Newsstand Rumors

Orioles, Nelson Cruz Mutually Interested In Extension

3:03pm: Cruz himself now tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, that the Orioles and Katz have had some extension talks since the All-Star break, but the talks have not been serious in nature. The slugger adds that after his difficult experience last offseason, he would like to get an extension worked out before season’s end, although he knows that scenario may not be realistic, given the casual nature of talks to this point. He also repeated that he would like to remain an Oriole beyond the 2014 season (Twitter links).

11:37am: The Orioles and Nelson Cruz share an interest in keeping the slugger in Baltimore past the 2014 season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Both Dan Duquette and Adam Katz (Cruz’s agent) declined on comment on whether any extension talks have already taken place or will take place, though both parties have felt Cruz has been a good fit in Baltimore this year.

It’s no secret it’s been a very positive experience for Nelson and the Orioles — though I don’t want to speak for them,” Katz said. “He’s enjoyed every minute of it.”

Cruz is set to hit free agency this winter and his big 2014 numbers will put him in line for a solid multiyear deal.  (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Cruz as the sixth-best player on the market in his most recent 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings.)  Cruz’s league-leading 34 homers and .256/.324/.510 slash line have gone a long way in answering the doubts that plagued his stint as a free agent last winter.  With a qualifying offer draft pick attached to him and a 50-game PED suspension clouding his reputation, Cruz was forced to settle for a one-year, $8MM deal from the O’s.

This tough experience last offseason might be a reason why Cruz is considering an extension, as Heyman notes it would be rather unusual for a player in Cruz’s situation (signing a one-year pillow contract type of deal and then delivering big) to not test the open market.  The O’s will certainly offer Cruz a one-year qualifying offer if an extension can’t be worked out, and rather than face such uncertainty again, it could be that Cruz simply prefers to stay in a familiar situation.


Yankees Designate Rich Hill For Assignment

The Yankees have designated left-hander Rich Hill for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for the recently acquired Josh Outman, the team announced via press release.

The 34-year-old Hill appeared in six games for the Yankees but faced just 10 batters. He allowed just two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the Bombers, but as Jack Curry of the YES Network explains (on Twitter), the Yankees feel that Outman is a superior option against left-handed pitcher due to his superior breaking ball.

With the exception of a minuscule sample size of nine plate appearances this season, Hill has handled lefties well himself over his career, yielding a .217/.339/.339 batting line. However, Hill has walked 14.8 percent of the lefties he’s faced in his career and whiffed 25.8 percent — numbers that are inferior to Outman’s respective 8.2 percent walk rate and 30.8 percent strikeout rate versus same-handed hitters.


Twenty Teams Attend Showcase For Cuesta, Siverio

FRIDAY: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that 20 teams were in attendance for the showcase.

TUESDAY: Cuban first baseman Jozzen Cuesta and Cuban left-hander Misael Siverio will host a showcase for interested clubs on Friday in Jupiter, Fla., agent Eric Izen of the Legacy Agency tells MLBTR.

The last we heard on the 25-year-old Siverio came back in May when he was declared eligible for free agency. The 25-year-old Cuesta was, at the time, said to be awaiting clearance from Major League Baseball and the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control, but he has since been cleared by both entities and is now eligible to sign with any club. The 6’2″, 220-pound first baseman is said to possess some power and will present a younger alternative to the first basemen on the free agent market.

Reports on Siverio peg the lefty at 5’9″ tall, and while he’s not said to possess an overpowering fastball, he had drawn interest from 10 teams back in May. Siverio pitched in front of several clubs at a showcase in June, and the Yankees, Cubs and Astros were among the teams in attendance, MLBTR has learned.

Siverio posted a 3.24 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over his career in Cuba’s Serie Nacional – a span of 153 games (75 starts). More recently, he pitched in Mexico this past winter, posting a 2.45 ERA and a 36-to-10 K/BB ratio. His full statistics and some video footage can be seen at ObstructedView.net.



Indians Sign Russell Branyan

The Indians announced (Twitter link) that they have signed veteran corner infielder Russell Branyan to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.

The former big league slugger has spent the 2014 season with los Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League and has slashed a robust .296/.423/.620 with 19 home runs in 272 plate appearances. However, he hasn’t been in affiliated ball since 2012 and last saw the Majors in 2011 when he split the season between the D’Backs and Angels. Branyan hit .197/.295/.370 with just five homers in 146 PA that year.

The Indians drafted Branyan back in the seventh round of the 1994 draft, and since that time they’ve now signed him three times and traded for him once as well. Branyan, now 38 years of age, has seen the Majors in parts of 14 different seasons between the Indians, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rays, Phillies, Cardinals and Angels. He’s a lifetime .232/.329/.485 hitter with 194 homers, including a career-high 31 back in 2009 with Seattle.


Jorge De La Rosa Claimed, Blocked On Waivers

Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa was claimed off waivers by an unknown team who made the move in order to block the southpaw from being dealt elsewhere, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  The claim was made long enough ago that Colorado has since pulled De La Rosa back from revocable trade waivers and he’ll finish the rest of the 2014 season in the purple pinstripes.

De La Rosa has a 4.19 ERA, 2.11 K/BB rate and 6.6 K/9 over 154 2/3 innings with the Rockies this season, and combined with his strong 2013 campaign, the 33-year-old looks to score a healthy contract as a free agent this winter.  The Rockies, of course, hope that they can keep him from reaching the open market.  They are known to be eager to retain one of the few pitchers who has had success at Coors Field (De La Rosa has a 3.19 ERA in 13 home starts) so even if the southpaw had been claimed by a team looking to make a trade, Colorado would’ve asked for a lot to move him.  The Royals and Orioles were linked to De La Rosa before the July 31 trade deadline, and the Rockies asked Baltimore for no less than their top pitching prospect (Kevin Gausman) in return.

It’s no surprise that De La Rosa failed to clear waivers, given that he’s only owed a little under $2MM for the remainder of the season and could’ve been helped a number of contending rotations.  The lefty would’ve had to go unclaimed past every NL team and then every AL team in order to clear the August trade waivers.


Yankees Acquire Josh Outman

The Indians announced that they have traded left-hander Josh Outman to the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations (Twitter link).

Josh Outman

Outman, who had been pitching at Triple-A Columbus for the Indians, will report to the Yankees’ Major League roster. It’s unclear whether the Yankees claimed Outman off waivers or if they struck a deal with Cleveland after Outman had already cleared revocable waivers.

The 29-year-old Outman was acquired by the Indians this past offseason in a straight up swap for outfielder Drew Stubbs. While Stubbs has gone on to enjoy a strong season in Colorado, Outman saw his control decline with Cleveland, resulting in a demotion to the minor leagues. (The move did save the Indians $2.85MM, as Outman’s $1.25MM arbitration salary was significantly lower than the $4.1MM paid to Stubbs.) Though he posted a strong 3.28 ERA with 24 punchouts in 24 2/3 innings, Outman also walked 16 batters in that time, making for a career-worst 5.8 BB/9 rate.

What Outman has provided throughout his career is a strong option against left-handed batters. He held opposing lefties to a .180/.293/.380 batting line in 2014 and has limited them to a .188/.257/.287 triple-slash in 403 career plate appearances. Since his demotion, Outman had posted an inferior 4.41 ERA in 22 1/3 innings but had seen his command improve, walking just eight batters against 20 strikeouts in that time.

The Yankees are currently relying on David Huff and Rich Hill as the left-handed options in their bullpen, and Outman will provide manager Joe Girardi with another lefty to use if neither of those arms is removed from the roster in order to clear space. Outman is slated to finish the year with less than five years of Major League service time, meaning that the Yankees could control him through the 2016 campaign via arbitration if they wish.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Trade Talks For Bartolo Colon Quieting

THURSDAY: Mets GM Sandy Alderson implied that Colon isn’t likely to be dealt as it stands right now, given the current state of trade talks, tweets Rubin“I would say right now there’s a lot less going on than some people speculate,” said Alderson.

That quote meshes with a tweet from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who heard from a Dodgers source that it was “doubtful” the team would make a move for Colon with Hyun-jin Ryu nearing a return from the DL.

WEDNESDAY, 10:21pm: The Dodgers seem not to have serious interest in adding Colon, according to a tweet from Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. The lack of pressing demand may make it difficult for the Mets to achieve their asking price on the veteran hurler; the team is “looking for quality prospects in return,” one executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link).

1:42pm: The Royals haven’t been in touch with the Mets regarding Colon since prior to the trade deadline, a source tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

TUESDAY: Right-hander Bartolo Colon cleared waivers yesterday due to his 2015 salary, and the Mets are receiving “definite interest” in the 41-year-old, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted last night. By clearing waivers, Colon became eligible to be traded to any team, but interested parties do have some “trepidation” regarding his $11MM salary for 2015. This morning, Martino has a full column published with further details on the interest in Colon.

Martino spoke with one AL executive who expects the Angels, Dodgers and Royals to be the most active teams in the Colon market, though as Martino notes, Kansas City might not be able to afford the aging righty. The Mets were said to be willing to eat about $2MM of the remaining salary on Colon’s contract in late July, and nothing has changed on that front at this time, Martino reports. Were the Mets to absorb that much money and then wait until Aug. 31 to move Colon (thereby minimizing the financial commitment for a rival club), Colon would be owed $10.52MM for September 2014 (plus the playoffs) and the entirety of the 2015 campaign.

The Mets are interested in not only clearing the bulk of Colon’s salary but also in receiving a decent return in terms of prospects, which further complicates the situation. A second executive from a team that is interested in Colon tells Martino, “Everyone is scared of next year,” suggesting that it might be difficult for GM Sandy Alderson to receive a solid prospect or two while simultaneously clearing significant payroll.


Dodgers, Phillies Complete Roberto Hernandez Trade

AUG. 28: The Phillies have announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Victor Arano as the second player in the Hernandez trade. The 19-year-old Arano ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 14 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason Top 20 list.

Arano totaled a 4.08 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 86 innings of work at Class-A Great Lakes this season, making 15 starts and eight relief appearances. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com praise Arano’s 90-91 mph fastball (which tops out at 94 mph) and slider, though they note that his changeup needs more work. Still, Arano is physically mature for a teenager and shows an advanced feel for pitching, per the MLB.com duo, who project him as a starter in the long term despite the fact that he’s presently had more success in the bullpen.

AUG. 16: The Phillies have announced that one of the two players they’re acquiring from the Dodgers is second baseman Jesmuel Valentin, a 2012 first-round pick from Puerto Rico who was hitting .282/.352/.433 for Class A Great Lakes as a 20-year-old. Heading into the season, Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 listed him as the Dodgers’ 22nd-best prospect, projecting him as a utility player. MLB.com ranked him at No. 13 in the Dodgers’ system and was somewhat more optimistic, suggesting he lacks power but could be the sort of hitter who typically bats second in a team’s batting order. He is the son of former big-league infielder Jose Valentin.

AUG. 7: The Phillies announce that they have traded Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers for two players to be named later or cash considerations.  The Phillies placed Hernandez, along with a number of other players, on revocable waivers on Saturday.
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The Phillies signed Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5MM deal last winter, and he posted a 3.87 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 121 innings for them, with a strong 52.0% ground ball rate. He has gotten good results recently, with a 2.18 ERA in three starts since the All-Star break. Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has played parts of nine seasons, also spending time with the Indians and Rays.

Hernandez’s role with the Dodgers is unclear. Obviously, they have a strong rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Josh Beckett has, however, struggled in three outings since returning from the disabled list with a hip injury, and Matt Gelb of the Inquirer tweets that Hernandez will start in Beckett’s place Friday.

For the Phillies, the move marks their first trade of a veteran since their very quiet trade deadline. It may have helped them that Hernandez’s contract was a relatively easy one to trade. The Phillies are currently 51-63 and in last place in the NL East.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark first tweeted that the Phillies would get two “lower-level minor leaguers,” and MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweeted that the Phillies would select them from a group of players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Diamondbacks Claim Nolan Reimold From Blue Jays

The Diamondbacks announced, via press release, that they have claimed outfielder Nolan Reimold off waivers from the Blue Jays. CompletePhillyCoverage.com writer Seamus Doyle, who is Reimold’s cousin, first tweeted the claim.

The 30-year-old Reimold, a long-time member of the Orioles, was designated for assignment by Baltimore in early July after spending the entire season prior to that point on the disabled list. The Blue Jays claimed him in hopes of receiving an offensive boost with Edwin Encarnacion on the shelf, but Reimold struggled in his time with Toronto, slashing just .212/.283/.404.

Reimold has undergone two neck surgeries in addition to ankle operation in an injury-plagued career, and he’s also spent time on the DL with calf and hamstring injuries in the past two seasons. He owns a career .250/.324/.437 batting line, however, which translates to an OPS+ of 103, indicating that he’s been about three percent better than a league-average hitter when healthy.

Reimold can be controlled through the 2015 season via arbitration and earned just $1.03MM in 2014, so the D’Backs likely view him as a contributor next season as well.


Royals Claim Jayson Nix From Pirates

The Royals have claimed infielder Jayson Nix off waivers from the Pirates, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Nix was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday.

Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.

Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.