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New York Yankees Rumors
One potential reason the Red Sox reached a deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is the way the free agent market shapes up this winter, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. The Red Sox needed offensive help, but the class of free agent hitters isn’t strong, and the struggles of 2013-14 free agents like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Shin-Soo Choo demonstrate that you can get less than what you pay for. The pitching market is stronger, so the Red Sox have made a variety of moves to improve their 2015 offense, freeing them to pursue pitching this offseason. Here’s more on Castillo and the Red Sox.
- The Giants and Phillies were among the top contenders to sign Castillo before the Red Sox eventually signed him, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
- The Red Sox view Castillo as a free swinger with excellent power and speed, one evaluator tells ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes. An evaluator for another team, however, tells Edes that they see Castillo as more of a 15-20 homer player than a 30-homer player. Edes also notes that Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird was a key to Castillo’s signing. “There was no stone unturned with Allard,” says a source from within the Red Sox. “He knows everything about the kid.”
- The Castillo signing is just the latest in a long line of franchise-changing moves for the Red Sox, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. The upheaval began with the 2012 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, and that trade may have helped give the Red Sox the financial flexibility they needed to agree to terms with Castillo.
- The Castillo deal might not work out, but given the alternatives on the free agent market, it made sense for the Sox to sign a relative unknown for a modest yearly salary, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Castillo will make far less than expensive veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford currently do, and this offseason market isn’t a strong one for hitters.
- Castillo won’t join the Red Sox’ active roster immediately after the signing becomes official, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets. Unsurprisingly, they feel he’ll need time to adjust after not playing competitively for more than a year.
- Scouts like Castillo’s speed and body type, but aren’t unanimously thrilled about his hitting, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Castillo could be a plus defensive outfielder, though, which means he won’t have to be a dominant offensive player to be worth $12MM per season.
- The Yankees liked Castillo as a player, but didn’t bid on him because of their issues with the luxury tax, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes (Twitter links). At a luxury tax rate of 50%, Castillo would have effectively cost the Yankees $108MM rather than $72MM.
- The Tigers were not “ever really close” to signing Castillo, GM Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio (via MLB.com’s Jason Beck). “We were basically told earlier in the week — I think first thing Monday — that we were no longer a participant,” says Dombrowski, who adds that the Tigers viewed Castillo as a good defensive center fielder with base stealing ability who might hit 15 homers per season.
The Mets have long been on the lookout for a shortstop, but while many have speculated on the possibility of a trade with the Cubs or D’Backs, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the team will take a look at an under-the-radar Cuban shortstop in the coming days. Roberto Carlos, a 28-year-old Cuban defector, is in the Dominican Republic and garnering attention from the Mets. Carlos left the Cuban National team in 2012 and defected to America, but he is believed to have “slipped through the cracks” because he did not initially seek representation after defecting. The switch-hitting Perez last batted .339 with four homers for the Cuban National team in 2012, Puma writes, and he did have a brief stint in independent ball last season. Carlos, who until recently played under his full name of Roberto Carlos Ramirez, batted .357/.394/.425 in 293 plate appearances between two indy league clubs. He didn’t homer, but he did go 19-for-24 in stolen base attempts.
Here are some more Mets-centric links as we head into the weekend…
- Also from Puma’s piece, while the Mets weren’t involved in the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes, the money required to sign him wasn’t the reason, according to GM Sandy Alderson. “I think it’s a matter of there might be some scouting differences of opinion, and kind of where we are and what we’re going to do in the immediate future, so there are lots of issues involved,” said the Mets GM. “We scout [the Cuban market], so it’s not as if we’re not aware of what is going on. It’s not like we’re not aware of who is out there.”
- Puma also tweets that the Mets will work out Pavel Quesada as well, a Cuban third baseman who is said to possess some power. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweeted last month that Quesada worked out for several teams at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic.
- Zack Wheeler spoke with Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News and said that while he’s aware that the Mets have a perceived starting pitching surplus, he’s hoping to remain with the club rather than end up elsewhere via trade. “I’d like to be here,” said Wheeler. “I know they could use one of (the young pitchers) to get a bat or two, but I’ve been here for the rebuilding. I know it’s part of the game, but I want to be here after the rebuilding. I want to see the results.”
- In an appearance with Chris Russo on the MLB Network (video link), Peter Gammons revealed that the Mets at one point last offseason offered Jon Niese to the Mariners in a trade that would have sent shortstop Brad Miller back to New York (it’s unclear what other pieces were in the deal). The Mets may be happy to have held onto Niese, who has posted a 3.50 ERA in 141 1/3 innings while Miller has struggled to a .199/.273/.326 batting line.
- Gammons also opines that the Mets and Cubs don’t line up well for a trade because the Mets would likely have to part with at least two young pitchers to make a deal, and that would thin out their depth considerably.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…
- Pirates right-hander Wirfin Obispo has been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports (on Twitter). The 29-year-old was designated for assignment last week when the Bucs claimed catcher Ramon Cabrera off waivers from the Tigers. In 25 2/3 innings with Indianapolis, Obispo has posted a 3.16 ERA with 8.4 K/9, though he’s posted a fairly high 4.6 BB/9 rate as well.
- Red Sox outfielder Corey Brown has been outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to the team’s transactions page. Brown, 28, was designated for assignment on Aug. 17 to create roster space for right-hander Steven Wright. He has a strong track record at Triple-A as a whole, but he scuffled a bit in 2014, posting a .226/.294/.452 batting line.
- The Yankees have signed right-hander Wilking Rodriguez, per the club’s transactions page. Rodriguez was released by the Royals after the team’s acquisition of Josh Willingham, but the 24-year-old posted solid stats between Double-A and Triple-A this season: a combined 2.36 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 26 2/3 innings. Rodriguez also made his big league debut for the Royals this year, firing two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout.
Andrew Miller‘s transition from the Red Sox to the Orioles has gone smoothly, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. “There’s a ton of differences. Things in general match up,” says Miller, for whom the Orioles traded at last month’s deadline. “The winning teams I’ve been on have a nice, loose clubhouse that expects to win.” Miller has pitched brilliantly in his first 7 1/3 innings with the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking three while allowing just two hits and one run. Here’s more from around the AL East.
- Carlos Beltran will see a doctor after feeling something wrong with his elbow while swinging last night, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. The Yankees scratched Beltran from their lineup tonight. It’s been a rough season for Beltran, who’s hit .233/.291/.416 (weak numbers for a DH/OF with little defensive value) while battling injury in the first year of a $45MM deal.
- Jon Lester is not likely to return to the Red Sox this offseason, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Instead, the Yankees and Cubs could emerge as possible suitors. It is, perhaps, no surprise that the Red Sox aren’t considered the favorites to sign him — they just traded him, and reportedly weren’t close in extension negotiations before that. Lester should be able to get a six- or seven-year deal in free agency, Heyman writes, and the Red Sox are likely to consider that to be too risky. Heyman does note, however, that the Red Sox may have been prepared to offer Lester five years and $100MM last month.
- The Blue Jays have promoted top outfield prospect Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Pompey, 21, hit .295/.378/.473 in 127 plate appearances at Double-A New Hampshire. MLB.com ranks Pompey the No. 3 prospect in the Jays’ system (behind Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez), praising his plate discipline and speed.
The Red Sox, Giants and Tigers were said to be the front-runners for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo as of yesterday evening. The outfielder’s rumored asking price continues to crawl upward as his decision reportedly inches closer. We’ll keep track of today’s Castillo rumors in this post…
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that the bidding for Castillo could cost $50-60MM over five years. Stark lists five of the six usual suspects as finalists, noting that the Red Sox, Tigers, Giants, Phillies and Yankees remain in the mix for Castillo.
- The Phillies will take a shot at Castillo but aren’t likely to land him, multiple sources have told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that at least four teams remain in the running for Castillo, with the Red Sox representing one of that group. The Tigers and Giants have a sense of urgency about their pursuit, as they plan to use Castillo to bolster their 2014 playoff hopes. In addition to those three clubs and previously mentioned teams such as the Phillies, Cubs and Yankees, Heyman lists the Mariners as a team with interest, though he cautions that it isn’t clear how involved they are at this stage of the talks.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox are one of multiple teams that have made a “strong bid” for Castillo. Those wondering what sort of role the presence of countryman and former teammate Yoenis Cespedes would have on Castillo will be interested to hear Cespedes’ comments that he hasn’t spoken to his former teammate anytime recently. However, Cespedes did offer high praise for Castillo, telling Bradford, “If he’s not a five-tool player, he’s at least a four-tool player. He’s very comparable to [Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.” BoSox GM Ben Cherington confirmed that they’ve spoken to Castillo but offered no further comment. Bradford, too, hears that Castillo is expected to make a decision by week’s end.
There has been a lot of chatter regarding 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. (Read here for some reactions to his well-attended recent workout, which seems to have increased his standing quite a bit around the league.) We’ll keep tabs on the latest right here:
- The Tigers, Red Sox, and Giants are still in the mix for Castillo, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, the Cubs, Yankees, and Phillies are not expected to place high bids for him.
- Bidding is strong, and could well reach or even exceed the $55MM level, according to a tweet from Sahadev Sharma of Baseball Prospectus. The Cubs appear not to be interested at that level, he adds.
- The Braves are “not in the bidding right now” for Castillo, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Atlanta has been noted as a possible suitor in the past.
- Six clubs are seen as viable landing spots for Castillo at this time, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (echoing, in some cases, earlier reports): the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, and Mariners. Castillo could sign a deal as soon as the end of the week, Heyman adds. We’ve heard conflicting reports on Philadelphia’s interest, in particular, and one executive tells Heyman that he believes the team could be attempting to downplay its interest while working to ink Castillo.
Red Sox manager John Farrell says you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to mid-season acquisition Yoenis Cespedes. “With it will come some quick outs, but at the same time the ability to impact the baseball is a result of the aggressiveness as well,” Farrell said of Cespedes’ plate approach, writes Katie Morrison of WEEI.com. “He hasn’t become more aggressive since coming over here. This is the player we were well aware of and pursued heavily. We’re fully accepting of the style of player he is.” So far with Boston, Cespedes has a .219/.231/.406 line. Here’s more out of the AL East..
- Orioles skipper Buck Showalter announced that the club is moving Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen, Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com writes. Needless to say, this isn’t how the O’s expected things to pan out when they signed Jimenez to a four-year, $50MM deal this winter.
- Earlier today, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he would consider trading prospects this winter in the right deal. With that in mind, Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican looks at some of the youngsters Cherington could possibly part with. If the Red Sox can’t find a way to utilize catcher Blake Swihart, who is doing well at the plate in the minors and catching 48% of base stealers, he could be made available in a deal. Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo is another promising prospect, but there’s already tons of young rotation talent in the organization.
- It was unthinkable just months ago, but Yankees catcher Brian McCann couldn’t be given away for free right now, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. It’s unknown whether McCann has been placed on waivers, but no team would risk putting in a claim on him and getting stuck with his $17MM annual salary, Petriello opines. So far this year, McCann has a .235/.291/.380 slash line.
- The deal the Rays made on July 31 will always and forever be known as the day they traded away David Price, but, someday, it could also be known as the day they got Willy Adames, writes Marc Topkin for Baseball America. “The guy that’s really intriguing to me is Adames,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s the kind of guy there, when you make a trade like this, people are always going to look at who’s coming to the big leagues primarily, but you got to look under the surface. … To be that young and that proficient, he sounds very exciting.’’
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Red Sox announced that Corey Brown has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Brown, 28, saw action in three games and made just one plate appearance in this year’s stint with the Red Sox. Brown has spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A Pawtucket, where he posted a slash line of .226/.294/.452.
- Righty Chris Leroux has accepted an outright assignment with the Yankees rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Leroux, 30, was recently designated and outrighted for the third time this season.
Yankees farmhand Pat Venditte is hoping to have a chance to be the first major leaguer to regularly employ a switch-pitching approach, as Newsday’s Jim Baumbach writes. Just like a switch-hitter, Venditte chooses which arm he’ll use to achieve the platoon advantage. (A rule crafted with him in mind requires the pitcher to choose which side he will throw from, with switch-hitting batters then permitted to pick a side of the box.) Venditte has been quite effective; he owns a 2.49 career ERA in the minors. This year, he dominated at Double-A before getting bumped to Triple-A, where he has a 3.75 ERA over 48 frames with 8.6 K/9 against just 2.8 BB/9. Across both levels, he has held righties to a .668 OPS, with lefties posting a meager .512 mark against his sidearm offerings (a mid-80s heater and a slider, one from each side).
Here’s more from the American League East:
- While Blue Jays watchers tend to have focused on the standing of GM Alex Anthopoulos, who reportedly will stay on past the present season, an even more important situation to watch is that of CEO Paul Beeston, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Beeston’s contract is said to be expiring this year, says Davidi, and other organizational changes signal that change could be afoot.
- Blue Jays righty Chad Jenkins has been one of several Toronto players to shuttle constantly between the majors and Triple-A this year, writes Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. The Jays have been the most active team in the league this year in optioning and recalling players, but Anthopoulos says that has resulted from an effort to avoid straining players on the major league roster. “We definitely haven’t used the waiver wire much this year,” Anthopoulos explained, “but we have consciously optioned players back and forth to avoid DL placements. That has absolutely been by design. … All players, especially relievers, realize that when the pen has been used a lot, those with options get sent out to protect the entire group, including the player being optioned.”
- Red Sox utilityman Jonathan Herrera will undergo season-ending surgery to deal with bone chips in his elbow, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The 29-year-old, who came over from the Rockies in an offseason deal, struggled to a .233/.307/.289 slash over 104 plate appearances on the year. He played on a $1.3MM salary this year, his second season of arbitration eligibility. Though his price tag will remain manageable, Herrera would appear to be a non-tender candidate.
Angels skipper Mike Scioscia is less-than-thrilled with Josh Hamilton and feels that he’s not quite the player he was when he was with the Rangers, writes Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News. “Josh is not the same that we saw when we were looking at the other dugout,” Scioscia said. “He’s not in the batter’s box with the confidence we know he has. He’s not attacking the ball like he can. He’s working hard to try to find it …but we need him to do what he’s capable of doing, or close to that.” More out of the American league..
- The Brewers and other clubs are looking for relievers, but a Twins official tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) that another August deal is doubtful.
- White Sox skipper Robin Ventura knows that Adam Dunn has a tough decision on his hands as he considers retirement after the 2014 season, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. “That’s always a tough decision for guys,” Ventura said. “When they get where he’s at and Paul and all those guys that are of age, you get close and you might see the end. You don’t know. It’s a tough decision. This is something he’s done most of his adult life. It’s important. It’s still fun. You just never know. I’ve also heard guys talk that way and end up playing five more years.”
- In case there was any doubt about his intentions, George A. King of the New York Post writes that Alex Rodriguez has been spotted working out at the University of Miami, where the baseball stadium is named after him, and at UCLA in Los Angeles. The 39-year-old former MVP has three years and $61MM remaining on his contract with the Yankees.
- The Yankees aren’t rushing Masahiro Tanaka back, but they are favoring an approach more proactive than protective, writes Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger. “I think it’s important that we know he is healthy,” manager Joe Girardi said, “and the only way to find out is to get him in games.” The Yankees’ $175MM investment threw fastballs from flat ground last week.