Newsstand Rumors

Astros Agree To Terms With Alex Bregman

2:58pm: Bregman’s bonus is expected to be $6MM, reports Drellich (on Twitter). That would add an approximate $1.42MM to the $1.069MM they’ve already saved, giving the team about $2.3MM over slot to offer Cameron. Of course, as noted below, the team’s second- and third-round picks remain unsigned, so there are still some yet-undetermined factors in calculating Cameron’s maximum bonus.

12:35pm: Bregman tells MLB.com’s Chandler Rome that he’s “pretty sure” he’ll be introduced at Minute Maid Park tomorrow (Twitter link).

12:27pm: The Astros are in agreement with No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman, reports Mark Berman of MyFOXHouston.com (All Twitter links). Bregman has arrived in Houston to sign his contract with the Astros, according to Berman. A shortstop out of Louisiana State University, Bregman himself confirmed that the deal is in place and voiced his excitement over beginning his pro career when talking to Berman. “I was so excited. I can’t wait to get wherever I’m going,” said Bregman.

Alex Bregman

Earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reported that the ‘Stros were closing in on agreements with Bregman and No. 37 overall selection Daz Cameron. GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he hoped to have a couple of signings to announce during the upcoming homestand, which starts tomorrow.

Bregman was universally considered among the top four prospects in this year’s draft class. He rated as the No. 4 prospect in the draft in the estimation of Baseball America, Keith Law of ESPN.com and Jonathan Mayo/Jim Callis of MLB.com. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Bregman third.

Law calls Bregman the “best pure hitter in the class,” sharing the opinion of many scouts that Bregman will eventually end up at second base. That’s far from a guarantee, however, as McDaniel notes that he feels Bregman can stick at short, and both the MLB.com and BA scouting reports add that he has a chance to be an average defender there. BA notes that “average” range isn’t good enough for some clubs, but Bregman projects as a plus defender at second if he moves to the other side of the bag. BA calls Bregman “one of the safest picks in this year’s draft,” noting that he has an exceptionally long track record of success, dating back to his high school days, when he led the USA 16U and 18U teams to gold medals in 2010 and 2011.

If Bregman’s bonus comes in below the slot value of $7,420,100, the Astros could use those savings and the roughly $189K they saved on No. 5 overall selection Kyle Tucker in order to offer Cameron a significantly above-slot bonus. A look at MLB.com’s draft bonus tracker also shows that the Astros have saved $273K on fourth-rounder Anthony Hermelyn, $66.5K on fifth-rounder Trent Thornton, $43K on sixth-rounder Nestor Muriel, $120K on seventh-rounder Michael Freeman, $76K on eighth-rounder Garrett Stubbs, $154K on ninth-rounder Zac Person and $148K on 10th-rounder Scott Weathersby. All told that’s a savings of about $1.069MM in addition to any savings from Bregman’s bonus and their remaining unsigned second- and third-round selections. Cameron’s slot value is $1.6686MM, so the Astros seem well-positioned to offer substantially more in order to convince him to sign rather than attend Florida State.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Phillies Plan To Hire Andy MacPhail Soon

2:16pm: The Phillies plan to name MacPhail as their top baseball decision-maker within the next week or so, Heyman writes in a full column. MacPhail’s title is expected to be named as the new team president, or something similar to that title. Upon MacPhail’s hiring, Gillick would shift to a consulting role similar to the one he held before assuming presidential duties in the wake of former president David Montgomery’s health concerns.

1:54pm: The Phillies plan to appoint former Twins/Cubs/Orioles executive Andy MacPhail to a key spot within their front office in the near future, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com first reported earlier this month that the Phils were eyeing MacPhail as a potential key decision-maker in their front office.

It’s not clear specifically what role MacPhail will fill, but 77-year-old team president Pat Gillick has stated in the past that he doesn’t envision remaining in the role for the long-term. (Gillick also recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover that he expected the team to make a front office hire in the near future.) It seems unlikely that MacPhail would replace GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at this stage, though he could enter the organization in a fashion similar to that of Tony La Russa in Arizona last season. La Russa was named “Chief Baseball Officer” of the D-Backs last May and oversaw the front office throughout the summer, weighing in on baseball operations decisions before ultimately deciding to replace then-GM Kevin Towers in the offseason.

MacPhail has spent a significant amount of time heading baseball operations departments over his career as an executive. He served as the Twins’ GM during the team’s World Series victories in 1987 and 1991, and he spent nearly a decade as the president of the Cubs following that position. MacPhail left Chicago to become the Orioles’ president of baseball operations, where a number of moves that he made served as the foundation for the Orioles’ current contender.

MacPhail was heading Baltimore’s baseball ops department when the team traded Erik Bedard to Seattle in exchange for a package of prospects highlighted by franchise center fielder Adam Jones and right-hander Chris Tillman. He also acquired J.J. Hardy from the Twins in exchange for a pair of fungible minor league relievers and picked up Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter from the Rangers in exchange for Koji Uehara.


Yankees Not Ruling Out A Pursuit Of Cole Hamels

The Yankees will get a first-hand look at Cole Hamels later today when the Phillies’ ace takes the hill for the series finale between the two clubs at Yankee Stadium, and Newsday’s David Lennon writes that they’ll be paying close attention to his performance, as the Yankees haven’t ruled out a pursuit of Hamels on the trade market.

The cost to acquire Hamels, both financially and prospect-wise, would be significant, but Lennon hears that such obstacles don’t necessarily preclude interest on the Yankees’ behalf. The Yankees have a full rotation at the moment, with Ivan Nova coming off the disabled list to join Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren. Of course, there are persistent injury concerns with both Tanaka and Pineda, and the team will likely want to monitor the workloads of both Nova (one year removed from Tommy John) and Warren, who has thrown a combined 155 2/3 innings over the past two seasons.

Obviously, this report is preliminary in nature, so it’s best not to get too carried away with speculation, but one would imagine that the Phillies would express interest in the list of usual suspects that sit atop the Yankees’ prospect rankings. Right-hander Luis Severino, right fielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird and shortstop Jorge Mateo are among the most highly regarded Yankees prospects. Further lending some insight into the possibilities, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote this morning that the Phillies’ preference seems to be to add offensive prospects, preferably ones that are reasonably close to the Majors.

Hamels is guaranteed $86.2MM through the guaranteed portion of his contract, which ends in the 2018 season. He’ll have $12.66MM remaining on this year’s $22.5MM salary following tonight’s start, plus $22.5MM annually from 2016-18. He has a club/vesting option for the 2019 season that is valued at $20MM and comes with a $6MM buyout. While there’s been speculation that Hamels would want that option guaranteed to approve a deal to a club on his no-trade list, that’s not an issue for the Yankees, because they are one of two American League clubs that are not on Hamels’ no-trade list. (The Rangers, who have also been connected to Hamels in the past 24 hours, are also pre-approved by the left-hander.)

The Yankees’ interest in Hamels dates back to the offseason, where one report even indicated that they’d come the closest to acquiring Hamels. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that talks between New York and Philadelphia reached advanced stages. It doesn’t appear that the Phillies came all that close to trading Hamels in general this past winter. But, by waiting until July, Amaro may have upped his leverage, as his ace figures to be far more coveted over the next five weeks than he was at the tail end of the offseason.



HoopsRumors.com Has The NBA Offseason Covered

Thursday’s draft will touch off a wild few weeks of movement around the NBA, with free agency starting next week and trade talks heating up. The Lakers are reportedly pushing to deal for DeMarcus Cousins with apparent turmoil in the Kings organization, uncertainty surrounds LaMarcus Aldridge‘s next destination, and the Cavs and Warriors face massive expense if they’re to keep together the rosters that took them to the Finals. Check out our sister site Hoops Rumors to keep up with all of the latest as the NBA offseason reaches its peak!


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Latest On Hamels Talks Between Phillies, Rangers

5:20pm: A team source tells MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that a trade for Hamels “is not on the board” at time time (Twitter link).

11:39am: The Rangers and Phillies are “having ongoing dialogue” regarding the possibility of a deal that would send lefty Cole Hamels to Texas, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Hamels cannot block a deal to the Rangers pursuant to the current list of teams covered by his limited no-trade clause, Morosi adds in a later tweet.

Texas has received surprisingly solid results from its rotation. And as Morosi notes (Twitter link) the club still expects to receive contributions from rehabbing starters Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland.

While those factors might indicate that the Rangers could sit back and rely on its internal options, there are other indicators favoring a move. The current staff has succeeded in spite of rather uninspiring peripherals. And the injured pitchers still have a ways to go to prove they will be durable and effective.

Per Morosi, the real motivating factor on the Texas side of the equation is the fact that the team “view[s] Hamels as [an] elite upgrade.” Given his contract, the Rangers presumably see Hamels as a current and future asset that could not only give the team a shot this year but pair with Yu Darvish atop the staff for seasons to come. It remains to be seen how much staying power this year’s Rangers club has, but adding Hamels certainly would not be solely a “win-now” move.

As of late April, at least, Philadelphia was reportedly asking for a package headlined by catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nomar Mazara. Both of those prospects were rated among the Rangers’ top five heading into the year by Baseball America. While they would look to be great fits for a Philly organization that is looking to add premium talent, it remains to be seen whether Texas has any appetite to pay that kind of price. (Note that Alfaro may not be a movable asset this point, as he is dealing with a significant ankle injury.)

Needless to say, the Phillies will hope that several other bidders enter the fray to drive up the return. Things are shaping up rather nicely for GM Ruben Amaro Jr., as many of the clubs that seem like a fit remain in contention and in need of an arm. Meanwhile, the other presumed top arm available, Johnny Cueto, is a pure rental who now faces at least some potential health questions.

Hamels has been as strong as ever this year, racking up 94 1/3 innings of 2.96 ERA pitching with 9.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. And the 31-year-old seems ready to move past a seemingly minor hamstring injury to make his next start.

The Hamels contract looks more and more appealing every time you check back: he’s owed the balance of a $22.5MM salary this season, and then has three guaranteed years plus an option for a total guarantee of just $73.5MM. (Hamels’ deal also included a $6MM signing bonus, with an unreported payout schedule, which could still factor into the equation.) Essentially, a team dealing for him now would not only have the benefit of adding a top arm for the rest of this year, but would be making a future commitment that is not much greater than the contract signed last year by James Shields (four years, $75MM). At the start of 2016, Hamels will be a full year younger than was Shields at the start of his deal.


Royals Showing Interest In Cueto, Leake, Zobrist

The Royals are casting a wide net in their search for upgrades on the trade market and have shown signs of interest in Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

The Reds have, in fact, received inquiries from multiple clubs on Cueto, Leake and Aroldis Chapman, Morosi continues, but Cincinnati is still reluctant to engage in serious trade discussions despite sitting 12.5 games back in the NL Central. Likewise, Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, hears that the A’s are in no rush to move Zobrist, as the team is still trying to get back into the race (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that it’s not entirely clear if the Royals have inquired on Zobrist specifically, but they’ve discussed upgrading at second base, making Zobrist a logical target.

Many pundits feel that while a sale of veteran pieces is only a matter of time for the Reds, they’ll wait until after hosting next month’s All-Star Game before doing so. It would, after all, be a bitter pill to swallow for Cincinnati natives to watch Cueto and Chapman pitch in the All-Star Game while wearing another club’s jersey.

On last week’s MLBTR Podcast, Jeff Todd and I discussed the Reds’ trade possibilities at length. I posited that given the sheer volume of appealing pieces the team could trade, it’s possible that Cincinnati could enjoy a Braves-esque turnaround by willingly listening to offers on not only Cueto, Chapman and Leake, but also Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.

As for the Athletics, their reluctance to throw in the towel has been noted before, but the team remains 10 games under .500 and 10 games out of first in the AL West even after going 17-11 over the past month. They’re a slightly more manageable eight games back from a second consecutive Wild Card playoff berth, but there’s a clear uphill battle for the A’s to become serious contenders again.

From the Royals’ standpoint, it’s not hard to see why they’d be interested in an upgrade at second base. Setting aside the avalanche of Omar Infante/All-Star jokes already pouring in on Twitter, Kansas City second basemen have combined to hit a woeful .230/.248/.307 this season. Of course, Infante is owed a significant $22.01MM through the end of the 2017 season. (That number will rise by $500K if he does indeed start the All-Star game.)

A rotation upgrade would seem sensible for Royals GM Dayton Moore as well; the Kansas City rotation has produced just a 4.37 ERA this season (21st in the league), and metrics such as FIP and xFIP feel that’s a pretty fair indicator of what to expect based on the talent the Royals are working with. Just three pitchers have made 10 or more starts for the Royals this year, and two of them are Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie, who have posted respective ERAs of 4.68 and 5.55. Both Cueto and Leake, then, stand out as logical trade targets for the first-place Royals, while on the Oakland side of the equation, names like Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez could come into play. Cueto, Leake and Kazmir are all free agents at season’s end, where the late-blooming and somewhat unheralded Chavez is controllable through the 2016 season.


Cubs Canvassing Market For Starting Pitching

The Cubs’ need for starting pitching is well known, but it remains somewhat unclear how much flexibility the team has in addressing it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Chicago would optimally add a controllable-but-established arm, per the report.

Of course, cost-controlled starting pitching is among the game’s most sought-after commodities, so they won’t be alone in that search. The club appears to be looking at a broad range of options as the trade deadline comes into focus, as a source tells Wittenmyer that Chicago has cast a wide net.

The Cubs have reached out to a number of clubs, among them the Mets and Angels, in search of a match. Interestingly, per the report, one prospective swap was disrupted when young infielder Javier Baez suffered a broken finger a few weeks back.

Pursuing an upgrade certainly seems a reasonable strategy. With Tsuyoshi Wada down for an unknown amount of time after leaving his last start early, the team can turn back to Travis Wood, though that duo has been underwhelming. Jacob Turner is working his way back to health and could soon be available, but he has much to prove at this stage of his career.

It remains conceivable that the Cubs could look to acquire a serviceable, short-term veteran to add innings, but the possibility of a more significant addition remains tantalizing. While Baez appears to be on the table, at least if he can get back on the field in time, Wittenmyer says that the club does not appear inclined to move its blue chip assets to strike a deal.

Adding impact pitching without parting with top prospects is obviously a tall order, though we have increasingly seen teams utilize their wallets to facilitate deals. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein indicated that the team’s overall financial situation has not changed significantly, with the club’s current budget already determined by “anticipating some of the new revenue streams, new revenues and expenses as well.” Of course — and this is my speculation — Chicago may have more capacity to take on future obligations.


Indians Sign Brady Aiken

JUNE 22: The bonus is for $2,513,280, Callis tweets.

JUNE 19: 5:25pm: The precise bonus value is not yet known but will be above the slot allotment, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports on Twitter.

11:10am: The Indians announced the signing of Aiken, noting that he’s already completed a medical evaluation with the team and is rehabbing at the club’s Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

11:00am: The Indians have signed left-hander Brady Aiken, the No. 17 overall pick in this year’s draft, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (on Twitter). Terms of the bonus are unknown, although the 17th overall slot comes with a value of $2,393,600, according to Baseball America.

Aiken, of course, has been in baseball headlines for more than a year. Selected with the first overall pick by the Astros in the 2014 draft, Aiken was widely expected to sign and even headed to Houston to take a physical and finalize his contract. However, the Astros came away from the physical feeling uneasy about the status of the ulnar collateral ligament in Aiken’s left elbow and reduced their bonus offer from roughly $6.5MM to $5MM. Aiken elected not to sign and in the offseason enrolled at the IMG Academy in Florida in order to be eligible again for the 2015 draft.

Aiken’s season at IMG didn’t last long, however. He left his first start of the season, stating afterward that “something felt a little wrong” in his throwing elbow, and further tests revealed that he had torn the UCL that had given the Astros pause. Aiken underwent Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter.

The injury naturally caused Aiken’s draft stock to drop a bit, but the mystery surrounding his elbow may have caused his stock to slip a bit further. Multiple reports headed into the draft indicated that there was general concern surrounding Aiken’s elbow because his Tommy John surgery and UCL were both said to be abnormal. Houston was said last summer to be concerned by general size of Aiken’s UCL — said to be smaller than a standard elbow ligament — and the difference from that of a straightforward Tommy John case created genuine befuddlement among draft experts as to where he might be selected and which team might take the gamble on Aiken’s highly talented left arm.

Cleveland stepped up and took that gamble, and the potential reward they face if Aiken is fully healthy and can have a normal career moving forward is sizable. Aiken was widely labeled as one of the top talents in each of the past two draft classes. Despite the injury, Aiken was ranked 17th in this year’s draft by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, 22nd by Baseball America, 24th by MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis) and 27th by Keith Law of ESPN.com.

Aiken sits in the low 90s with his fastball and has topped out at 96-97 mph, and McDaniel labels three of his pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup — as future plus pitches, giving each an average-or-better grade at present despite his age. Mayo and Callis praised his advanced command and a curveball that added more power and depth late in Aiken’s prep career. BA termed Aiken a “standout athlete,” noting that the former high school quarterback also comes with an ideal 6’3″, 210-pound frame. ESPN noted that as good as Aiken’s pure stuff is, his delivery is one of the cleanest they’ve seen out of a high school pitcher in quite some time (making the injury concerns all the more confounding).


Diamondbacks Option Addison Reed To Triple-A

The Diamondbacks announced today that they’ve optioned former closer Addison Reed to Triple-A Reno. His spot on the roster will go to right-hander Enrique Burgos, who has been activated from the disabled list.

The option is the latest event in what has been a stark decline for Reed, who was acquired from the White Sox two offseasons ago in exchange for well-regarded third base prospect Matt Davidson. Reed’s first season with the D-Backs didn’t go as well as he’d hoped, but the San Diego State product held the closer’s job all season and saved 32 games, albeit with a mediocre 4.25 ERA.

Though Reed’s ERA wasn’t stellar, stats like xFIP (3.26) and SIERA (2.68) loved Reed’s skill set in 2014. He averaged a career-best 10.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 last season, creating some reason for optimism heading into the 2015 campaign. However, things have gone worse in just about every facet for Reed this year. In 24 1/3 innings, he’s sporting a 5.92 ERA, and while in 2014 he was plagued by an elevated homer-to-flyball ratio, he’s actually been lucky in terms of home runs allowed this season. Reed is averaging just 7.4 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9, and while he’s had his share of bad luck on balls in play (.363 BABIP), Reed’s skills seem to have genuinely taken a step back in 2015.

The D-Backs and Reed agreed to a one-year, $4.875MM salary to avoid arbitration this offseason. Even with a poor season likely holding down a potential raise, Reed’s already-notable salary will make him a non-tender candidate this winter if he’s unable to right the ship and rediscover the form that made him an attractive trade chip to Arizona in the first place.

The amount of time that Reed spends in the minors will also be worth keeping an eye on. The 26-year-old entered the year with three years, 27 days of Major League service time, meaning he needed an additional 145 days to stay on track to hit free agency following the 2017 season. To this point, he’s accrued 77 of the necessary 145 but still needs 68 days in the Majors to reach four full years of service. Entering play tonight, there are 106 days of the Major League season remaining. That seems like plenty of time for Reed to be recalled and accumulate the necessary service time, but an extended stay in the minors could theoretically impact his timeline to six-year free agent status.

With Reed no longer in the ninth inning, closing duties have fallen to Brad Ziegler, who has performed well in his limited time in the role. Since being called upon for his first save on May 21, Ziegler has worked to a 2.31 ERA and saved 10 games in 11 2/3 innings, although an even 4-to-4 K/BB ratio in that span leaves something to be desired.


Darryl Hamilton Killed In Shooting

In a tragic piece of news, former Major League outfielder and current MLB Network analyst Darryl Hamilton was found dead in his Texas home today as the victim of an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Houston Chronicle. Just 50 years old, Hamilton suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to the report. Monica Jordan, 44, was said to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Players, coaches and media members alike are mourning the loss of Hamilton today, with those who knew and worked with him praising his consistently positive personality and recalling the joy that he brought to all those around him. Commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement:

“All of us at Major League Baseball are shocked and saddened by this tragedy. Darryl followed a successful 13-year career on the field by assembling a multifaceted career in our game, working for MLB Advanced Media and in our Baseball Operations Department before moving on to MLB Network. He was a talented and personable individual, and we were proud to call him a member of the Baseball Family. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathies to Darryl’s family and his many friends throughout our game.”

Hamilton spent parts of 13 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Brewers, Mets, Rockies, Giants and Rangers. Following his playing days, he did broadcasting work for the Angels and Brewers in addition to his fine work with the MLB Network. We at MLBTR express our deepest condolences to Hamilton’s family as well as those who had the good fortune to work alongside him and the privilege to call him a friend.