Newsstand Rumors

Tigers Still Not Selling, Looking At Pitching; Mike Leake “On Radar”

12:53pm: Reds starter Mike Leake is on Detroit’s radar if they choose to buy, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.

12:34pm: At least one club that is selling pitching believes the Tigers to be “actively shopping,” ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.

12:08pm: The Tigers have informed clubs over the last day that they are still not selling and could look to add arms, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That matches up with statements yesterday from GM Dave Dombrowski, who told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that his club is “doing everything we can to try and qualify for the playoffs.”

There has been some back and forth on Detroit’s trade status over the last week or so. While an earlier report indicated that the team would be shifting into seller status, and Dombrowski has acknowledged the possibility, more recent indications (including the most recent reports, cited above) are that the decision has yet to be made.

The Tigers have not exactly done much on the field to improve their position. Since exiting the All-Star break, the club has put up four wins against seven losses. As things stand, Detroit is 12.5 games back of the Royals in the AL Central and 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Obviously, the two major trade pieces that could be had from the Tigers are ace David Price and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The addition (or exclusion) of either or both to the market will have significant ramifications for other starting pitching and corner outfield trade targets. Closer Joakim Soria could also be an important chip who could have implications for the bullpen market.


Marlins Fielding Interest In Marcell Ozuna; Indians Have Inquired

The Marlins have been getting calls on outfielder Marcell Ozuna, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (Twitter links). According to his colleague, Barry Jackson (via Twitter), the Marlins front office is gathering today to decide how to proceed with Ozuna.

One club that’s placed a call is the Indians, says Spencer, who adds that Miami has sent scouts to watch Cleveland’s starters. While it may be too soon to tell whether there’s serious interest between the two clubs, it’s certainly an intriguing possibility.

Both the Marlins and the Indians have been expected to hold onto controllable talent, but obviously there’s a possibility that similar assets could be swapped to better meet each club’s needs. Miami pulled off just such a deal last summer when it acquired Jarred Cosart.

Ozuna, 24, rebuffed Miami’s efforts over the winter to make him the third young outfielder to reach a long-term extension. He’s since been demoted to Triple-A after a .249/.301/.337 start to the season. Of course, Ozuna showed much more last year, putting up a .772 OPS with 23 home runs and contributing strong defense in center. And he’s done nothing but rake since going back to the minors.

We’ve addressed the Indians’ rotation chips several times in recent days, as reports have emerged suggesting that the team will at least listen on its various interesting pieces. A young player with Ozuna’s upside and control would obviously hold significant appeal, and he’s probably the kind of piece that would need to be involved to get something done. It remains unclear which particular pitchers would prove most enticing to the Fish, but names like Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer could all conceivably hold significant appeal.


Giants “Making Strong Push” For Cole Hamels

10:50am: The Giants “don’t have a strong enough package of prospects” to land Hamels, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

8:20am: The Giants are “making a strong push” for Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. San Francisco has previously been mentioned as a suitor, but it appears that the team is looking to make a serious attempt at landing the lefty.

Of course, we heard yesterday that the Astros, too, were also driving after Hamels. And there were indications that the Diamondbacks had entered the conversation as well. It’s not yet clear, though, that clubs with more long-standing interest — particularly, the Rangers and Dodgers — have been displaced as the likeliest landing spots.

From the Giants’ perspective, yesterday’s news suggested that the club was interested in adding a starter, but only if it was a significant upgrade. And San Francisco did not seem terribly likely to actually pull something off.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the run at Hamels will amount to anything. The Giants do have forward-looking financial flexibility, as Rosenthal notes on Twitter, but the same could probably be said of several other teams reportedly in the hunt. It’s not clear what kind of package the team would be interested in dangling, though young catcher Andrew Susac would seem likely (in my opinion) to hold significant interest to Philadelphia.

Hamels could block a deal to the Giants, who are not on his list of nine teams to whom he can be dealt without consent. (Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweeted the updated list recently.) It’s not clear at present whether that would pose any issues.



Blue Jays Acquire Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins From Rockies For Jose Reyes And Pitching Prospects

The Blue Jays have officially struck a stunning deal to acquire Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins in exchange for Jose Reyes and a trio of minor league pitchers. Promising young righties Jeff HoffmanMiguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco make up the key components of Colorado’s return. Needless to say, the move constitutes one of the most stunning deadline deals in recent memory.

Tulowitzki will pick up a $2MM assignment bonus and a full no-trade clause by virtue of being dealt. No money is changing hands other than the differences in the contracts, but the financial component of the deal was certainly significant.

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Both of the primary pieces in this deal are playing under significant contracts. Tulowitzki is owed $20MM annually this season and from 2016-19, before a $14MM payday in 2020 and a $15MM club option ($4MM buyout) in the following campaign. Reyes, meanwhile, is on the books for $22MM annually from 2015-17, and comes with a $22MM club option that also includes a $4MM buyout. All said, then, Reyes is guaranteed $50MM less in total following the present season (before tacking on the additional $2MM assignment bonus and the remainder of Hawkins’ $2.25MM salary).

Tulowitzki, 30, has long been one of the game’s best overall players. And he is as closely associated with his franchise as is any other player. There has been near-constant speculation as to whether Colorado owner Dick Monfort would consider parting with his club’s superstar, but it appears that a series of disappointing seasons has finally brought matters to a resolution.

While the long-time Rockies franchise face has been quite good this year, he hasn’t played quite to his own lofty standards. Over 346 plate appearances, he’s registered a .305/.353/.478 slash. With the effects of Coors Field factored in, that’s good for a 111 wRC+. His defense has rated out more as good than excellent. The net is that he’s racked up 1.4 fWAR and 1.9 rWAR on the year. Through this approximate point last season (375 plate appearances), Tulo had already compiled 5.3 fWAR and 5.5 rWAR.

Of course, the biggest question with his long-term value lies in the arbitrary stopping point just noted. Tulowitzki never again took the field in Colorado after mid-July, as he ultimately underwent hip surgery. Since becoming a full-time regular in 2007, Tulo has averaged just 114 games a season.

With the first major move of his tenure, GM Jeff Bridich opened an array of questions about the team’s intentions over the coming days (and beyond). It remains to be seen whether Colorado has intentions of plugging Reyes into its lineup or, instead, moving him to a third club to add other young pieces.

Colorado does not have a deal in place currently to move Reyes elsewhere, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. But a move seems quite plausible. The Rockies have highly-regarded shortstop prospect Trevor Story playing well at Triple-A, and just used the third overall pick in last month’s draft to select top-rated high schooler Brendan Rodgers, though he’s obviously a ways from the big leagues.

Then, there’s the matter of Carlos Gonzalez, long considered the twin-bill feature alongside Tulo at Coors Field. He’s rebounded from a long rough stretch to enhance his value, and a move to shed his remaining obligations while adding young talent now seems more plausible than ever. Having parted with Tulowitzki and Hawkins, Gonzalez and other veteran assets (such as reliever John Axford) could conceivably change hands.

Regardless whether Reyes is ticketed for another destination, he offers his own blend of upside and downside. At age 32, he’s fallen back to a .285/.322/.385 slash line and is no longer the outstanding defender he was early in his career. Still, he’s a solidly above-average regular in a position of some scarcity (at least, in terms of established veterans) around the league. This becomes the second time that his contract — originally signed with the Marlins — has changed hands, and it may not be long until it moves again.

As for the young pieces, the 22-year-old Hoffman fell to the Jays in last year’s draft after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That he was still taken ninth overall speaks to his talent, of course, and he’s already moved to the Double-A level with Toronto. Having cracked many top-100 leaguewide prospect rankings before the season, the high-upside right-hander shot up to 33rd on Baseball America’s mid-season list after showing his old stuff with a new UCL. He’s said to have a big fastball, excellent curve, and promising change. Over 67 2/3 innings, mostly at High-A, Hoffman has worked to a 2.93 ERA with 6.1 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9.

Castro, 20, has a more projection-dependent future outlook. He opened the year in the big league pen after finishing off 2014 at High-A. The righty struggled somewhat in that cameo, but still pitched beyond his years and has shown a live arm. He entered the year rated the #9 prospect in the Jays organization by Baseball America, which noted his lofty upside and need to develop reliable secondary offerings to factor as a long-term MLB starter. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had him in the sixth slot this spring. With his quick ascent, Castro has moved to the fourth position on BA’s list and number five on MLB.com’s latest ranking.

Finally, Tinoco has enhanced his stock by working to a 3.54 ERA over 81 1/3 innings at the Class A level this year, striking out 7.5 and walking 2.4 batters per nine. Even before that promising showing, he landed 16th on the pre-season Blue Jays prospect list of Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. Tinoco can run his fastball up into the upper nineties and has two promising secondary offerings with good feel on the mound, per McDaniel, who indicates that the youngster has a good deal of upside.

As eye-opening as the transaction was for the Rockies, it’s arguably just as shocking — for different reasons — from the Jays’ perspective. Toronto has struggled with pitching all year, but has a highly productive lineup. Reyes was earning big money to play shortstop, and the rest of the infield was filled with productivity, including recent major trade acquisition Josh Donaldson — who rates as the game’s best third baseman — and first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion. (Notably, those sluggers, outfielder Jose Bautista, and numerous other key contributors are all right-handed hitters, as is Tulowitzki.)

Toronto will add a reliever to its mix in Hawkins, but he’s more of a sturdy presence than a shut-down arm. The 42-year-old owns a 3.63 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9 over 22 1/3 innings on the year. It’s hard to believe at his age, but he’s compiled a 3.11 earned run average over 237 2/3 frames dating back to 2011.

Despite the fact that the Jays dealt away two promising young arms, it seems likely that the seemingly all-in club will use additional pieces to add a starter. But with one out-of-nowhere move now completed, it remains to be seen whether something even more creative could go down.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has pulled off his share of stunners over the years, with the deal that brought Reyes to Toronto ranking high among them. But after dealing for Donaldson, signing Russell Martin, and now adding one of the game’s best-known stars in Tulowitzki, Anthopoulos and his club are fully committed to win now in a manner not previously seen.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal (links to Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was first to report that no money would be exchanged (Twitter links) and that three minor leaguers were in the deal. Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun first noted Hoffman’s likely inclusion, via Twitter, with Thomas Harding of MLB.com tweeting that he would in fact be in the deal. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports was first to suggest that Castro was likely going to Colorado, on Twitter, with Heyman tweeting that he was a part of the package. Heyman tweeted Tinoco’s involvement. Rosenthal noted on Twitter that Tulowitzki would receive an assignment bonus and no-trade protection by virtue of being dealt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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Dodgers Willing To Listen On Yasiel Puig

The Dodgers have informed rival clubs that they would be willing to move outfielder Yasiel Puig “in the right deal,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. Thus far, however, Los Angeles has received more trade inquiries on their higher-end prospects.

Puig was reportedly informed by the team recently that he would not be dealt. At the time, the report (from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com) indicated that the team was not engaged in any trade talks regarding the somewhat controversial, but incredibly talented, 24-year-old.

All said, it still seems unlikely that anything will come together on Puig. He’s not playing up to his prior levels, but still owns a productive .253/.327/.423 slash over 217 plate appearances.

With a meager $4.5MM salary this year and three more years of control remaining for just $19.5MM, Puig’s contract has long looked like one of the game’s best bargains. (He can opt into arbitration once he reaches three years of service, but that would only potentially impact the last two years of the contract, since he entered the season with 1.119 years of MLB service, and any additional raises would obviously reflect his performance.) But his less-than-inspiring play this year and a variety of off-field issues have raised some questions about his true value.

For the Dodgers, parting with a high-end young asset would seem to be a stretch. But the team does have a wide variety of options in the outfield, with Andre Ethier playing at a high level, Joc Pederson emerging as a young star, Carl Crawford finally returning to action, and several strong platoon candidates under control.

Los Angeles figures to make a move for starting pitching, and has been said to be involved in a variety of scenarios. The team is apparently unwilling to part with its best prospects — infielder Corey Seager and pitcher Julio Urias being the two blue-chip pieces — but would surely have to give up young talent to add a quality, controllable arm. Rental arms are also under consideration, of course, and it remains to be seen how the team will proceed.


White Sox Waiting To Decide On Dealing Samardzija

9:44pm: Chicago is waiting to see where they stand after their current series to decide whether to move Samardzija, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

6:28pm: The Blue Jays are showing the strongest interest in Jeff Samardzija of any interested team, reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). The Giants, too, have recently checked in on Samardzija, according to Hayes.

[RELATED: Blue Jays Show Interest In Craig Kimbrel]

Toronto’s focus is said to be on the rotation, and they’ve been connected to Samardzija a number of times over the past week. Of course, the Jays are also said to be casting quite a wide net.

As for San Francisco, it’s still unclear whether the club is more than an opportunistic buyer for starters. Recent reports have indicated that the team would like to add a major arm, but may not be willing to extend itself to do so.

On the White Sox side of things, Hayes reported last week that the team is becoming “increasingly willing” to trade Samardzija, who is earning $9.8MM this season and is a free agent at year’s end. That being said, Chicago has still not given a “definitive signal” to other clubs that it will move Samardzija, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets.

With the Wild Card race still not completely out of reach, it seems that the White Sox may be taking things down to the wire. Then, there’s the fact that other, bigger chips may need to move (or be declared off-limits) before Samardzija can be marketed to his maximum value.


Cubs, Padres Talked Castro; Cubs Not In On Shields

8:57pm: In their conversations with the Padres, the Cubs have been focused on Ross, per a Rosenthal tweet. As he notes, that isn’t exactly surprising. The 28-year-old has been rather excellent dating back to 2013, and comes with two more seasons of control. There’s a good argument to be made that his contract is the organization’s single most valuable asset.

As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today, a wide variety of teams have interest in Ross, including the Blue Jays, Astros, Dodgers, and Rangers.

8:02pm: Whatever other talks the teams may have had, Chicago is not making a run at Shields, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

7:35pm: The Cubs have had discussions with the Padres regarding shortstop Starlin Castro, Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports report on Twitter. San Diego does not look like a traditional buyer, but as noted in MLBTR’s overview of the shortstop trade market, the team makes sense as a future-oriented acquirer at the position.

Castro is still just 25, though he’s playing in his sixth big league season. He is owed $37MM over the next four seasons and can be controlled with a $16MM option in 2020 ($1MM buyout).

That contract once looked like an asset, but after a second rough campaign in three years, it looks more like a reasonable risk. Castro owns a .233/.268/.302 slash over 399 plate appearances, which falls well below his roughly league-average career output. He’s generally regarded as a mediocre defender at short, and metrics suggest he’s slightly to firmly below average in that department.

It’s not clear what kind of deal would be considered, but San Diego has a number of players who could hold appeal to the Cubs. Morosi suggests the possibility of a swap of James Shields, which holds at least some plausibility (as a starting point, at least) since both are owed significant future money and could arguably be better fits for the current needs of the other club. But he gave no indication that there is anything to that idea other than his own analysis.

Looking at the San Diego roster for other pieces that could be intriguing to the Cubs — whether or not as part of any deal involving Castro — the rotation certainly seems the place to focus. We’ve heard plenty in the past about the need for a rotation addition in Chicago, and both Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner are younger, controllable pieces that have been mentioned as possible trade pieces. On the rental side, Ian Kennedy should hold some appeal and could also be a theoretical fit for Chicago. Outfielder Will Venable and reliever Joaquin Benoit are two more pending free agents that could make sense.

Should the Cubs make a major move, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has explained that it would likely be for a controllable piece. (Via ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers; links to Twitter.) While the team is entertaining rental options, it seems unlikely to pay a steep price to add a premium player that will hit the open market after the season.

“If we do something on the bigger end, it will involve players that will help us beyond this year,” said Epstein. “If we do something on the smaller side, it will probably be more for a rental. And if we do nothing, it will be because we couldn’t find anything rational that we could actually do.”

As for as larger possible moves go, we’ve heard the Cubs linked to Cole Hamels of the Phillies at various times. Per Morosi, via Twitter, the team is only on the “periphery” of the Hamels market at present.


Latest On Hamels: D’backs Interested, Astros “Making Big Push,” Rangers Talking Prospects

8:04pm: The Astros are “making [a] big push” to add Hamels even after nabbing rental starter Scott Kazmir, Crasnick tweets.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports updates the names that have been discussed between the Rangers and Phillies, noting that not all would be included in a theoretical deal. (Links to Twitter.) Catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, young righty Chi Chi Gonzalez and Luis Ortiz, and outfielders Nick Williams and Lewis Brinson have all come up recently, per Rosenthal.

Texas will not move Nomar Mazara in a deal for Hamels, he says, and would only include Alfaro if the Phillies pay down more of the deal. The club is also hesitant to part with Gonzalez, who made his major league debut this season. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today, the Phillies are focused on adding Alfaro or Mazara if they strike a deal with the Rangers.

Heyman adds that the Phillies continue to dangle Hamels to the Yankees in hopes of acquiring either Luis Severino or Aaron Judge. He suggests that could be an indication that the team is not really satisfied with what it’s being offered elsewhere.

4:19pm: There’s a late possible dark horse in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, who says that the Diamondbacks have “reached out to the Phillies to express their interest.” (Twitter link.)

While Arizona seems an unlikely suitor, as they sit five games under .500 entering today’s action, their situation is not necessarily much different from the Rangers, who are reportedly among the teams in most active pursuit. It would seem that the D’Backs are mostly interested in adding Hamels for the future, though he would certainly bolster their marginal Wild Card chances. With an obvious

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Diamondbacks have very little in guaranteed commitments for the future. Next year’s current tab is just over $27MM at present, though of course there will be some arbitration salaries to account for, and it only goes down from there. With an obvious need for both current and long-term improvement in the rotation, it makes sense that Arizona is exploring the market for future-oriented pitching additions.

The Hamels contract is sizable, but manageable for the mid-market D’backs. He is owed $22.5MM annually from 2016-18, and comes with a $20MM option for 2019 ($6MM buyout). That kind of cash likely won’t buy a top-line starter through free agency, so Arizona may see an opportunity to get such an arm at a discount.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be a steep price to pay in terms of talent. The Diamondbacks are generally viewed as having a middle-of-the-road farm, but they do have plenty of quality young pieces at or near the big leagues — including arms like Archie Bradley and up-the-middle infielders such as Chris Owings. It would obviously be foolish to speculate as to what the club might be willing to offer, or what the Phillies might hypothetically look to bring back, but Arizona possesses sufficiently intriguing players to make a match seem plausible.

It’s worth noting that the D’backs are on Hamels’ no-trade list, meaning he could block a deal there, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. We’ve heard chatter about the lefty’s preferences regarding other clubs, but it’s not clear whether he’d have any interest in a move to Arizona.


Latest On Giants’ Efforts To Add Pitching

We’ve heard recently that the Giants are only interested in premium arms, if they add to their staff. But Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link) that San Francisco is looking at several rotation options, but remains a “long shot” to actually pull the trigger on a deal to add a major starter.

Meanwhile, the Giants have at least inquired with the Reds on ace reliever Aroldis Chapman, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The clubs have not exchanged offers, so it appears as if the discussions are rather preliminary.

While the Giants have not received the strongest work from veteran righty Santiago Casilla, or from top set-up man Sergio Romo, the club has received solid overall results from its pen. It remains to be seen how motivated they are to add a pen arm, but if the interest in Chapman is indication, San Francisco will look to the top of the market in that area as well.