their next game on Tuesday. Schafer fills the open spot on the Twins’ 40-man roster.
Schafer, who was designated for assignment Friday in the wake of the Braves’ acquisition of James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio, will become Minnesota’s backup center fielder and be the seventh different player to man the position once he makes his Twins’ debut, Neal notes on Twitter. The 27-year-old can also play both corner outfield spots allowing Danny Santana to return to natural position, shortstop, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Schafer has struggled this year for Atlanta slashing .163/.256/.213 line in 93 plate appearances, though he has stolen 15 bases.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Blue Jays released right-handed pitcher Tyler Gonzales, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The 2012 supplemental first rounder did not pitch this season. He never advanced past the GCL where he posted a 9.24 ERA in 25.1 innings.
- The Dodgers released Triple-A right fielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez, according to Eddy (via Twitter). The former 12th round pick, now 27 years old, has seen his power decline in recent seasons. He spent most of the 2014 season in Double-A, where he posted a tepid .227/.261/.330 line.
- The Twins released injury prone left fielder Nate Roberts from their High-A roster (also Eddy on Twitter). Roberts was taken as a fifth rounder in the 2010 draft and combined to hit .305/.434/.460 over 945 professional plate appearances. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his career.
- Former MVP Miguel Tejada has been released by the Marlins, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel. The longtime MLB veteran had a comeback bid derailed by a shoulder injury, but plans to play winter ball and weigh another attempt.
- The Reds have released pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, according to the International League transactions page. According to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), Rowland-Smith opted out of his deal. The veteran lefty has not managed to find his form this year, and owns a 4.66 ERA in 29 Triple-A innings for the Reds and Blue Jays. He also spent time with the Diamondbacks at the MLB level, allowing four earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.
- The Giants have released lefty Jose De Paula, according to the MLB transactions page. He had recently been designated for assignment. The 26-year-old has a 4.21 ERA over 51 1/3 frames in his first attempt at the Triple-A level, backed by 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
Brad Johnson contributed to this post.
- Acquired infielder Zach Walters from Nationals in exchange for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and cash
- Acquired outfielder James Ramsey from Cardinals in exchange for righty Justin Masterson
- Acquired lefty Nick Maronde from Angels for cash
- Acquired outfielder Chris Dickerson from Pirates for PTBNL or cash
- Acquired righty Jason Frasor from Rangers for righty Spencer Patton
- Acquired righty Liam Hendriks, catcher Erik Kratz from Blue Jays in exchange for third baseman Danny Valencia
- Acquired lefty David Price in three-team deal in exchange for lefty Drew Smyly, outfielder Austin Jackson, shortstop Willy Adames
- Acquired righty Joakim Soria from Rangers in exchange for righty Jake Thompson, righty Corey Knebel
- Acquired lefty Tommy Milone from Athletics in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld
- Acquired righty Stephen Pryor from Mariners in exchange for first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales
- No trades
Trade action in the AL Central was, perhaps, not ultimately surprising yet nonetheless interesting. Detroit pulled off two big swaps, Kansas City largely held firm despite facing only a four-game deficit, Cleveland moved two expiring contracts, and Minnesota sold off a few veterans.
Chicago might have moved some pieces, but in honesty it was far from shocking to see the South Siders stand pat. While shortstop Alexei Ramirez seemed an obvious trade chip at one point, he has cooled off at the plate and the team has a use for him next year. , Alejandro De Aza, or Gordon Beckham might have changed hands, but down years spiked their value. Matt Lindstrom is still rehabbing and John Danks has a very sizable contract (though he drew reported interest), and either could become August trade pieces.
The biggest action, of course, came from a Tigers team with a one-track mind: World Series or bust. GM Dave Dombrowski one-upped the AL West-leading Athletics by adding the game’s best available arm in Price, though he was unable to (jokingly) goad A’s GM Billy Beane into snatching Chris Sale out of the division down the stretch. After taking a look at adding Jon Lester, but being unwilling to part with Smyly to do so, the club instead shipped its young lefty out in perhaps the biggest gambit on a market full of them. Price gives Detroit a fantasy rotation, and could fill the void if Max Scherzer departs via free agency. But the club also gave up a productive center fielder in Jackson without a replacement that would be expected to deliver equivalent production, and also sacrificed future value in Smyly and the young Adames. That came on the heels of moving two good young arms in the Soria deal, making clear that Motown has every hope of landing that elusive title.
That kind of mentality did not hold sway in Kansas City, where GM Dayton Moore saw the deadline pass with mostly minor additions. Frasor is a solid bullpen piece, to be sure, while Hendriks and Kratz add useful depth, but it seems safe to say that the Royals did not opt for an impact acquisition. Though the club has plenty of talent on the farm, trade partners were looking for MLB pieces that Moore was unwilling to give up. Money was also an issue, as ever. One can’t help but feel somewhat underwhelmed, but the fact is that the team likely already pushed itself to the limit when it added James Shields and then paid open-market prices for Jason Vargas and Omar Infante.
Sitting only 2 and a half back of the Royals are the Indians, who also entered the season hoping to contend. But that slippage was enough to draw a sale of two veterans who were destined to hit the open market at season’s end. Masterson had struggled this year anyway, and was still working through a rehab stint, which would have made it difficult for Cleveland to turn down the opportunity to add a quality, fairly advanced prospect in Ramsey. Cabrera, likewise, was converted into future value with Walters, who has seen time at the MLB level this year and offers intriguing pop from the middle infield (or, perhaps, corner outfield). The club was actually looking to make additions to the big league roster, said GM Chris Antonetti, but couldn’t push it across the line.
Finally, the Twins managed to add some young arms to the stable. After picking up Pryor for the just-signed Morales, who did not quite perform to expectations in Minnesota, the club made an opportunistic grab of Milone, who was displaced by a trio of high-profile acquisitions. While Fuld might have been a solid piece during Minnesota’s transition, it is hard to complain with acquiring a cheap and serviceable rotation piece for a guy who was claimed off waivers and spent significant time on the DL. Of course, the Twins could conceivably have been more active, with outfielder Josh Willingham, pitcher Kevin Correia, and the surprising Kurt Suzuki staying in place (and the latter signing a fairly modest extension). But the club did not wish to just give away its veterans, and will instead use Suzuki to break in a young staff in the future while perhaps dangling the other two names in August trade discussions.
The Twins have signed catcher Kurt Suzuki to a two-year, $12MM contract extension with a third-year vesting option, according to director of communications Dustin Morse. The vesting option, like his annual salary, is for $6MM and can be triggered based on plate appearances in 2016. Suzuki is represented by MVP Sports Group.
Last offseason, the Twins made the decision to move Joe Mauer from catcher to first base, inking Suzuki to a one-year, $2.75MM deal as the star’s replacement behind the dish. Suzuki has performed well, hitting .304/.367/.386 in 347 plate appearances and making his first All-Star team. He hit .235/.290/.353 in the three years prior, so his offense has been a nice surprise for the Twins.
Defensively, Suzuki certainly passes the eye test and has tons of experience behind the plate. He also seems to have a good reputation among the pitchers who he is responsible for tending to, and is an able blocker. But he has struggled in the pitch-framing department, ranking dead last in baseball with -17.1 runs on the year according to Stat Corner. Baseball Prospectus, likewise, rates Suzuki as a positive in stopping balls in the dirt but a negative at winning strikes.
It does not seem that the Twins achieved much of a discount by locking up Suzuki, but they certainly did prevent him from finding a bigger deal and bolting after the season. That has plenty of value for a club that will surely be looking to bring several young pitchers on line this year and next. For Suzuki, signing now not only let him choose to stay in place (after bouncing around quite a bit in recent years) but also protected him from a market that can often be hard to gauge. While he looked like one of the few desirable catchers set to hit free agency, neither are there many teams that looked to be big players for his services.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the extension. Yahoo’s Tim Brown first reported the term, with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter) and Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (via Twitter) providing information on the vesting option. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Milone (pictured) lost his rotation spot with the Athletics earlier this month when the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and any hope of him regaining that spot likely faded with Oakland’s morning acquisition of Jon Lester. The 27-year-old Milone had asked to be traded somewhere that he had a chance to start, and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. Specifically, the spacious Target Field seems a good fit for Milone’s fly-ball arsenal.
Milone had pitched to a solid 3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings this season. He owns a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Athletics. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. For the time being, Milone will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins. However, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that it may be a procedural move more than anything. Milone just pitched Tuesday and is expected to be with the Twins soon, Wolfson hears.
Milone will add to a growing crop of Major League ready arms for the Twins, who have Alex Meyer and Trevor May knocking on the door at Rochester. Though several current members of the Major League staff have underperformed, including Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey (the latter two are currently on the DL), Minnesota could have a wildly different rotation in 2015.
Interestingly, the Twins claimed Fuld off waivers from Oakland earlier this year when he was designated for assignment. Presumably, he can form some form of platoon with the newly acquired Jonny Gomes in order to fill in for the now-departed Yoenis Cespedes.
The 32-year-old Fuld has been excellent for the Twins in 2014, slashing .274/.370/.354 with a homer, a dozen steals (in 15 attempts) and standout defense in both left and center field. In addition to platooning with Gomes, he can serve as a center field option for the A’s with Craig Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp currently ailing. Fuld is a career .240/.323/.337 hitter and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2016 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With the trade deadline less than three hours away, here are some notes out of the Big Apple…
- The Yankees are still considering names like Josh Willingham, Chris Denorfia and Byrd, but their talks are currently at an impasse, tweets Rosenthal. The Yankees appear to be taking their decision down to the wire.
- The Yankees aren’t focusing on any major trades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They’re looking for an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki in right field — Marlon Byrd is still possible, he notes — as well as some help for the bullpen.
- The Nationals have called the Mets to express interest in Daniel Murphy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but a trade between the division rivals is unlikely. Rosenthal noted earlier today that Washington also has interest in Asdrubal Cabrera.
- The Orioles have checked in on Bartolo Colon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Mets aren’t sure whether or not they’ll trade him at this time yet. The Mets have signaled a definite willingness to move Colon, though GM Sandy Alderson isn’t one to simply dump salary in trades, so based on Heyman’s writing, it seems that the O’s probably haven’t made any form of significant offer.
- There’s no traction between the Royals and the Mets for Colon, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino adds that barring a change, the Mets don’t seem likely to be active today, but he’d be surprised if Colon were with the Mets in 2015.
- Sherman also hears that the Mets are likely to stand pat today (Twitter link). The Mets feel that a better market will develop for Colon in the offseason, when he’ll have just one year and $11MM remaining on his contract.
Last we heard, an extension seemed unlikely, and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted this morning that traction was nonexistent, but apparently a new effort is underway. That being said, prior reports have suggested that Minnesota could still look to deal Suzuki in August if it holds onto him and cannot nail down an extension. Suzuki’s trade market looks to have dried up significantly, with the Cardinals acquiring A.J. Pierzynski and reports indicating that the Orioles are not interested.
The Twins plan to hold onto Josh Willingham through the trade deadline, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Minnesota could, however, deal the outfielder over the August waiver period.
Willingham, 35, had been said to be a possible acquisition target of several clubs looking for right-handed pop from the corner outfield. Though he has only a .222 batting average on the year, he has reached base at a .363 clip and slugged a respectable .422 (though that latter figure is well off his career .468 mark). The veteran is earning $7MM this season in the final leg of a three-year pact.
The Royals are in the market for a right-handed hitting bat to play right field, but ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the team isn’t in on Boston’s Jonny Gomes or Minnesota’s Josh Willingham (Twitter links). Additionally, Crasnick tweets that he isn’t sure the Royals view Chris Denorfia and Justin Ruggiano as upgrades over Justin Maxwell, who is hitting well in Triple-A.
The Royals don’t feel that Gomes is capable of handling right field, and the same applies to Willingham as well. (As Crasnick notes, Willingham’s July swoon hasn’t helped his value.) Crasnick hears from one AL executive that the Twins would very much like to move Willingham, but they’re simply not getting much interest at this time.
Gomes, Willingham, and Denorfia are all free agents at season’s end, while Ruggiano would remain under team control via arbitration. The Royals were said at one point to have interest in Marlon Byrd, but a report yesterday indicated that they were backing off both Byrd and Alex Rios. The Royals are on Byrd’s limited no-trade clause, and he’d reportedly like the Royals to guarantee his $8MM option for 2016 in order to waive that clause.
If you’re wondering who else could be available, MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently took a look at the trade market for corner outfielders.
It’s been a busy afternoon, but no deals have gone down; let’s round up some worthwhile recent news and rumors as the market heats up:
- The Cardinals are in need of a starter for Saturday, and manager Mike Matheny says that it could go to an arm that is not currently in the organization, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Philadelphia has sent a scout to watch the Cardinals’ top minor league affiliate, Goold adds. As he indicates, it is easy to see the Cards showing interest in the Phillies‘ Cole Hamels given his high-end talent and extended team control. On the other hand, a recent report suggests that the Phils have yet to go very far down the line in discussing Hamels, and the club is said to be looking for an overwhelming return to part with the lefty.
- For the Marlins, the desire to add a top-end starter does not mean that the team will part with any core MLB players, including outfielder Christian Yelich, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Additionally, Miami remains more interested in adding an arm that it can control past this season. The club therefore might be more inclined to pursue John Lackey than Jon Lester from the Red Sox, and would have “heavy interest” if David Price of the Rays were to be made available. Frisaro says the club is working hard to make one or two deals by the trade deadline.
- The Mariners are currently discussing outfielder Josh Willingham with the Twins, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The sides were connected a few weeks back by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Seattle has long been said to be seeking a right-handed bat for the outfield. Also still in the mix on Willingham are the Yankees, among other teams including Seattle, reports Heyman.
- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp interests the Red Sox whether or not he would be involved in a hypothetical deal for Lester, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter links). Boston has scouted him on and off over the last month, says Edes, and would consider adding him over the offseason if nothing comes to pass this summer.
- The Rangers are working to deal outfielder Alex Rios, a source with a team interested in a bat tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Rios, who was off to a hot start, struggled mightily in June and but has improved to a .304/.317/.405 line for the month of July.
- White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom is nearing a rehab stint, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports on Twitter. The 34-year-old owns a 3.32 ERA through 19 innings, and could be a possible August trade chip if he can return healthy. He is playing on a $4MM salary this year before hitting the open market.
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