New York Yankees Rumors
Here's your rundown of minor moves from around the league for Friday...
- The Mets have released catcher Landon Powell, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes (via Twitter). Powell was hitting .159/.284/.290 for Triple-A Las Vegas. The former first-round draft pick received 363 at bats with the Athletics between 2009 and 2011, hitting .207/.284/.328.
- The Orioles have acquired first baseman Seth Loman from the White Sox for cash considerations, MLB.com's Scott Merkin tweets. Loman was hitting .223/.324/.471 for Triple-A Charlotte.
- The Yankees released right-hander Cody Eppley from Triple-A Scranton, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The 27-year-old pitched 1 2/3 innings for the Bombers this season but accumulated 46 innings out of their bullpen in 2012, posting a 3.33 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
- The Mariners released Corey Patterson from Triple-A Tacoma, according to Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto (on Twitter). The former No. 3 overall draft pick and No. 2 MLB prospect (per Baseball America) hit just .175/.224/.270 in 68 plate appearances for Tacoma. He last appeared in the Majors in 2011, when he was included in the Colby Rasmus/Edwin Jackson trade.
- Minor league shortstop Cale Iorg announced, via Twitter, that he has retired from baseball. The long-time Tigers farmhand and defensive wizard never reached the big leagues and retires with a .215/.267/.336 batting line in the Minors. Baseball America rated him as the best defensive shortstop in the Florida State League in 2008, and he received the same honor in the Double-A Eastern League in 2009.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Chien-Ming Wang has exercised the opt out clause in his contract and the Yankees granted him his release, according to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger (via Twitter). Wang, who has been pitching for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, could have opted out on May 31st but put off the decision until today.
We heard last week that the right-hander had interest from six clubs but was unlikely to trigger his opt out clause as none of those teams were willing to offer him a major league deal. Wang made nine starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a 2.33 ERA with 3.9 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
Despite their public declarations of support, the Yankees desperately hope Alex Rodriguez's hip injury forces him into retirement, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. If A-Rod has to step away from the game due to his troublesome hip, that could allow them to use insurance to recoup a portion of the $100MM-plus remaining on his deal. However, it's not just one insurance policy they'd seek to use, it's more than a dozen that combined could cover up to 80% of his remaining salary, sources say. That means that the Yanks will have multiple companies looking into the third baseman's issues before agreeing to pay up on the policies. Here's more from the AL East..
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has a similar take on the Yankees and A-Rod as he believes that the club is hoping for the 38-year-old to hang it up. While it's possible that Rodriguez could return to the Yanks lineup and make an impact, the odds are against him as he is trying to recover from a second hip reconstruction with a drug investigation hanging over his head.
- Orioles pitcher Troy Patton faced his former team, the Astros, earlier tonight. Alyson Footer of MLB.com (via Twitter) notes that Patton was once considered "untouchable" by Houston, along with Hunter Pence.
- There are probably only a few big name pitchers that the Orioles could be interested in trading for, opines Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Ultimately, a deadline deal involving the O's is possible, but it’s not probable.
The 32-year-old lefty specialist posted a 4.66 ERA in just 9 2/3 innings at Triple-A, striking out four and issuing four walks as well. Rapada saw a career-high 38 1/3 big league innings for the Yankees last season, pitching to a 2.82 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.
The Virginia State product was signed by the Cubs as an undrafted free agent in 2002. He's faced 251 left-handed hitters in his Major League career and held them to a minuscule .168/.257/.236 batting line. However, right-handers have absolutely crushed him, hitting .342/.459/.613 in 135 plate appearances.
The Yankees publicly wish Alex Rodriguez a quick recovery and a return to the lineup, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman points out that the club may privately hope Rodriguez retires so it can save roughly 80% of the third baseman's remaining salary due to an insurance policy. Rodriguez would still be paid what he's owed but the Yankees would recoup around $70MM if A-Rod's hip surgery prevents him from taking the field again.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has a few more items about both the Bronx Bombers and the Amazins...
- Lyle Overbay has become a crucial depth piece for the Yankees, which has surprisingly led to the career first baseman playing right field. With Mark Teixeira's wrist still a question mark, the Yankees doesn't want to lose Overbay but still wants to find playing time for the veteran.
- The Mets are slightly more likely to draft a college player in Thursday's draft since they feel they're a bit closer to contending. After taking high schoolers in the first round in each of the last two seasons, the Mets could be tempted to take a player who is closer to contributing at the Major League level.
- Frank Francisco's two-year, $12MM contract stands out as the most glaring of the errors the Mets have made in trying to fix their bullpen, Martino writes in a separate piece. Francisco hasn't pitched this season due to an elbow problem and threw what Martino described as "the worst bullpen session [several Mets staffers] could remember" in March during Spring Training. One of the staffers present said the sesssion "was disgusting" and that Francisco "is either hurt or he doesn’t care.” Sandy Alderson said he thinks Francisco will pitch in 2013 though the GM gave no timetable about when the right-hander could return.
- As reported earlier today, the Yankees released outfielder Ben Francisco.
The Astros are 5-16 against the Athletics, Mariners and Rangers this season, but are 7-3 against the Angels following their four-game sweep of the Halos in Anaheim. After last night's defeat, Angels manager Mike Scioscia held a closed-door team meeting and told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that "it seems like these four games, a switch flipped off" for his club. "A series like this certainly can bring the frustration back into the team. We can't let that happen," Scioscia said.
Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Angels are likely to be buyers or inactive at the trade deadline, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines. Gonzalez would "be shocked" to see the Halos start selling significant talent at the deadline since he doesn't believe they would give up on the 2014 season as well, plus, "the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton contracts don’t really let you go into rebuild mode."
- The Mariners have no need to pursue an extension with Kendrys Morales now since they'll have leverage on him in free agency this winter, Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog writes. If the M's make Morales a qualifying offer after the season, Cameron thinks Morales' market will be very thin since no team was willing to sacrifice a first-round pick as compensation for such a limited player; Adam LaRoche's free agency from last offseason is cited as a comparable. I profiled Morales as a possible trade candidate back in April, but he is hitting well enough (.299/.364/.491 entering today's play) that Seattle may see him as a long-term answer in their lineup if he keeps it up for the rest of the season.
- Many Mariners fans are calling for manager Eric Wedge and/or GM Jack Zduriencik to be fired, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times argues that club president Chuck Armstrong or CEO Howard Lincoln could be ultimately responsible for the Mariners' struggles. "Under the Armstrong/Lincoln regime, this organization has pretty much been run into the ground over the past decade — except for their ability to turn a profit, which the M’s have done almost every season, good, bad, or worse," Stone writes.
- Jeff Baker tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that the Rangers and Yankees the "main two" suitors for his services last offseason, though "a lot of teams knocked on the door." Baker signed with Texas in January, before the Yankees' need for corner infield help became so dire.
- Cavan Biggio is projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second of Thursday's draft but his famous father isn't putting any pressure on the Astros to pick his son with the 40th overall selection. "I just didn't want the organization to feel they had to take my son because he's my son. I didn't want my son to feel the Astros took him because he's my son," Craig Biggio tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire. "I stayed away from it, and Jeff [Luhnow] and I have an excellent relationship. We haven't discussed it all, but he knows my feelings where I'm at." The elder Biggio works as a special assistant to Astros GM Luhnow.
5:09pm: The Cardinals aren't on Lee's no-trade list, Morosi reports. Lee has some interest in playing for the Cards (they're close to his Arkansas home, in the NL and consistent winners), but he didn't cite him on his list since he doesn't think the pitching-rich Cardinals would need to trade for an ace. "It's not out of the question" that the Cards could pursue Lee due to his postseason record, Morosi writes, though they aren't in the market for pitching at the moment.
7:54am: As with most partial no-trade clauses, Cliff Lee and his agents at Frontline had the opportunity before the season to restructure his. Lee can block trades to 20 teams, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, and Orioles. Most of the 20 are projected trade deadline buyers, a source tells Morosi. Keep in mind that the presence of these teams does not mean Lee will automatically block a trade to them; it just means he has leverage if the Phillies strike a deal with one.
Lee, 34, has been dominant for the Phillies in 2013. His 88 1/3 innings rank second in the National League, his 2.45 ERA ranks eighth, and his 5.69 K/BB ratio ranks second. The Phillies, winners of two in a row, are 7.5 games back in the NL East and faring about the same in the wild card. Nonetheless, Clay Davenport's projections give them a 15.6% chance of making the playoffs. On May 11th the Phils were five games back, and around that time, a "Phillies insider" told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, "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." By Sunday, however, a couple dozen executives, scouts, and players polled by Cafardo named Lee the best starter expected to be available at the trade deadline this year.
Lee signed a five-year, $120MM deal with the Phillies in December 2010. At the deadline he'll be owed about $6.25MM this year plus $62.5MM covering 2014-15, for a total of $68.75MM. That's if the record-setting $12.5MM buyout is paid on his 2016 club option, which becomes guaranteed if Lee is not on the disabled list at the end of 2015 season with an injury to his left elbow or shoulder, and has 200 innings in 2015 or 400 in 2014-15 (according to Cot's Baseball Contracts). If the option vests, it will probably be a good thing, but then the commitment would become $83.75MM through 2016.
At any rate, Cliff Lee needs to start checking MLB Trade Rumors. A Lee quote from Morosi: "Every time I’ve been traded, before that every organization would say, ‘You’ll be the first one to know if we’re ever going to move you,’” Lee said, recalling that he learned of each trade while watching television. “I was the last one to know every time." It's been an odd career for Lee since becoming an ace in 2008, as he's been traded three times since. The difference this time is that he comes with a market-value financial commitment.
Outfielder Ben Francisco, designated for assignment by the Yankees last Wednesday, has been released, tweeted Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com last night. Francisco, 31, struggled in 50 plate appearances for the Yankees this year.
A right-handed hitter, Francisco has a .253/.323/.418 career line spanning seven seasons. He was drafted in the fifth round in 2002 by the Indians. That was two picks after Clete Thomas, who recently had his contract purchased by the Twins. Francisco signed with the Yankees in March after being released by Cleveland.
A number of agents told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that they expect teams to spend more in the 2013-14 offseason than they did this past winter. "Some clubs held off spending in advance of their new national TV money last winter, knowing that payments would not start until April 2014," writes Rosenthal. Here's more from around the league...
- ESPN's Buster Olney writes that Mariano Rivera will not reconsider retiring under any circumstances (ESPN Insider required). "I don't care if I get 100 saves," Rivera told Olney. "I don't care if they offer me $50 million. That's it." Rivera picked up his 20th save tonight and has stated on multiple occasions that this will be his final season.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that Zack Wheeler's Major League debut isn't far off. Ricco said the front office met following Wheeler's strong outing on Saturday and discussed several possible dates. When pressed by Ackert, he wouldn't rule out Wheeler arriving within two weeks.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio that he will be on the lookout for bullpen help between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline (Twitter link).
- Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets that Jay-Z and other Roc Nation Sports executives met with the MLB Players Association today in New York.
The Rangers should seriously consider trading Jurickson Profar, Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. Galloway argues that, despite Davis' strong 2012 and brilliant start in 2013, he won't criticize Jon Daniels' 2011 trade of Chris Davis (and Tommy Hunter) for Koji Uehara, because the trade was intended to position Texas for a World Series run, and the Rangers did in fact make it to the World Series. If the Rangers can arrange a Profar trade that sets them up for another run at a title, Galloway argues that they should make the deal and live with the results. Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, however, tells ESPN's Jim Bowden that, while the Rangers will likely be active at this year's trade deadline, they plan to keep Profar, Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, rather than dealing one of them (both links via Twitter).
As a side note, Galloway calls the Davis/Uehara deal "the worst MLB trade of this decade," even though he refrains from criticizing Daniels for it. Uehara was excellent for the Rangers, particularly in 2012, but he's since moved on, and Davis is currently hitting .357/.440/.754 with 20 home runs for the Orioles. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman discusses Alex Rodriguez's ten-year, $275MM contract in an interview with ESPN's Buster Olney. Rodriguez and the Yankees are currently in the sixth year of the deal, and Rodriguez will make $86MM from 2014 through 2017. Rodriguez has not yet played in 2013. "Alex would even tell you he couldn't live up to [the contract]," Cashman says. "Hopefully he can return to being, at the very least, an above-average player at that position."
- When Jose Reyes returns, the Blue Jays will have to decide what to do with Munenori Kawasaki, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Due to the Jays' contractual obligations to Maicer Izturis and the presence of Emilio Bonifacio and Mark DeRosa, there would appear to be no space for Kawasaki once Reyes returns. Griffin suggests that the trade market for Izturis could be better than that of Kawasaki, though the Jays might have to pay some of the approximately $9MM remaining on Izturis' contract.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum is hoping for an infusion of arms in this week's draft, Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune reports. "Obviously pitching is what you want to get in the organization as much as you possibly can," says Sveum. When the Cubs make the No. 2 overall selection, either Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray or Stanford's Mark Appel, or perhaps both, will still be on the board.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan discusses the role of general managers in the draft in an interview with 1500ESPN's Phil Mackey. GMs generally get credit or blame for their draft picks, but other front office personnel may be more responsible for those picks. "My role would be to take the blame when we don't do well, but I also get the praise when we do well. That's not fair," says Ryan. For example, Ryan discusses his role in the selection of Ben Revere, the No. 28 overall pick in the 2007 Draft. "That's a pick that I got praise for I think at the time. I didn't have anything to do with Ben Revere. (Our scouts) did. They all had seen him a lot. I get the praise. 'Good pick, there you go Terry.' Hell, I never even saw (Revere)."
- Quintin Berry, who was recently designated for assignment by the Tigers, could make it through waivers and wind up back with Triple-A Toledo, MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets. Given that Berry is 28 and has hit just .168/.278/.234 so far for Toledo this season, that seems to be a fairly likely scenario.
- When the Blue Jays begin a series in San Francisco Tuesday night, Melky Cabrera will face Giants fans for the first time since being suspended last August for failing a PED test, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports. Cabrera vanished after receiving word of the suspension, not talking to the San Francisco media. He then signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Jays in the offseason. Cabrera says he isn't concerned with how the fans will react to his return. "I don't worry about that, it's up to the fans. It's nothing I have control of," Cabrera explains. "I'm just going to play the game. If they decide to boo, that's fine. If they decide to cheer, that's fine with me, too. But, I'm not going to worry about that."