Newsstand Rumors

Cubs To Sign David Ross

The Cubs have agreed to a two-year, $5MM deal with catcher David Ross, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Reports emerged earlier today suggesting that the veteran was headed to the Padres, but indications are that he is in fact set to join former teammate Jon Lester in Chicago.

Ross, a client of Sports One Athlete Management client, will add yet more veteran leadership behind the plate for the Cubs. He will slot in alongside the recently-acquired Miguel Montero, providing a right-handed-hitting complement. Chicago also added another former Red Sox backstop today in Ryan Lavarnway, who was added via waiver claim.

Before joining the Red Sox in 2013, Ross spent four years as the reserve option for the Braves. He slashed a robust .269/.353/.463, but never made more than 200 plate appearances in a given season. Ross has fallen back to a .650 OPS over the last two seasons in Boston, over 287 plate appearances. Defensively, Baseball Prospectus did not value Ross’s work very highly last year.

In the aggregate, then, there are plenty of questions about Ross’s abilities moving forward. But he does have a rather high established ceiling for a backup catcher, and obviously is one of the game’s most respected elder statesmen at this stage of his career.


Marlins Acquire Martin Prado From Yankees

3:15pm: GM Brian Cashman told reporters that the Yankees are including $6MM in the deal – $3MM this year and $3MM next year – to help cover Prado’s salary, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter).

1:33pm: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing the completion of the deal.

12:51pm: It’s a done deal, according a source that spoke with Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).  The Marlins will receive Prado, Phelps, and cash in exchange for Eovaldi, Jones, and German.

12:31pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees will also receive right-hander Domingo German in the trade.

12:15pm: The Yankees and Marlins are on the verge of a deal that would sent Martin Prado to Miami, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (on Twitter).  Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter) hears that the deal would have Garrett Jones and Eovaldi going to New York for Prado and pitcher David Phelps.

Prado, 31, is owed $11MM in both 2015 and 2016.  If the deal is finalized, the veteran would replace Casey McGehee at third base, according to Jackson (Twitter link).  Prado hit a combined .282/.321/.412 for the Diamondbacks and Yankees in 2014 with an exceptionally strong .316/.336/.541 during his 37 games in pinstripes.  The deal would mark the second time Prado has been traded in the calendar year as the Bombers acquired Prado back in July.

Eovaldi, who turns 25 in February, has been a rumored trade candidate for some time thanks to the additions of Mat Latos and Dan Haren.  He has averaged a blistering 96 mph as a starter over the past two seasons, garnering the attention of many throughout baseball.  Though he struggled a bit with a 4.34 ERA in 2014, FIP (3.37), xFIP (3.76) and SIERA (3.91) all feel he was better than that ERA would suggest.  Eovaldi going through arbitration for the first time in his career and is projected to earn $3.1MM, according to the model developed by Matt Swartz.

Jones, 33, was displaced from first base when the Marlins signed Michael Morse.  Jones signed a two-year, $7.75MM deal with Miami in December of last year and the pact was heavily backloaded.  The Marlins paid Jones $2.75MM in 2014 but the Bombers will be paying him $5MM in ’15.  Jones slashed .246/.309/.411 in 2014, numbers that are below his career line and well below his strong 2012 showing.  Jones could be called upon to provide depth at first base, in right field, and as a DH.

Phelps will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and is slated to earn $1.3MM, according to Matt Swartz.  The 28-year-old pitched to a 4.38 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 17 starts and 15 relief appearances for the Yankees last season.

German, 22, pitched to a 2.48 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 25 starts for the Marlins’ Single-A affiliate last season.  Scouts have different opinions on German, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).  Some believe that he has the stuff to be a legitimate starting pitcher while others think of him more as a late-inning guy.  All of the scouts he spoke with, however, like German’s arm.

As of right now, the Yankees’ plan is to have their internal second base options – Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, Cole Figueroa, and Nick Noonan – fight it out to see who will be the starter in 2015, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).  If the Bombers go out of house, a free agent such as Asdrubal Cabrera could make some sense for them.


A’s To Release Nick Punto

The A’s will release Nick Punto to clear a roster spot, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).  Oakland will be on the hook for his $2.75MM salary in 2015.

The A’s had 41 players on the 40-man roster, meaning that someone had to go and, ultimately, Punto was the odd man out.  The infielder’s $2.75MM option vested late in the 2014 thanks to satisfying the terms of a complicated formula that was placed within his contract.

The 37-year-old Jeff Caulfield client had one of his worst offensive seasons to date in 2014, batting .207/.296/.293 in 224 plate appearances. However, he did help the A’s by logging 363 quality innings at second base, and he also filled in at shortstop (118 2/3 innings) in addition to brief cameos in right field and at third base.

Originally drafted by the Phillies, Punto was sent to the Twins along with Carlos Silva and Bobby Korecky in a trade for Eric Milton back in 2003. After a seven-year stretch with Minnesota, he’s bounced around to four other teams: the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers and A’s. In 3734 career plate appearances between the six teams mentioned, Punto is a .245/.323/.323 hitter that has logged more than 2400 innings at shortstop, second base and third base with positive defensive marks at each.



Royals Sign Alex Rios

FRIDAY, 2:05pm: The Royals officially announced their deal with Rios, which includes a mutual option for 2016.  That is worth $12.5MM, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.

MONDAY, 7:10pm: The Royals have agreed to a one-year, $11MM deal with outfielder Alex Rios, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. Rios, a Boras Corporation client, joins Kendrys Morales as veteran additions to the defending American League champs.

Alex RiosThe 33-year-old Rios spent 2014 with the Rangers, slashing .280/.311/.398 with four home runs 17 stolen bases (being caught nine times in the process). That production landed just below league average, one year after Rios put up a .278/.324/.432 line that rated slightly above the league baseline. Of course, he also swatted 18 long balls and stole 42 bags that season (split between the White Sox and Rangers).

Now another year removed from his excellent 2012 campaign, Rios also slid in the baserunning and defensive departments, leaving him valued at just .2 fWAR and .6 rWAR in his 521 plate appearances. A thumb issue ended Rios’s season early and cast at least some slight doubt on his health going forward, though Rios has been a remarkably sturdy ballplayer over his long career.

Kansas City now has its replacement for Nori Aoki in right field, where Rios has spent most of his career. Both players are similarly aged, but the former is probably a safer option going forward with his consistent on-base ability. Of course, Aoki cannot match the ceiling of Rios, who was worth better than four wins above replacement in recent memory. The club spent a fairly significant sum to take a chance on Rios, going well above the $8.5MM that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted he would land.

Rios joins a recent group of corner outfielders departing the market, leaving players like Michael Morse, Colby Rasmus, and Aoki as the best players available. Of course, that could add impetus to the trade market, which features a number of big names.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Images.


Cubs Claim Shane Peterson, Ryan Lavarnway

2:05pm: The Cubs announced that they have also claimed Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Dodgers.  To make room on the 40-man roster for the pair of moves, right-handed pitcher Donn Roach and infielder Logan Watkins were designated for assignment.

The 27-year-old Lavarnway .283/.389/.370 in 257 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2014. He has a strong minor league track record as a hitter, with a .375 career minor league on-base percentage, and could potentially help a team in need of a right-handed bat for its bench.  His stint with the Dodgers was brief and he has traveled quite a bit in the last month.  Lavarnway was DFA’d by the Red Sox just prior to his cup of coffee with Los Angeles.

12:38pm: The Cubs have claimed outfielder Shane Peterson from the A’s, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).


Yankees Designate Preston Claiborne For Assignment

The Yankees have designated Preston Claiborne for assignment, according to ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand (on Twitter).

Claiborne, 26, has made 62 relief appearances for the Yankees over the last two seasons, pitching to a 3.79 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.  In parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level, Claiborne owns a 3.80 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.

You can keep track of Claiborne’s status using MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Angels Acquire Johnny Giavotella From Royals

1:57pm: The Angels formally announced the deal.  Right-hander Brian Broderick will be sent to the Royals to complete the transaction.

Broderick, 28, has just 11 big league appearances to his credit with all of them coming in 2011.  He was recently signed out of the Mexican League by KC.

1:55pm: The Angels are close to acquiring second baseman Johnny Giavotella, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Giavotella was recently designated for assignment by the Royals.  It’s not clear who is going to Kansas City in the deal, but it figures to be a minor trade (link).  Gonzalez adds that the deal could be announced today.

Giavotella, 27, received a fairly lengthy look at second base for the Royals in both 2011 and 2012 but combined to bat just .242/.271/.340 in 376 plate appearances. He’s received shorter call-ups in each of the subsequent seasons but hasn’t fared much better at the plate; overall, Giavotella is a lifetime .238/.277/.344 hitter in the Majors.

A second-round pick out of the University of New Orleans in 2008, Giavotella does carry with him quite an impressive track record at the Triple-A level. In 1840 plate appearances there, he’s slashed .315/.384/.451. It should be noted, however, that those numbers have come in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.


Mets Trade Gonzalez Germen To Yankees

The Mets and Yankees have completed a rare trade with one another.  The Mets traded pitcher Gonzalez Germen to the Yankees for cash considerations, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.

Germen, who turned 27 in September, was designated for assignment earlier this week by the Mets.  The right-hander has made a combined 54 appearances out of the Mets’ bullpen over the past two seasons, pitching to a 4.31 ERA with 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate. He’s averaged 92.9 mph on his fastball in that time while notching a swinging-strike rate of 14.2 percent, but Germen was also exceptionally homer prone and had enough command problems that the Mets deemed him expendable.

This marks the first trade between the two New York teams since they swapped Mike Stanton and Felix Heredia in 2004.

Germen is now out of DFA limbo, but there are plenty of other MLB players awaiting their fate.  Keep up on all of the latest with MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Blue Jays Claim Juan Oramas

The Blue Jays announced that they have claimed left-hander Juan Oramas off waivers from the Padres.  Oramas, 24, has spent all eight of his professional seasons in the Padres’ system.

Oramas, 24, owns a 4.32 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 across parts of three seasons at Triple-A.  He spent last season with the Friars’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, posting a combined 4.75 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 134 1/3 innings pitched.

Oramas has appeared among San Diego’s Top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America, in each of the past four offseasons. In last offseason’s scouting report, BA noted that Oramas has the potential for three Major League pitches “with a feel to deploy them for maximum impact,” while also praising the southpaw for hiding the ball well.

The Blue Jays’ 40-man roster now stands at 38.


Pirates Sign Corey Hart

12:59pm: Hart will earn $2.5MM in base salary and can double it with another $2.5MM in incentives, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).

12:55pm: The Pirates announced that they have signed free agent Corey Hart.

Hart could serve as a platoon partner with Pedro Alvarez to help make up for his shortcomings against lefties.  After missing the entire 2013 season due to knee surgery, Hart was signed by the Mariners around this time last year.  The veteran made 55 starts as a designated hitter while also making seven appearances in right field, two at first base and one in left field.  All in all, he posted a .203/.271/.319 slash line in 255 plate appearances.  Prior to his lost 2013 season, Hart owned a career .276/.334/.491 slash line.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Hart, the Pirates have designated right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet for assignment.  To keep up with his status and everyone else in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.