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The Athletics are looking at multiple potential outfield acquisition targets, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Among them is Sam Fuld of the Twins, who started the year in Oakland.
Oakland could be looking to bolster its depth in the outfield due to concern over Coco Crisp‘s neck injury, tweets Slusser’s colleague John Shea. Combined with the broken right hand of Craig Gentry, the A’s could suddenly be a bit thin, especially up the middle. Speedy minor leaguer Billy Burns will take an active roster spot in the meantime, but he was slashing just .250/.333/.330 at Double-A (albeit with 51 stolen bases).
Fuld, 32, owns a .261/.350/.367 line on the year with 13 swipes of his own in just 219 plate appearances. He was claimed by Minnesota after the A’s put him on outright waivers when Gentry made it back from a DL stint earlier in the year.
Yesterday, reports indicated that the Orioles and Mariners have both inquired on Red Sox ace Jon Lester, but the Sox are likely to take any decision down to the wire. Earlier this morning, we noted that Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com heard there was less than a 50 percent chance Lester is dealt based on current talks, but offers are expected to increase in the coming days.
We’ll keep track of the rest of Tuesday’s Lester-related rumors in this post…
- Sox manager John Farrell says that the club still has Lester penciled in to start, but is prepared to use Brandon Workman in his place if Lester is dealt, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets.
- The Dodgers are not close to any major deals at the moment and adding Lester “appears … unlikely,” tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Nevertheless, Los Angeles appears on top of the list of likeliest suitors for the Boston lefty, as handicapped by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Pirates are emerging as a dark-horse to acquire Lester, report Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. One possible centerpiece of such a deal would be well-regarded prospect Josh Bell, the Yahoo writers add. A deal with the Pirates would not necessarily involve Bell, however, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets.
- The Red Sox are actively taking offers and preparing to deal Lester, a National League GM tells Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Abraham says it is difficult to see Lester taking his start tomorrow for Boston.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays, Mariners, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and Marlins are all currently in on Lester. The Marlins are certainly a new addition to the mix, although that would line up with Buster Olney’s report from earlier today pegging them as a potential surprise candidate for some starting pitchers. Miami has a number of high-end prospects, and Lester’s remaining $4.48MM in salary might not be too overwhelming.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears the same as Olney did earlier this morning (Twitter link): There’s “little doubt” in the industry that Boston will move its ace. Rival clubs are expecting a trade.
- Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson of ACES, denied a previous report that his client’s asking price in extension talks motivated the Red Sox to trade him, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Unsurprisingly, Levinson shed no further light on any extension talks with Lester: “The discussions we had with the Red Sox were confidential and will remain that way,” Levinson said to Edes in an email.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com adds some new teams to the Lester mix, as he reports that the Athletics, Blue Jays and Braves have all called to inquire on the BoSox ace. Of those teams, Toronto is being the most aggressive in its pursuit, a source tells McAdam. The Sox are willing to move him to the division-rival Jays or Orioles, according to McAdam’s source. Boston is still seeking multiple prospects in return, specifically one elite prospect — McAdam uses Oscar Taveras, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager as examples — and at least one more lesser prospect. Interestingly, McAdam notes that the Red Sox will not consider trading Lester to the Yankees.
- The Brewers have spoken to the Sox about Lester, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Milwaukee was said to have asked the Rays about David Price as well, but Price might not be dealt now, and Lester would cost less to acquire. Heyman notes that Milwaukee has top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson to offer as a centerpiece and has a deeper farm system than it has in prior years. Nelson ranked 38th on Baseball America’s midseason list of the game’s Top 50 prospects, and MLB.com ranked him 53rd on their midseason Top 100.
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.
The A’s have designated outfielder Kenny Wilson for assignment, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The move creates room for speedster Billy Burns, who will be recalled to replace Craig Gentry. Gentry has suffered a non-displaced fracture in his hand.
Wilson has been with the Blue Jays (twice), Twins and A’s this season, posting a combined .218/.295/.303 batting line between Double-A and Triple-A with those three organizations. He’s said to be a solid defender in center field, but his bat has taken a step back after a solid 2013 campaign in which he batted .270/.349/.386. Despite his meager on-base percentage in 2014, Wilson has swiped 24 bases. The fleet-footed 24-year-old has racked up 40 or more steals in three separate seasons.
Burns was acquired from the Nationals this offseason in the Jerry Blevins trade and has impressed Oakland with his blazing speed. After stealing 74 bases with a .425 on-base percentage in 2013, he’s batted .250/.333/.330 with a crazy 51-for-56 success rate in stolen base attempts at Double-A this season.
5:33pm: The Reds, too, will join the party, according to a tweet from C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Likewise, the Padres will be on hand, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. The brings the current tally of teams reportedly planning to have a look at Castillo to 17.
4:30pm: John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the A’s will also be in attendance at tomorrow’s showcase.
12:46pm: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for Major League teams is tomorrow, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds an interesting twist to the audition: the speedster will work out at both center field and at shortstop (Twitter link).
Previous reports have indicated that the Twins, Cubs, White Sox, Braves, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles would attend the showcase. Additionally, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays will be in attendance, while Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel notes that the Marlins will be in attendance, and George A. King III of the New York Post adds the Yankees to the mix. Beyond that, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds lists a few other clubs that will attend: the Mets, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros.
Castillo is said by many to have plus-plus speed, and several scouting reports have comped him to Brett Gardner with a bit more power. The right-handed hitting 27-year-old has drawn praise for his line-drive stroke, and he’s thought of as a potential starting-caliber outfielder for a Major League club. Sanchez has tweeted a new scouting video of Castillo (including footage of him pushing a car — seriously), while a scouting report can also be seen over at Baseball America, courtesy of international guru Ben Badler. Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports.
The A’s announced that they have acquired right-hander Deck McGuire from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations. The former first-round pick was designated for assignment last week.
McGuire struggled in his first exposure to Triple-A at age 25, posting a 5.56 ERA in 55 innings with 6.2 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. The promotion to the highest level of the minors came after McGuire posted a 2.98 ERA over 60 1/3 innings in his fourth go at Double-A.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
12:04pm: The A’s announced that they have actually designated Johnson for assignment, not released him (though that could obviously be the ultimate outcome of the move). Evan Scribner has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to fill his roster spot.
The 31-year-old Johnson was acquired by the A’s this offseason in a salary dump that sent Jemile Weeks and David Freitas to the Orioles. While many Baltimore fans were shaken by the deal after seeing Johnson lead the league in saves in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the move proved to be a wise decision by the O’s, as Johnson has struggled to a 6.92 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 56.8 percent ground-ball rate in 40 1/3 innings this season with Oakland. He lost his ninth-inning role to Sean Doolittle early in the season.
Johnson is earning $10MM in 2014 after avoiding arbitration for the final time this past winter. The A’s will eat the remaining $3.66MM on his contract if he is ultimately released. It seems unlikely that any team would claim him on waivers or trade for him as a result of that salary, though a team could show some interest if Oakland pays a large portion of the deal.
The Competitive Balance Lottery for the 2015 MLB Draft took place this afternoon. Twelve competitive balance picks are awarded, with the first six taking place after the first round’s conclusion and the next six taking place following conclusion of the second round. Here are the results, per MLB.com (Twitter links)…
Competitive Balance Round A
Competitive Balance Round B
As MLB.com’s Jim Callis explained earlier in the week, teams that have one of the 10 smallest markets or one of the 10 smallest revenue pools are eligible to receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds (Round A) or between the second and third rounds (Round B).
The A’s, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals were eligible for Comp Round A picks. The teams that didn’t receive an extra pick from that pool were placed into a second pool that also included the Mariners and Twins to determine which would receive a Comp Round B selection. These picks are eligible to be traded any time during the regular season, right up until 5pm ET on the day of next year’s draft.
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Various roadblocks slowed final approval of the Athletics’ 10-year lease agreement with the Oakland-Alameda County Colisum Authority. Now, an agreement has been reached that paves the way to a finalization of the deal, which is expected to keep the club in the O.Co Coliseum for the next decade, as Will Kane and Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle report.
Oakland raised various issues after the deal had initially been struck, leading MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to give A’s owner Lew Wolff permission to look for a new home city for the club. But those issues were worked out this week, with Oakland’s City Council joining the Coliseum Authority in granting approval. The last apparent hurdles — approval by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and a potential re-approval by the Authority — are expected to pose no difficulties, according to the report.
The approximately $20MM deal still permits the A’s to leave the stadium as soon as December of 2017, though they would remain on the hook for the full rental term. Both Wolff and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan have expressed hope in finding a way to build a new ballpark in the relatively near future.
The Marlins sit 8.5 games off of the NL East pace entering today’s action, with a 46-52 record and negative-26 run differential. But that mark beat the expectations of many, and the club seems inclined to continue to develop good will with its fans (if not also star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton) by fielding a competitive ballclub.
Here’s the latest out of Miami, home to one of the more interesting organizations to watch over the coming days:
- Scouts are flocking to watch Marlins relievers Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, but thus far Miami has not indicated that it will make either available. In fact, the club still hopes to act as a buyer, says Frisaro, with a “controllable starter” and second baseman both in its sights.
- In fact, the Marlins are actually showing continued interest in acquiring struggling former Athletics closer Jim Johnson, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. The teams have discussed a deal involving minor leaguer Adam Conley, a 2011 second-rounder who has scuffled in Triple-A.
- Another Marlins player that has drawn interest is reclaimed third baseman Casey McGehee, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. One club with potential interest is the Mariners, says Heyman, who seems to indicate that Seattle might even be willing to use McGehee in the corner outfield.
- While there may be interest in McGehee, Frisaro reports that the Fish see McGehee as a mid-term or even long-term piece and are not marketing him. The 31-year-old has a season of arbitration eligibility remaining after signing a one-year, $1.1MM deal with Miami, Frisaro notes, and the team has actually considered offering him an extension.