Newsstand Rumors

Dodgers Designate Carlos Triunfel For Assignment

The Dodgers have have announced that they’ve designated infielder Carlos Triunfel for assignment. The move clears roster space for top outfield prospect Joc Pederson, who was promoted today.

Triunfel, 24, has received 16 plate appearances with the Dodgers this season. Formerly a top shortstop prospect with the Mariners, he also got cups of coffee with Seattle in 2012 and 2013 before the Dodgers claimed him in April. He spent most of the season with Triple-A Albuquerque and hit .223/.256/.330 in 321 plate appearances, not an impressive performance in a favorable environment for hitters.


Dodgers Promote Joc Pederson

The Dodgers have promoted top prospect Joc Pederson, Ryan Walton of Valley Bay News tweets. Pederson still needs to be added to their 40-man roster.

USATSI_7782593_154513410_lowresPederson is in the midst of an offensive season that’s brilliant even in the desert air of Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .303/.435/.582 in 553 plate appearances. MLB.com currently ranks Pederson the No. 18 prospect in baseball, praising his power (he has 33 home runs so far this season) and plate discipline, but noting that he needs to work on hitting left-handers. Before the season, Baseball America ranked Pederson at No. 34, and ESPN’s Keith Law had him at No. 41.

BA’s Prospect Handbook 2014 ranked Pederson the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers system, noting that he receives comparisons to players like Curtis Granderson and Jim Edmonds. The Granderson comparison might be apt — Pederson is a lefty hitter who draws plenty of walks and also strikes out a lot, with 149 whiffs so far this year at Triple-A. Whether Pederson will be able to overcome those minor league strikeouts as smoothly as Granderson did remains to be seen, but he’s still an exciting talent with strong tools across the board. He can play all three outfield positions, and he mostly played center with Albuquerque.

Where Pederson will fit with the Dodgers right now is unclear, however. The Dodgers have a number of outfielders who are either performing well (Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke) or very expensive (Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier), and they’ll need to sort through them in order to find playing time for Pederson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Fallout From Astros’ Dismissal Of Bo Porter

Here’s the latest on the Astros’ managerial situation after the firing of Bo Porter earlier today:

  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says the team could hire a new manager before the end of the season, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Luhnow says the Astros will be looking for similar qualities in a manager that they were looking for when they hired Porter. He also notes that interim manager Tom Lawless could be considered for the job on a permanent basis if he expresses interest in the position.
  • It certainly sounds like Lawless is interested, to judge from his comments today (via Drellich). “Oh, it was pretty exciting,” he says. “I got (word) yesterday, last night. Jeff called and wanted to know if I wanted to take over the team for the last 30 days, and I said, ‘Sure!’
  • Porter has released a statement regarding his dismissal, thanking the Astros and the city of Houston for their support.
  • One potential candidate to replace Porter could be former Padres star Phil Nevin, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Nevin has impressed observers with his work this year as the manager for Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks’ system.


Mariners Place Jesus Montero On Suspended List

The Mariners have placed first baseman Jesus Montero on the suspended list for the remainder of the 2014 season, the team announced.  The move comes as no surprise given that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik recently said that Montero wouldn’t play again this year in order to focus on off-the-field issues.  Montero’s suspension and Willie Bloomquist being moved to the 60-day DL creates two spots on the team’s 40-man roster that have been filled by catcher Humberto Quintero and right-hander Carson Smith, who had their contracts selected in corresponding moves.

It was only a few years ago that Montero was considered one of the very best prospects in all of baseball, yet his star has almost completely dimmed after three tumultuous years in Seattle.  Montero has hit only .251/.291/.378 with 19 homers over  680 PA as a Mariner while battling injuries, weight issues and a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case.  Just last Thursday, Montero got into a heated altercation with a Mariners scout that apparently stemmed from the crosschecker sending an ice cream sandwich to the dugout as a taunt about Montero’s weight.

Montero was hitting well (an .839 OPS in 409 PA) at Triple-A this season and it seems far too early to write off his career given that he’s just 24 years old.  It remains to be seen, however, whether he’ll get another chance with the Mariners organization following this latest incident.


Adam Dunn To “Probably” Retire After Season

MONDAY: Dunn kept the door slightly open for a 2015 return, telling Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he only said he will “probably” retire following the season.  He has no intention of continuing his career to chase the 500-homer mark unless he’s on a contending team.

SUNDAY: Adam Dunn says he will retire after the season, Bruce Levine of 670theScore.com tweets. The news comes in the wake of the slugger being traded to Oakland, and comes as no great surprise — he’s in the last season of his $56MM contract, and he’s discussed the possibility of retiring before.

USATSI_7995765_154513410_lowresHe’s also 34, and his best days as a player seem to be behind him. He remains a prolific power hitter, with 20 home runs in 435 plate appearances this year, and he’s always drawn more than his share of walks. But his batting average has fallen to very low levels — he hasn’t batted above .220 since 2010. And his defense, while never good, has gotten so poor that he’s a liability anywhere other than DH, even considering his obvious offensive skills.

Nonetheless, Dunn will leave behind an impressive body of work, and his extreme homers/walks/strikeouts offensive game makes him an historically unique player. He has 460 career home runs (good for 36th all-time), including at least 38 in seven consecutive seasons from 2004 through 2010. He’s also drawn an impressive 1,311 walks in his career, fourth among active players (behind Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and Manny Ramirez). Of course, he’s been one of the game’s most frequent strikeout victims — five of his seasons are in the top 20 all time in strikeouts, and he ranks third all-time in whiffs, behind Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome.

Dunn made his mark on Major League pitching immediately, finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 (despite only playing half the season in the bigs) and emerging as a poster boy for the sabermetric movement with his “Three True Outcomes” (homers, walks and strikeouts) offensive style. He then blossomed into one of the game’s most feared power hitters as an outfielder and then a first baseman with the Reds, Diamondbacks and Nationals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Top Prospect Promotions: Franco, Norris

The September roster expansions mean that some of baseball’s most notable prospects will be called up to the big leagues for the first time.  Here are some of the familiar names from various prospect rankings (from MLB.com, Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law) who will soon debut in the Show…

  • The Phillies will promote third baseman Maikel Franco, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  Franco, who just turned 22 last week, has a modest .257/.298/.427 slash line and 16 homers over 553 PA at Triple-A this season, though he has hit much better over the last two months.  Franco was ranked 50th and 57th, respectively, on Baseball America and MLB.com’s midseason prospect lists and ranked 63rd on Law’s preseason top 100 list.
  • The Blue Jays will promote left-hander Daniel Norris, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports.  Norris, 21, was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft who began this season at high-A ball but pitched well enough to earn promotions to both Double-A and Triple-A.  The southpaw has a 2.53 ERA, 11.8 K/9 and 3.79 K/BB rate over a combined 124 2/3 IP at all three farm levels in 2014.  Norris, who was ranked 25th by Baseball America and 28th by MLB.com, is expected to begin his Major League career pitching out of the Jays’ bullpen.

Royals Designate Chris Dwyer, Blake Wood

The Royals have designated left-hander Chris Dwyer and righty Blake Wood for assignment, the team announced.  The moves create 40-man roster spots for outfielder Carlos Peguero and lefty Brandon Finnegan, whose contracts were purchased today.

Dwyer, a fourth-rounder in the 2009 draft, showed up on a few top-100 prospect rankings prior to the 2011 but he has struggled since, particularly due to control issues.  This season saw him pitch primarily out of the bullpen at Triple-A Omaha, and he has a 5.59 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 over 66 innings.  Dwyer’s only Major League experience came in the form of three scoreless innings with the Royals last September.

Wood has now been designated for assignment by two different organizations this year, as he was previously DFA’ed by the Indians in May, which led him to be claimed off waivers by Kansas City.  Wood struggled at the upper levels of the Royals’ farm system (posting a 6.84 ERA over 25 combined innings at Double- and Triple-A) and he also had a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 relief innings with the Tribe this season.  It appears as though Wood is still trying to find his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.

Dwyer and Wood join Bruce Chen as Royals currently in “DFA Limbo,” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker., along with Mike Carp (Rangers), Rich Hill (Yankees), Chris McGuiness (Pirates) and Sergio Santos (Blue Jays).


Astros Fire Bo Porter

The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release.  Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties.  Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.

As reported last week by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, a divide had grown between Porter and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow.  Porter felt that Luhnow was overly critical of his in-game strategy, and he also didn’t think his own opinions were being heard within the front office.  Porter was also upset that he wasn’t consulted when Mark Appel was brought to Minute Maid Park for a throwing session in July, a move that also drew complaints from several Astros players.MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers

As part of the team’s official statement, Luhnow predictably didn’t address any specific issues between he and Porter, yet hinted at differences of opinion by saying “I believe we need a new direction in the clubhouse.”

What we will seek going forward is a consistent and united message throughout the entire organization.  It is essential that as an organization we create an atmosphere at the Major League level where our young players can come up and continue to develop and succeed.  Ultimately, I am responsible for creating that culture and I will do everything in my power to do so — even when it means making difficult moves like the one we made today.”

Porter was hired as the Astros’ manager in September 2012 and officially took over the job on Opening Day 2013.  He had a 110-190 record with the rebuilding club, and Luhnow noted in his statement that Porter’s record wasn’t the issue: “I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible.”

This has not been a stellar year for the Astros front office, as the Porter firing is the latest in a series of controversies that have emerged in Houston this season.  There was a dispute over George Springer‘s promotion, several of the team’s trade discussion notes were leaked online and the Astros were heavily criticized for both their failure to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken and their subsequent decision to pull out of an agreement with fifth-rounder Jacob Nix.  It’s not surprising that Luhnow won this apparent power struggle with Porter given how much the franchise has invested in Luhnow’s rebuilding plan, yet the questions about Luhnow’s stewardship of the team will inevitably continue until the Astros start to produce on the field.

This is Lawless’ first time managing at the Major League level, as he has worked as a manager, coach and roving instructor within the Astros’ organzation for several years.  Former Astro Adam Everett has also been hired to take over as bench coach.  According to the club’s press release, the Astros will “immediately” begin looking for next long-term manager.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images


Rays Outright Ali Solis

The Rays have outrighted catcher Ali Solis to Triple-A, according to the Rays’ transactions page. Tampa’s 40 man roster now stands at 39 players.

The 26-year-old catcher has struggled with the bat. In 258 plate appearances for Triple-A Durham, Solis has hit .210/.238/.292. In 11 major league plate appearances spread over the last two seasons, Solis is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and one walk. He appeared briefly with the Pirates last season.


Blue Jays Acquire John Mayberry Jr.

The Phillies announced that they have traded outfielder/first baseman John Mayberry Jr. to the Blue Jays in exchange for infielder Gustavo Pierre.

Mayberry, 30, has hit .213/.304/418 on the season, good for a 104 wRC+ (roughly league average). He’s best used as a lefty masher, as evidenced by his .255/.339/.582 line against southpaws this season. The Blue Jays are currently the 24th ranked team against lefties per wRC+, so the acquisition of Mayberry should help reinforce the July trade for Danny Valencia. Mayberry is owed about $250K  of his $1.59MM salary for the remainder of the season. He’s currently on the disabled list, but he can help Toronto beyond the 2014 season if they wish, as he is controlled through 2016 via arbitration.

Pierre, a 22-year-old utility infielder, has hit .260/.281/.389 on the season while spending most of the year at High-A Dunedin. He’s not ranked by Baseball America or any similar organization.