Oakland Athletics Rumors

Oakland Athletics trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

AL West Notes: Richards, Altuve, Athletics

Angels pitcher Garrett Richards suffered what appeared to be a significant knee injury while trying to make a play at first in the second inning of a game against the Red Sox Wednesday. He fell while still running to first and spent several minutes on the ground in obvious pain before being removed on a stretcher. There’s no word yet on the severity of the injury (which the Angels described as a “left knee/patellar injury“) but if it’s as serious as it appears to be, it would be a big blow to the Angels. Entering tonight’s game, Richards had posted a 2.53 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 167 innings this season, and the Angels are currently fighting the Athletics for first place in the AL West. Here are more notes from the division.

  • Diminutive Astros star Jose Altuve has made it big despite his size, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “He’s an anomaly,” says Astros assistant GM David Stearns. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.” History indicates that Altuve is, in fact, very unusual, Kepner writes — there isn’t anyone in the Hall of Fame listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter who debuted in the Majors since the early 1940s. Altuve signed for just $15K as an amateur out of Venezuela.
  • The Athletics have struggled since their surprising trade of Yoenis Cespedes and a draft pick for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, John Branch of the New York Times notes. It’s not clear that the trade is to blame, however. “We were struggling some before the trade as well, and we haven’t been as good offensively as we have been for the better part of a season,” says manager Bob Melvin. “But I expect us to get much better offensively because we still do have a very deep lineup.”

AL West Notes: Altuve, Morales, A’s, Jackson

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is just 5’6″, but he doesn’t allow his height, or lack thereof, to be a disadvantage, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.  “He’s an anomaly,” said David Stearns, the Astros’ assistant GM. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.”  More out of the AL West..

  • Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune (on Twitter) believes that the Mariners have interest in keeping Kendrys Morales beyond this season but, of course, it’ll depend on the price.  The M’s acquired Morales from the Twins in exchange for right-hander Stephen Pryor late last month.  Morales batted just .234/.259/.325 for Minnesota and has slashed .207/.280/.329 for Seattle across 22 games.
  • As commissioner Bud Selig makes his farewell tour, he readily admits that he wishes the A’s stadium situation would be resolved and over with, writes Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com.  “One of the reasons for the resurgence of this sport are the new stadiums, there’s no question about it,” Selig said. “I know better than anybody (that the A’s need a new stadium). It was and is complicated. I know people don’t understand that, but it is. And if it was easy, just like if it was easy in Tampa, I’d have been 24 out of 24. But I have hopes in both places. Do I wish it’d been solved? Of course I do. I wish it had.
  • Who’s the best corner outfield prospect in baseball?  Jim Callis of MLB.com says that distinction belongs to Alex Jackson, whom the Mariners selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 draft.  Jackson was the consensus top position prospect in his class and received the third-highest draft bonus of anyone this year.  He’s got company at the top, however.  MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo says the Pirates’ Josh Bell is the game’s best corner outfield prospect.

Minor Moves: Francoeur, Sexton, Figgins, Krill

Here are the minor moves of the day …

  • The Padres tweet that Jeff Francoeur has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A El Paso. Frenchy was designated for assignment earlier this week after struggling with the big league club, but the former NL Rookie of the Year candidate has performed quite well at the Triple-A level this season.
  • Former Padres farmhand Tim Sexton has inked a minor league deal with the Athletics, according to Midland RockHounds assistant GM of media relations Greg Bergman (h/t: Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse.com). Sexton, a 27-year-old right-hander, has a 5.90 ERA in 58 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, and he has a lifetime 6.68 ERA at the Triple-A level. He’s been much better at Double-A, however, with a 4.40 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 188 1/3 innings at that level.
  • The Dodgers have requested unconditional released waivers on utilityman Chone Figgins, the club announced. The veteran was designated for assignment last Wednesday. He has reached base at an impressive .373 clip on the year, but has slugged only .267 over his 76 plate appearances.
  • The Giants have released outfielder Brett Krill, according to the PCL transactions page. Krill, 25, struggled at all levels this year, including his first attempt at Triple-A. His aggregate triple-slash on the season is .191/.260/.253 over 197 plate appearances. Krill has seen his offensive production decline steadily as he has moved up in the system over the last four years.


West Notes: Doolittle, Tulo, CarGo, Preller, Rios

In a guest piece on the blog of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link), Athletics closer Sean Doolittle offers a look inside some of the less conventional advanced metrics employed by Oakland’s front office. In particular, a unique twist on BABIP (batting average relative to Bip Roberts) seems to have played an important role in the organization’s oft-noted ability to outperform its payroll. (Obviously, the piece is in jest, but it’s a fun read from a player who has had quite an interesting career path.)

Here’s more from the game’s western divisions:

  • The Rockies will soon learn more about the injury situations of their two stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports, as both men are set to visit specialists today. Tulowitzki, battling a strained left hip flexor, may have a hip labrum his issue. If that is the case, there are non-surgical options that might allow him to return to action this year. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is struggling with chronic tendinitis in his left knee. He, too, could conceivably play again in 2014, though some treatments would keep him out until the spring. Needless to say, the lingering (and, potentially, expanding) injury concerns with both players not only create yet more questions about Colorado’s ability to put together a contending roster next year, but could further dampen the possibility of either player being dealt over the offseason.
  • When the Padres hired A.J. Preller to take over as GM, they agreed with the Rangers not to hire away any Texas front office staffers over the next two year, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report tweets. Presumably, the Rangers were able to extract this promise in exchange for allowing San Diego to interview and hire away Preller himself before his own contract was up.
  • More on Preller: Miller applauds the Friars for taking a chance on a bold candidate. And on his blog, Jamey Newberg provides some interesting thoughts on Preller, who he calls a “scout’s scout who prefers doing his work behind the scenes.”
  • Though Alex Rios of the Rangers appears to have avoided a significant injury, his continued absence from the lineup means that he is increasingly unlikely to be dealt, writes ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins. Not only do the Royals now appear to be an unlikely suitor, says Watkins, but other possible landing spots could disappear as the month goes on and playoff races clarify.

AL East Notes: Lester, Cespedes, Machado, Wagner

In an interesting discussion with Tim Britton of the Providence JournalRed Sox reliever Burke Badenhop discussed his use of the Pitch F/X tool at BrooksBaseball.net. Velocity, vertical movement, strike zone plots, and release point are among the pieces of information that Badenhop utilizes to evaluate his outings.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Jon Lester may be playing in Oakland, but he knows his time there will almost certainly be short, as John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports. Looking ahead to the free agent market, the lefty said that the Red Sox made clear that they intend to pursue a return. “At the end of the season, [the trade is] not going to change my mind about going back there if they are aggressive and competitive and do the things they say they’re going to do,” Lester said in reference to his long-time club. “They told me, ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these [other] offers,’” said Lester, who maintains that the sticker shock will not be the most important factor for him. “I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”
  • Of course, Lester should have no shortage of suitors, in large part due to the fact that he has been outstanding this year. Indeed, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes, Lester has set himself up for free agency with as good a walk year (thus far) as any recent starter.
  • After failing to extend Lester last offseason, the Red Sox will soon face a similar situation with regard to the man he was traded for, Yoenis Cespedes. As Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes in discussing the possible parameters of an extension for Cespedes, it seems somewhat curious that Boston would have chosen him as the return if it did not have at least some hope of locking him up past 2015 (especially since Cespedes will not be eligible to receive a qualifying offer). Though his power is undeniable, the 28-year-old’s overall value has lagged his visibility to an extent. Regardless, he seems quite likely to draw plenty of attention in free agency, and Speier suggests that comparables could include B.J. Upton (five-year, $75MM free agent deal) and Hunter Pence (five-year, $90MM late-season extension). Of course, as Speier notes, a full season in Fenway could provide Cespedes the opportunity to post some outlandish numbers and boost his value.
  • Orioles third baseman Manny Machado seems destined for a DL stint but, more importantly, appears to have avoided another major knee injury. The club announced yesterday that a MRI revealed a right knee ligament sprain, saying that further update would be forthcoming today. Executive VP Dan Duquette said that the club had not yet decided whether it would shop around for additional options at the hot corner, but will make that assessment when more is known on Machado’s timetable, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports on Twitter.
  • The Blue Jays announced yesterday that righty Neil Wagner will undergo Tommy John surgery. Wagner, 30, has been hit hard in ten games with Toronto on the year, though he was playing at the Triple-A level at the time of the injury. He has not matched his successful 2013, when he worked 38 frames of 3.79 ERA ball in the majors and dominated at Triple-A (2 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings).

Minor Moves: Hill, O’Sullivan, Sale, Daley, Gimenez, Thomas

Here are today’s minor moves …

  • The Tigers inked right-hander Shawn Hill to a minor league deal today, as James Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports on Twitter. Hill, 33, has seen mostly scattered MLB action since taking 28 starts for the Nationals over the 2007-08 seasons. He has a 4.87 ERA through 105 1/3 innings (4.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9) in the upper minors this year with the White Sox and Blue Jays organizations.
  • The Phillies have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. The righty accepted a previous outright assignment earlier this year, but will once again have the right to elect free agency instead.
  • Rays prospect Josh Sale has been hit with a 50-game suspension for recreational drug use, MLB announced today. This is hardly the first brush with trouble for the 23-year-old former first-round pick, who came into the 2013 season rated Tampa’s 24th-best prospect by Baseball America. After a previous drug-related suspension, Sale missed all of last year when the team banned him for inappropriate conduct. He had slashed .238/.313/.344 over 361 plate appearances on the year at the High-A level.
  • After reporting earlier today that Matt Daley has accepted an outright assignment from the Yankees, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Daley has actually been optioned by the club. The righty still occupies a 40-man spot.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez has accepted an outright assignment from the Rangers rather than electing free agency, tweets John Blake, the club’s executive VP of communications. The 31-year-old was designated for assignment five days ago, and apparently has not found a better opportunity with another organization.
  • The Phillies have released outfielder Clete Thomas, Cotillo tweets. The 30-year-old has seen 794 MLB plate appearances in parts of four seasons, but had not been elevated by Philadelphia this season. Over 226 minor league plate appearances, he carries a .247/.345/.335 slash.

Earlier Updates

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has posted his weekly look at minor league transactions from around the league from the past seven days. We’ll highlight a couple of the (relatively) notable names that were missed in the past week:

  • Eddy reports that the Cardinals have released southpaw Pedro Feliciano from his minor league deal. The 37-year-old, once an excellent setup man with the Mets, pitched to a 5.57 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 21 frames with Triple-A Memphis this season.
  • The Reds have released left-hander Scott Maine, Eddy reports. The former Cub was inked to a minor league deal in June after pitching well for the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, but he posted a 6.10 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with the Reds organization.
  • The Athletics have released first baseman/third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, tweets Eddy. Vollmuth, a third-rounder as recently as 2011, batted just .207/.278/.341 this season at Class A Beloit. The 24-year-old has yet to move above the Class-A Advanced level and a has a .702 OPS in his pro career.

Minor Moves: Angel Castro, Bruce Billings

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Athletics have acquired righty Angel Castro from the Cardinals in exchange for cash considerations, St. Louis announced. Castro, a 31-year-old righty, has never seen MLB action. He owns a 4.01 ERA through 94 1/3 frames on the year at Triple-A, spending time both as a starter and reliever, and has posted 6.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9.
  • Right-hander Bruce Billings, who was released by the Yankees last week, has inked a minor league pact with the Dodgers, reports MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Billings, 28, allowed four runs in four innings for the Yanks this season and has struggled in the minors as well, posting a 5.06 ERA with a 54-to-27 K/BB ratio in 80 innings (15 starts) for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Billings’ career marks of a 4.37 ERA and 7.8 K/9 rate at the Triple-A level are noticeably better.

West Notes: Trout, Angels, Sizemore, Eppler, Cain, Astros

Mike Trout is the game’s best player — really, he has been for some time — and he’s still three days shy of his 23rd birthday. That makes it all the more satisfying for the Angels that they have him locked up to a six-year, $144.5MM deal that does not kick in until next year. USA Today’s Glenn Davis explores how those happy circumstances came to pass in an interview with Halos assistant GM Matt Klentak. According to Klentak, Trout is not just immensely talented but also hard-working, detail-oriented, and grounded.

Here’s more on Trout and the game’s western divisions:

  • The Angels began thinking long-term extension as early as 2012, when Trout emerged as a force, but did not put the pedal down on talks until this winter. The extension came together in large part, said Klentak, because of “outstanding” communication between both sides, which allowed for multiple concepts to go back and forth before the ultimate framework was established. “Everybody knew where everybody stood, and it was a fairly positive, productive process all the way through,” Klentak explained. “That’s not always the case — I think that’s a credit to Mike, his character, and his family, and to [agent] Craig Landis as well.” The final contract, of course, gives the Halos control over their young superstar for an extended stretch without guaranteeing post-prime seasons, but also allows Trout to hit the open market at a young enough age to land another massive deal.
  • Klentak further noted that a major element of the drive to sign Trout, and other homegrown players before him, stems from the direction of owner Arte Moreno. “That’s something that Arte believes in strongly, that our baseball operations group believes in strongly,” said Klentak. “When you know the people as well as you get to know them over a player’s tenure in your organization, you feel more comfortable signing them to longer-term contracts.” Be sure to check out the rest of the piece for more of Klentak’s thoughts on Trout, the club’s overall composition, and the organization’s operating philosophies.
  • The Athletics appear to have decided against signing infielder Scott Sizemore despite previously showing interest, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland could still have interest in bringing him in next year, Slusser adds.
  • As the Padres reach the final stages of deciding on a GM, the club is “focusing most closely” on Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who says Eppler may now be the frontrunner to take over baseball ops in San Diego. Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller had been said to be leading the final field, which is said to include MLB executive Kim Ng and Red Sox AGM Mike Hazen. Scott Miller of Bleacher Report noted recently that Eppler was still “in the picture” to take on the role.
  • As we noted earlier today, Giants starter Matt Cain is scheduled for season-ending surgery to clean up bone chips in his elbow. Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News provides further details on the problem, which Cain said he has been dealing with in some form for the past decade. “They’ve always been there,” said Cain. “For some reason, they got in a different spot and they got aggravated.” With the problem failing to abate, all decided it was best to have the procedure now so that Cain could be ready for a normal spring ramp-up. San Francisco’s pre-deadline addition of Jake Peavy was connected to the club’s fear that it would be without Cain the rest of the way, Pavlovic adds.
  • The Astros felt comfortable dealing away starter Jarred Cosart in large part due to the development of the club’s arms both at the major league and minor league levels, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. The swap — which followed up on prior trades of Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles — enabled Houston to bolster its outfield corp (with Jake Marisnick) in addition to adding a well-regarded prospect in Colin Moran“We’ve got guys all the way up and down the system,” said GM Jeff Luhnow. “It’s one of those areas that could very easily, with one or two injuries, go from a strength to a weakness. We’re taking a calculated gamble in this, and it’s the right thing to do.” Of course, as noted earlier today, the deal also cleared two offseason 40-man spots for the Astros, who will have many young players to consider protecting from the winter’s Rule 5 draft.

Minor Moves: Hernandez, De Paula, Roenicke, Feierabend, Hayes

Here are the latest minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Rockies have outrighted Pedro Hernandez to Triple-A, according to the MLB transactions page. The 25-year-old lefty made one start for Colorado before he was designated. As he has previously been outrighted, Hernandez will have the right to elect free agency.
  • Reliever Jose De Paula has re-signed with the Giants on a minor league deal, per the MLB transactions page. The club had designated and then released him just days ago.
  • The Nationals have released righty Josh Roenicke, according to the International League transactions page. Roenicke had spent at least some time in the big leagues for each of the prior six seasons, and logged 150 2/3 between 2012-13. But moving to the starting rotation for the first time as a professional has not resulted in high-level production at Triple-A this year; Roenicke has struggled to a 5.45 ERA through 79 1/3 frames (15 starts) with 4.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
  • Ryan Feierabend of the Rangers has accepted an outright assignment rather than electing free agency, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The left-hander made his way back to the bigs for the first time since 2008 with a Texas club that has cycled through more than its fair share of arms this year.
  • The Royals outrighted Brett Hayes to Triple-A after the catcher cleared waivers, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  As the backup behind workhorse starter Salvador Perez, Hayes hasn’t seen much action this year, appearing in 27 games and posting a .362 OPS over only 53 PA.
  • The Diamondbacks signed right-hander Graham Godfrey, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  Godfrey posted a 5.09 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 46 innings with the A’s in 2011-12 and he spent last season pitching for the Red Sox and Pirates’ Triple-A affiliates.
  • The Diamondbacks released first baseman Wagner Mateo earlier this week, according to the Pioneer League’s transactions page.  Mateo originally signed a contract as a 16-year-old with the Cardinals worth a $3.1MM bonus in 2009 but St. Louis voided that deal after Mateo’s physical revealed apparent vision problems.  Mateo signed a $512K contract with the D’Backs a year later and hit .230/.312/.349 over 802 pro plate appearances, never getting above the High-A ball level.  He also posted an 8.87 ERA over 22 1/3 relief innings over the last two seasons.
  • The Reds released right-hander Adam Russell last week, as announced via Twitter by their Triple-A Louisville affiliate.  Russell posted a 3.95 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 1.46 K/BB rate over 86 2/3 relief innings with the White Sox, Padres and Rays from 2008-11, and he’s since toiled in the minors with four other organizations.  He had a 4.33 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 1.79 K/BB in 35 1/3 IP this season with Louisville.
  • Zach McAllister and Evan Scribner were both respectively optioned to Triple-A by the Indians and Athletics over the weekend.  The two righties were both on optional assignment waivers after being designated off their team’s 25-man rosters (but not the 40-man rosters) on Friday, though they were procedural moves rather than traditional DFAs, and neither player was in any danger of being claimed by another club.
  • To monitor players who have been properly designated for assignment, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, as a whopping 10 players currently reside in “DFA limbo.”

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.