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Here’s the latest from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark:
- The Rays are still holding onto David Price unless and until an offer forces a move. “I’d say they’re kind of where they were all winter,” said a competing executive. “Yeah, they’d trade him. But you’ve got to make it so they can’t say no.”
- Though both sides explored the possibility, the Cardinals and Phillies did not match up on a potential Cliff Lee deal. With Philly seeking a “major prospect” in return, the Cards ultimately turned elsewhere and added Justin Masterson. While St. Louis seemed the best fit for a pre-deadline deal with Lee, Philadelphia still is looking to see if the lefty can be moved before August.
- The Red Sox are encountering some skepticism from trade partners that John Lackey will play for the league minimum rate next year, as provided by his contract. Of course, that provision makes up a huge portion of Lackey’s trade value, as he would not only contribute down the stretch in 2014 but looks like a very solid rotation piece at a replacement-level price for 2015.
- The Orioles seem to be focusing more on adding a reliever at this point than a starter, says Stark. Baltimore has been liked to Neal Cotts of the Rangers and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks, neither of whom is a pure LOOGY.
- In search of bullpen help, the Yankees have inquired into Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, James Russell of the Cubs, and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies. The club has also checked on outfielders Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox.
- The Blue Jays, Braves, and Royals are telling teams they cannot add significant payroll in a trade, though Kansas City could take on a starter who would slot in place of James Shields next year.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Antonio Bastardo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cliff Lee | Dayan Viciedo | James Russell | Joaquin Benoit | John Lackey | Kansas City Royals | Marlon Byrd | Neal Cotts | New York Yankees | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays
9:13pm: Texas wants a “substantial package” to move Soria, report T.R. Sullivan and Grace Raynor of MLB.com. The asking price is believed to be two or three prospects.
1:51pm: The Rangers are receiving trade interest in a number of their bullpen arms, according to multiple reports. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the team is listening on right-hander Jason Frasor and lefty Neal Cotts, and both have generated some interest. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that the Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers have been in contact with the Rangers about closer Joakim Soria (Twitter link).
As Sullivan points out, both Frasor and Cotts are free agents at season’s end. While Frasor has scuffled of late, yielding five runs over his past 3 1/3 innings, he still boasts a solid 3.38 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate. The 36-year-old is earning a highly affordable $1.75MM this season, meaning that he’s owed about $765K through season’s end.
Cotts, 34, reemerged in the Majors last season after an absence of four years and put his injury woes behind him with an electric 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas. He’s taken a step back in 2014 but has a solid 3.55 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 15 walks in 38 innings. However, after dominating opposing lefties in 2013, he’s surrendered a .281/.328/.456 batting line against same-handed hitters in 2014. It shouldn’t come as a total shock, as Cotts does have a reverse-platoon split for his career, but certainly not one this pronounced. Cotts is earning $2.2MM this season, meaning he has roughly $962K remaining on his deal.
As for Soria, the Tigers and Angels come as no surprise, as both have dealt with significant bullpen issues in 2014. However, the Blue Jays are a bit of a surprise club to see listed here. In another series of tweets, Rosenthal adds that while the club does like Soria, the team is also toying with the idea of promoting top prospect Aaron Sanchez to work out of the bullpen this season. Fellow top prospect Daniel Norris could even join him eventually, Rosenthal adds, making for a situation that would resemble the dynamic pairing of Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez with the Cardinals last year.
Soria is in the midst of one of perhaps his finest season. In his second year back from Tommy John, the 30-year-old has a 2.76 ERA with a whopping 12.3 K/9 and a minuscule 1.2 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (0.80), xFIP (1.93) and SIERA (1.58) all feel that he’s doing the best work of his career. Though he has a higher salary at $5.5MM, Soria unquestionably will come with the highest asking price in a trade. He has an affordable $7MM club option on his contract for 2015, and the Rangers do have eyes on contending next season, when they hope to have better luck on the injury front.
Somewhat remarkably, both of the Phillies' last two GMs and last two managers are still employed by the organization, observes Justin Klugh of Philly.com. Meanwhile, the club only recently hired an analytical employee, and it remains unclear how much pull that position holds. While keeping the old guard around is a nice touch, says Klugh, the club should make a stronger commitment to progress. Here are more notes from around the league:
- There is now only a "slim chance" that southpaw reliever Eric O'Flaherty will return to the Braves, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The issue, Bowman indicates, is that Atlanta is not as interested in working O'Flaherty into their plans as other clubs. Specifically, Bowman names the Orioles as a contender for the lefty.
- The Braves may have found yet another diamond in the rough with minor league free agent signees Luis Vasquez and Lay Batista, writes Bill Ballew of Baseball America. "We identified Vasquez and Batista as potential high-octane arms who could contribute in Atlanta as soon as 2014," said assistant GM John Coppolella.
- Lefty Scott Maine is reportedly throwing well in Puerto Rico and beginning to draw interest from clubs, reports MLBTR's Zach Links (via Twitter). He could sign with a club as soon as this week, Links adds. Maine has a 5.59 career ERA in 46 2/3 big league innings. He spent time in the Marlins' system last year.
- Another right-handed reliever, Matt Guerrier, is expected to audition for MLB clubs in the next ten days or so, Links further tweets. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN recently reported that the Twins could be interested in a reunion.
- The $2.2MM contract agreed upon yesterday between the Rangers and reliever Neal Cotts is fully guaranteed, Links tweets. As Links observes, Cotts' representatives at Pro Star Management did well to get their client a guarantee given his injury history.
Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR will be covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections. We'll use this post to keep tabs on players avoiding arbitration today:
- Josh Outman, who avoided arbitration with the Indians last night, will earn a $1.25MM salary in 2014, the Associated Press reports (via ESPN).
- The Rockies have avoided arbitration with lefty Franklin Morales, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). Morales was recently picked up from the Red Sox in exchange for Jonathan Herrera, and was projected to earn $1.8MM by Swartz. His salary comes in just below that mark at $1.7125MM, according to a tweet from the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Burke Badenhop has settled on a one-year deal with the Red Sox, the club announced in a press release. The right-handed reliever, who was acquired from the Brewers back in November, came with a projected $2.2MM price tag and will in fact earn $2.15MM, according to a tweet from WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Badenhop's last two seasons have been uncannily similar. In both 2012 and 2013, Bandenhop threw 62 1/3 innings, registered 42 strikeouts (6.1 K/9) against 12 walks (1.7 BB/9), and surrendered six home runs. He allowed just one less hit (62) last year than in 2012, though his ERA rose from 3.03 to 3.47 due to a drop in his strand rate.
- The Mets have reached agreement with infielder Ruben Tejada on a 2014 contract, the club announced on Twitter. He will earn a $1.1MM salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, which is in line with his $1MM projection. Tejada struggled to a .202/.259/.260 mark in 227 plate appearances last year, but is still only 24 years old. He will have three more years of arb eligibility since he qualified as a Super Two player.
- The Rangers have reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with southpaw Neal Cotts, the club announced via press release. The deal will pay Cotts $2.2MM, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Cotts will earn $700K over Swartz's projection.
- Outfielder Michael Saunders has reached agreement with the Mariners on a deal to avoid arbitration, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). The 27-year-old will earn $2.3MM (plus incentives) in his first arb-eligible season, Divish tweets, which comes in just above the $2MM projection from Swartz.
The Angels are the only AL West team playing today, with Joe Blanton facing Ervin Santana and the Royals in Kansas City. Having won their last four games, the Halos have climbed to a 19-27 record. They'll need to play .612 ball moving forward to have a shot at 90 wins and the playoffs. The latest out of their division:
- Angels righty Jered Weaver had a successful extended spring training start yesterday, reports Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times. Weaver is recovering from a fractured elbow suffered in April, and he may be ready to return to the Angels next week. It's quite possible Blanton, owner of a 6.62 ERA in nine starts, is auditioning for his rotation job tonight despite signing a two-year, $15MM deal in December. I was surprised to see today that Blanton still has a positive FanGraphs WAR, because that calculation does not consider his 86 hits allowed in 50 1/3 innings.
- Reliever Ryan Madson seemed like a solid signing for the Angels in November, with only a $3.5MM guarantee. The 32-year-old had Tommy John surgery in April 2012, but suffered a setback in a rehab appearance last week. Madson and the Cubs' Scott Baker, both signed to one-year free agent deals, serve as reminders that pitchers are not a lock to return to a Major League mound 12 months after Tommy John surgery.
- The Mariners have dropped six in a row, and at 20-27, and Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner explains that "the season is lost." Cameron's plan calls for Brandon Maurer, Dustin Ackley, and Jesus Montero to be optioned to Triple-A and Nick Franklin to get a look at second base in the bigs, among other things. UPDATE: Montero will indeed be sent to Triple-A today, reports Ryan Divish of The News Tribune.
- Rangers reliever Neal Cotts has an amazing story, with a four-year gap between Major League appearances. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the details on Cotts' comeback from Tommy John and four hip surgeries.
The latest minor moves…
- The Rangers plan to purchase the contract of lefty reliever Neal Cotts if tonight's game is played, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The 33-year-old hasn't seen big league action since 2009, but he's been dominant in 23 Triple-A innings this year. The Rangers already have an open spot on their 40-man roster for him.
- The Hanshin Tigers have a basic agreement with righty reliever Blaine Boyer, according to Sanspo (via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker). Boyer, 31, pitched 15 relief innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate before exercising his out clause to pursue the opportunity in Japan.
- The Mariners signed 17-year-old Brazilian righty Daniel Missaki, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler notes that he was the youngest player in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
- The Athletics announced that first baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, after he was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot for Chris Young. He's earning $1.1MM this year, which may have limited interest. Barton led the American League in walks as a 24-year-old in 2010, but has battled injuries since. He's still a walk machine at Triple-A, though, with a .422 OBP through 128 plate appearances.
- The Angels outrighted outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple-A yesterday, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Cousins had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Chris Nelson.
- The Yankees outrighted infielder Alberto Gonzalez to Triple-A yesterday, according to the International League transactions page. Gonzalez had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Reid Brignac.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jon Rauch of the Marlins, Derek Lowe of the Rangers, and Michael Bowden of the Cubs. Rauch and Lowe figure to be released by their clubs in the coming days, while Bowden will have to decide whether to accept an outright assignment if he clears waivers.
The Yankees and Dodgers are the two most expensive teams in baseball and similarly beset with injuries, but things couldn't be more opposite in terms of results, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Bombers have a big chunk of their payroll on the disabled list but the understudies are doing so well that one American League scout quipped, “Do they really want those injured guys [Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira] back?” Meanwhile, the Dodgers have not been able to overcome injuries to pitchers Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley and shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Here's more from today's column..
- There’s always a lot of talk about Cliff Lee being trade bait if the Phillies slip, but one team insider said, “Every time I hear a Lee rumor, I don’t believe it. Don’t think we’d be that dumb unless what we got back in return was so overwhelming that we’d be dumb to pass it up. Will that happen? My gut is it won’t.”
- Angels skipper Mike Scioscia was once considered invincible, but the club's struggles have many saying that his job is in jeopardy. One Angels exec doesn't see a shakeup coming anytime soon, saying, “I doubt it. It’s Mike Scioscia. Did he get dumb all of a sudden? Or do we have a few issues with our pitching and a couple of our big hitters?”
- Left-hander Neal Cotts had a streak of 14 and 1/3 scoreless innings for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate and has retired 21 of the last 22 batters he’s faced. Cotts, who has completely shut down lefthanded batters, could be had, as the Rangers don't have room for him on the big league roster and have a team policy that they will let go of players in that position.
The latest minor moves…
- The Rangers have signed left-hander Neal Cotts, catcher Juan Apodaca, right-hander Yonata Ortega, and outfielders Jim Adduci and Aaron Cunningham to minor league deals, according to Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Cotts and Cunningham both have extensive Major League experience.
- Outfielder Jason Bourgeois has cleared waivers and can now elect free agency, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Bourgeois, 30, appeared in 30 games for the Royals this past season, playing left and center field.
- The Tigers signed right-hander Shawn Hill to a minor league contract, James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. Hill elected free agency last month after the Blue Jays removed him from the 40-man roster. The 31-year-old appeared in one game for the Blue Jays this past season, pitching three scoreless innings. He spent most of the 2012 season at Triple-A where he posted a 4.52 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 89 2/3 innings.
- Levine explained that relatively innocent conversations with scouts can turn into full-blown trade talks because they highlight needs and surpluses.
- The Rangers don’t have an established left-handed reliever after losing Darren Oliver and Mike Gonzalez in free agency, but they’re pleased with the increased velocity non-roster invitee Neal Cotts is showing early on in camp.
- Young pitchers such as Martin Perez have impressed the Rangers' front office and Levine expects contributions at the MLB level in the 'not-so-distant future.'
- The Rangers consider Josh Hamilton an elite center fielder, but they continue to play him in left field since they generally believe he's more likely to stay in the lineup as a corner outfielder.
- Though Levine didn't comment in detail on extension talks with Hamilton, he did say the club intends to keep as many of its core position players in place for as long as possible. Hamilton is eligible for free agency after the season, but the Rangers haven't ruled out in-season talks for their top position players.
The Rangers signed lefty reliever Neal Cotts to a minor league deal, MLBTR has learned. Cotts will not be in Major League camp, notes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Cotts, 32 in March, last pitched in the Majors for the Cubs in '09 before going down for Tommy John surgery. He later signed minor league deals with the Pirates and Yankees, though the Yankees released him in February last year.