Newsstand Rumors

NL East Rumors: Marlins, Phillies, Byrd, Bastardo

After a glance at the Mets earlier this evening, here’s a look at other items out of the NL East..

  • The Marlins are eyeing controllable pitchers and they’re thought to be considering A’s lefty Tommy Milone, D’Backs’ lefty Wade Miley, and Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.  Of course, if their three-game set against the Nationals doesn’t go well, they could wind up going the other way and selling.
  • Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is no longer an option for the Royals and talks have stalled with the Mariners, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Byrd will only waive his no-trade clause if his 2016 option is exercised.
  • The Phillies are talking with multiple clubs about Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo and there’s a lot of action on both, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Mets Rumors: Alderson, Syndergaard, Dice-K

With the trade deadline just a few days away, here’s the latest on the Mets…

  • In a chat with reporters, Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that the club has an opportunity to do a “thing or two,” but wouldn’t bet on something happening between now and the deadline, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.   Alderson said that at some point he might be willing to use his top prospects in a blockbuster trade, but said that it would have to be “the right time for the right player under the right circumstances.”
  • Earlier today, Jeff Passan reported that the Mets would move Noah Syndergaard in a deal for Troy Tulowitzki, but David Lennon of Newsday (on Twitter) hears that the Mets will not include him in any type of trade.  Lennon cautions that things can change, but that’s the thinking at this moment.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, who landed on the disabled list on Friday with right elbow inflammation, should resume tossing a baseball in three or four days, manager Terry Collins said, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.  The right-hander could possibly be among the starters on the trade block this week.

Royals Acquire Hendriks, Kratz For Valencia

6:10pm: The Blue Jays announced that they have acquired Danny Valencia from the Royals in exchange for Hendriks and Kratz.  Valencia, 29, posted a .282/.328/.382 slash line in 119 plate appearances for KC this season.  The veteran split 117 games between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk in 2013.  In 170 plate appearances last year for the O’s, he had a .304/.330/.553 slash line to go with eight homers.  The 29-year-old has seen scattered MLB action since a mediocre stint as the Twins’ everyday third bagger in 2011. 

5:51pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports confirms that Kratz is headed to Kansas City (Twitter link).

5:46pm: The Royals and Blue Jays have agreed to a trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Right-hander Liam Hendriks is heading to Kansas City in the deal, and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that catcher Erik Kratz is expected to be joining the Royals as well.

The 25-year-old Hendriks was once considered one of the Top 10 prospects in the Twins organization, but he made his rounds on waivers over the past season after failing to translate his excellent Triple-A numbers to the Major Leagues. Hendriks allowed nine runs in 13 1/3 innings for the Jays this season and has a 6.06 ERA in 169 1/3 innings throughout his big league career. The Aussie right-hander has a strong 3.23 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 362 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level. Baseball America tweets that he was impressive at the Triple-A All Star Game this season — a team that he was named to after posting a brilliant 2.33 ERA in 18 minor league appearances this year.

Kratz, who turned 34 last month, is expected to help the Royals at the big league level. The former Phillies backstop has seen limited time with the Blue Jays in 2014, slashing .198/.226/.346 with three homers. Low batting averages and plus pop have been the story of Kratz’s big league career, as he’s hit just .216 with a .271 OBP in 501 plate appearances but boasts a solid .181 isolated power mark (slugging minus batting average). Kratz is a career .268/.342/.474 hitter in 1618 Triple-A plate appearances. He has consistently rated as a strong pitch-framer and pitch-blocker, and he’s gunned down 32 percent of attempted base stealers in his big league career.



Dodgers Acquire Darwin Barney

5:43pm: MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that the Dodgers will pay $500K of what is owed to Barney this season (Twitter link).

2:32pm: The Dodgers have bolstered their infield depth and their defense with the acquisition of Darwin Barney from the Cubs, both teams announced. Chicago will send Barney and cash considerations to Los Angeles in return for a player to be named later, according to releases from each team. It was reported earlier today that Barney, who was designated for assignment last week, was garnering trade interest.

Darwin Barney

The 28-year-old Barney hit just .230/.265/.328 in 217 plate appearances with the Cubs this season, but his bat has never been his calling card. Barney consistently rates as one of the best defensive second baseman in the Major Leagues, and this year was no different. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games was +15.5, while Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at +7 runs in limited time. Per DRS, Barney has  saved 46 runs over the past three seasons.

Dee Gordon has established himself as Los Angeles’ everyday second baseman this season, so it doesn’t seem likely that Barney will be seeing everyday at-bats with the Dodgers. However, his glove makes him a nice bench piece that the team can use to improve its defense late in games. Barney was drafted as a shortstop and spent more time at short than at the keystone in his minor league career. Despite a lack of experience at the position in recent years, Barney could be used as a replacement if the team wants to either replace the defensively challenged Hanley Ramirez or shift him over to third base late in games.

Barney is earning just $2.3MM this season and is controllable through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. His bat makes him a non-tender candidate in the offseason, but he will only cost the Dodgers about $804K from here through season’s end.

Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune first reported that the two sides were nearing a trade (on Twitter), and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweeted that it was a deal. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs would receive a PTBNL in return (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rakuten Golden Eagles Sign Nick Evans

5:40pm: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets that Evans’ deal is official, and he will fly to Japan tomorrow.

JULY 28, 2:49pm: The Diamondbacks now announce (via Twitter) that Evans has been released to make roster room for Jordan Pacheco (who is returning from the DL).

JULY 26, 10:23am:  Nick Evans has an agreement with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The Diamondbacks will remove Evans from their 40-man roster.

Evans had collected 21 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks this season and had previously played parts of four seasons for the Mets between 2008 and 2011. The 28-year-old has spent most of the 2014 season with Triple-A Reno, where he hit .354/.423/.631 in 227 plate appearances.


Mariners, Braves Most Active Teams For Denorfia

4:11pm: The Mariners and Braves are the two teams pursuing Denorfia most heavily right now, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

11:04am: The Padres have received a lot of interest in outfielder Chris Denorfia and a trade is likely to happen “sooner rather than later,” sources tell Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.  The Giants, Mariners and Blue Jays are all interested, and the Royals have also talked to the Padres about a possible move, and could get in on Denorfia if they can’t acquire Alex Rios or Marlon Byrd.

San Francisco and Seattle are new names connected to the Denorfia sweepstakes, and like the Jays and Royals, both teams would be helped by a right-handed hitting outfield bat.  Denorfia could form a platoon with Gregor Blanco in center for the Giants, as Angel Pagan‘s injury status is still up in the air, or Denorfia could potentially platoon in left field with Tyler Colvin with Michael Morse seeing more time at first (if Brandon Belt‘s concussion continues to linger).  The Mariners have also been linked to Byrd, though since the M’s are one of the four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list, Denorfia could be easier to obtain.

Denorfia is a free agent this winter, and the 34-year-old hasn’t helped his value by hitting only .244/.295/.321 over 266 PA this season.  That total includes a .644 OPS against left-handed pitching, though Denorfia has an .810 career OPS against southpaws.


Suzuki Extension Looks Unlikely For Twins

JULY 28: There were no extension talks between the Twins and Suzuki over the weekend, Wolfson tweets. One source tells him that “nothing’s going to get done” by Thursday.

JULY 25: The Minnesota field staff is making the case that the club should hold onto Suzuki, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It is not likely that an extension will come together quickly, however, says Rosenthal.

We looked earlier today at the latest on trade interest in Suzuki.

JULY 24: Extension talks are ongoing, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Suzuki’s representatives at MVP Sports are seeking a contract commensurate with the annual values given to free agents Carlos Ruiz (three years, $26MM), Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($21MM over three years), and A.J. Pierzynski (one year, $8.25MM) over the last offseason.

JULY 22: There’s mutual interest in an extension, manager Ron Gardenhire told hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio today (Twitter link). Gardenhire’s comments, of course, don’t mean the two sides are any closer to a deal.

JULY 21: The Twins and catcher Kurt Suzuki recently engaged in extension talks, but the two sides aren’t seeing eye to eye in terms of contract parameters, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino characterizes the talks as “exploratory” but notes that establishing fair parameters looks like it will be a challenge.

The news is significant, as Suzuki figures to be a prime trade chip if the Twins aren’t able to secure a new contract with the first-time All-Star. Signed to a one-year, $2.75MM contract (with $500K of incentives), Suzuki seems a highly unlikely candidate to receive a qualifying offer after the season. As such, a trade may be the only way for the Twins to receive long-term value, should Suzuki sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter.

Suzuki, 30, has served as Minnesota’s primary backstop all season and slashed a strong .305/.364/.389. While he’s cracked just a pair of homers, he’s shown the best full-season walk rate of his career (7.5 percent) and is striking out at a career-low rate (8.8 percent). That strikeout rate is currently the sixth-lowest in all of Major League Baseball (among qualified hitters).

Defensively speaking, Suzuki has been a mixed bag. He’s thrown out a solid 24 percent of opposing base-stealers and rates as one of the best in the league at blocking potential passed balls and wild pitches, per Baseball Prospectus. However, he ranks at the bottom of the league in terms of pitch framing, per BP and Matthew Carruth at StatCorner.com.

Both the Cardinals and Orioles have seen their starting catchers go down with serious injuries, while other contenders such as the Dodgers and Blue Jays have also received below-average offense behind the plate.


Phillies Make Hamels Available; Dodgers Interested

3:50pm: In today’s Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN’s Jayson Stark touched on Hamels’ availability (highlights from the rest of the piece can be seen here, though it’s worth reading in its entirety).

Officials from other teams tell Stark that the Phillies are asking for each team’s top three or four prospects in any Hamels deal, but they’re only willing to eat about $10MM of the remaining $90MM+ on Hamels’ contract. Stark quotes one unnamed executive, who told him, “Ruben wants his doors blown off in order to trade him. And you don’t get your doors blown off if this kind of money is attached. It doesn’t work that way.”

Meanwhile, Morosi hears that the Dodgers and Cardinals are the two most likely clubs to acquire Hamels (Twitter link).

3:03pm: Though we’ve been hearing for weeks that the Phillies won’t move ace Cole Hamels, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the team has now made the lefty available, and the Dodgers are interested (Twitter link). However, the asking price on Hamels is still said to be very high, per Morosi.

Recently, it was reported that Hamels could block trades to 20 teams. The nine teams to which Hamels cannot block a trade are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Padres, so he wouldn’t have any say should the Dodgers put together a strong enough offer.

Hamels, 30, is enjoying yet another strong season atop Philadelphia’s rotation, having pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 47.5 percent ground-ball rate in 122 1/3 innings. He’s earning $22.5MM in 2014 and is guaranteed $90MM from 2015-18, with a $20MM club option for the 2019 season that can vest at $24MM with 400 innings from 2017-18 or 200 innings in 2018. He has about $7.87MM remaining on this year’s salary, meaning that he’s guaranteed another $97.87MM and could earn as much as $121.87MM before hitting free agency.

The Dodgers appear to be looking to make a big splash on the pitching front, as they’ve been oft-linked to David Price and have recently been heavily connected to Red Sox ace Jon Lester. Los Angeles has reportedly been loath to part with both Corey Seager and Joc Pederson in trades, but it’s worth wondering if they’d part with both hitters in order to acquire someone with so much team control remaining. Left-hander Julio Urias has seen his stock skyrocket in 2014 as well, while other pitching prospects such as Zach Lee, Chris Anderson and Tom Windle have delivered relatively disappointing results this year.

The Dodgers’ interest in Hamels isn’t entirely surprising, as the team could lose Zack Greinke to an opt-out clause following the 2015 season. Hamels would give them a dominant arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw in the event that Greinke signs elsewhere.


Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.

Yankees Designate Jeff Francis For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they have designated veteran lefty Jeff Francis for assignment and recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 33-year-old Francis appeared in just two games for the Yanks, allowing a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. In total this season between New York, Cincinnati and Oakland, he’s posted a 5.85 ERA with a strong 15-to-3 K/BB ratio.