Mystery Team Rumors

Justin Morneau Claimed On Waivers

Justin Morneau was claimed on waivers several days ago, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The Twins didn't work out a trade with the claiming team, so the first baseman will be staying in Minnesota. If the Twins place Morneau on waivers again, the waivers will no longer be revocable. However it seems unlikely that Morneau will be placed on waivers again since the Twins don't view him as a giveaway, according to Heyman.

Morneau earns $14MM this year — approximately $2.8MM between now and the end of the regular season — and the same amount in 2013. The 31-year-old has a .274/.332/.472 batting line with 17 home runs and 25 doubles in 446 plate appearances this year. This marks the first time since 2009 that Morneau has played in 100 games, an indication that Morneau's concussion issues are not preventing him from producing.


Scott Hairston Claimed On Waivers

5:10pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the winning team made the claim as a block, and Hairston is not likely to be traded (Twitter link).

4:41pm: Mets outfielder Scott Hairston has been claimed on waivers by an unknown team, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). The Dodgers did not win the claim and neither did the Giants, Heyman writes.

The Mets placed Hairston and Andres Torres on waivers over the weekend. They now have two days to select one of three options. They can let Hairston (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull him back off of waivers. National League teams had waiver priority on Hairston, beginning at the bottom of the standings.

Hairston, 32, earns $1.1MM this year — just $200K between now and the end of the season. He has a .272/.312/.512 batting line this year and a history of hitting left-handed pitching well.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Justin Upton Claimed On Waivers

7:46pm: The Rangers are one of several clubs that placed a claim on Upton, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Since they have the best record in the AL, Texas is dead last on the waiver priority list for an NL player.

SATURDAY, 6:48pm: The Red Sox were not the claiming team, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). He reiterates that Upton will not be traded.

FRIDAY: Justin Upton has been claimed on waivers by an unidentified team, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). However, a Diamondbacks official said there's "no chance" of a trade this month.

Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick told reporters last month that it's a "reasonable assumption" that Upton will stay put for the remainder of the season. It's not at all uncommon for teams to determine trade interest by placing players — even stars — on the waiver wire.

Upton will earn $9.75MM in 2013, $14.25MM in 2014 and $14.5MM in 2015. His six-year, $51.25MM contract allows him to block moves to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Indians.

The Diamondbacks now have until Sunday to select one of three options. They can let Upton (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull him back off of waivers. Expect Arizona to pull Upton back off of waivers.

National League teams had claiming priority on Upton, whose teammate, Joe Saunders, cleared waivers today. Upton, 25, has a .273/.356/.397 batting line with nine home runs in 472 plate appearances this year.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.



Rangers Acquire Geovany Soto

The Rangers officially acquired a former Rookie of the Year today, getting catcher Geovany Soto and cash from the Cubs for minor league pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named later or cash.

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Soto, 29, has a .195/.278/.345 batting line in 194 plate appearances this year. The 2008 NL Rookie of the Year earns $4.3MM in 2012 and is on track to go to arbitration for the third time this offseason. However, he could be non-tendered given his salary. The Mets also had interest in trading for Soto.

The move led to the Rangers designating catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. If Soto's production improves, Texas will have an in-house alternative to Mike Napoli when he hits free agency this offseason. Otherwise, the Rangers could non-tender Soto and let him test the free agent market a year early.

Brigham, a 24-year-old right-hander, had been pitching at Double-A Frisco. He has a 4.28 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 124 innings over the course of 21 starts this year. Brigham is a fringe arm, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes (on Twitter).  ESPN's Keith Law says he has "a plus fastball and power breaking ball but lacks the command and the third pitch to start."

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that a trade would take place and Tim Brown of Yahoo first reported that the Rangers acquired Soto.  Photo courtesy of US Presswire/Benny Sieu.


Braves Acquire Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm

The Cubs have traded left-hander Paul Maholm, outfielder Reed Johnson and cash considerations to the Braves in a four-player trade that provides Atlanta with reinforcements for the season's final two months and bolsters Chicago's minor league system. The Cubs obtain right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino in the trade, which the teams have announced. 

Paul Maholm - Cubs (PW)

Maholm has a 3.74 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 49.9% ground ball rate in 120 1/3 innings for the Cubs this year. The 30-year-old has never thrown particularly hard; his average fastball checks in at 87.6 mph this year, according to FanGraphs. He earns a $4.75MM salary in 2012 and his contract includes a $6.5MM club option for 2013. The Royals and Pirates appeared to have interest in Maholm earlier this month.

Johnson, 35, has a .307/.361/.452 batting line in 180 plate appearances this year. The right-handed hitter has played all three outfield positions for the Cubs and owns a career .313/.370/.469 line against left-handed pitching. He's signed to a one-year, $1.15MM contract and will hit free agency after the season. Four teams made offers for Johnson today, including the Pirates and Tigers, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com.

Vizcaino, who entered the 2012 season ranked by Baseball America as the 40th-best prospect in MLB, had Tommy John surgery this spring. The 21-year-old posted a 3.06 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 97 innings for three Braves affiliates as he made his way through Atlanta's minor league system in 2011. The right-hander reached the Major Leagues last year, posting a 4.67 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 17 relief appearances.

Chapman, a 25-year-old right-hander, has a 3.52 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings of relief for Atlanta's Triple-A team so far in 2012. The Braves selected him in the 16th round of the 2005 draft.

Maholm joins a Braves rotation that includes Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Ben Sheets and, as of tomorrow, Kris Medlen. The Braves nearly traded for Ryan Dempster this month, but the sides don't appear to have obtained the right-hander's permission. 

Geovany Soto has been traded to the Rangers in a separate move.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Johnson had been traded (on Twitter). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported Maholm's role in the trade and first reported that the Braves were the other team involved (Twitter link). ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick first reported that the Cubs were getting two minor league pitchers, including Chapman. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs were getting Vizcaino. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


West Notes: D-Backs, Drew, Yunel, Headley

It's been a busy weekend in baseball's Western divisions; the Angels have landed Zack Greinke, the Padres have extended Huston Street, the Giants have landed Marco Scutaro and the Diamondbacks have acquired Chris Johnson. There's still plenty of news and potential action out west, however… here are tonight's links:

  • The Diamondbacks may not be finished dealing yet, writes Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Arizona GM Kevin Towers told reporters on Sunday that he could pursue additional pitching prior to Tuesday's deadline. Towers also hinted that one of the club's infielders could be on the move: "As it stands now it will be tough to get them all at-bats, but we'll see what happens the next two to three days."
  • There's no guarantee that the Diamondbacks trade Stephen Drew, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The D-backs are currently deciding whether they want to give the bulk of the playing time at shortstop to Drew or Willie Bloomquist.
  • If they go with Bloomquist, the Athletics are not the favorites to land Drew; an unspecified mystery team would be most likely, according to Rosenthal's source.
  • Within the same piece, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics are reluctant to match the Blue Jays' asking price for Yunel Escobar.
  • The Padres are weighing several offers for Chase Headley, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but San Diego isn't sure if they want to move him.
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow felt that the high asking price on Headley had a beneficial effect on the market for Johnson, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

Mariners Close To Trading Brandon League

5:15pm: The Giants and Mariners have definitely discussed League, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It's still not clear where League will be traded, though, according to Morosi.

4:06pm: The Mariners were discussing League with multiple teams as of this afternoon, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).

3:03pm: There's some scuttlebutt in high circles that the Giants are the team getting League, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). But it's not a sure thing.

2:52pm: The Braves and Rangers aren't in the mix for League, Crasnick tweets.

2:46pm: The Angels and Mariners are in talks for League, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports. The Mariners could be close to trading League to the Giants or the Angels, Gonzalez writes.

2:24pm: The White Sox have been talking to the Mariners about League and the Angels continue seeking relief help, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).

2:05pm: The Mariners are close to trading Brandon League to an unknown team, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). The Giants, Angels and Mets are known to have some interest in the right-hander.

League is earning $5MM this year and will hit free agency this offseason. The 29-year-old has a 3.05 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 46.4% ground ball rate in 42 1/3 innings for Seattle. He lost the closer's job in May, but has pitched to a 1.96 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks since the beginning of June. His fastball averages 95.2 mph, according to FanGraphs.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Braves Moving Toward Deal For Ryan Dempster

12:59pm: The Braves seem to be close to acquiring Ryan Dempster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The Braves are believed to be high on the list of teams to which Dempster would approve a trade, Heyman notes. The right-hander, who can veto any trade, is not likely to demand an extension. 

Dempster, 35, has an NL-best 2.11 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 98 innings for the Cubs this year. He earns $14MM in 2012 — more than $5.5MM between now and the end of the season — but the Cubs are said to be willing to absorb salary to facilitate a deal.

12:39pm: The Braves are moving closer to finalizing a trade for a starting pitcher, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). GM Frank Wren is known to be looking for starting pitching and reportedly has some interest in Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, Jon LesterJason Vargas and others.

Braves starters have combined for a 4.34 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 so far this year. The team's rotation currently consists of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Jair Jurrjens and newcomer Ben Sheets. Brandon Beachy and Arodys Vizcaino are out for the season with Tommy John surgery, which has diminished the organization's internal options. Here's a look at some potentially available starting pitchers.

This post was first published on Monday, July 23rd.


Brian Fuentes Drawing Interest

Brian Fuentes cleared release waivers and six teams are showing interest in him, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Athletics released Fuentes earlier this week, so the left-hander can now sign with another team for a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary.

In 25 innings for the Athletics this year Fuentes posted a 6.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. The 36-year-old Beverly Hills Sports Council client is in the second year of a two-year, $10.5MM contract he signed following the 2010 season.

The Cardinals showed interest in Fuentes earlier this month, but the Dodgers and Athletics are not interested. For an expanded look at the market for left-handed relief, click here.


Heyman On Yankees, Garza, Upton, BoSox, Jays

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman discussed how baseball reporting is evolving in the age of social media and a 24/7 news cycle (while giving MLB Trade Rumors a tip of the cap), joked about the infamous "mystery teams" that often dominate the rumor mill and also shared some hot stove chatter during his appearance on Jonah Keri's Grantland podcast.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • The Yankees have mostly stayed away from major trade deadline moves under Brian Cashman and Heyman suspects the team will largely stand pat this month.  There are no glaring needs on the roster plus the first-place Yankees will get a boost from Brett Gardner's return from the DL.
  • If the Yankees did make a move for pitching, Matt Garza would be at the top of their list.  The Red Sox and Blue Jays are also interested in Garza, not to mention the Dodgers and Tigers, among other clubs.
  • When the Diamondbacks toyed with putting Justin Upton on the trade market two years ago, they discussed a deal with the Red Sox that would have sent Upton to Boston in exchange for Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Bard.
  • The Red Sox and Blue Jays have the same record but the Sox are "more fully invested" in contending this season, while Heyman thinks the Jays' pitching injuries may prevent from making a true push at the deadline.
  • Heyman thinks Zack Greinke is a "longshot" to re-sign with the Brewers but the club will at least make him a long-term offer before exploring possible trades before the deadline.  The Angels and Braves are two of the teams expected to be in on Greinke should Milwaukee make him available.
  • Surprise contenders like the Mets, Orioles and Pirates will look to upgrade themselves for a pennant race, though Heyman thinks these teams are "probably all realistic about their chances" and won't sacrifice their rebuilding process by trading any of their blue chip prospects.  The Mets are looking for a veteran bullpen arm, the Orioles a veteran starter and the Pirates a corner outfielder, such as Carlos Quentin or Josh Willingham if the Twins were to make him available.
  • Beyond Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Cole Hamels and a few other notables like Michael Bourn or Melky Cabrera, Heyman feels this year's free agent crop is "not a star-studded class."  The free agent market has been dimmed by the preponderance of teams who lock their young stars up to multiyear contracts early in their careers.