Newsstand Rumors

Mariners Designate Fernando Rodney For Assignment

The Mariners have designated former closer Fernando Rodney for assignment, the club announced following Saturday’s loss to the White Sox.  In corresponding moves, the M’s also optioned righty Danny Farquhar to Triple-A, called up southpaw Roenis Elias and purchased the contract of right-hander Logan Kensing.

Thanks in large part to a 1.42 HR/9 (more than double his career average) and his lowest K/9 total (7.6) in four seasons, Rodney posted a 5.68 ERA over 50 2/3 IP this season, a performance that cost him his job as the Mariners’ closer.  It’s probably unlikely that Rodney will be claimed or traded during his DFA period given that he already cleared revocable trade waivers last week.  Rodney is still averaging 94.8mph on his fastball (same as last season) so it’s possible another team could look to sign the 38-year-old veteran as bullpen depth before the rosters expand on September 1.

The Mariners are responsible for the approximately $1.5MM in salary still owed to Rodney for the remainder of the season, except for the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary should Rodney sign elsewhere.  The right-hander signed a two-year, $14MM free agent deal in the 2013-14 offseason and performed extremely well in the contract’s first year, posting a 2.85 ERA, 10.3 K/9 and 2.71 K/BB rate over 66 1/3 innings en route to a league-best 48 saves.  Rodney and his new agents will undoubtedly point to his 2012-14 dominance when the righty looks for a new contract in free agency this year, though obviously this year’s numbers will greatly diminish his market.

Kensing has spent the last two seasons with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, and he has a 2.30 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 2.56 K/BB rate over 31 1/3 innings this season.  Kensing has appeared in just one Major League game since 2009, pitching two-thirds of an inning for the Rockies in 2013.


Follow MLB Trade Rumors On Instagram

Recently, MLB Trade Rumors launched a brand new official Instagram account: @TradeRumorsMLB.  Each day, we’re sharing conversation-inspiring images about the hottest topics in baseball.  From there, we invite you to give us a like, weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section, and even share the link with a friend.

This week, we gave fans an early look at traded players in their new jerseys.  We offered a sneak preview of what outfielder Marlon Byrd would look like in a Giants uniform.  We also did a jersey swap on second baseman Chase Utley, who made his Dodgers debut Friday night following this week’s trade.  Another recent Instagram pic asked MLBTR fans whether the Marlins should trade Marcell Ozuna.

We also launched a brand new hashtag campaign.  If you have an awesomely obscure baseball jersey we invite you to post a pic of it on Instagram, use the hashtag #RandomMLBJersey, and at-mention us (@TradeRumorsMLB).  If you have a great jersey, we’ll re-gram your picture to our thousands of followers.

So, what are you waiting for?  If you don’t have an Instagram account, this is the perfect excuse to sign up and get one.  Follow us on Instagram today!


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Twins Acquire Neal Cotts

The Twins have acquired lefty Neal Cotts from the Brewers, Milwaukee announced on Twitter. Milwaukee will receive a player to be named later or cash in the deal.

Minnesota was obviously the team that won the waiver claim for Cotts, as was reported earlier today. The 35-year-old bolsters a pen that was already struggling before an injury to closer Glen Perkins further reduced its depth. And Minnesota’s other two pen lefties — Brian Duensing and Ryan O’Rourke — have not been very effective.

Cotts has looked like a pure lefty specialist this year, holding opposing lefties to a .185/.230/.346 slash while being tagged to the tune of a .847 OPS by right-handed hitters. But he’s actually posted very neutral platoon splits over his career, and was significantly better against righties last season.

Adding Cotts to a club that remains in the Wild Card hunt will tack on $721K to the Minnesota payroll this year, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press calculates (Twitter link). For the Brewers, they’ll save that amount, pick up the PTBNL (or additional cash), and open a roster spot for the just-claimed Cesar Jimenez, who may well have been added with a deal in mind.



MLB, MLBPA Announce New Domestic Violence Policy

Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Union have announced a new “Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.” The full announcement can be found here: Twitter link.

Reaching agreement on a policy of this kind was long said to be a priority, especially in light of the multiple controversies that have engulfed the NFL in recent years. In its final form, the policy appears to empower Commissioner Rob Manfred to act strongly in the event that allegations arise or are found to be borne out by an investigation.

According to the policy, the Commissioner’s Office is tasked with investigating “all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse in the Baseball community.” Notably, the Commissioner is vested with the authority to “place a player accused of” such behavior “on paid Administrative Leave for up to seven days while the allegations are investigated before making a disciplinary decision,” though players also have a mechanism to challenge that treatment “immediately.”

If the Commissioner finds that a player has committed one of the covered acts, he has broad power to determine the penalty. By its terms, the policy does not place any limitations on the type or duration of the punishment, providing that “the Commissioner can issue the discipline he believes is appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct” — regardless whether the player faces any criminal charge or conviction.

The primary check on the propriety of any punishment is through the arbitration process. Players can appeal to the MLB-MLBPA arbitration panel, which will determine whether the Commissioner had “just cause” for the discipline imposed. The panel can refer to prior league disciplinary precedent except for that involving domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse. (Effectively, then, the record of prior discipline in these arenas has been wiped clean and cannot be used to argue for a more limited punishment.)

The agreement includes more than just provision for investigation and punishment. Intervention, treatment, training, and education are all contemplated. It also provides for a 24-hour helpline for players and families and other such resources.


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Pirates Activate Josh Harrison From DL, Designate Josh Wall

The Pirates announced today that they have reinstated Josh Harrison from the disabled list and designated right-hander Josh Wall for assignment to clear room on the active roster.

Harrison tore the UCL in his left thumb on July 6 — an injury that required surgery to correct. He’s returned to action slightly faster than the Pirates anticipated, as their initial announcement said he’d be sidelined for seven weeks. The loss of Harrison left the Pirates short-handed and contributed to the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez. Now that Harrison is back, he’ll presumably split time at third base and in right field, possibly at the expense of some playing time for Ramirez and Gregory Polanco. Given his defensive prowess and solid bat, it’d be surprising if Harrison weren’t in the lineup on an everyday basis.

Wall, 28, had his contract selected to the roster earlier this week after a 15-inning game that left Pittsburgh’s bullpen short-handed. Wall has appeared in the Majors in each of the past three seasons, totaling 13 2/3 innings, but he’s yet to pitch in the Major Leagues this season. Instead, he’s spent the year at the Triple-A level, where he owns a very strong 2.93 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 30 2/3 innings.


Nationals Promote Trea Turner

The Nationals announced that they have selected the contract of top shortstop prospect Trea Turner to the Majors.In order to clear a spot on the active roster, the Nationals have placed Tyler Moore on the disabled list. Meanwhile, righty Aaron Barrett will hit the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot.

With the move, Washington has added its best position-player prospect for the stretch run. The team previously called up fellow middle infielder Wilmer Difo, but used him only sparingly and decided this time to give the nod to Turner.

This move seems more significant than the Difo call-up, because Turner did not need to be added to the 40-man after the season. Giving him a roster spot now means that the club has one less opening to protect other assets from the Rule 5 draft. It’s certainly possible that Washington decided it could get by without the extra space, but the move might also suggest that the club feels Turner can contribute down the stretch and/or make a viable challenge to take over for pending free agent Ian Desmond to open the 2016 season (in which case it might be valuable to give Turner a look at the bigs this year).

Turner came to the Nats along with right-hander Joe Ross in the three-team trade that sent Steven Souza to the Rays and Wil Myers to the Padres. He now joins Ross as part of the organization’s 25-man roster, a fact which reflects better on the trade than it does the team’s overall performance this year.

Since the deal, Turner has done nothing but enhance his value. He’s now a consensus top-20 prospect leaguewide, if not better, after dominating at Double-A and putting up a strong .314/.353/.431 slash with 14 steals in his first 205 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors.

While his first-round draft status and rising stock have elevated Turner’s profile, he is probably still best known for being dealt as the player to be named later in the aforementioned trade. The two sides used a loophole in a since-changed rule that stated a player could not be traded until one year after he is drafted. San Diego took Turner 13th overall in the 2014 draft, and they took advantage of the fact that teams can take up to six months to determine a PTBNL to trade him in December. Of course, that meant that Turner, who had been widely reported as the PTBNL, spent Spring Training and the first three months of the season with the Padres despite the fact that everyone knew he’d been traded to the Nationals. This was far from the first occurrence of PTBNL manipulation, but it was perhaps the most public example, and it spurred the league to take action and amend the rules so that players can be traded upon completion of the World Series in the year they are drafted.


Rockies Release Drew Stubbs

AUG. 21: The Rockies released Stubbs yesterday, per the club’s transactions page at MLB.com.

AUG. 12: The Rockies have designated outfielder Drew Stubbs for assignment and selected the contract of fellow outfielder Matt McBride from Triple-A, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.

The 30-year-old Stubbs enjoyed arguably the best season of his career with the Rockies in 2014, but he opened the season with a 6-for-51 slump and was ultimately optioned to Triple-A, where’s he’s spent much of the year. Stubbs hit well enough in the minors, but his typical power was nowhere to be seen, as he homered just twice at the Triple-A level. He returned to the Majors in early July and has hit well in limited duty, though his overall batting line of .216/.286/.431 leaves plenty to be desired (especially for someone playing half his games at Coors Field).

Stubbs and the Rockies agreed to a $5.825MM contract this winter to avoid arbitration — a raise he earned by hitting .289/.339/.482 in 424 plate appearances last season. Stubbs has always had pretty notable platoon splits, though, and nearly all of his damage both with the Rockies and the Reds came while playing in his hitter-friendly home environments. Defensively speaking, he can handle all three outfield spots with UZR and DRS pegging him as a roughly average center fielder over the life of his career.


Unknown Team Claims Neal Cotts On Revocable Waivers

Brewers left-hander Neal Cotts has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unknown team, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Rosenthal notes that it seems unlikely Cotts made it through the National League.

Cotts, 35, is in the midst of a solid season with the Brewers, having pitched to a 3.28 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 49 1/3 innings. FIP paints a more pessimistic picture, although that mark is skewed by a fluky 17 percent homer-to-flyball ratio that is well out of line with Cotts’ career norms. Cotts has been highly effective against left-handed hitters in particular, limiting same-handed opponents to a .185/.230/.346 batting line and striking out 27 percent of them (24 of 89).

Somewhat coincidentally, Cotts was claimed on trade waivers nearly one year ago to the date — Aug. 20, 2014 — also by an unknown club. Ultimately, a trade did not occur, and Cotts hit the open market after his season with the Rangers ended. He would eventually land with Milwaukee on a one-year, $3MM contract, and he’s still owed about $754K of that sum. The Brewers will have 48.5 hours to work out a trade with Cotts, and if no deal is struck in that time, they can pull him back off waivers.

For a refresher on how the August trade process works, check out MLBTR’s August Trade primer.


Brewers Promote Domingo Santana

The Brewers announced that they’ve recalled top prospect Domingo Santana from Triple-A Colorado Springs. (MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy had tweeted prior to the announcement that Santana could be on his way to the bigs.) Acquired last month from the Astros as part of the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers blockbuster, Santana ranks 83rd on MLB.com’s list of Top 100 prospects.

This will not be the 23-year-old Santana’s first taste of Major League action, as he tallied 20 games with the Astros over the past two seasons before coming over to Milwaukee in the trade. Santana hit .256/.310/.462 in 14 games with Houston earlier this season and has delivered excellent production at the Triple-A level all season between both organizations. Though his numbers come with the usual Pacific Coast League caveat (the league is an exceptionally hitter-friendly environment), Santana’s .333/.426/.573 batting line is nonetheless impressive.

Santana will take the roster spot of injured right-hander Tyler Cravy, though he seemingly will also be auditioning to lock down a long-term role in a Brewers outfield that is at least somewhat in transition following the departure of Gomez. Though Santana has played primarily in the corner outfield as a minor leaguer, and his future is likely to be in right or left field, he does have experience in center field as well, where Milwaukee has a more immediate need.

From a long-term perspective, the Brewers seem to have three big-league-ready assets for two corner outfield spots. Ryan Braun is, of course, under contract through the 2020 season at an average of $19MM per year. And while Khris Davis has had his struggles this season, he’s homered nine times in his past 35 games (29 starts), albeit with low batting average (.224) and OBP (.306) marks. The team’s corner outfield situation though, will seemingly be one of many situations that the Brewers’ new general manager will have to sort out this winter. A move from the outfield to first base for Braun has been discussed in the past, but neither he nor Davis has ever played a professional game at first base.

Looking more toward the short-term, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that the Brewers do have an interleague series against the Indians coming up that will be played in Cleveland, giving manager Craig Counsell the opportunity to work all three right-handed bats into his lineup by adding a DH possibility. And, with rosters expanding on Sept. 1, Counsell and the Brewers won’t have to worry about keeping too many corner options on the active roster for long.


Giants Acquire Marlon Byrd

3:40pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Byrd had cleared waivers as opposed to being claimed by the Giants (Twitter link).

3:25pm: The Giants announced that they have acquired veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash considerations from the Reds in exchange for Double-A right-hander Stephen Johnson.

Marlon Byrd

The addition of Byrd will provide the Giants with some desperately needed outfield depth, as their starting outfield has been ravaged by injuries his year. While Nori Aoki is slated to return from a concussion today, starting center fielder Angel Pagan and starting right fielder Hunter Pence are both on the disabled list. Byrd, presumably, will see time in one of the outfield corners (he’s played left field this year but has recent experience in right field as well), with Aoki manning the other spot.

Byrd, 37, suffered a small fracture in his wrist in early June but made a somewhat surprisingly quick return from the disabled list, returning to action less than three weeks later. Even more surprising than his quick return is the absence of ill effects that he’s shown from a wrist injury; Byrd homered in his first game back from the DL and is slashing .258/.286/.454 with nine homers in 203 plate appearances since being activated. While that OBP obviously leaves something to be desired, he’s shown plenty of pop and managed to hit for a respectable average. He should serve as a relatively productive piece in the middle of the Giants’ ailing lineup, and he could either slide down the order or serve as a nice bench piece down the line once everyone is healthy.

Byrd is earning $8MM this season as part of a two-year, $16MM contract originally signed with the Phillies. Philadelphia picked up $4MM of the tab when he was traded to the Reds in the first place, so there’s only about $1MM remaining for the Giants and Reds to worry about. Byrd is 172 plate appearances shy of triggering an $8MM vesting option for the 2016 season. He’d need to average 3.85 plate appearances per game over the Giants’ remaining 42 contests to reach the 550 plate appearances he needs, which is an attainable rate if he plays every day. Of course, he won’t be with the team for tonight’s game (he’ll join them Friday), and the Giants, though certainly justify benching Byrd against right-handed pitching once everyone is healthy. He’s slashed just .224/.268/.433 against righties this year compared to .280/.344/.500 versus left-handed pitching.

San Francisco selected Johnson, now 24 years old, in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Baseball America ranked him as the Giants’ No. 21 and 28 prospect following the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but he’s dropped off their Top 30 since and didn’t make MLB.com’s midseason Top 30 for the Giants, either. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs mentioned him in his preseason look at the Giants’ prospects, noting that he hit 100 mph with Division-II St. Edwards College (TX) but has settled into the mid-90s. He’ll flash an above-average curve at times, but he has some command and delivery issues. McDaniel (Twitter link) and BA’s John Manuel (Twitter link) both offered similar takes to that report in the minutes following the trade. Reds GM Walt Jocketty said (via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay, on Twitter) that Johnson has a “big arm” and the organization projects him as a reliever. He’ll go  Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliate. Johnson had a 3.41 ERA with 10.6 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 in 58 innings for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate his year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.