Mystery Team Rumors

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.

Rockies, Blue Jays Discussing Guthrie Deal

4:01pm: The Rockies and Blue Jays are still discussing Guthrie, Renck reports (Twitter links). There's a potential fit, but the Rockies would like someone other than McDade. As many as four clubs are interested, Renck reports.

MONDAY, 7:57am: The Rockies are looking to move Guthrie's salary for one prospect, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). Renck confirms that the Rockies and Blue Jays have discussed a possible deal.

SUNDAY: The Rockies are ready to part ways with Jeremy Guthrie and have informed the rest of the league that the right-hander is available immediately, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Count the Blue Jays as one of Guthrie's potential suitors as Toronto has contacted Colorado to discuss the framework of a possible deal, report Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. One trade scenario would have the Jays assuming a major portion of Guthrie's contract as the Rockies would receive only a lower-tier prospect such as Double-A first baseman Mike McDade.

The former Orioles ace has struggled both on and off the mound since arriving in Colorado during the offseason. Known for his propensity to ride his bicycle to the ballpark, Guthrie landed on the disabled list in April when the chain on his bike popped, causing him to fall on his pitching shoulder. After pitching to a 4.12 ERA in five seasons with the O's, Guthrie has been prone to the home run in Denver as he's posted a 6.91 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 10 starts. 


The Latest On Roy Oswalt

Free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt hasn't discussed a contract with the Red Sox or Rangers, according to the latest rumors. The Phillies have also been linked to Oswalt, who is expected to sign a new contract midseason. Here are the latest rumors:

  • Oswalt's preference is to play for the Rangers, Cardinals, or Braves according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, but there's no indication either St. Louis or Atlanta has interest. Stark hears that money is the most important factor, but Oswalt also doesn't not want to be a major media storyline wherever he goes.
  • Oswalt is on the Orioles' radar, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette said this week that he's looking for ways of adding pitching depth, so it's not surprising they're eyeing Oswalt. Teams other than the Orioles, Red Sox, Phillies and Rangers may be involved, according to Heyman.

Oswalt Worked Out For Phillies, Red Sox

8:14pm: Scott Miller of CBSSports.com hears that Oswalt already has several "very nice offers" on the table, though it's unclear which teams presented them.

3:53pm: The Angels haven't had anyone watch Oswalt throw near his Mississippi home recently, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com tweets.

11:48am: Rosenthal reports (on Twitter) that neither the Yankees or Tigers are in the mix for Oswalt at this time. The righty intends to sign soon, possibly within the week, and pitch in MLB by mid or late June, Rosenthal tweets.

11:19am: The Phillies and Red Sox occupy last place in their respective divisions, but both teams are eyeing midseason reinforcements. Free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt threw a bullpen session for the Phillies last week and worked out for the Red Sox this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (all Twitter links).

Oswalt is also throwing for two unknown teams, Rosenthal reports. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears from someone who expects Oswalt to return within a month (Twitter link).

The Phillies, winners of five consecutive games, are familiar to Oswalt, who pitched for Philadelphia in 2010 and 2011. The Red Sox, who have won six of their last seven games, expressed interest in Oswalt last offseason after the Phillies declined his 2012 option. The 34-year-old appeared to be in good shape during his workouts but was not yet in midseason form, Rosenthal reports. Bob Garber of Select Sports Group represents Oswalt.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.